Music Festivals Through The Lense Of Megan Sumpton
April 28, 2022
Do you remember the first festival you ever attended? Do you still have a clear visual image of who performed and what they were wearing? How was the atmosphere and is there that one perfect moment that’s immortalized in your memory bank? Photographers have been an integral part of festivals, and because of their work capturing images, we have the privilege to look back at these once-in-a-lifetime moments on stage. Last year we collaborated with Black Women Photographers to select some of the best women to capture our Atlanta Festival. One of the people that made it as part of our selection was Megan Sumpton, a self-taught photographer based in Houston Texas who has been documenting the culture of music festivals. Ahead of our Planet AFROPUNK Live Experience in Miami, we spoke to Megan about her journey and asked for advice on how to be a perfect festival photographer.
AFROPUNK: Last year you were selected as one of the women to capture moments at AFROPUNK’s return to Atlanta, what was your experience like, and is there a lesson you took from that experience?
Megan Sumpton: It was amazing! Not only was it my first time capturing AFROPUNK, but it was also my first time attending and I was not disappointed. From the musical acts to seeing all the beautiful black faces and their fire outfits, I had so much fun! Everyone was so nice and welcoming, it felt like a big party.
AP: Your work focuses heavily on documenting the culture, especially artists on stage. What would you say is the key ingredient for a person who’s starting out in this career?
MS: I would say staying ready so you don’t have to get ready! Artists are constantly moving on the stage and lighting situations can change rapidly so you have to be ready to capture those special moments quickly. It’s important to really know your camera so that you can make adjustments on the fly.
AP: How have you honed your skills over the years?
MS: I have personally honed my skills by always being a continuous learner. I don’t believe I know it all and for that reason I am always open to new information. I’m always on YouTube learning from others and making sure to keep sharpening my skills. Another thing I like to do is practice in the field. I’m always using local shows as a chance to practice and become a better photographer.
AP: What are some essentials that an event photographer should have in their bag during a festival?
MS: I believe you should have a second camera, a few different lens options, a good speedlite, an extra battery, and a few SD cards!
AP: Do you think your environment has influenced the way you approach your work?
MS: I would say so! I grew up listening to different genres of music and just being a fan of the art. This has translated into the way I capture artists on stage. I always set out to make people feel what I felt seeing the artists when capturing these special moments. I want them to feel like they were there.
AP: What do you think are some of the misconceptions people have about photography?
MS: I think people believe, “oh you have a good camera and lens, that’s why your pictures come out good” and that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not about the camera, it’s about having a good eye and knowing how to properly use the camera in various settings!
AP: Do you prefer shooting in a studio or on location?
MS: I prefer to shoot on location! Studio is fun and a lot of creative things can happen there, but it’s something about being on location where you can’t control the lighting that makes it a bit more challenging, but exciting at the same time.
AP: Any exciting work upcoming that you would like people to look out for?
MS: I’ve been working on a pretty big project with a major software company that I’m finishing up and should be out this summer! It relates to concert photography so it’s something I’m very excited about and proud to be a part of.
AP: Best advice you’ve received about photography?
MS: Practice! Whether it’s shooting your friends or items around your house…get out and SHOOT!
AP: What’s your best memory from a concert/show/festival you’ve shot?
MS: My best memory was getting to shoot The Isley Brothers here in Houston! I was planning to just attend the show and I reached out not expecting anything and they ended up liking my work and hiring me as their photographer for the evening. I got the chance to meet them and take some BTS photos and I’ll always remember it because they made my most favorite song ever, “For The Love of You”. They’re so iconic so it was very special to me.
If you’re an eager photographer looking to get a chance to capture our upcoming events, give us a shout at email@example.com.
You can see and follow Megan’s work on her Instagram page @megyuup.
Get The Latest
Signup for the AFROPUNK newsletter