Emma Lee Fischer Fuses Passion and Purpose as a Concert Photographer

With Taco Bell harboring 32 percent of her blood content, Emma Lee Fischer captures the energy of concerts and the vibrant stories of the artists she photographs with her Canon 6D.

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With Taco Bell harboring 32 percent of her blood content, Emma Lee Fischer captures the energy of concerts and the vibrant stories of the artists she photographs with her Canon 6D.

Fischer has photographed for bands such as The Used (Image via Brandon Lung)

“Be nice to people. Sing loud. Share art. Respect women. Thanks.”

On a dreary winter day in 2007, the snow on nearby trees evoked curiosity in Emma Lee Fischer. Yearning for a way to capture the beauty of this seemingly ordinary happening, she convinced her mother to purchase a white Kodak point and shoot. With that camera, Fischer discovered her passion and her purpose: to capture moments. Whether static or stimulating, as long as she holds a camera in hand, Fischer holds the key to a new way of seeing seemingly insignificant moments.

A rising senior at Cleveland State University, Emma Fischer was surrounded by music and art while growing up. Before the separation of her parents, she spent her days listening to her father’s stories of his adventures as a touring drummer for many rock and blues bands. As she listened to his tales of best eateries and most impactful encounters while on tour in Europe, Canada and California, she dreamed of a way to live a life as creatively fulfilling as his. “I was really influenced by my dad for my love of music,” Fischer says. “I’ve always appreciated my dad’s interest in all of the music I’m currently passionate about and I love hearing his feedback on those bands. It’s even better when I can get him to love the same bands I do. He really digs Pierce the Veil and Polyphia.”

Before discovering the world of photography, Fischer spent most of her days engrossed in video games and novels, but once she got a hold of her white Kodak point and shoot, everything changed. She spent the bulk of her time taking pictures of any and everything; perusing the internet for shooting and editing techniques to improve her skills as a photographer.

In high school, she was presented with the opportunity to capture photos of one of her favorite artists, Lights, during her acoustic tour in 2013. Although an impactful experience for Fischer, she noted that it was so informal and disorganized that she couldn’t necessarily consider it her first experience shooting concert photography.

Realizing the need for further training, Emma searched for opportunities to improve. It was at this time that she realized concert photography was the perfect way for her to meld together her love for music and art. “It seemed like the perfect fit for me because I would rather capture someone being entirely natural and energetic versus someone posing in a static moment.”

Her photography began in 2007 with a white Kodak point and shoot (Image via Lex Backus)

Thanks to the financial support of the non-profit mentoring program, Minds Matter, she was able to better understand her purpose as an artist and offered the tools to pursue her growing passion for music photography through workshops held at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

These workshops consumed the summers of her high school career, but allowed her to make connections with students from around the country that were also passionate about photography. “It was my first time really getting to work with and understand professional equipment, editing and studio conditions,” Fischer says. “They helped reaffirm and develop my passion for the arts, especially photography.”

In 2016, Fischer was presented with the opportunity to redeem herself as a concert photographer during The Used’s 10 year anniversary tour. She was excited to shoot such an iconic band and now possessed the training to do so successfully. “It was the first press pass I was ever granted and I even got to take pictures of and meet Bert McCracken on his bus while my publisher did an interview with him,” Fischer says. “It was an incredible experience and I’m really grateful that The Used ended up being the first real addition to my portfolio of images.” This concert experience also forced Emma to adjust to difficult lighting conditions in ways that would later benefit her during the editing process. It taught her an important lesson: “It’s all about endless practice and experimentation.”

Building on the experience gained from capturing The Used on this tour, Fischer said yes to the opportunity to tour with progressive rock band, The Millennium, this past summer. Mutual friends with drummer, Brandon Bruyette, she was offered the job through an exchange via Twitter that was meant to be a joke. Coincidentally, her consistent job gave her the week of tour off. “Low and behold, I end up getting to hit the road with them,” Fischer says. “Anxiety hit me hard when I first met up with them in a mall parking lot in Cleveland to head out to Pennsylvania. I’m really glad that I overcame all the doubt I acquired while sitting in my car, terrified.”

Shy at first, Fischer spent the first couple of days observing and attempting to understand the guys in the band, eventually realizing that she fit in well with them. She and Josh Becker, the bassist, bonded especially because it was both of their first time being on tour. “It was cool to be able to share that first time experience with someone else who could relate to my situation.”

On this tour, she was able to meet new people every night. “My favorite part about touring was hands down creating friendships and jokes between everyone that only got better [as the tour went on]. It was all I hoped it would be and better. Traveling in a van with no [A/C] in the middle of summer and only having about half of a bench to sleep on was worth every minute.”

As Fischer enters her final year at Cleveland State, majoring in Art History, she is unsure of her plans after graduating this coming May. She hopes, though, to free up her calendar to pursue touring with bands full time. Her next possibly noteworthy opportunity is to to tour with a band during Warped Tour in 2018 with her dream to eventually shoot The Killers in concert.

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