Walk the Plank has the honor of spotlighting Melissa Miracolo‘s Bad Ass band photography. Not only have we met before, I’ve had the privilege of being photographed by Melissa during my short summer romance as bassist with Long Island pop/rock band, Blameshift, in 2010. I remember Melissa’s great energy and I saw the love and support she gave to all the bands she shot. I’m so happy to have her on board with WTP.
RIK WTP: Melissa, what inspired you to pick up a camera?
MELISSA: It’s kind of a funny story. I was in high school sitting in the hallway in front of my locker before class and my friend was sitting next to me going through her binder with a bunch of photos. I looked at her and asked “what’s that?”. She replied that it was for a photography class she was taking. My response was “oh, maybe I’ll take that next semester”. I signed up for the class and have been shooting ever since.
RIK WTP: How good does your equipment need to be to start out in photography? What equipment do you have and what are the pros and cons?
MELISSA: If you’re just starting out, you don’t need all top of the line equipment. You just need something that’s going to help you get the basic fundamentals of photography down. I have a few friends that have bought camera kits where it’s an “ammeter” level camera with a “kit” lens and they take some amazing photos. As long as you have the ability, have complete control of all the settings and understand what all the settings can do, it doesn’t matter how much you spend. I shoot with a Nikon D700 with a wide variety of lenses. I love my D700, but of course I want the newer cameras that Nikon just released. I’m a huge fan of a camera that can shoot at a very high ISO with very little grain. That’s how I shoot all of my band photography. My go-to lens is my Sigma 85 1.4. The 1.4 allows the maximum amount of light to enter the camera which is optimal for low light settings (such as dark bars where bands are performing). The 1.4 also leaves room for error as far as blurriness which would definitely be a con. A newer camera with a higher ISO would allow me to shoot at a faster shutter speed to compensate for that. If anybody wants to donate a Nikon D3s, Nikon D4 or Nikon D800 I’d be very happy to accept. Hahahaha
RIK WTP: Is photography your main profession and focus or do you also have other ventures?
MELISSA: Photography is my main profession. I went to school for it and earned a BFA in Photography from C.W. Post. I also do a lot of graphic work (retouching and album design). For the most part, photography is my life and 95% of what I do for a living.
RIK WTP: Tell me about the bands you support and photograph. How did you get to know them?
MELISSA: Most of them are long time friends that I’ve known for years. I met most of them by going to see my cousin’s band, Tragic Orange, and seeing lots of local shows when I was younger. They started in other bands and are now in newer or different projects. I shoot a lot of I Ignite (Eddie Raccioppi’s band- formerly from A Farewell Fire). I also shoot For The Taking which is Eddie’s other band featuring Toryn Green who used to sing for Fuel. Blameshift is another band I’ve shot numerous times and I’ve known Jenny and Tim for years and years now. I’ve also had the opportunity to shoot bands such as 10 Years and Eye Empire as well as numerous local Long Island bands. I’m always ready and willing to shoot any bands of any music genre. It’s really important to support your local bands, especially on Long Island. It’s really difficult on Long Island for bands to get the support they need because quite honestly, most people don’t care about the music scene on Long Island. It’s a little sad really how it’s struggling.
RIK WTP: NYC music scene has also been struggling. It’s really hard to get people to come out with so many options. Why do you think this happening on Long Island? Is it the lack of good venues, is it the lack of talent? Do you think Facebook and other sites have anything to do with it?
MELISSA: I think the rock scene on Long Island has become an endangered species. When emo and screamo came out years ago, everyone was all for going to shows. The difference between the amount of people at shows a few years ago vs. now is night and day. I think the closing of venues has had a part in it. The Downtown in Farmingdale was always a place to go for shows. They had local bands, open mic nights and national headliners too. Once that place closed, I feel like that was the beginning of the demise of rock on Long Island. The Crazy Donkey also recently closed and is now an empty building on Route 110. I don’t think it’s a lack of talent, because there are plenty of good bands out there in a bunch of different genres of rock. I think Facebook has both a negative and a positive on bands. You can reach billions and billions of people via Facebook and share your music, but most people are too self-absorbed to care and would rather just post pictures of themselves and write statuses about their entire day. I’m a big fan of people supporting people which is why I’m extremely supportive of my friends and colleagues in this industry. I think it’s extremely important to stick together so we can all make a great name for ourselves. And we definitely can’t do it without the support of those around us.
RIK WTP: I totally admire your support and dedication. Walk the Plank 100% about community support! Let’s go back to the bands you shoot… What are the challenges when photographing them?
MELISSA: All of the bands I shoot have A LOT of energy so they’re moving around a lot. They also have their own light shows that emphasize the energy of the band. There are plenty of pictures and moments that I’ll end up missing because either the lighting changes too fast or my camera/lens can’t focus fast enough or they’ve moved from the position they were in. Shooting bands is an environment where the photographer has zero control over the subject so it’s very difficult to get images that are sharp with good expressions and good compositions. I love the challenge though. Because when I get those moments, I absolutely love them.
RIK WTP: What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen on stage?
MELISSA: I actually haven’t seen anything too crazy. More funny than crazy. Two examples I can think of in particular… In the middle of an acoustic set, the drummer was trying to do some flair tricks with his sticks and ended up dropping one. It landed between the wall and the stage and he had to fish it out with the other stick (why he only had one set of sticks is beyond me…) but it stopped the show in between songs for a bit. Another time this band was playing in Baltimore and only 4 or 5 songs into their set with about 3 or 4 more to go, the singer was thanking everyone for being there and the sound guy took that as a cue to end their set and started playing house music and ended their set. It was still a good show, but it was just really funny how they ended up accidentally getting kicked off stage by the sound guy.
RIK WTP: If you could photograph any celebrity, rock star, athlete or other public figure, who would it be and why?
MELISSA: I don’t think I have any one person in particular. My dream would be to photograph any or all of the bands I admire and listen to. I would love to be able to show images of Killswitch Engage, No Doubt, A Day To Remember, pretty much any bands I love because I would love to show those images and be able to say “I had the honor of shooting them”. I just love capturing moments in time and preserving them because they can never be repeated exactly as they were.
RIK WTP: If you could photograph any superhero, who would it be and why?
MELISSA: Ha! I would love to shoot ALL of them because I love just about all of them. I’m a gigantic superhero movie nerd and see all of them. Avengers was INCREDIBLE by the way… But if I had to pick one I’d say Spiderman, just because I’d love to be able to go meet Jay Jonah Jameson.
RIK WTP: Who is your biggest Rock Star crush and would this person be your celebrity pass?
MELISSA: Ha, I actually don’t think I have a Rock Star crush! It’s so weird, I admire celebrities and Rock Stars but I don’t idealize them like most people. I’m not a fan of reality shows at all and I’ve been graced with the opportunity to meet a few famous people in my life but I’ve never ogled over anyone famous. When I was younger (I shouldn’t admit this…), I did the Nick Carter/Justin Timberlake thing but I got over that REAL fast and turned to metal! \m/ Haha
RIK WTP: I checked out your website and you have amazing categories in your gallery. Which one do you prefer doing and why?
MELISSA: I shoot just about everything including wedding, maternity, baby, children, product, etc. My absolute favorite is band photography. I love the spontaneity of it and the lack of control and the surprise of getting something really good when you’re able to catch it. My dream would be to tour with a band or multiple bands on a tour and shoot them. I’d be very happy doing that for a very long time.
RIK WTP: VERY AWESOME TO HAVE MET YOU. I REALLY DIG YOUR SUPPORT, PASSION, AND ART! ALL YOU WTP READERS…GO AND SHOW THIS AMAZING GIRL SOME LOVE AND LIKE HER PAGE. MUSICIANS…YOU ALREADY KNOW WHO TO HIRE FOR THE JOB. CONTACT HER NOW!