Born and raised in Staten Island, NY, Catherine Carrozza currently resides in Philadelphia where she got her BFA in photography from The University of the Arts. A music fan since childhood, Catherine has been capturing some of my favorite hardcore-related photos as of late. Her material from This Is Hardcore is especially of note.
Since I'm a fan of hers, I reached out to Catherine to see if she would share some of her story for a new installent of the site's Photographer Spotlight series.
Where were you born and raised, and were your parents into the arts?
I am a born and raised New Yorker. My parents were not into any art at all. My mom was always working and my dad left when I was seven, so we never had a relationship. I picked up a camera at nine years old, a polaroid that I found in my house closet, and just kept taking photos. At that age I knew this is what I wanted to do. I started out by taking photos of cigarette butts and graffiti. I enrolled in school on the weekends for graphic design and photography at 14. My step-dad came into my life when I was 15 and he was the first person my mom ever dated that took interest in her kids. I remember he asked me, "So what do you like to do?" and I said "I do photography and I love going to shows" he replied "Perfect, lets do it." Next thing I know we were going to Cro Mags and Vision of Disorder shows. Our relationship really was built on hardcore.
When did you get into music and what kind of stuff did you gravitate towards early on?
I was always into music. My mama was a disco girl, and I remember always hating listening to her music. My grandfather, an Italian business man with some serious style, always had Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin on, so I got into classics when I was young. I got into punk in elementary school. I listened to a lot of Johnny Cash, The Clash, Dropkick Murphys, Bouncing Souls, Operation Ivy... Then I got into hardcore when I was a teenager. I remember listening to Cro-Mags and Youth of Today and just being so intrigued by the aggression, but positive aggression, the message that was being sent. I grew up in an extremely chaotic house, to say the least, and I remember blasting "Positive Outlook" by Youth of Today and just tuning everything out. I remember leaving my house with my ear buds in blasting "Life of My Own" by Cro-Mags while I went somewhere in NYC or Queens to shoot or running with Judge on blast. I gravitated towards a lot of straight edge bands, because growing up my father was/is an alcoholic and was doing drugs, and seeing the way other people acted while drunk and on shit in my family or out in public was a complete fucking turn off. I remember thinking "I will never be like you."
Who were some of the photographers you looked up to during your formative years?
I looked up to a lot of graffiti artists, painters, sculptors. Blek le Rat, Kevin Cyr, Horoshi, Jeff Soto, Eloy Morales, AJ Fosik, and Dan Witz, were a couple among the many that I admired and still admire.
What is your camera and post set up?
I'm a Nikon lady. I shoot Nikon D800, sometimes with external flash, sometimes without. I use 24-70mm, 16-24mm lenses. My post is real simple, I don't like manipulating the image too much, unless it fits the band and the subject. My love is black and white, although I have been starting to do some color.
Who are some of your favorite bands to shoot?
Oh man, there's so many. Judge, Burn, Gorilla Biscuits, Bane (who I miss terribly) Sheer Terror, Incendiary, Killing Time, Wisdom in Chains. I am a huge fan of photographing the crowd, actually thats how I started out doing music photography. I started a series of crowd studies for about a year. I never photographed the band, just the crowd reactions. Then as time went on, I just figured well, lets photograph both and give this a try.
If you could go back in time, who are some bands that you would have loved to shoot?
Ten Yard Fight, Side by Side, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, In my Eyes, Project X, Beastie Boys, and I'm sure so many others that can't come to mind.
What are the toughest aspects to shooting live music events?
Not getting your equipment fucked up by stage divers! Also, when its a band I really dig, I get into it and sing along, and sometimes forget to take photos because I'm so caught up in the moment.
Tell me about some newer bands that we should all be on the lookout for.
Eaten Alive, The Dividing Line, Ecostrike. All awesome bands that I can really vibe to and have fun photographing.
Who are some modern-day music-related photographers that you admire?
I work alongside many talented photographers, Anne Spina, Rachel Wass, Eye of the Storm Photography, JC Carey. They're all very unique in their techniques.
If you had to pick one of your photos that best encapsulates why you love shooting bands, which one would it by and why?
To be honest, I spent a lot of time looking through my photos and trying to pick one for this question and then I finally came to the realization that I really don't think I could pick one photo. Every show I photograph, every band at that particular show, every song that the band plays, it's all so different, and that is why I love photographing bands. I love documenting emotions, reactions, that are felt by both the band and the crowd. It is amazing that a band can trigger such emotion from people, such behavior. When I'm standing there with my camera, it's a great feeling to know that we are all here because we want to be here, because we all love this, all ages.