Beginning February 1, 2014, the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River, Mass., is showcasing a new exhibition of pictures by photographer Kristen Pierson that capture some of rock and roll’s most notable musicians performing live on different stages across North America. Entitled “Driven by Music: A Collective Work by Kristen Pierson,” the exhibit is free and open to the public during normal box office hours and showtimes.
A special reception with Pierson will be held on Saturday, February 8, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.
Pierson, whose work has appeared in multiple publications, including Rolling Stone, Kerrang! Magazine, and Limelight Magazine of New England, took all of the photos over the past decade. She said the exhibit will allow the viewer to experience the fast pace of music photography.
“The viewer will feel as if they are part of a particular moment at the show,” said Pierson.
Among the musicians featured are Aerosmith, Black Eyed Peas, Grace Potter, Green Day, Dave Matthews, Tim Reynolds, Heart, and many more.
Pierson’s photography career began at the Locobazooka festival in Mansfield, Mass. With nothing but a point-and-shoot camera, Pierson took shots of the bands from two rows back in the center section. When she got home, she looked at the photographs and something clicked inside her head. She knew music photography was her calling. So she invested in some professional camera equipment, and spent several months learning as much about concert photography as possible.
Pierson said it took a lot of work just to get credentials to photograph an Alice in Chains concert at Lupo’s in Providence, R.I., on Halloween in 2006. She was nervous that night as Alice in Chains was also shooting footage of the concert for a DVD. She stood by the side of the stage as she got ready to take pictures, not for a publication, but for herself.
“To me, that was a big way for me to prove to myself that this was definitely something I could do,” Pierson recalled.
Over the years, she recalls some of her favorite bands to photograph have been Shinedown, Mumford and Sons, Heart, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.
“Every show I shoot gives me an adrenaline rush, whether it’s a local band playing in front of 50 people to a venue filled with 15,000 people,” she said. “Each show is unique in its own way.”
Pierson continued, “I guess I could say I’ve always been ambitious anyway. If you devote yourself, you can do whatever you want to do.”
Pierson said photographers Annie Leibowitz and the late Jim Marshall are some of her influences.
“People like them, that’s what gives others the ambition to want to do this,” she said.
Pierson said there is a lot of competition among photographers and while anyone can take photographs, not everyone has the eye for it.
“I’ve been told by some people, that I captured the musician’s soul,” she said. “Sometimes you only get one shot at it, then the moment passes you by.”
Bands usually don’t pose for the camera at concerts, so Pierson said she always has to have her camera ready and never has her back to the stage.
“The best part is the adrenaline rush I get when I shoot, I love that feeling.” Pierson said. “It’s also great when I get a positive response from fans who enjoy the pictures, or when an artist contacts me to license the pictures I took of them. It makes the hard work that goes into this craft even more worthwhile.”
The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River. Box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m. The exhibit runs through March 15.