Behind the lens of Savannah show photography

Kenneth Lee

The reason concert-goers might not be able to spot first-year Armstrong State student, Cailee Stein, crowd-surfing in a sea of punk/metal fans or in the midst of a sweaty mosh-pit, won’t be because she’s not enjoying the band’s performance, it’ll be due to her passion for concert photography and her status as the creator of Savannah Show Photography (SSP).

SSP is a collection of photos Stein has taken over the years of touring and watching local bands that have played in Savannah and other nearby locations like Statesboro. While most of her work comes from Savannah, Statesboro is one of the other locations Stein travels to in order to photograph shows for metal bands such as Me and the Trinity and Solomon’s Ghost and Isotopes.

Q: What exactly is SSP?

Cailee Stein: “SSP is a Facebook page that I created a few years ago when I started getting more involved with the Savannah hardcore/metal scene. After a few months of just standing in the crowd, enjoying the music like everyone else, I decided to marry my passion for photography with my passion for music.

Q: Why the focus on bands?

Stein: “What I truly love about taking photos of the bands that play in the Savannah hardcore scene is how appreciative the bands usually are. There have been many times when I’ve been told that, of the 30 plus dates a band has played, I’ve been one of the few photographers along the way. For that reason, I’ve been contacted by touring bands and record companies for usage of some of my work on shirts, magazine ads, and even records.

Q: Could you share more of what’s that like? I imagine that’s a pretty great feeling whenever you get contacted for stuff like that.

Stein: “It’s really weird, actually. The first time someone used a photo of mine on a shirt, they didn’t bother to ask my permission, and once that had been sorted out, they asked a second time for usage of another photo. That was a local band though. Facedown Records was one of the major labels that came in contact with me for photos and that was a pretty surreal feeling. Most of my work is with regional acts, though.”

Q. It also seems like most of the bands you’ve taken photos of seems to be from the punk/metal genre. Why the emphasis on those genres?

Stein: “My personal music taste is all over the place, but I’m hard-pressed to find any genres as fun to watch live as punk and metal. Sure, musicians and fans of all genres of music share connections, but there’s just something about the connection and emotion from the heavier music that just makes it really great to photograph.

Q. Anything you want to say about the art of photography?

Stein: I love photography because it allows for so many different perspectives than audience members may see. It’s always very fun to provide a different perspective of a show. I also love the competition that comes with bigger shows. When there’s two to even five or six photographers trying to photograph the same set, you can’t help but to get competitive sometimes, wondering who’s going to get the best shots of the night or even of the headliners’ sets.

Q: What do you enjoy most about SSP?

Stein: “SSP has become such a large part of my life. When you get that winning shot, when people get excited and anxious about when you’re going to post the photos of their band, when you see 15 people changed their Facebook profile pictures to your photos and give you credit, when you realize the great connections you’ve made through different mediums of art. That’s when it hits you why you spent the amount of time and money choosing the right equipment and going to any and every show that you can. In the end, the best part of SSP is the passion I get to pour into it, knowing that it will be appreciated in the end result.”