Photographer Spotlight: Izzy Nuzzo
Izzy's captivating image of Lil Uzi Vert at Rolling Loud Miami was nominated for the Live Music category at this year’s awards. From Izzy's biggest inspirations and top tips, to shooting live shows and building a portfolio, she shares all in this latest spotlight piece.
How did it feel to be nominated in the Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards 2023?
I was so thrilled and honored to be nominated for an Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Award! I am currently a senior at The University of Texas at Austin and have been working professionally as a concert photographer while simultaneously being a full-time student, so to be nominated among such a talented group of photographers from all over the world was really exciting, and attending the ceremony in London was a lot of fun.
Why do you think it is important to create a platform like the MPAs to showcase music photography?
It’s important to create a platform like the MPAs to showcase music photography because a photographer is an artist just as a musician is an artist, and we should be recognised for our work. Music photography is a specialised art form, and the MPAs create a community to spotlight the artist behind the lens.
Have you seen any benefits to you since being nominated?
Being recognized as a nominee not only has expanded my work opportunities, but as a female in a male-dominated industry, it feels great to be rewarded for my work.
How did you fall into music photography specifically?
Since I was a little girl, I have always loved art, photography, and live music, and I have been actively studying and taking photography courses since I was 13 years old. The more concerts I attended, the more clear it became that live music was by far my favourite thing to shoot. In the very beginning, I took concert photos on my phone. I was still in high school when I started networking with concert venues, promoters, and other photographers, which eventually led to me shooting concerts and music festivals professionally, both locally and internationally. At age 15, it was extremely rewarding to win an Independent Music Award in Concert Photography, competing among professionals from all over the world. What’s especially fun is that now I’ve seen over 400 different artists live as both a professional photographer and live music enthusiast.
Was there a particular image, body of work or photographer that was a major inspiration when starting out?
One day in high school, I was looking at concert photos from a festival I attended, and I actually saw myself in one of the photos. Then I went to the photographer’s page where I discovered several incredible images that had an impact on me and my appreciation for the art form. The way these images encapsulated the essence of the live music experience was rare and truly inspiring. Those photographs were taken by Greg Noire, 2022 MPA winner. The more I researched his work, the more interested I became, as the artistry he injects into live performance photography helped me visualize how I could take my love of photography and live music, combine them, and develop my own artistic career path. In recent years, it has been great to both be working at some of the same music festivals.
What makes a good subject in music photography and what makes a good music photographer?
My favourite musicians to shoot are ones with lively energy in their performances. I capture the emotional connection between musicians and their fans, as it gives the viewer the feeling of being there. A good music photographer is one who captures the true dynamic of the show and one who finds moments that might otherwise go unnoticed.
What advice would you give to someone getting started?
Everyone’s journey looks different, and there are so many ways to get started. I recommend going after what you want, which takes a lot of passion and dedication. Start with small shows, get to know people, and work your way to bigger acts and larger venues.
How did you go about building a portfolio?
I captured photos in any way possible when attending shows, starting with my phone in the crowd. Then I began to shoot smaller local shows professionally, and each show I worked on led me to my next show. Slowly, over the years, I worked on bigger shows and music festivals both locally and internationally. My process for continuing to add to my portfolio is the same, but now with better equipment and more experience under my belt.
What are some post-processing techniques that can enhance your music photography?
I always like to try out different editing techniques and recommend others to experiment with all the tools just to figure out what you do and don't like.
How do you create a distinctive style and visual identity in your music photography?
I like my images to hold an emotional connection with the viewer. It is important as a music photographer to ask yourself what impact you want your photography to have, and that is how you can create your own visual identity. I also tend to like rich and vibrant colour, as well as stark contrast in black and white.
When shooting a live show, how do you prepare? What challenges do you typically face?
Shooting a three-day festival requires a lot of energy. I have been athletic my whole life, and that has helped my endurance when running from stage to stage with heavy equipment and limited time in between acts. I don’t ever miss a performance no matter how far apart the stages are. I review the artists, remember the highlights of their past performances, and study set lists to figure out what songs they might play. I’m always ready for the unexpected, such as a surprise guest, if the musician comes down into the pit, or if the artist does a backflip over my head (which has happened!)
Creativity / Inspiration
Do you think there’s a genre of music that naturally lends itself to photography?
I love photographing hip-hop and rap because there is so much energy packed into the performances.
Who is someone, alive or dead, you’d love to photograph?
I’ve been fortunate to shoot a lot of my favorite rap/hip-hop artists like Lil Uzi Vert and Travis Scott, and I would love to have the opportunity to work with Harry Styles and Miley Cyrus in the future. They have been some of my favorites since I was a child.
Working with artists:
How does your approach differ when working with upcoming talent versus established artists?
My approach when working with upcoming talent or established artists is the same; I treat every person and every job of equal importance. I just be myself and work with them like the real people they are.
Can you share an interesting or memorable experience you've had while collaborating with an artist?
I felt my talent was really appreciated when artists and their teams shared or reposted my work on their social media. It shows how they appreciate different photographic approaches.
Business/ Social Media
How has social media shaped music photography, both as a craft more generally, as well as your personal work?
I am continually inspired by the photography I see on social media. By using my Instagram @izzynuzzophoto as a public portfolio of my work, social media is the main platform where I am contacted for jobs. I think social media enhances music photography greatly because we can instantaneously share photos that we take with music and photography lovers all over the world.
In one word, how would you describe your photography?