A Closer Look With Nashville Portrait Photographer, Bridgette Aikens

We got to chatting with Nashville based photographer, Bridgette Aikens on her portrait work of musicians and what it's been like working as a freelance photographer.

And a pretty damn good one at that. 

Q: Where are you from? How has growing up shaped you into the artist you are today?

A: I grew up in upstate New York. I spent the first 22 years of my life there before moving to Charlotte, NC for a few years. Two very different cities that showed me how to pay attention to something small and making something grand out of it and in turn making something grand into something small.

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Q: What is it about portraiture and specifically music focused portraiture that speaks to you?

A: Portraiture is a way for me to see someone for who they are and translate that through an image. Each musician I have met has shown a different personality trait than the others I have photographed before them. I think there’s a wonderful mix between an outgoing personality and vulnerability that each musician carries, which I enjoy translating through an image. I want to bring light to both in a soft and classic way.

Q: You shoot both film and digital. Can you explain how you decide when to use digital and when to use film?

A: Film is a love affair that most who shoot with it understand. I prefer film over digital almost entirely now but when I do use my digital it usually is in a very low lit concert setting or if the rush for the work is needed for the press or client.

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Q: Explain what it’s like to photograph a live performance and the feeling of getting “the” shot. 

A: I don’t like to particularly focus on “the” shot when I photograph a performance. Obviously that is the main goal, but I try to set my camera down to pay attention to the body language of each musician. I snap away to anything that tends to become repetitive, like jumping or a certain facial expression, in hopes to capture that person’s personality. A challenge I’ve come across at times is lighting. It’s a huge component for photographers to see their subject in order to get “the” shot. However, you make due with what you have and surprise yourself.

Q: Who are some of the artists you’re currently working with?

A: The Weeks, Okey Dokey, Liz Cooper and the Stampede, Katie Schecter, The Lonely Biscuits

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Q: What's your most memorable experience you can think of? 

A: Narrowing down one memorable performance is a tie between the first time I was able to photograph Cage the Elephant or when I photographed The Flaming Lips. What made both of these so memorable for me was the energy. Cage’s set was so interactive with the crowd and even the photographers which is every pit photographer’s dream. You reach a point toward the end of the set where you’ve basically filled an entire card without realizing it because between each of the band members, especially frontman Matt Shultz, there isn’t a moment to miss from start to end. As far as The Flaming Lips set, I’ve never had more fun in a photo pit. The opportunity to be between the energy of the band and of the crowd is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. There’s confetti and balloons all around you while dancing blow up characters and a unicorn appearance comes in and out of the set. It truly is a euphoric experience to photograph.

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Q: Who are some of the bands you find yourself listening to right now? Do you have a favorite band?

A: The Sheepdogs are my current on repeat radar right now. Their new album “Changing Colours” is phenomenal. My favorite band is the classic Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Q: What are you excited about working on right now?

A: I’ve recently began working on music videos. It’s a new avenue of creating that I have yet to really dive into. I recently put a video out a Nashville artist, Coco Reilly and had a really fun and rewarding experience trying to create a video that best reflects my film photography.

You can discover more about Bridgette and her work through her website and social handles: 

web: www.bridgetteaikens.com

instagram: @bridgetteaikens

twitter: @bridgetteaikens

Taylor Czerwinski