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The Art of Capturing Emotion on Camera

In this post, we hear from rockstar and sports photographer Michael Vagaries.  He shares how he captures the emotions of his famous subjects.

Photographer Michael Zagaris or “Z-Man” as he calls himself may be one of the coolest photographers you’ll meet. He compares his job as a rockstar and sports photographer to being an actor in a movie. Whether he’s on stage at a concert or in the end-zone at a professional football game; Z-Man embraces his “role” as a teammate and rockstar. Z-Man said, once he was on assignment at a Rolling Stones’ concert and Mick Jagger put makeup on his face so Z-Man followed right behind him, putting some rouge on his cheeks.

“You become what you shoot,” said Zagaris.

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Mick Jagger _Photo Credit: Michael Zagaris

Z-Man’s client list is one any music or sports enthusiast would envy. He’s photographed some of the most iconic music legends in the industry: Madonna, Rolling Stones, The Who, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen. In my Advancing Your Photography Show video, “Photography Tips: The Key to Capturing Emotion,” Z-Man said the key to capturing emotion is knowing when to engage your subject and knowing when to be invisible. How do you do that? Z-Man says, go with your gut.

The other key to capturing emotion, Z-Man said, is to pay attention, “viscerally, in your soul. And read where you are, know who you are and how you fit in, in relation to your subject.”

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers _Photo Credit: Michael Zagaris

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Bruce Springsteen _Photo Credit: Michael Zagaris

Z-Man became a sports photographer in the ’70s and is the current team photographer for the San Francisco 49ers.  He considers himself more of a photojournalist. He wants to capture reality or things that appear to be real, and give his audience a behind-the-scenes experience, or as he calls it, “a visual diary.”

Photograph of Michael Zagaris print
Photograph of Michael Zagaris print

Joe Montana and Coach Walsh _Photo Credit: Michael Zagaris

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_Photo Credit: Michael Zagaris

Whether it’s famous rockstars or professional athletes, Z-Man uses his camera lens to bridge the gap between subject and you — the viewer.

“Shoot what really moves you and shoot what you feel.”

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Eric Clapton _Photo Credit Michael Zagaris

Z-Man’s last bit of advice to amateur and professional photographers alike: “Remain engaged. Always be open. Try to see and feel everything and capture it. Shoot what really moves you and shoot what you feel.”

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The Who at Winterland. March 30, 1976 _Photo Credit: Michael Zagaris

See more of his images on his Instagram.

Now go out and go deep!



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