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!