My Photography Journey

My first Camera & Photo Pass

The first camera I ever used was my moms Kodak Easyshare point and shoot. This was before every cell phone had a camera and if they did, it was horrible quality. I used the camera on auto and that often, if not always, resulted in the flash going off. Some of the shows I remember from these early days are Panic! at the Disco, Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Greeley Estates. I have no idea what happened to most of these photos because back then I was on some sort of windows PC with no backup hard drive editing my photos in Microsoft paint. By editing I mean cropping and adding a tag, I did nothing more than that at the time. During this era, a lot of photographers had cool names they went by and I was straight edge and loved video games so I went with ‘xAtarixx’ …I’m embarrassed just thinking about it. I was not in the photo pit and most of the venues I was going to didn’t even have one. The benefit of a point and shoot camera is you don’t need a photo pass and can shoot the entire show. I was able to take photos from the crowd or right up against the stage in most cases. I remember capturing a shot of the singer of Silent Film, a local Maryland pop-punk band, mid-air. From that moment on I was determined to capture these sort of moments. Because I was shooting on auto, I had to know exactly when to press the shutter and take the shot. I didn’t shoot in burst so I only had one chance to capture the moment.

The very first photo pass I ever got was for the 3rd annual Nintendo Fusion Tour. Ironically, I sold my Nintendo DS to purchase my first DSLR camera, the Nikon D50. The tour had a stop at the 930 club in DC on October 6th, 2005, and I got a photo pass through Tom Cheney of Idobi to shoot for his website. Fall Out Boy was the headliner and The Starting Line, Motion City Soundtrack, Boys Night Out and Panic! At the Disco were openers on the tour. This was the first time I ever heard the “first 3 songs, no flash” rule. I actually did use flash because I didn’t know how to turn it off, but I didn’t get thrown out of the photo pit. What survived from that show are a few really terrible photos and the beginning of my journey as a concert photographer. 


Brutal Photos on the Nikon D50

Despite having read the entire manual front to back, I still didn’t fully grasp how to properly use the camera. One night at a show at The Ottobar, I met a really nice photographer who took my camera and changed the settings for me. I was told to leave it in manual mode and when looking through the viewfinder I would see a scale showing whether I was over or under exposed. He told me to use the back wheel and try to get it as close to the center as possible. This is how I shot for quite some time before forcing myself to actually learn what I was doing. All of my editing was done in Photoshop after taking a class on it in college and learning how to manipulate hue/saturation, brightness/contrast and exposure. At this point, I changed my tag to ‘Brutal Photos’ because everyone used adjectives to describe themselves on Myspace.

My mom and I had started a local events and promotions company called Musicbox and I was able to get photo passes in exchange for posting the galleries on our website. I even managed to have a few of my photos from the AP Tour published in AP Magazine. Fortunately they were printed very small, because I was still shooting in JPEG. This was the first time I was paid for my photographs, and it was so exciting to see them in physical form. I shot for years with this camera at festivals and large scale venues in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. It’s incredible to think I was a teenager with the Nikon D50 and kit lens, photographing artists like Elton John, Coldplay and the Jonas Brothers.


Shooting RAW

I moved to New York in 2011 and didn’t shoot shows for the next 6 years. I was getting acclimated to a new city, working full time in post-production and didn’t have the resources to buy a new camera. I had decided if I did shoot shows again, it wasn’t going to be with my Nikon D50. While I had shot some amazing shows with that camera, I refused to re-enter the photo pit with the same entry level DSLR I used as a teenager. I also decided to drop the moniker and start using my name instead.

In 2017 I purchased a Nikon D3400 camera and shot 5 shows with the kit lens it came with. I wanted to make sure before I invested in a full frame body or new lenses, that shooting shows was something I really wanted to do again. A coworker of mine also encouraged me to shoot RAW and taught me the basics of Lightroom. I got mediocre results mostly, but it reinvigorated my passion for concert photography. The following year, I shot 5 more shows with that lens before upgrading to the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8. The first show I used this new lens at was Paramore at Barclays Center, and I was so happy with the results I was getting. Throughout 2018, I shot a total of 20 shows for Stars and Scars, VZN and The Pop Break. I even had another photo printed, this time it was a half page in Revolver magazine’s feature about the band Ghost. Now I was convinced, this was something I would definitely not be giving up on anytime soon.

The last show I shot of 2018 was the 92.3 Not So Silent Night festival at Barclays Center featuring Muse, Bastille and Florence and the Machine. While I got photos that I loved, I felt like I was limited by my equipment. I decided if I was going to be shooting big shows professionally, I should have the equipment to match.


Going Mirrorless

Upgrading from a Nikon APS-C crop sensor camera to a full frame model was my goal going into 2019. My original plan was to upgrade to the Nikon D750, a natural progression for me being a lifelong Nikon user. However, I had the opportunity to shoot with the Sony A7Riii mirrorless. If going from crop sensor to full-frame is akin to taking off the training wheels, then going from DSLR to Mirrorless would be like going from riding a bike to driving a race car. The extensive menu system was intimidating and I wasn’t familiar with the buttons and controls of Sony. I knew that utilizing the best of the best would really propel me forward and although it would be a challenge to learn this new system, the benefits would far outweigh the cons. I watched countless youtube videos (FroKnowsPhoto), read several articles from other concert photographers who had shot with Sony mirrorless cameras (Matty Vogel and Adam Elmakias), and spent hours going through every setting in the menu. I highly suggest checking out this video by PhotonArmy where he goes through every single setting in the menu and explains what it does.

Once I had everything set up to the best of my abilities, it was time to take this camera for a test run. I got approved for two shows the same week, The Aces at Bowery Ballroom and Barns Courtney at Terminal 5. I decided I would take the Sony out to both shows and see what it could do in different venues and lighting situations.

First up was The Aces. Bowery Ballroom is a medium sized venue with no photo pit. Immediately I could feel the difference in weight compared to what I was used to, a full frame camera with a good zoom lens is much heavier. One thing I love that you can only get on a mirrorless camera is the electronic viewfinder. You can turn on a setting that allows you to see your exposure in real-time and I also loved being able to review photos in the viewfinder. My biggest concern was battery life and memory card space but at the end of the night I hadn’t used nearly as much as I anticipated. Next was Barns Courtney opening for The Kooks at Terminal 5, a much larger venue with a spacious photo pit area. I met a super nice guy in the photo pit also shooting with the Sony A7Riii, who has his own blog Early Bird Music. We talked about things we loved and found frustrating about the camera. Overall, I am looking forward to really getting to know this camera and system extensively.


Not only has my equipment advanced over the years, but my knowledge and understanding of it has as well. My shooting and editing style has also changed dramatically. When I first started, I shot almost exclusively vertical and preferred things to look as close to reality as possible. I was aiming for really good portraits as opposed to doing anything creative or unique. Now, I shoot a lot more horizontal images and do way more creative editing. Looking back, it’s crazy to think my first real photo pass was at a Fall Out Boy show when I was 16 years old. I look forward to someday shooting them again and being able to put those photos side by side and see how far I’ve come.

To anyone just starting out, my advice would be to shoot any shows you can. Don’t worry about photo passes or equipment. Just go out and shoot local bands playing basement shows. Get used to taking photos of fast moving subjects in difficult lighting and figure out your own shooting and editing style. Make connections with as many people as you can, merch people, venue staff, other photographers etc. Teach yourself about the technical aspects of photography and be patient with yourself, it will take time and practice. Remember, everyone started somewhere.

Patriciana Tenicela
MY FIRST SHOW : Bowling for Soup @ The Ottobar

It was October of 2003 and I had become infatuated with the Disney musical “Newsies”, which was originally released over a decade earlier. It was a flop at the time but somehow a new generation of teens had discovered the film and adored it. The reason this is relevant is because I had heard one of the actors from the movie was now the lead singer of a pop-punk band called Never Heard Of It (NHOI). I was able to uncover this information through a network of other strangely obsessed Newsies fans on message boards and blogs. At the time, I was listening to similar bands on the radio like Blink 182, The All American Rejects and Good Charlotte. Check out the music video below to get a taste of NHOI in all their glory.


When I found out that NHOI was on tour with none other than Bowling For Soup, I begged my mom to take me to their show at a little place in Baltimore called “The Ottobar”. I remember vividly that my mom called the venue and spoke to someone there about if it were appropriate to bring kids under 21, as I was 14 at the time. I’m not sure what the person at the venue told her, but whatever it was gave her confidence that this was a totally safe atmosphere and she agreed to take me to the show.

We drove the 45 minutes from Silver Spring to Baltimore and parked behind the venue. I got to meet and take a photo with DJ, the singer of the band and Newsies star, before the show even started. I hung out on their RV with members of the NHOI street team, and even had him sign the soundtrack of the film, which he was on the cover of.


On my way into the venue, I got branded with giant sharpie X’s for the first time. We walked in and watched the show together, the atmosphere a rush of stimulation. In 2003, you could still smoke indoors, the venue was covered with bands stickers and there was a moderate crowd ranging in age. The venue had a small stage right next to the main entrance and merch booths, bathrooms and a bar towards the back.

One of the opening bands was a Baltimore local called Karmella’s Game, they had a spunky female lead who also played synths. They also had a female bass player which I thought was really cool, and probably influenced my later stint as a bass player in a local band myself. They were full of energy and wore matching outfits, often singing in harmony. I loved their logo, which was a frightened black cat with it’s back arched.


When it was finally time for Never Heard Of It to hit the stage, I was beyond excited. The not-even-sold-out crowd all danced and sang along. There was a bit of moshing and if I remember correctly, some poorly timed stage diving by DJ himself. By the time Bowling for Soup played I had already had the most incredible day and they were just the icing on the cake. Their set was over-the-top ridiculous and I remember thinking they must be famous because they were on the radio.

After the show, Bowling for Soup had a signing in the back of the venue by the merch area. I had them sign a poster that I took off of one of the venue’s walls. I got to hang out and talk to other members of NHOI as well as the other opening bands. It was so incredible to not only see the bands but to meet them all. I didn’t fully grasp how they were so accessible to me, a High School freshman.

I left that first show with a few autographs and clothes smelling like smoke, but also with a newfound love for live music. We were so impressed with Karmella’s Game that we attended several of their shows, I even sold their merch a few times. We returned to The Ottobar countless times and saw a lot of bands there before they got popular, like All Time Low and Paramore. My younger brother and I would eventually play shows there as well. This year, Rolling Stone named The Ottobar one of the 10 best live music venues in America. Sadly, the venue is being sold to new owners next year. I haven’t been back in years but I will always remember the venue fondly as my first concert experience.

Scan 1.jpeg

It’s hard to grasp that one event, a Bowling for Soup show nonetheless, really did change my life in such a big way. It was such a fun time to be a teenager going to shows. Pop-punk and emo were on the rise with bands like Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance just gaining buzz. I feel lucky that I got to be a part of that era. I felt a connection to the music scene and I went on to do concert photography and start a local promotions business called Musicbox with my mom… but more on that later.

Patriciana Tenicela
My Favorite Shows of 2018

*Tap the photo to view more


GHOST @ Capitol Theatre

Ghost was my first show at the Port Chester venue Capitol Theatre. I took the Metro North from 125th street, a quick 40 minute train ride. There were delays in the trains that night and I was worried I wouldn’t make it in time for the show. Once I arrived, I was immediately impressed by the venue which offers snacks, food and even free water, something you don’t often find in NYC. It is a beautiful historic theatre and Ghost’s images of stained glass windows fit right in. The floor of the venue was on a slant, meaning even if you are further back in the crowd you still got a good view.

Ghost was on tour with no openers, instead they played two sets with an intermission. I had a photo pass which was good for the first 3 songs of the second set, so even if I had arrived late I would have had plenty of time. Ghost is a band I highly recommend seeing live. Their show is a spectacle like nothing I have ever seen. The members of the band are “nameless ghouls” dressed in masks and costumes. The singer, who’s persona changes each album, is a character known as Cardinal Copia. He changes outfits several times in the evening, which is one thing that I was worried about having photo for the second set. What if his outfit during the first set was more interesting and photogenic? Turned out I had nothing to worry about, as he came out in a unique red ensemble that made for dynamic photos. I was really happy with what I got and stuck around to enjoy the rest of the show.

As I was leaving, the pleasant and friendly staff told everyone to have a good night and get home safe. I have never experienced hospitality like that of the Capitol Theatre and I very much look forward to shooting more shows there in the future. A few days later, I received an email from Revolver magazine. They wanted to feature one of my photos from the show in their upcoming issue which included Ghost as their cover story. I was ecstatic as this would be my first photo published in print in almost 10 years. Now several months later, Ghost is nominated for two Grammy awards.

I just caught their last show on the A Pale Tour Named Death run at Barclays Center, which was my last show of the year. It was a huge production, featuring confetti and pyrotechnics. Only two shows on the entire tour, NY and LA, got to see pyro so it felt very special. They once again played two sets with an intermission and no opening acts. I look forward to seeing what is next for the band in 2019, especially now that singer Tobias Forge is doing interviews and making appearances sans costume.

My photos of the Capitol Theatre show can be seen on Stars and Scars:


*Tap the photo to view more

PARAMORE @ Barclays Center

I was super excited to see Paramore at Barclays Center and even more excited that I was able to photograph them. I have been a fan of the band since seeing them on their very first Warped Tour back in 2005 and the last time I had the opportunity to photograph them was at the tours 2007 date in Maryland. Since then, they have released four albums - my favorite of which is their most recent release, After Laughter.

I arrived at the show nervous, having never shot at this venue before. I wasn’t sure if the lighting would be good or how big the photo pit was. Before any show, I take a look at what other photographers have been able to capture on the same tour. Not because I want to emulate or copy their work, but because I can tell what kind of lighting there is, what the stage design is like and if there are any specific moments to be ready for (such as Hayleys high kicks). It can be a bit intimidating seeing the amazing photos that have already been captured and know what I have to live up to. It was also my first show shooting with a new lens, the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8. It was risky trying out a new lens at such a big show but I really wanted the ability to utilize the wide aperture that it would allow.

Foster the People opened and their set was a bit difficult. The lighting was challenging and I felt like I might not end up with anything worth posting (I was able to salvage photos from their set with a little love in Lightroom). Overall I was hesitant going into Paramore’s set. I was pleasantly surprised when they began as they had much brighter lighting and in the end I was really happy with the photos I got of them. I was even happier when Hayley Williams herself liked my post on instagram. It means so much to know that the artist has seen my work.

My coverage of Paramore’s Barclay Center show was posted on Stars and Scars:


*Tap the photo to view more

WARPED TOUR @ Jones Beach

The end of Warped Tour was an announcement I never thought I would live to witness. I have been attending as a fan and photographer since 2004, often going to several dates in the same year. The tour has always been a great place to see all my favorite pop punk and emo bands while also showcasing local artists that I had not yet heard of. There was an atmosphere at Warped that I don’t think any festival or tour can emulate. Being there felt like some kind of dreamland where time would stop and you could be a teenager forever.

One of the bands on this years tour happened to be mychildren mybride who I have been friends with for several years. Their singer, Matthew Hasting, graciously offered me a spot on their guest list and a photo pass for the New York date. With this being the very last Warped Tour, I knew I had to be there. I don’t own a car so I took a Warped Tour shuttle bus from Penn Station out to Long Island. I got there early in the morning but there were already bands playing in the beach parking lot. Matt offered me a pop tart on his bus because I was really smart and didn’t eat anything that morning. They played fairly early in the day and I took photos of their set from the pit and the stage. Afterwards I walked around a bit taking in the sounds and sights. It was extremely hot this day so we stopped by the MCMB merch booth several times to drink some highly coveted Warped Tour canned water.

There were a few other bands on the tour I wanted to catch and photograph. I got almost every band on my list, with the exception of Waterparks who played at the same time as Palaye Royale. One band that I watched but didn’t photograph was Don Broco, an English band that I had not heard of previously. My favorite sets of the day were Nekrogoblikon and Every Time I Die. A friend of mine plays guitar for Nekrogoblikon, a metal band with a goblin mascot. They were ridiculously fun and over the top. Every Time I Die were incredible and the crowd went nuts during their set. Their singer Keith later commented on my photos from that day on Instagram. It always makes me happy when I know a band has seen my photos and even happier when I know they like them.

I ended up staying much later than I anticipated. I missed my bus home to the city and attended the infamous Warped Tour barbecue instead. I didn’t want the day, or the tour, to end. I had to take a cab to the Long Island Railroad and it ended up taking me several hours to finally get home, but it was well worth it.

My photos from the final Warped Tour’s Jones Beach date can be found on my blog:


*Tap the photo to view more


I first found out about the Avett Brothers at my last job working as an associate producer for a post production facility. They were editing and finishing the Judd Apatow directed documentary about the band. I got to see the film at the NYC premiere, which the band attended. Afterwards they played a few songs live in the theatre. I had never seen them before so it was a treat seeing them play such an intimate, private performance.

When I heard they would be touring I knew I wanted to get photo for the show. The closest date to the city was in Holmdel, New Jersey which the films editor would be attending. I got a ride with him to the venue which is an hour and a half south of the city. We got stuck in traffic on the way and I started to feel uneasy about making it in time, as the band played fairly early. We pulled up to the venue and parked in their lot, which is a several minutes long walk from the venue itself. As I ran up to the box office I could hear the band begin to play. They had my photo pass but no ticket as the show had an escort take you to the photo pit. Since I was now late and couldn’t get in on my own they had to have the escort come back to bring me to the pit, which was of course another few minutes walk from the main entrance. We literally ran from the gate to the stage and I was so worried about missing a song. I texted their tour manager who was so kind and told me to go ahead and shoot the entire set.

There was no photo pit or barricade at this show, instead I stood behind a few fans who were brave enough to stand in a fully seated venue. They put on an incredible, energetic performance and I took thousands of photos. It was a challenge for me since it was outside during the day, but under a cover that provided a lot of shade. The stage was quite large and they were a bit further back, in retrospect I would have liked to have a longer lens with me. I’m really hoping I get another chance to photograph them on a headlining tour some time soon. I highly recommend checking out their documentary, now streaming on HBO.

My photos from the Holmdel, NJ show can be found on Stars and Scars:


*Tap the photo to view more

92.3 NOT SO SILENT NIGHT @ Barclays Center

I didn’t know if I was approved to shoot this show until the morning of. I got an email from the publicist that I was approved and another email confirming everything was good to go. They sent over information on the rules and a map showing where to go when I arrived. This seemed extra helpful as sometimes venue staff members don’t know where to send you. For example at the aforementioned Paramore show, I was told to go to one location but then sent back to the main window. I left work early and arrived before the first band had taken the stage. I like to capture all the bands on the bill regardless of how big they are, if I am familiar with them, or I have been asked to cover their set. This allows me to get used to the lighting and photo pit situation in advance of the headliner taking the stage. It also gives me a chance to work through any anxiety I may be having about the show.

When I arrived I was escorted into the photo pit. There were a good amount of photographers covering this show but the photo pit area was large so it accommodated everyone comfortably. Once inside the photo pit we were told that we could go to our ticketed seat at any time, but that if we were to do so we would not be able to return to the photo pit. I thought this was interesting as usually you shoot the first 3 songs, then leave and return once the next band starts. What this meant was we all got front row seats to the entire show. In total the show featured 8 bands and was 5 hours long. They saved time between sets by utilizing a rotating stage which was really cool to see.

I was particularly nervous about this show because one of my all time favorite bands, Muse, was playing. I have seen them so many times that I have lost track, and never had the opportunity to photograph their set. Before the two co-headliners sets I wanted to change out memory cards to ensure I had enough space for Florence and the Machine and Muse. I came to realize that I had forgotten my case of memory cards at work. I was in a panic and asked one of the other photographers if I might be able to borrow one. She was so kind and didn’t even ask any questions before handing me a memory card. I honestly don’t know what I would have done otherwise. I didn’t want to have to delete anything from earlier in the night, but I also didn’t want to run out of space during the biggest bands of the show.

Getting to watch Muse from up close was an absolute dream. They have been on my bucket list since I started shooting shows and I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to finally photograph them. I am hoping to get photo to the NYC date of their 2019 world tour, as nothing beats a true Muse headline show. Their stage production usually includes amazing visual effects, confetti and even drones. After the show ended I headed home buzzing with the excitement of seeing and photographing such an incredible lineup. I spent an entire day editing photos and am really excited to finally add Muse to my portfolio.

My show review and photos from 92.3 Not So Silent Night can be seen on The Pop Break:

Patriciana Tenicela
Artists Discovered in 2018

I wanted to share a few of the artists that I discovered this year. Special thanks to Spotify Discover Weekly playlist for constantly and consistently introducing me to music I would have not known about otherwise.


Song: x ANA x



EP: What Did you Think When You Made Me This Way?



Album: Francis Trouble



Album: The Boy Who Died Wolf



Album: The World’s Best American Band


Patriciana Tenicela
NEKROGOBLIKON @ Warped Tour 2018

I was a fan of Nekrogoblikon before I even heard their music. A band that centers around a goblin named John Goblikon is just too weird not to like. Turns out, their music is just as fun as their lore. Oh and they happen to be super nice dudes who put on one hell of a show!

Patriciana Tenicela
PALAYE ROYALE @ Warped Tour 2018

Warped Tour was my first time seeing Palaye Royale perform live. These guys really know how to work a stage. They have a fun, larger than life vibe that is infectious. Any band that covers My Chemical Romance, and does it well, is cool with me.

Patriciana Tenicela

I have known mychildren mybride front man Matthew Hasting for over 10 years and was very excited to see them play after several years off from touring. Thank you for the pass and for hanging out with me all day even though I made you stand in the sun and watch weird bands with me. 

Patriciana Tenicela
Concert Photo Bucket List

I have been fortunate in getting to shoot many incredible artists over the years including No Doubt, Green Day, The Jonas Brothers, Coldplay and even Elton John. However, some of my favorite shows have been ones that I have attended solely as a fan. Below is a list, in no particular order, of the top bands and artists that I still dream of someday having the chance to shoot.

via iPhone

via iPhone


Having been a fan of the Foo Fighters since I was a kid hearing "Monkey Wrench" on the radio, I have had the chance to see them live only once. The show was at Citi Field and the seats were pretty high up. Dave Grohl was also seated in a throne for the entire performance because he had an injured leg. Nevertheless, he rocked out and put on one hell of a show. I hope to someday be able to catch them from the pit, and see Dave Grohl kill it on two legs.

Favorite Songs: My Hero, Rope

via iPhone

via iPhone


I have seen Muse play festivals, arenas and even small clubs across multiple states. Their show has some insane production including lasers, confetti balls and holograms. Muse comes off as larger than life, especially for a band of only 3 members. I would die happy if I ever had the chance to be in the photo pit at one of their shows.

Favorite songs: Plug In Baby, Butterflies and Hurricanes

via iPhone

via iPhone


When I think of the most fun I've ever had at a show, The Darkness at Brooklyn Steel definitely comes to mind. I have loved this band since the TRL days and only just got to see them perform live this year. If you haven't heard anything of theirs past 2002's "I believe in a Thing Called Love" you are really missing out. This band is so much more than a gimmick and I can't wait to get some amazing photos of them.

Favorite Songs: Barbarian, Southern Trains

via iPhone

via iPhone


Butch Walker is an incredible singer/songwriter who's live shows are filled with emotion and energy. He has an amazing way of captivating and interacting with his audience. I was so enamored by him in fact, that I got some Butch Walker lyrics tattooed on my ankle. Despite the fact that I have gone to countless shows over the years, I have never brought my camera. Maybe it was because I didn't want to be distracted and just wanted to watch, dance and sing along. It was probably also a fear of not being able to capture his essence in a photo. Here's hoping I have the chance to be in the photo pit on his tour this fall. If not, I'll definitely still be there watching from the crowd.

Favorite Songs: Best Thing You Never Had, Closer to the Truth and Further from the Sky



I have listed the Flaming Lips as an honorable mention because I have yet to see them perform live. The photos and videos I have seen from their shows truly blow me away. They seem to be the most insane over the top live band on tour. They have it all - Inflatables, confetti cannons, disco balls and balloons. I'm excited at the idea of ever getting to shoot their set, but I'm also intrigued just to get to see for myself what all the hype is about!


Patriciana Tenicela