Michael Thad Carter: SXSW Musicians

Apr 20, 2017
Photographer Spotlight

Michael Thad Carter had been hoping to get an assignment photographing at SXSW for several years, so when he received a message from New York Magazine Art Director, Maya Robinson asking if he’d be interested in capturing studio portraits of musicians during the festival for Vulture, he jumped at the chance. 

Michael Thad Carter; Photographer; Photography; Wonderful Machine; SXSW; South by Southwest; Music; Portrait; Portraiture; Vulture; NY mag; New York Magazine; Austin; Texas; Aldous Harding; AOE; Dawaun Parker; Phil Beaudreau
AoE (left), Aldous Harding (right)

With the logistical talents of Vulture’s associate editor, Dee Lockett at his disposal, Michael had several conversations with Maya about the poses and background choices for the shoot. The deceptively simple concept behind the project was to capture energetic portraits of musicians in a studio environment.

Michael Thad Carter, Photographer, Photography, Wonderful Machine, SXSW, South by Southwest, Music, Portrait; Portraiture, Vulture, NY mag, New York Magazine, Austin, Texas, PWR BTTM, A$AP Ferg,
PWR BTTM (left)  A$AP Ferg (right)

When it came time for the three-day shoot, Michael had to work within the constraints of each musician's schedule. Luckily each musician had been pre-scheduled, but the timing was still tight. 

At several points, we had five to six artists arriving within 15 minutes of each other. Which means we had to capture a portrait of each musician in enough time to have them moving through the space before the next musician arrived.

During his 15 minutes with each musician, Michael had to capture stills highlighting their personalities and showcasing their unique styles and presences. A short interview was also to be conducted for the magazine, however, the editor that was supposed to be interviewing got delayed for a day and was not there. Michael and his assistant were tasked with interviewing the musicians as well as photographing them, which made for quite an interesting day.

While slightly alarming at first, the interviews got to be really fun and by the end we were enjoying the process! 

Michael Thad Carter, SWSW, South by Southwest, Vulture
Poliça (left), Girlpool (right)

Despite a tight schedule and some unexpected tasks, Michael and his assistant rolled with the punches and made it through the shoot without any major issues, making evocative portraits along the way. He recounts his favorite part of this shoot as being the vast range of talent he was able to meet at SXSW.

The sheer volume and diversity of talent that comes through Austin during SXSW is incredible. Just getting the chance to meet and photograph a handful of these individuals was awesome in and of itself.

Michael also enjoyed the thrill and excitement of the fast-paced shoot as well as the challenge of capturing something unique about each individual in such a short burst of time. Although the pictures have only been out for a few weeks, the photographs have been well received  He hopes to return to SXSW for many years to come, so he can photograph the fresh talent on display.

See more of Micheal at mtcphotography.com and check out our other great photographers on our find photographers page!

Tags: michael thad carter musician portraiture sxsw vulture