One without the lens.
One without the lens.
Jon Marino

A Longtime Concert Photographer On His Life in Pictures

In Pound for the Sound, Phoenix New Times get technical with local music community members about what "gear" they use to create their signature "tones" in our community.

Bill Goodman
is a pretty quiet guy until you get to know him. The man has rich stories and has been vastly integrated into the Phoenix music community over the last 15 years. He may not have been making the music, but he truly has had an eye for detail and a clear impact in the community with his instrument: the camera.

Goodman was born right here in the Valley. He grew up on the west side, and resides in Maryvale today. He was born in 1961, well before the digital age, and he remembers messing around with the family camera a bunch, but nothing specifically music-related.

Goodman bought his first camera, a Canon T-70, in 1995 on a whim at a pawn shop. It was a manual focus, and he used to love to mess with it, especially "back when he could see," he jokes. He also loves reptiles, and the photos of his pet reptiles he took in the late '90s won him awards and got him published in Reptile Magazine.

But that was only the start. Goodman found himself wanting to shoot concerts. Starting with Sugar Thieves guitarist Mikel Lander, Goodman has photographed hundreds of Arizona and touring musicians over his rich career here in the Valley. He's also known for his amazing work utilizing black-and-white portraits. His favorite room to shoot in is Last Exit Live, and some locals might even call him the "unofficial concert photographer" over at The Lost Leaf.

This Friday, August 3, Goodman's work will be on display at the Phoenix Center for the Arts, hosted by Emancipation Arts. He'll be exhibiting work in color and in classic monochrome, including his signature concert photography here in Phoenix. New Times was able to catch up with Goodman this week to discuss his gear, his love for the combination of community and photography, and his upcoming exhibit.

Phoenix New Times: What's the secret weapon of your sound? And how did that help you find your "signature" tone?

My secret weapon, my tone or style, is a photojournalistic approach. I try to shoot what I see, trying to incorporate the feel or atmosphere of the place. I originally shot with film, and feel that film has a special way of communicating time and place. There’s more there. Digital is almost too perfect, therefore I strive for a more organic, natural, atmospheric look.

What's your favorite piece of gear in your collection and why?

At the moment, my favorite setup,especially for low light conditions, is a Sony A7S2 mirrorless camera with a Zeiss 55mm f1.8 prime or fixed lens, but I still have a fondness for my Canon gear.

Bill's "tools of the trade."EXPAND
Bill's "tools of the trade."
Bill Goodman

Any special pieces of gear acquired over the years? Any special story, or stories, behind your collection of tools?

Not really. Unlike a musician who may have a very special relationship with his or her gear, I view cameras as tools of the trade, and try not to get too attached to anything in particular. That said, I still feel the most comfortable and familiar with Canon gear. It is just more intuitive to me.

You have been in the Valley and shot hundreds of Phoenix-based and touring musicians. Who was the first artist you shot, and how did that play a role in getting you going on concert photography?

That’s easy. Mikel Lander, currently with the Sugar Thieves. He had a regular Sunday noon till 2 gig on the patio of Stinkweeds at Central and Camelback. He was my first musical performer subject. That started in 2003 and continued several years. I was still shooting film then.

Bill in action.
Bill in action.
Dave Blake

You started working with film back in 1995, and you have made the conversion to digital over the years. How has it changed the ways, if any, that you approach concert photography?

It is really great getting the feedback right away, and making adjustments on the fly. With film, I had to wait for the processed film to come back. I sometimes didn’t know what my shots looked like for a week.

You have an exhibit at Phoenix Center for the Arts coming up beginning this Friday, August 3. Any words you wish to share with readers about your upcoming show?

Not too much. Just come and hang out and chat. Listen to my good friend Scotty Spenner play some tunes, and peruse the photos. The mix is a little different than you may see me post regularly, but, well, you be the judge. Come and see.

Bill Goodman Photography in the Moment. 7 p.m. Friday, August 3, at Phoenix Center for the Arts, 1202 North Third Street; 602-254-3100; phoenixcenterforthearts.org. Free admission.

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