photo by Johnny Corona Jr.
Albert Licano is another music photographer you'll see at just about every show, big or small, in the usual Los Angeles/Orange County venues. Despite shooting concerts for over 20 years and being connected to a large number of well-known bands, Albert for still shoots every band on the bill, even the young openers who may be playing their first or second show. Read on to learn more about Albert Licano.
1) Where are you from and where do you live now?
I’m from all over the place as I travelled a lot as a youth. My father was in the Air Force so we travelled a lot. I’ve lived in South America, Japan and even Idaho. But I call Long Beach home now. Been living here off and on since the early 80’s.
The Damned at Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, CA (2019)
2) What is your current gear setup for shooting shows?
For shows, I usually take a Nikon D750 along with a 12mm Rockinon Fisheye and a Tamron 24-70mm. If it’s a bigger room, I’ll bring my 70-200mm Tamron. I’ll bring a cheap speed light with me just in case. I also have a Sony RX100VI that I can use for some of the bigger shows when I don’t have a photo pass.
Off! at The Observatory OC in Santa Ana, CA (2014)
3) When did you start shooting shows/bands, and what compelled you to start shooting these types of photos?
I’ve always taken pictures or videos of bands. I probably did more hi-8 video stuff back in the late 90’s but I took some still photos back then. I have tons of video footage of bands like Murder City Devils, The Locust, Aus Rotten, Dropdead, Los Crudos, etc. that I still have to digitize.
There was a period where I didn’t go to that many shows or took any pictures so that I could go back to school and finish up my Masters. I finally started to invest in camera gear again around 2013. I figured that if I was going to be at all these different shows I might as well document some the bands.
Fireburn at Programme Skate and Sound in Fullerton, CA (2018)
4) Have you had any standout experiences from shooting shows or bands? Anything memorable you're stoked (or not stoked) about?
I’m fortunate to be friends with a lot of the bands so I don’t take that for granted. I think shooting Los Crudos in Tijuana back in 2016 was wild. Trump had just won the election so the atmosphere was tense. Of course the crowd went wild. I ended up with a broken lens hood and flash but it was worth it. I usually have positive experiences at the Sound and Fury and Manic Relapse fests. Both of those fests have always been accommodating to photographers.
Enzyme at Manic Relapse in Oakland, CA (2019)
5) Are there any photographers you look up to, admire, or draw inspiration
Oh, I can think of plenty of photographers that inspire me but Ed Colver comes to mind for sure since he was “there” documenting the LA punk/hardcore scene during the golden years. I’ve spoken to him about his experiences with live shows and shooting for IRS records and taking most of the iconic photos of LA/OC bands from “back in the day.” Colver was always in the mix. There’s a video you can see on YouTube of him shooting the Black Flag show in LA when all of a sudden the barricade collapses at the front of the stage. He just calmly walks over to the side of the stage, now that’s dedication.
Victims at Unfair Oaks in Pasadena, CA (2017)
6) If you could go back in time and give yourself any advice about shooting shows when you were first starting out, what would it be?
Always check your settings before you get caught up in the moment. There’s nothing worse than taking a bunch of shots of the crowd going crazy only to realize that your ISO was too low or you forgot to set the camera to auto-focus. Ugh…
Siege at Catch One in Los Angeles, CA (2019)
7) What other styles of photography do you enjoy shooting?
I like to get out and take pictures of the city streets. I don’t get to do too much of that. Live band photography is what I like to do, although I’ve been meaning to get out to the desert and experiment with some photos of the Milky Way. I guess now would be a good time to head out and practice on some star photos.
Le Shok at Mosswood Park in Oakland, CA (2018)
8) What do you do for a day job?
I teach math to middle schoolers. Funny thing is, I used to teach Kindergarten before moving to middle school. At the K-8 school I teach at, the 8th grade teacher quit so I was asked to move to middle school. It’s all cool. Oh, here’s a fun fact: one time I was shooting Morbid Angel and someone tapped me on the shoulder and screamed, “He used to be my teacher. Mr. L!” Funny running into kids when they get old enough to go to shows.
HR at The Whiskey in Los Angeles, CA (2019)
9) Who are some of your favorite Revelation Records bands you've shot?
Besides Gorilla Biscuits and Judge, I think Bold would be one my favorite bands to shoot. Oh wait, can’t forget about DARE, as well. Those guys bring the energy.
Gorilla Biscuits at Garden Amp in Garden Grove, CA (2019)
10) What music have you been listening to lately?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and 70’s punk, especially during my morning runs. I’m also getting caught up on purchasing a lot of vinyl from the bands I’ve seen grow over the past few years like Entry and Smut.
Smut at Manic Relapse in Oakland, CA (2019)
Despise You at Rec Center in Los Angeles, CA (2019)
Excel at Beyond The Streets LA in Los Angeles, CA (2018)
To see more of Albert's work, check out his Instagram @jerryskid1