Top 10 pics of 2017 || Year recap

There's no doubt 2017 was a pretty crazy year. I made a conscious decision to travel A LOT and to see as many shows as possible -and I succeeded- whether that meant scheduling my annual leave and my days off around tours or basically clocking off from work on a Friday and heading straight to the airport, returning Sunday evening. So be it. I visited 8 countries and 11 cities; saw 64 bands, 36 shows. 2017 also marked the year I shot my first indoors and outdoors festivals; Vive Le Punk Rock, Impericon fest Leipzig, Vainstream Rockfest and The Sound Of Revolution. All of them posed a unique challenge and taught me how to think quick to solve them. Below you may find my favorite pictures I took this year and the stories behind them.
Like everyone, I had many ups and downs -thankfully mostly ups. As with 2016, I became even more aware of life lessons. Though very creative, the last quarter of the year was filled with anger, directed to both people and situations. Eventually, paraphrasing the words of Cathy Linh Che, I begun polishing that anger hoping it will soon become a knife; I then came to the conclusion that I won't let anyone hinder my growth. I'm still working on myself, on growing and becoming the person I want to be. This entails recognizing that it's not always about painting the town in bright colors but that, in order to be balanced, I need both light and dark hues. It entails taking a step back to stop talking and start listening; ignoring the urge to conform to people's expectations to be more "likeable"; refraining from overthinking to this extent; creating. And that's exactly what I'm going to do. I will be starting off the next year shooting Comeback Kid in both Athens and Thessaloniki, which I'm really looking forward to. I will also do my best to try to shoot more people instead of just shows, to travel even more and to achieve the freedom I've been seeking through change and more self-discovery.
I also hope 2018 will be the year the world will get fundamental human rights, empathy, tolerance, less sexism, more girl power and considerably less stupidity. My cynical self is very well aware that it's nearly impossible but hope dies last, right?

Be good to each other.

Counterparts in Budapest. Fun fact: I was aware of the tour but didn't feel the need to book anything until a month prior to the show, right after the release of "You're Not You Anymore". This shot was taken during the end of "The Disconnect". Brendan Murphy really has an ability to write personal lyrics that will speak volumes to a hundred different people for a hundred different reasons. And screaming along to this song is basically therapeutic.

Tommy of Wolf Down at Impericon festival Leipzig. This was the last picture I took while exiting the photopit. For a couple of hours, the lights were a bit odd, making it challenging to shoot without cranking up the ISO and unfortunately Wolf Down were one of the bands that played during that time. It's also challenging shooting a band when all you want to do is punch the hell out of everyone around you while screaming along. Unpopular opinion after the  turn of events but whatever. This is probably one of my favorite shots of all time.

Josh Fanceschi of You Me At Six. Shot on the opening track of the show, "Spell It Out". In a heartfelt moment. Josh was alone in the crowd, one could say; hair-raising, expressive and emotional. Perfect.

Brandon Ellis of The Black Dahlia Murder at Vainstream. Incredibly talented and overly photogenic, Brandon was a pleasure to shoot. Especially while headbanging. 

Speaking of headbanging. Simone Simons of Epica in Bologna. I've seen Epica about seven or eight times now and the last couple of times weren't what we would call "their top performances". Catching the live stream of Graspop in the summer, and seeing the band play a magnificent show like they used to, made me want to see a date of the Ultimate Principle tour. There's no doubt they are a band that cares about looking good. On the first 2 songs, the band used mostly white lights, making shooting and editing a lot easier. On the third song, the lights were green, but it still didn't mess the outcome. I fell in love anew with Epica on that concert.

Andrew Neufeld of Comeback Kid force-feeding the mic to a kid in Paris. CBK, along with Epica, are two of the bands that hold a very dear position in my heart. That show was one of the best I've ever seen them play. Among the shitty lights and the divers and pitters, this photo was produced.

Josh James of Stick To Your Guns on the Unbreakable tour. I may have missed them at Impericon fest Leipzig, but I got to see them on both greek dates of the tour the following weekend. This picture was taken in Thessaloniki. The venue, which usually serves as a nightclub, had a barrier almost touching the stage and barely leaving room for photographers. Thankfully, someone was kind enough to push it back a bit so we could literally crawl in the makeshift photopit. It was the first time I photographed on my knees but I love this shot.

Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy photographed in Athens. I don't even recall when this picture was taken, with all her headbanging and running up and down the stage, but it's literally a moment frozen in time. Is she in the zone? Is she staring straight into your soul? Who knows?
Woody of Polar in Budapest. Polar holds a very dear place in my heart. Not only were they one of my very first freelance interviews, but also their latest album, "No Cure No Saviour" is one of my favorites. Their energy and passion are captivating; they are the epitome of an excellent live band.

Backtrack at The Sound Of Revolution. This image perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Backtrack's performance and is linked to one of my favorite memories. Approximately one minute after the band got on stage, every photographer in the front was violently pushed to the side, where we remained throughout the set. The hardest part was looking out for stage divers and protecting my face and gear while trying to keep my balance between the pits raging around me (also shout out to the fellow photographer who kept me from falling backwards & stabilized me at some point). It was the first time I shot with my camera over my head hoping it would focus somewhere -and to my luck, it did. Lights were again all over the place but I don't care; just look at vocalist James Vitalo's face! That day, I got a new favorite live band and, even though they were responsible for every single bruise on my body, they were totally worth it. 

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