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Image conscious

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  • | 11:00 a.m. May 1, 2015
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Executive: Mark Weaver, vice president of Tampa-based Ed Taylor Construction, leads the interior division at the commercial construction company. The company, with 52 employees, had $34.5 million in revenues in 2014.

Diversion: Weaver spends his free time doing professional concert photography, selling his photos through All Access Tampa. “Some people call it a passion,” he says. “My wife calls it an obsession.” Last year was a busy one for Weaver — in August, he shot seven shows. He shot six in September, nine each in October and November and four in December. Since starting in 2006, he's shot more than 22 Rock and Roll Hall of Famers and hopes to add The Who to the list this spring, after already seeing them in concert 20 times.

Music and Cameras: Weaver was surrounded by music growing up. His parents would have competitions with the neighbors about who could get the new Beatles album first, and they'd spend hours listening to it. His dad worked summers at a camera shop and always had a camera around the house. To occasionally include his dad in photos, Weaver started picking up the camera in his teens.

Concert obsession: Seven years ago, Bob Seger came to Tampa and Weaver splurged on front row seats so he could watch with no obstructions. He took hundreds of photos with his cell phone, but every picture turned out blurry. Watching the band photographers around him, Weaver couldn't help but think about what awesome shots they were getting. That's when he realized he had a real interest in pursuing music photography.

Regulated industry : Taking photos during concerts is quite regulated, according to Weaver. You have to apply for photo passes from the venue, publicists or the band manager. You never know how many people they will approve, or if you're on a list. For Willie Nelson, Weaver was turned down the first time he tried, approved the second, then denied the third. Typically the band makes the decision on where you're allowed to stand, Weaver says. “Some performers as they've gotten older don't want to see themselves up close.”

It's not easy: Concert photography is “extraordinarily difficult,” Weaver says. It's tough to get a good shot because a lot of times you have multiple people in the frame, there's equipment in the way, you get stuck in one area, and the lighting is constantly changing. “You make constant adjustments on the camera,” he says. One accessory you can't do without is earplugs. Weaver forgot to bring them for one concert and his ears rang for the next two days. Now he keeps multiple pairs in both of his camera bags.
Super fan: The show Weaver was most excited to take pictures at was Bob Seger headlining the Orlando Calling outdoor festival in 2011. Weaver was one of five photographers approved to shoot Seger out of the 30 photographers who applied. “He's a legend in my mind,” Weaver says. On dream concerts, Weaver hopes Jimmy Page, the lead guitarist of Led Zeppelin, will go on a tour. Says Weaver: “If he ever does, I pray to God I get to photograph him.”

Branching out: Weaver has branched out a bit in terms of the subjects he photographs. He's worked some corporate events and gone on photography tours to capture bald eagles in Alaska and abandoned buildings in Detroit. The trip to Alaska included photography lessons with a National Geographic photographer, and totaled nearly $6,000.

Motivate others: It doesn't matter what the subject, Weaver's goal is still the same. “One day I'd love to take an image that people will remember,” he says. “A picture that will inspire someone to pick up a camera and take a picture.”


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