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Aperture and Amplitude

A view of the music scene through the lenses of Sandy Roe and Juan Junco.

This month we’re going to take a “look” at the scene. I’ve always felt that its important to document things like music. 

Salt City Chill at the Boneyard at the Dino. (Photo: Sandy Roe)

Salt City Chill at the Boneyard at the Dino. (Photo: Sandy Roe)

Obviously, we have recorded sound documents, thus the name “records.” And we also have photos that document the artists who are so colorfully engaged in the craft. After all, music has always had respect for the visual presentation as looking the part supports the presentation.

Enter the paparazzi. (I use the term lightly, affectionately and all n good fun) Good scenes have ‘em. And here  in Syracuse we have plenty. All of whom are superbly gifted withe science of low-level light techniques,  and a heavy knack for capturing (click!) the honest moment. Having said that, with respect to all, I am focusing here on photographers, Sandy Roe and Juan Junco.

Loren Barrigar at Guitar League (Photo: Juan Junco)

Loren Barrigar at Guitar League (Photo: Juan Junco)

While they share a high place in the local music scene photography stratosphere, they are further distinguished by their prolificness. They are everywhere. It is with great odds I will run n to them at a show. Between the two of them, a variety of cameras including video, they operate more like—and I think of them as a mobile unit. Their photographs are remarkable and stunning. And, all the musicians find it a treat to be in them.

Neat. But the important part is what they capture beyond the recognizable faces is that they also catch a very wide spectrum of the scene and­—oh! my favorite part and point of this story— the spirit of the scene. They get it. And impressively prolifically. They locate the special moments and perspectives, immortalize them, and share them with you.

They are equally part of the scene. nSo we’re sharing what they see, with you.

Being very personable folks I always look forward to seeing them whether I’m on the show or not.

Todd Hobin Band at Johnson Park. (Photo: Sandy Roe)

Todd Hobin Band at Johnson Park. (Photo: Sandy Roe)

CS: How long have you been snapping shots of the scene?


Sandy Roe:  I used to go to a lot of shows, back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but then got married and had kids. I got back into photography probably 15 years ago, after I got divorced and my kids were older.

 Juan Junco:  Of the scene, I’ve only been involved since around 2009. I’ve always loved photography and have had many cameras even in my late teenage years. Joining several local photography clubs connected me with new people and exposure to photos others in the group were taking. What caught my attention were the shots of musicians. After attending several open mics I was hooked. Not only was I able to practice my band photography, but I met a lot of great people and could also provide them some photos for their use. That lead to my expanding to taking videos and going to actual gigs at other venues.


Hon Go (Dave Robertson) at Bohemian moon. (Photo: Sandy Roe)


CS: Obviously you love music. Odds are always good we’ll see you at a show. Tell us what’s in it for you.

SR: I love music, and I love photography. I love how certain songs can bring you right back to a moment or a feeling that occurred decades ago. Same thing with an old photo. I love capturing the energy from a show.  Having grown up here, I didn’t realize that we had something special until later in life. Any night of the week, you can find great music being played by top notch musicians all over the city. There’s nothing I enjoy more than watching a musician that is really enjoying what they are doing, expressing themselves through their music. It’s art to me.

JJ: I am a giver by nature so nothing makes me happier than to provide the musicians with photos and videos of their performances. It also exposes me to a lot of different music that I probably would never hear.

Joe Whiting at Skeaneateles Seafood Fest. (Photo: Juan Junco)

Joe Whiting at Skeaneateles Seafood Fest. (Photo: Juan Junco) on photographers, Sandy Roe and Juan Junco.

CS: Do you play music, yourselves?

SR: I played trumpet when I was a kid.  I was in band for a while, and did get awarded a medal in a competition, but I didn’t like staying after school.

JJ: Yes, I am a guitar player and still have several instruments from my pre-1975 music career in Boston. When I moved to Fulton in 1975 to work at Miller Brewery I tried several times to put a band together but it just wasn’t clicking for me and I eventually lost interest.

Diana Jacobs Band at Shifty’s. (Photo: Sandy Roe)

Diana Jacobs Band at Shifty’s. (Photo: Sandy Roe)

CS: Tell us about some of the shows and artists you’ve photographed.

SR:  I have photographed the NYS Bluesfest,  Jazzfest, Northeast Jazz & Wine Fest, Beatlecuse, (which all had major headliners), The Mayor’s Ball, Syracuse Acoustic Blues Fest, The Youth Music & Art Fest, Solstice at The Cathedral, Ben Mauro’s CD Release, and Tommy Emmanuel’s shows here and in Rochester.  I’ve shot numerous open mics, lots of local bands, shows at Kellish Hill, Nelson Odeon, Jazz Central, and others.  I’ve helped with several CD covers. A photo shoot with Slow Train. And, there are probably a lot that I’m forgetting.
It’s been a bit of a struggle for me, as I am not comfortable being in front of the crowd.  I also do not like having to fight for a shot, or deal with drunks.  There are some venues that I really prefer not to go to for that reason.  I think that Juan and I are a good team for that, tho.  He doesn’t have a problem with any of it.  And, our shooting styles are similar, but we also see things that the other doesn’t, so it’s a good combo.  I also can get lost in the music if I don’t focus on what I’m doing.  Sometimes you want to just stand back and watch that guitar player shred, or the drummer go off on a solo, etc, but that’s also exactly the energy you want to catch and convey in a photo.

JJ: All of the above, of course, and many more. My favorites tend to be the musicians that really get into their music and put on a great show and involve the audience instead of just standing there making me feel like I would get the same thing by listening to a record. Even though I have shot many national acts I prefer the locals. There is great musical energy in Central NY.

Andrew & Noah Van Norstrand at Solstice at the Cathedral. (Photo: Sandy Roe)

Andrew & Noah Van Norstrand at Solstice at the Cathedral.
(Photo: Sandy Roe)

CS: Do you know how many CNY music photos you’ve taken? A million? Do you have an ultimate goal with all this, or is the satisfaction purely in the zen of it all?

SR: I really have no idea how many photos I’ve taken.  I’ve got probably ten times more shots than ever get posted, too.  It would be easier to measure in terabytes.  I’ve filled probably 5 terabytes in the last 2 years, and am working on filling a 5terabyte drive now.  I do other photography, too, tho, so they aren’t all band photos.  Someone stole my external hard  drive that I had stored all my photos on a couple of years ago, so I lost everything older than 2013 or so.  I have absolutely no goal with it. I’ve never charged for band photos, so it obviously isn’t for the money. I’ve never thought of myself as a band photographer. Musicians are fellow artists who, for the most part, are struggling the same as I am, trying to scratch out a living doing something they love. I get enjoyment from them sharing their talents.  If they can use some of my photos to promote their gigs, or let people know what they are missing when they don’t get out to their shows, that’s great.

JJ: As of right now, I have 18 external 3 to 5 terabyte drives full of photos and videos plus several other scattered hard drives of older photos. On YouTube I’ve uploaded over 22,000 videos in several accounts, If I had to estimate how many musician photos I have it would be over 500,000. My goal is to try to preserve some of the history of our local music scene for others to enjoy in the future, and to provide photos and videos for the musicians to be able to use right now.

Colin Aberdeen at Moondogs (Photo: Juan Junco)

Colin Aberdeen at Moondogs (Photo: Juan Junco)

CS: Well, from the bottom of my heart, “thank you” for what you (and all the photographers, writers, deejays, promoters, music goers) do. I probably speak for most musicians that your gift of presence, enthusiasm and sharing… Encouraging the arts where we stand… that you are appreciated.

SR: Thanks, Chuck!

JJ: Thanks, Chuck!

Chuck Schiele is an award-winning musician, art director, producer, editorialist, artist, activist, member of SaltCityChill.com and fan of the CNY music scene. To be considered for this column, please write chuck.schiele@gmail.com.

Chuck Schiele
Chuck Schiele is a lifelong, award-winning musician, art director, producer, editorialist, artist, activist, member Quatrocollective.com and fan of the CNY music scene. To be considered for this column, please write chuck.schiele@gmail.com.