MICHAEL LYNN JR-THE VISION BEHIND THE LENS By Sandra Castillo
The adage, “A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words,” has been repeated so many times throughout the course of history that it’s only befitting of this moment to invoke it once again. For those wishing to apply this axiom after stealing a glimpse of any one of the striking images found in the personal archives of photographer Michael Lynn Jr, one may determine that a thousand words are not nearly enough to describe any one of his photographic masterpieces.
A native of Fall River, Massachusetts, Michael specializes in a multitude of distinctive, visual genres in his chosen craft, which includes people, landscapes, architecture and concerts, establishing him as one of the best photographers in the region of New England. He is an exceptional lens man and adroit at what he does, carefully working to ensure that his efforts reflect, in-tandem, what his eyes and soul envision. Whether Michael is capturing a session of little children frolicking in flower-strewn fields of an idyllic countryside, observing the breathtaking vista of a sun-kissed shoreline caressed by the waves of the ocean or standing in the kaleidoscopic prism of light falling around him at the foot of the stage at a major Rock and Roll concert, he is there to seize and deliver the power of the experience.
What makes this such an incredible feat is that Michael has only been working in photography for less than four years. He recalled the first time that he picked up a camera to pursue his newfound passion in the visual arts, which commenced in January of 2013. Aside from taking two semesters of basic photography in school, he’s had no other formal training.
When he was pressed to share his story about what inspired him to pursue photography in the first place, Michael explained-
“In 2012, I had weight loss surgery. Prior to that, I made a living as a musician and singer. Shortly after my surgery, I tried to go back to my singing position but started to pass out mid-song. I underwent many medical tests to determine the real cause of this, and yet, the doctors couldn’t understand the phenomenon. During this process, my contract prematurely ended. I decided that I needed a Plan B and enrolled in college as a graphic design major. While taking a foundation class, I was required to take photography classes as part of my major. After the first lecture from my professor, a little light bulb went off in my head, and I thought, Could photography be my Plan B?”
As time went on, Michael found himself immersed in photography shows where he “began to enter many local competitions.” He revealed how it eventually panned out for him.
“In my first semester at college, I won the Faculty Award for the college’s juried art show. By the time I entered my second semester, I was leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the class. In a few cases, the professor told me, ‘Michael, you are a photographer, not a graphic designer. Why don’t you leave here and go make it happen?’ Then, off I went to make it happen.”
Although Michael’s subject matter runs the extreme gamut, his creative radar summons him to the call of concert photography. Perhaps it’s the musician in him that aligns him directly, his camera in tow, with the big guns who storm the stage lined in walls of stacked Marshall amps, their guitars raging as rolling thunder erupts from the drummer’s kit riser. For those who decide to take on the herculean task of capturing Rock and Roll warriors in concert certainly realize that it’s not for the feign of heart. For the serious photographer, it is a mighty to challenge to remain in the present, be aware of one’s surroundings while waiting for the precise moment to seize the fire and elan of a musician or band playing onstage. It’s up to the photographer to recognize the split second the artist is giving it all he’s got, in front of his audience, and capture that complete moment with a single release of the shutter button. By placing himself in the epicenter of the concert-going adventure, physically, mentally and emotionally, Michael has rightfully claimed his spot in the elite contingency of successful Rock photographers.
This past summer, Michael received a phone call that ultimately witnessed his past, as a music fan, align with the future, as a professional photographer.
“Recently, I got the call to photograph the iconic Rock band Styx. That was a thrill of a lifetime. I grew up loving that band. I feel that I knocked it out of the park at that show. The images were breathtaking!”
Of course, banking on the excitement of standing at the frontlines at a rock concert, with camera ready at the helm, is a surefire way to get the adrenaline pumping to take the crowning shot. However, there are other pertinent factors to consider in procuring that unforgettable image. Michael spoke about the uncertainty of what to expect when called in to work a major music event.
“As far as concert photography goes, I never know what I will have for available lighting. The photographer needs to rely on available light because flash isn’t allowed. Some venues either have little to no light or they may have a multimillion dollar system. Until the curtain opens, it’s a surprise.”
One of the many reasons Michael is quickly securing his rightful place in the pantheon of established rock photographers is that he absolutely loves music and proclaims this with all his existence. His utmost respect for the genre is relevant, given the fact that he, too, is a musician who truly understands the mindset of those who live, work and breathe music. He is also proficient with as many as ten to twelve different musical instruments. He added, “But it is through the guitar, piano and singing, I feel the most accomplished, musically.”
When he is not busy working the frontlines of concerts, Michael is very much in-demand for his skills as an environmental, boudoir and children’s portraitist. He absolutely loves to work within these creative domains, especially the latter, as he stated that “when photographing children, they can be unpredictable at times, and you never know what you are going to get until you get there. Then, you have to go with the flow and roll with it.” He also mentioned this, “Some of my favorite shots of children were right at that moment, where I thought the session was going to explode, and out of it came that magical shot.”
Like so many of those whose creativity ignites behind the camera lens, it’s nearly impossible for the discerning photographer to choose only one, personal favorite image out of the bunch.
“I think of my photographs as my children. How do you pick a favorite? Some are stronger images than others, but they all have a special place in my heart.”
There is one session for Michael that most definitely stands out. This past summer, he had the chance to meet Richie Cannata, former saxophonist for international superstar Billy Joel. From this encounter, he captured one of the most gorgeous photographs of Cannata ever taken during a concert performance. The image shows the sax player slightly silhouetted by a sunset awash in a rich, vibrant palette warmed by the setting sun. When one gazes at the portrait, it serves as a reminder of the symbiotic power established between the artistic alliance of the photographer and musician.
“In July of 2016, I had the opportunity to meet and photograph iconic saxophonist Mr. Richard Cannata, who was one of my idols, as a musician, when I was growing up. He was so gracious and made me feel like his best friend when I was introduced to him, prior to his performance. I managed to capture the most amazing shot of him, taking his solo part in Billy Joel’s famous “New York State Of Mind.” I shot the photograph from the side stage against the most gorgeous sunset I have ever seen. What made it even more awesome was because there was an American flag in the background that was framed perfectly. I was so happy about how the image came out that a week later, I drove to Saratoga Springs (NY) to hand it to him personally, printed and signed. It brought tears to his eyes when I handed it to him. It was one of the most amazing feelings ever!” said Michael.
For more information or to book an appointment, please email Michael Lynn Jr at email@example.com or call him at (508) 558-3500.