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The PA Bunch: Chasing the music and catching the scene

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Noah J. Tancer
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Remember your first concert. You and your friends danced inches away from strangers. Colors streamed across their faces as the lights swept through, blinding the crowd. The smell of the air stained with sweat and beer. Yet you didn’t care, because the band was playing your favorite song.

Caught up in the ecstasy of the moment, maybe you noticed the guy with a camera. Dodging back and forth through the crowd. Appearing to you as if he was chasing a ghost, and in a way you’d be right. He was chasing the music.

“There’s a little bit of nervousness and anxiety in the beginning,” said Airman Chris Corso, that camera guy, and more recently a public affairs apprentice assigned to the 910th Airlift Wing public affairs office. “You kinda gotta get a feel for the crowd and know whose way you’re in. Then you get in your groove and you just keep rolling. Look at the lights, how the band is performing, what their body language is, and see where I should take my camera to next.”

Corso started out as a college student stressing over his future career choices. Switching his major from sports and event management to marketing and trying to figure out what to focus on. Then he found the music.

“I was trying out a bunch of different things like TV, radio and graphic design,” said Corso. “I had some buddies in a local band out here in Youngstown, and I said ‘let me come take some pictures for you. I want to put you on baseball cards,’ cause their band name, East 9th, is centered around baseball and the (Cleveland) Indians. I took pictures of the entire concert and realized, you know what, I’m really frustrated with graphic design and photography comes more naturally to me.’ So I decided to go all-in, purchase some equipment, and I haven’t looked back since.”

In the summer of ’19, Corso started his musical journey, but not with a second-hand six-string. He did it with a Sony a7III mirrorless camera and a telephoto lens, doing pro-bono work at small venues to grow his portfolio. Now, he manages his own website, Chris Corso Media, where he posts his concert photography.

“I love music, I always have something playing whether it’s in the background or foreground,” said Corso. “I don’t play an instrument, so being able to take something I’m good at and apply it to the music industry is incredible. I didn’t think I’d be able to do that without playing an instrument.”

After graduating from the University of Findlay with a Bachelor of Science in business and brand professionalism and spending the summer catching the scene at 10 shows across five venues, Corso enlisted in the Air Force Reserve, which sent him to Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, then to the Defense Information School at Fort George G. Meade outside the Washington D.C. area.

“I wanted to gain some real-life experience, build my portfolio and explore another avenue of the workforce as well as my concert photography,” said Corso. “I went to basic training, then all this COVID stuff happened, so I haven’t been able to get back into doing it since summer. I had a connection down in the D.C. area to take pictures at a Casino venue to do bands like Air Supply, Alice Cooper, The 1975. It was supposed to be my big intro into bigger concert photography.”

Around the end of Corso’s technical school training, COVID-19 made it to the United States. Almost all concerts were canceled or pending a reschedule, to stop the spread of the coronavirus

As for Corso, he’s currently in seasoning training at Youngstown Air Reserve Station, honing his photography skills as Reserve Citizen Airman.

“It gives me a different perspective on things,” said Corso. “Cause shooting planes and equipment is a whole lot different than shooting people and music. How you look at one thing is different than how you look at another type of photography, and in the end, It’ll help bring more elements to my concert photography.”