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Sam Crump is catching the light

By Deann Armes - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Apr 21, 2022
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Photographer Sam Crump doing what he loves, taking photos of musicians and the mountains.
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It's not just about epic shots of a musician in their moment. Sam Crump also pays attention to the entire band and the communication, like "the little laughs or dares" between them. Here, Brandi Carlile performs at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.
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Being able to "see" the music is essential for Crump, who prefers to experience shows from the audience while he's shooting. "It's a wall (Magic Bubble) for me to get too close up," he says. It's not just the musicians, but the people he sees and takes pictures of, as well as the entire setting and mood. "Music comes before the photography, 100%," he says. Elephant Revival, pictured at Park City Live in 2017, is one of Crump’s favorite bands.
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Sam says he started making this picture when he was 7 years old, the first time his father took him off Trail Ridge Road to show him where this grove of trees was in Rocky Mountain National Park. It would take another 36 years for him to learn how to take pictures of the stars and to use space maps to see when the Milky Way would be southeast of the trees, the way it looked when he first saw it.
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Sunrises like this one in Ogden Valley are a favorite subject for Crump, because "sunrise is where it began." It's a brand-new day. A final teaching at his first photo seminar was "don't be late for work," and it stuck. Since then, he's always on time for the sunrise when the light is just right. "It's my job, to catch the light."
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Sam learned to dance listening to EmmyLou Harris, pictured, with his mother. "I won’t have to chop no wood ...” Sam had the opportunity to photograph Harris at the 2018 Troubadour Festival at Snowbasin after his mother had passed away. (It was during the editing of those photos he became aware the pictures were always simply letters home.)

If you go to concerts and music festivals in Northern Utah, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Sam Crump dancing in the audience, a camera in hand and another on his hip, taking time to enjoy the music and connect with people in the crowd between running around catching the feeling of each moment. Lately, he seems to be at all the shows, all at once. Over the last several years, the opportunities have poured in for Crump to mix the two things he loves: music and photography.

Raised on MacGregor Ranch in Estes Park, Colorado, and later Boulder, Crump was immersed in nature, music and taking pictures. His mother always carried a camera whether she was out “cutting beetle” kill from the surrounding woodlands with his father or shaking the inflatable Honky Tonk woman at a Rolling Stones concert for promoter Berry Fey. Fey would later give Sam his first job in rock ‘n’ roll, taping up concert posters around Boulder. During the 18 years he operated a printing press in Montgomery, Alabama, he went on a camping trip to the Smoky Mountains. While there, an introduction and predawn lesson with professional photographers led to a technical understanding of how to combine light and time to create a photograph. But it wasn’t until his 1969 VW bus caught on fire in the middle of Kansas on a road trip home back to Colorado that he understood how important photography was in his life: in a split second choice from among all of his belongings, he grabbed his camera and snapped a picture of his “home” going up in flames.

Crump describes his work as “photographing the mountains and music of the Wasatch Range.” But for over 20 years he’s also been sending us “letters in pictures” of our landscapes, portraits, hand-fastings, significant events … and countless concerts at Northern Utah’s biggest music venues. His log of music festivals and venues includes Utah Blues Festival, OFOAM’s Ogden Music Festival, Telluride Brews and Blues Festival, Grand Targhee Music Festival, Red Rocks Amphitheater, KRCL events and The State Room Presents venues.

His photos are digitally enhanced in his signature Sam Crump style, not to mimic nature, but “to capture the feeling of that moment in time.”

See more of Sam Crump’s work at samcrumpphoto.com, Instagram @samcrumpphoto and Facebook @samcrumpphotography.

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