East Coast Photographer Spotlight: Angela Owens | by Natalee Coloman
Ten years ago, it would be difficult to spot any all-around inclusivity in the East Coast hardcore scene. Show attendees were primarily male, as were the onstage presence and backstage crew. Luckily, the scene has changed for the better. Now, the hardcore community is welcoming to all—and women are taking advantage of the opportunity.
One woman successfully taking her place in hardcore is photographer Angela Owens, who discovered her love for the scene in her early teens. Her brother began taking her to shows when she was in middle school, and she would bring along her point-and-shoot camera, wiggling her way through the crowd to take a couple of photos before running away to hide in the back. Her prior photography experience included sneaking her dad’s camera out of the house to take photos around the neighborhood. “Photography really helped me as a person,” Owens admits. “I became less shy and more outgoing through working up the courage to do this seriously.”
Owens has always been humble about her photography. It wasn’t until more of her friends asked her to shoot their shows and wanted to use her photos that she realized this could be a career. Even today, she remains modest about her work—which has appeared in The New York Times and Rolling Stone—crediting the bands as the driving force behind her photography. “I would have never found my love for photography if I hadn’t started very young,” she says. “I kind of owe all of this to hardcore.”
As she grew older, many of Owens’ friends in the scene began forming bands and booking shows. She wanted to contribute and knew her love for photography was the perfect way to get involved. She started attending more shows and shooting thousands of photos every night. “It’s so much different listening to a record and then seeing them in person and getting to know them,” Owens says of the many bands she has worked with. “It’s like another dimension to it.”
As Owens furthered her career in the scene, she noticed a pattern in her pictures that was reflective of the hardcore community at the time. Not only was she one of the few women shooting at shows, there wasn’t a notable number of women in the crowd or performing onstage. “The photos taken forever ago were not really inclusive to other people—there weren’t many women, it was the same group of white boys over and over again,” she states. “I think that’s changed a lot, and it’s definitely a good thing.” Owens began photographing more women, both in the crowd and onstage, as the hardcore scene became a safer place for everyone. “I try to include a lot of the crowd, because that’s the point of hardcore: the community,” she says. “I like shooting energy and people having fun, so wherever that’s happening, that’s where I’m going to focus.”
Owens has made plenty of friends through her career as a photographer, whether they are band members, fellow fans, or professionals like herself. “It’s more fun when it’s someone you know personally, and you can watch them succeed. It’s just a good feeling,” she says. “This is where I’ve met some of the best people in my life.” She most enjoys highlighting her friends doing what they love, especially when they are women, and hopes it will inspire other women to get involved in the scene. “I want to capture hardcore the way I’m experiencing it—with my friends, most of whom are women,” Owens says. “It feels really good to be surrounded by other women and feel supported.”