The Style Spotlight: Greg Noire
by Lex van den Berghe
Taking a break from the rush of live performances, concert photographer Greg Noire sat down with us and gave us a glimpse into his unique photography style. Follow along to explore his techniques and inspirations (and maybe even find a few familiar faces)! Then, try out this style for yourself in Lightroom CC by downloading his six FREE Lightroom presets here.
The vibrant, colourful world of live music and the monochromatic tones of black and white photography come together in an unexpected but perfect union. Rather than rely on the bright and vivid colours of live concerts (the obvious path), this photographer uses black and white to heighten the connection the viewer feels with the performer. In this instalment of The Style Spotlight, we’re diving into this unique relationship between subject and style through the photography of Greg Noire.
Photograph of Cardi B, edited with Greg’s “Kunai” Lightroom preset.
At university, Greg always admired photographers. Surrounded by creatives and immersed in a photography lab, Greg’s thoughts became a mantra. “If they can do it, why can’t I?” made up his internal monologue… and soon, he purchased his first camera. With DSLR in hand, Greg undertook a number of odd jobs, photographing weddings, portraits and local parties. But it wasn’t until he photographed a band called The Nice Guys that he found the right combination of exhilarating and fulfilling – this was something of which he could be proud. “It was one of the first times that I felt a rush with my camera in hand. After this show, I made every possible effort to shoot live music full time.”
Photograph of Isaiah Rashad and Sza, edited with Greg’s “Rusty Blade” Lightroom preset.
Finding your style
Greg’s affinity for black and white photography came about after he took a class on Film Noir. This style resonated with him like no other and he began injecting the cornerstones of Film Noir into his personal projects. “Those cornerstones revolve around low key lighting, film grain, intense shadows and moody black and white imagery. I even changed my company name to a moniker that involves this very term (Greg Noir was taken – total bummer).”
When Greg got into music photography, he couldn’t help but bring this style with him. For Greg, it’s not about not being able to nail the colours or defaulting to a monochrome look out of frustration – it’s about intuition. Greg says he knows whether a photo will get the black and white treatment as soon as he clicks the shutter. It is a style he reserves for photos that really connect with him and tell a story. “The images that reflect Film Noir are among my best work because when I choose to edit and capture a photo in this style, it’s purposeful – there’s a meaning behind it.”
Photograph of WAFFLE Crew at Governors Ball Music Festival, edited with Greg’s “Shadow” Lightroom preset.
Style in focus
Since Greg shoots concerts, getting ready for work always means preparing for a huge event. On the morning of a big shoot, he wakes up early, writes down his goals for the day and clears his head through meditation. Prepping his gear for the day, he checks and formats SD cards, cleans lenses, clears dust from sensors, syncs cameras and ensures his metadata and naming conventions are correct in Lightroom.
When night falls, Greg treats the stage like an epically soundtracked photoshoot between himself and the performer, using similar framing and composition. The goal: extracting as much emotion as possible when shooting live music. The struggle: since the shows are live, artists can, on occasion, have nights where their energy is low and their emotion doesn’t come through in their performance. When that happens, the onus is on the photographer to create a mood or a moment, even if one may not be there. To do this, Greg has a method: he captures the performer mid-blink. “This might sound peculiar, but I’ve created great photographs with artists’ eyes shut. With eyes closed, artists appear to be so in the moment, that they need to close their eyes to adequately convey the joy, fear, triumph or sadness in that split second, when in actuality…they were just blinking.”
Photograph of Childish Gambino, edited with Greg’s “Katana” Lightroom preset.
Lightroom in style
After ingesting all photos into his SSD, creating folders and marking all possible selects in Adobe Bridge or Lightroom, Greg can begin his editing process. “I enjoy using Lightroom CC for my live music edits because it is such a simple, yet powerful application to utilise. It cuts down my editing time by a large margin.”
We asked Greg if he uses any presets himself and he said, “Actually yes! I made a few black and white presets named after anime and ninja movie tropes. My favourite of that pack is “clean cut.” It’s a simple black and white preset that I use as the starting point for a lot of my black and white edits.” He even let us see how he does it.
On how he implemented his style in this photo, Greg said, “The contrast between this shot and the moodiness of the Shinobi preset seemed to be a unique choice that kind of forces you to pay attention to the details of the shot.”
Having trouble getting presets into Lightroom? Follow these instructions:
For Lightroom CC (must have version 1.3 or later):
- Download the presets here
- Open Adobe Lightroom CC
- Select File > Import Profiles and Presets
- Select the downloaded preset file and click ‘Import’
- Open the photo you would like to edit, click the edit toolbar on the right-hand side of Lightroom and then you’ll find the imported preset when you select the ‘Presets’ button
For Lightroom Classic CC (must have version 7.3 or later):
- Download the presets here
- Unzip the zip file on your computer
- Go to the Develop Module with an image
- Click on the + icon in the Preset Panel. Select “Import Presets”
- Navigate to the downloaded presets from step 1
- Click “Import”
Photograph of Janelle Monáe, edited with Greg’s “Shinobi” Lightroom preset.
The Love of photography
Before we let Greg get back to his thrilling world of wild hip-hop shows and raging rock sets, we asked him one last question: what keeps his passion going? With the energy and the inconsistency of live music, you never know what you’re going to get. “Whether it’s because of something as wild as a crowd surf or a stage dive, or simply a set that’s full of so much emotion that it brings the audience as well as the performer to tears, my love for this type of photography grows with each show.”
Photograph of Goldlink, edited with Greg’s “Clean Cut” Lightroom preset.
Start exploring your own photography style with Lightroom today.