Since the day I bought my first camera one of my favorite subjects to photograph has been musicians. Whether in the studio, on location, or in concert I just love capturing their creative energy and mood. During my decade in NYC I photographed bands at clubs like CBGB, Max’s Kansas City, and even some of the main concert venues like Madison Square Garden. Besides numerous local bands I was able to photograph artists such as Crosby, Still, & Nash, Muddy Waters, Queen, Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Jimmy Buffet, and countless others. It didn’t pay much, if anything, but being a musician as well it was really exciting to create images of all kinds of artists, famous or not.

Concert photography is not an integral part of my business and I do miss the adrenaline of capturing a live performance. But over the past few years I’ve created a number of senior portraits with students incorporating their musical instruments.


Over this past holiday weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Victoria, BC with the Woodinville High School band and choir for an international competition. I was especially motivated to make the trip because my son, Jackson, is in the both the school band and jazz band and I was really looking forward to getting some good performance shots of him and his classmates. It’s a different experience photographing sitting musicians than it is capturing musicians who roam the stage and interact with the crowd. But with the spirit of competition it was just as exciting. The Woodinville High bands and choirs performed remarkably placing first in almost every category they competed and taking the overall performance award. I was especially proud that my son won an individual performance award for his tenor sax solo in one of the jazz pieces. Here’s an image of him created during his award winning solo.


If you’ve got a musically inclined student ready for their senior portraits, know of a musician in need of a promo shot, or would simply like to have you or your kids photographed with a favorite musical instrument give me a shout. I love to get creative!


Charlie Cotugno is the owner of Charles Cotugno Photography in Woodinville, WA specializing in fine art portraits for families, high school seniors, and special needs clients. In addition he provides commercial photography services to businesses of all sizes. He is also the founder and board president of the non-profit organization Stories of Autism, a network of over 150 photographers from around the U.S. whose mission is to increase awareness, acceptance, and inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorders. For more information about Charlie and Stories of Autism please visit