David Bergman Inspirational Story

©David Bergman

Canon Explorer of Light David Bergman is a New York based music, portrait, and sports photographer. He has been Bon Jovi's official tour photographer since 2010, documenting the band on stage and on the road in more than 30 countries on 6 continents. In addition to his other celebrity clients, Bergman has 13 Sports Illustrated covers to his credit and has photographed numerous Olympics, World Series', Super Bowls, NBA and NCAA Championships. His high-resolution GigaPan of President Obama's first inaugural speech was viewed by over 30 million people, and he produced a 20,000 megapixel image at Yankee Stadium that was printed and displayed 130 feet wide. Bergman is an engaging and passionate public speaker and educator, and hosts a weekly web series, “Two Minute Tips with David Bergman” for AdoramaTV. He was a charter member of Apple's prestigious Aperture Advisory Board, is on the design board for Think Tank Photo, and is an AdoramaPix ambassador and Red River Pro. Before moving to New York City in 2001, Bergman was a photojournalist on staff at the Miami Herald and covered news and sporting events around the world.

TW/IG: @davidbergman
FB: DavidBergmanPhoto


How I got Started
The fork in the road that put me on my current path started way back in 1989 during my sophomore year at the University of Miami. In the years prior, I was dedicated to the high school band, and studied to be a music producer at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. I found myself taking pictures of my friends’ bands instead of playing in my own, and then selling the prints to the other kids in the dorm.

Platinum recording artist Andy Grammer performs live on The Today Show in New York, NY. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 IS USM, ISO1250, f/4, 1800.

When I transferred to Miami, I knew I wanted to get involved with some kind of extracurricular activity, but wasn’t sure what it would be. I went to the campus radio station and talked to them about being a producer. But it just didn’t feel right.

I went around the corner and sheepishly poked my head into the school newspaper office and asked how one could start to shoot photos for The Miami Hurricane. The photo editor gave me a roll of Tri-X (remember film??) and told me to shoot whatever I wanted over the weekend. Then he’d show me how to process the film and if he liked what he saw, he would give me an assignment.

Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres tapes up his hand before then band's show in Atlanta. Canon EOS 1DX Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 IS USM, ISO8000, f/4, 1/125.

I guess he liked what he saw. I got an assignment. I never went back to the radio station.

And so it began. The next semester, I was the assistant photo editor, and went on to be the photo editor of the paper and editor in chief of the yearbook.

Near the end of my time at school, someone suggested I visit the Associated Press office, and off I went with a big box of prints. I had no idea what I was doing, but naivety is bliss and I wanted to work for them. The photo chief said my work was good and to call him in the morning when he came in at 7am. If he had any assignments available for me, he’d let me know. I was pretty excited, even though I’m generally more of night owl then a morning person. I set my alarm for 6:59, woke up, and called him.

Portrait of Bon Jovi before the start of their 2017 tour. Canon EOS 5DS R, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 IS, ISO250, f/5.6, 1/200.

He didn’t have anything for me so I went back to sleep. The next day, I called again at 6:59am.

Still nothing.

By the end of the week, most people would have given up. I’m not most people. Persistence is my middle name. Weeks later, after many sleepless mornings, he finally had something for me. One-hour south in Key Largo, a scientist who broke an endurance record by living underwater was coming up to dry land for the first time in over two months. My guess is that none of the staffers wanted to make that drive for a less-than-glamorous news photo.

I shot it like crazy. Burned though two rolls of film in no time flat. I didn’t know if I had any AP-quality images, so I just worked it as hard as I could. When I got back to the office, the photo chief processed my film for me and transmitted a couple of images to the wire. The next morning, my image was published - albeit very small, but published nevertheless - in USA Today!

The original Associated Press thermal paper transmission from my first freelance assignment in 1992. IPTC DATA UNKNOWN

That afternoon, the photo chief called me for the first time and sent me to cover Miami Dolphins training camp. I was a regular stringer for him for the next couple of years until getting a staff photographer job at the Miami Herald.

Football Portrait, Canon EOS 5DS R, Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM, ISO125, f/8, 1/125

So that’s how it works. Persistence. Hard work. Being friendly and not burning bridges. Those traits have helped me develop a photo career for more than 25 years so far.

Action portrait of Isabel Smith overlooking New York City. Canon EOS 5DS R, EF 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II USM, ISO320, 1/800, f/4.5.

What’s in my bag:
I use different gear depending on the particulars of each shoot. These days I shoot a lot of concerts on the road as Bon Jovi’s official tour photographer, so when I travel with them, this is what I bring:

Think Tank Airport Security V3.0 - my go-to “big” roller bag when I need everything with me.

(3) Canon EOS-1DX Mark II Digital SLR Cameras - Workhorse bodies for concerts and sports - two on my shoulders with different lenses and one remotely set up somewhere on stage.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR Body - I use this when I need to shoot video.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens - Primarily on my remote 1DX2.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens - Reserved for video with the EOS 5D Mark IV.

Canon EF 24mm-105mm f/4L IS II USM Standard Zoom Lens - One of my “shoulder” lenses during the show.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens - The other “shoulder” lens when shooting concerts.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM AutoFocus Wide Angle Lens - Lightweight, fun lens to use occasionally backstage in low light.

(2) Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT - One usually stays on my EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens to shoot crowd shots. The other is backup and also available if I need to do a quick, two-light portrait.

Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT - Wireless to trigger the two flashes.

Manfrotto 244 Variable Friction Magic Arm with Camera Platform and Manfrotto 035 Super Clamp - To mount the remote camera

PocketWizard Plus III and PocketWizard Plus IV Transceivers - To trigger the remote camera

Canon LP-E6N and LP-E19 batteries - Backup batteries.

Various Lexar and Sandisk 128GB and 256GB CompactFlash and CFast Memory Cards - Can never have too many cards.

Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket - To hold extra cards

I also occasionally carry around the Canon PowerShot G1X Mark III Digital Camera. It's a small, lightweight camera to carry around when I have rare, free time.

NYC police standing guard outside the public library. Canon Powershot G1X Mark III, 1/80 2/8 ISO100.