Good Life

Veteran mixes photography, flags and music

Brian Knepp, a veteran and concert photographer, poses at the veterans memorial in Bellefonte on Friday with his camera and an American flag he was given.
Brian Knepp, a veteran and concert photographer, poses at the veterans memorial in Bellefonte on Friday with his camera and an American flag he was given.

It never hurts to diversify.

Back in 2009, Brian Knepp was an aviation ordnanceman with the U.S. Navy. Now he’s a self-taught concert photographer hobnobbing with musicians.

Merging these two disparate worlds was actually easier than one might assume. Knepp started the Flags for Musicians program, which recognizes bands that show support for the military.

Below, Knepp talks more about the patriotic initiative.

Q: What is the key to taking a truly awesome concert photo?

A: I think that anyone can buy a camera and stand front row and snap photos, but I feel the key to getting an awesome concert photo is capturing that right moment. That moment could range from a drummer throwing his drumstick in the air, facial expression, a fist bump from the lead singer to a fan or a guitarist jumping off of his amplifier. I feel you can’t ever take your eye out of your camera, because you risk missing that perfect moment and that perfect moment happens in milliseconds.

Q: What was the inspiration behind approaching the American Legion about donating flags?

A: Well, I was thinking one day of a way of giving back to musicians, and I drove by one of the American Legion flag drop boxes and it kind of hit me. There are so many flags that get donated and burned (the proper way of disposing of an American Flag), so why not put them to use? I contacted my local American Legion that day and explained what I wanted to do and they were more than happy to help. I’d much rather see an American Flag go into a shadow box in a band’s recording studio than be destroyed when it doesn’t have to.

Q: How many have you donated so far?

A: So far, I have donated three — two officially after starting up the Flags for Musicians program. I donated a flag to one of rock’s top guitarists, Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society, and Ozzy Osbourne last year just as a gift. He loved it and I still see it hanging in his “Dungeon O’ Doom” on his Instagram once in awhile. The second flag was donated to the band Flaw for several reasons. They just put out an album called “Divided we Fall” and is meant to bring awareness to veteran suicide. The lead singer, Chris Volz, does a lot with the military community and continues to show never-ending support for the men and women and uniform. I think that one touched me the most because he got tears in his eyes when I gave it to him. You could tell it meant the world to him.

Q: What does it mean to you as a veteran to receive that display of public support?

A: It means more than people could ever even imagine. To have people support your dreams is huge. It still gives me goosebumps when I think about the support I have received for this project. Other veterans love the idea as well. I don’t think people will ever realize how much it means to me.

Q: How can people get involved or recommend deserving bands for your program?

A: Anyone can get in touch with me on Facebook under “Flags for Musicians” or Brian Knepp Photography and recommend deserving bands. I love hearing people’s stories and what music has done for them. I also made it known that if other veterans see I’m photographing a show that they would like for that band to have one, veterans can donate as well and will be presented in their name. I also accept flag donations, so if you have a flag you’d like to donate, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready