Students at Leisure: Olivia Burger and Concert Photography
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Students at Leisure: Olivia Burger and Concert Photography

Students at Leisure is a series that features the interesting and unique outside activities of Salus students.

Olivia BurgerDuring her sophomore year at Gannon University, a liberal arts college in Erie, Pennsylvania, Olivia Burger ‘22OD attended a musical festival in nearby Pittsburgh. She was writing for the college newspaper at the time, but had not been into photojournalism at that point.
“I thought, you know what, I bet I could do that. The school newspaper had a camera I could borrow, so I got a media credential and took photos at the festival and I thought it was really fun,” said Burger, who photographed bands that included the Chainsmokers and Churches that night in Pittsburgh.
By that point, though, she was already on the path to becoming an optometrist, an interest that had piqued earlier in the seventh grade when she had to do a project that involved choosing a profession. Burger picked optometry for that project and by end of high school, she had decided she wanted to do something in the medical field.
“The eyes were always so interesting to me. And, then when I was in undergrad, I re-evaluated again and decided optometry was something I really want to do. I really do love it,” she said.
That career path continued for her at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University, but the music festival photography experience never left her. In fact, during her years at PCO/Salus, her love of concert photography only grew stronger.
So strong that when it came time for her first externship rotation, she chose to head out to Denver, Colorado, not only for the optometry school experience but because Denver is also home to Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, one of the most beautiful concert venues in the United States.
Cardi B“I’ve been obsessed with Red Rocks for a long time. I’ve always wanted to go someplace fun for my rotation, so why not Denver because I could check that off my bucket list,’” said Burger. “I recently took pictures at Red Rocks and those turned out really nice. I wouldn’t say they were my best pictures, but for me, it was important.”
During her undergraduate years, Burger had photographed as many concerts as she could fit in around her school work and had built a portfolio. That continued once she got to the Philadelphia area for graduate school.
During one of those Philly shows, Burger saw a woman taking pictures and eventually found her concert pictures online. She reached out and the woman hooked Burger up with Front Row Perspective, a digital online publication. That publication was looking for someone in the Philly area to shoot concert photos and Burger took the job, finding time to fit it in around her studies at PCO/Salus.
“The best pictures I’ve ever taken was at the Made in America Festival in Philly,” said Burger, a native of Meadville, Pennsylvania. “I covered that in 2019 and headliners were Cardi B. and Travis Scott. My pictures for Cardi B. were probably the best pictures I’ve ever taken.”
Burger has discovered that optometry and photography are a good marriage for her.
Lizzo“The concept of photography as a whole is kind of funny because there are so many parallels in what I’ve learned in optometry school and what I’ve taught myself through photography,” she said. “We always use the analogy that the eye is like a camera, you have your lens and focal points. That has translated to my photography.”
Healthcare providers are passionate about the fields of healthcare in which they practice, but Burger has discovered that passion isn’t limited to just one endeavor and that she can have a life outside of her profession.
“Concerts are usually in the evenings and on the weekends. As an optometrist I’ll be working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays so I do have the ability to balance the two quite easily,” she said.
As much as she loves concert photography though, Burger is still on course to become an optometrist. At this point, she sees her interest in photography as a hobby.
“It doesn’t need to necessarily be my career. My career is going to be optometry,” she said. “But, I can always pick up a camera and network and find artists, no matter what city I’m in. I’m just going to go where work takes me and photography will be something I can do in any area that I go to.” 

Red Rocks