Monday, 7 May 2012

Another Shot In The Dark - Exhibition

Starting last Thursday and running for six weeks until the 14th of June, I have a small exhibition on at Lewishams infamous pub/live venue The Fox. Entitled 'Another Shot In The Dark' (my first ever music photography exhibition a few years ago was called 'Shot In the Dark') the exhibition was hung to coincide with the biggest weekend of the year at The Fox, the annual May bank holiday two day music festival known simply as FoxFest. 

As well as providing an exhibition that I hoped would be of interest to the attending music crowd, for me it was a great opportunity to see my images in print, something that happens very rarely, if ever. I'm used to seeing my images on the screen, but there's really nothing like the sight of a lovely 10 by 8 print, neatly mounted and hanging on the wall. It's given me the chance to re-assess those images and in some cases, really appreciate some of the images for the first time. In the rush of taking and editing the shots and getting them off to whoever I'm shooting for, there's rarely time to stop and really look at them.

Photo of The Liars by AltPhoto - Poster design Carl at TwoBob

As I haven't blogged on AltPhoto for a while and given that a couple of the photos I chose for the show haven't been featured on here or my website (indeed, one has never seen the light of day on-line before) I thought it would be interesting to tell the story behind some of these images, and to post them here, for those of you unable to make it to Lewisham in person. As a photographer I'm interested as much in how the photographer got the shot, as  in the final image itself. What was the gig like? What were the conditions in the pit? The incidental things that make a difference to getting the images you want.

The following images are in the order they appear in the exhibition and are un-cropped (printing in 10x8 format requires the images to be cropped along their longest side) Click the links under each paragraph for more photos where available.

J Mascis - Dinosaur Jr - 1st July 2011, Alexandra Palace, London

This is a great example of why it's good to print your images, this one really came alive for me when it was printed and mounted. Although I like the image before, I loved it in print form! Printing really brought the colours out. Mr Mascis didn't move around much on stage this day, but he obligingly stepped back for a few moments to play right in front of the speaker stacks to make for a more interesting composition.

Mark Arm - Mudhoney - 20th October 2010 , Electric Ballroom, London

This is the only photo in the show in black and white. On the night, the blue lighting was so extreme that all the band came out looking like smurfs on the screen. I adjusted the images to black and white, not only because they looked better, but also as a nod to Charles Petersons photos of the Seattle music scene in the late eighties and early nineties. One of the things I love about this photograph is the compositional element that the lighting rig offers in the top left corner. Unfortunately this is missing from the 10 by 8 image in the show, my preferred version is this one.

Jim James - My Morning Jacket - 17th July 2011, Somerset House, London

Waiting on the VIP terrace with my free beer (yeah, being a photographer isn't all bad!) I was hanging out with some lovely photographers while we all nervously watched the clouds... it didn't look promising. Luckily the rain held off for both the support and the headliners and as we were led out to the sage by security, the clouds lifted somewhat. The lighting for the gig was great, but Jim James was on the right in the shadows and the red lighting... thankfully in the third song he came right to the centre of the stage to play a furious guitar part and this became one of my favourite photographs of all time.

Erika M Andersen - EMA - 14th September 2011, Cargo, London

Ms Andersen is a hugely energetic performer and space at Cargo is tight, so I was one of the first through the doors at opening to get a spot down the front (no pit) in order to capture her. There are various shots of her from this night (she wraps her mic lead around her neck in a mock hanging during 'California') but this one of her furiously banging the body of her guitar became my favourite.

Gypsy Lonce - You Killed Me First - 26th February 2011, The Fox, Lewisham

I wanted to include a couple of images taken at The Fox itself. The pub has some of the best lighting in London, rivaling (and in some cases far exceeding) even the biggest venues. It's always a pleasure to photograph here and You Killed Me First were no exception. I photographed them at their first ever gig and their presence and energy was amazing. I think they only played a handful of shows, which was a shame, I hope they manage some more, other bands and geography allowing. The link below has more shots from the night, I should point out that the first one in the set isn't mine, but one of Gary William Keenan's from Cut Out & Keep.

James Felice - The Felice Brothers - 13th March 2012, The Macbeth, Hoxton

Arriving at The Macbeth in Hoxton for this gig, the first thing I noticed was that the tour bus was bigger than the venue. No joke. I was so unbelievably excited to be photographing both the Felice Brothers and Craig Finn in support in such a tiny venue (the other London stop on their tour was 1500 capacity Koko) the band were literally four feet away from me. I was tempted to move after my allotted three songs as it was getting a little claustrophobic in there, but I was rooted to the spot and there was no way I wanted to give up this veiw. This shot of James was my favourite from the night, I love the pattern his accordion makes.

Angus Andrew - Liars - 7th August 2010, The Big Chill Festival, Eastnor

Despite playing at just before sunset the lighting for the Liars set was tricky (and at times non-existent) plus they're a lively bunch on stage, so it really was like shooting in the dark. Happily fist shaking head-banging front man Angus stood still for a split second and I snapped this silhouette...
For Festival Republic

Scott Avett - The Avett Brothers - 24th June 2010, Koko, London

This gig was a big deal for me, I'd managed to get a pass through the venue as I'd been photographing there for quite a bit. The Avett Brothers were touring 'I & Love & You' which was my favourite album that year and the gig was sold out. I have to confess to having a bit of a fan-girl crush on Scott Avett and as they started their set I almost forgot I was there to photograph them and not just swoon at them. I love this photograph, not just because of Scotts expression, or his gesture, but because I know he was singing one of my favourite songs of all time (Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise) as I got this shot. I know that it might not matter to most people what song is being played as the image is taken (hell, most of the time I can't even remember) but on this occasion, it sums up that year, that album and one very special moment for me in my photographic career.
For Koko

Skye Edwards - Morcheeba - 8th August 2010, The Big Chill Festival, Eastnor

This set was an absolute blast to photograph. Although I'm not a massive fan, it was thoroughly enjoyable, Skye looked stunning in her red dress against the blue lit smoke, the late afternoon light was perfect and the band were animated throughout. I chose this shot of Skye listening out for the audience singing back at her, although it was a close call between this one and another of her swigging out of a tequila bottle.
For Festival Republic

Richie Miller - Ladyfist - 20th September 2011 - The Fox, Lewisham

Another first gig at The Fox, my mate Richie's band Ladyfist played in September last Year. This mental South London testosterone fueled, beer swilling,  metal four piece make a LOT of noise. Such is the lighting at The Fox that I got some good close ups of the boys in full swing, but also managed to get this shot of contemplative bassist Richie, that looks more like it was taken in a stadium.

Anna Calvi - 26th April 2011

It was one of those gigs where you can almost feel the hype as you walk in the door. Happily, Anna Calvi more than lived up to her reputation. It was another no-pit gig so I was down the front in the crowd trying to both hold my spot and not get in the way. Sometimes being a gig photographer is a bit of a lonely thing... we rarely get plus ones and there's a lot of waiting around (especially when there's no pit and you're in at doors) so it's always nice to catch up with other friendly photographers,  or meet a new one. On this occasion I met the lovely Rugfoot and we passed the time talking about photography. When she came on stage in her trademark red top & matching lipstick, Anna Calvi wowed from the start.

Thom Yorke - 6th August 2010 - The Big Chill Festival, Eastnor

It was touch and go as to whether I'd actually be allowed to photograph Thom Yorke & I was so desperate to photograph him. Press clearance on the day was sketchy and I was waiting in the press tent for an age before we got the go-ahead at the last second. It was well worth the wait, the lighting was perfect, I was standing in just the right spot in the pit and he was standing near the front of the stage (the main stage at the Big Chill is about 8 feet high and I'm only five six) It was one of those occasions when I just knew I had a couple of killer shots as I left the pit.
For Festival republic

Wayne Coyne - The Flaming Lips - 1st July 2011 - Alexandra Palace, London

Photographing this gig was both the most challenging and the most fun I've ever had. Wayne came out ahead of the start of their set to make a speech of sorts, and while I was lining up a shot, he looked over at me, straight in in the eye, and gave me a massive grin. All reason nearly went out the window right there and then! The show kicked off with the release of hundreds of giant balloons bouncing into the pit (and off cameras!) followed by Wayne in his hamster ball. So while I was battling rogue balloons, I was also jostling for space with about 30 other photographers trying to get a shot of him as he rolled back to the stage. The rest of the three songs in the pit were spent in a hail of glitter confetti, balloons and clouds of smoke. We all got out with ourselves and our kit in one piece I'm happy to report.

Thurston Moore - 2nd December 2011 - Union Chapel, London

Photographing at The Union Chapel has its own set of challenges. The small, intimate venue is a working church (on previous occasions I've photographed from the front pew!) so there's no pit and the venue tends to play host to acoustic sets, meaning the click of camera shutters is very intrusive. I spent most of the first three songs of Thurstons set, on my knees on the stone floor, crouched close to the stage so as not to get in anyone's way. I noticed that the lighting on the capital of the column behind him made it look like a crown, so I waited patiently for him to move to just the right position for it to appear directly above his head. This photo has never been shown before, and it's hopefully a fitting finale to the exhibition.
For The Line Of Best Fit

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