There’s definitely something to be said for the road trip, the journey, of making the effort to see a band play, leaving town, heading to the city, whatever. It’s been a pretty full on week; Saturday morning I have a photoshoot first thing, and work through the day, but the idea of getting home, sifting through my erupting wardrobe in the hope of finding the ‘right’ dress, just pulls me right out of exhaustion. I opted for the drive out, 100 miles or so, Norwich-to-Hackney - the destination, right across the street from the flat which pushed us out of the city in the first place.
My first foray into photography was probably with the buzz of live photography, gigs. I lived in Dereham, and used to get the bus to Norwich to catch whoever was playing in the area. This was 2005-7 when the touring circuit ran straight through the city, whether it was the Arts Centre, The Waterfront, or the UEA… Certainly days gone by, these venues are a ghost of what they once were, and it’s not the nostalgia talking.
I’d often go out with just a disposable camera, a lot of these venues didnt have barriers up to guard the stage at this time so everyone used to get pretty stuck in. And theres me, at about 16 or 17 years old, terrified of getting my new (passed down) 35mm cam broken, so I stuck it out with the one-use, and learnt a lot. Gig photography, even back then, had started to get pretty clinical, and the disposable meant I could get close to the action, and catch what the gig is meant to be about.
I remember one time, after a show, I think it was at The Waterfront, and Carl Barat said my camera was cool. It’s really fucking ironic, because it wasn’t cool at all, I was even embarrassed by it and used to hide the casing - it was a Tesco Value disposable camera. About 4 quid if I remember, and I got it because i’m a cheap-skate.
I learnt a lot about capturing people at these events. I’d only shoot if I felt I should, to catch something I’d otherwise be missing. This feeling of missing out plagued my teenage self - living in Dereham meant I had to race for the last bus home. Or miss the bus and have to call my parents, which wasn’t going to happen. These were the days of myspace, and I’d often share aire-time with professional photographers, and this bolshyness, I’ve never let go, the need for getting the shot I want and being happy with it. I’ve never competed against another photographers’ space at an event, I work with what I’ve got, and if I’ve got a shitty space or viewpoint, I’ll work with it and do something about it. I’ve been in photo-pits, press areas with established photographers, DSLR’s and lenses coming out of their arse, and I’ve never been afraid to stick to my guns. And I can’t talk for myself, but my scratchy, dust-filled negatives rival the pro’s pristine gel-lit images any day.
I shot gigs for a few years, for the fun and feel of it really. And it was fucking great practise. I still get excited about the disposable as a format, but I’ve moved through a lot over the years. Mainly film, but there was a time leading up to about 2010 where I was moving around a lot, and I used to use my Canon 400D for most of my work. Years of events capture, off the cuff, and last night my first out of hours with the XT-3.
This is the first night Brandon and I have been out together probably all year, and the 100 mile trip to the old stomping ground was exciting. The drive down was eventful, and we set out to have a good time. This was the first time I’d seen Girls In Synthesis, I’ve known John as long as I’ve known Brandon and if you’re going to travel to watch a band youve got to go big. This was their first headline show at Cave Club, at the Moth Bar in Hackney. The crowd were in it, and so were the Fuji and I. The cool thing about this band is, theyre not annoying. I’m fed up of being annoyed by bands. But these guys get stuck in. Mics in the crowd one-song-in and a female-drummer not screaming her female entitlement through the roof. Getting on with it. The attitude is what makes this band work, and the live show pulls a punch.
Photographing a gig, is about whats beyond the stage, it breaks up the forward facing rule of performer and voyeur. My night shooting has almost dispersed, but each time it brings back some kind of auto-pilot excitement, a need. The XT3 is a dream, I didn’t over shoot, my final selection is close to 2 rolls of film, and thats very much how I weigh up a story. I shot some portraits, got in close, and then stood back. The whole night is very much a story of getting out, the importance of the road trip. I could have had a great time at home watching Netflix, but the 200 miles on tarmac has my full attention.
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