Its hectic. Between the deadline meeting in the Press Tent and the running around from stage to stage, a camaraderie between the photographers develops. This is then sustained over a series of events and festivals. I’m still relatively new to all this. More often than not, you’ll hear talk of ‘that secret show Bell X1 did back in the 90s’ or ‘never mind Oxegen or Witness…I remember when it was called Féile’!
I could rant about the difficulties at some festivals. I could go on about how stage lighting and actual performance is crucial to us being able to do our job. I could even talk about how the height of the stage really matters. But that’s for another day…
I’d like to take this chance to thank the many photographers for their continued advice, good humour, inspiration and for not being like this guy.
Here is some of their brilliant work:
Sean Conroy is one of the funniest people I know. Apart from being deadlie and a fan of pigeons, he has a real technical know-how which gives him the peace of mind to go and shoot those crucial moments. Here’s his shot of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The gig was mainly backlit, so Sean knew that the intrigue would come from a strong silhouetted stance and a colourfully washed backdrop.
Tara Thomas is one for keeping the spirits up with her bubbly attitude. Its this fun-loving approach that gets her some brilliant crowd shots and on-stage moments like this one of Frankie from The Hot Sprockets. Lovely light and a pose that captures his style of percussion brilliantly.
For years, I’d followed Kieran Frost's work on Flickr, and it was cool to be in the same pit as him this year. He loves getting right up close to the action and is a seasoned gig snapper at this stage. Here's a great photo of Ms Mr, an example that you don't always have to shoot when the singer is singing.
Debbie Hickey is an extremely talented music photographer. She is consistently in the right place at right time, ready to get that iconic image. She’s well aware that we usually only get to shoot the first 3 songs, so is searching for that magic moment early on. This one of Warpaint is admirable because the blue lighting wasn’t great, but Debbie waited until a white spot fell on the expressive drummer, so she wouldn’t be washed out. I’d usually hate minor distractions like the head of the bass guitar creeping in, but in this case it highlights the rhythm section’s relationship and anchor’s the drummer’s gaze.
I met Ciara Drennan at this years Picnic. I cannot express how annoyed I am that we didn’t get to hang out more. Such is the hectic nature of these weekends. Ciara’s got a great back catalogue, and got some lovely atmospheric black and white photos of The 1975 at the Picnic.
Michael Donnely and I met while photographing last year’s Fringe Festival for Blow Magazine. Michael has a really impressive portfolio that packs a punch. He’s also got a great business head and will know how to deal with any of the complications that can arise with shooting events. I’ve chosen a lesser known photo of his for this gallery. Its of DJ David McGoff and it highlights how getting away from the main stages can yield special moments like this. Its also really tough to get many good moments from DJs buried in their laptops. I like how the mechanics overhead mirror the robotic nature of his decks and the stage design below.
It was really cool to see Dan Butler's approach at this year's Picnic. He's a real fan and gets a buzz of shooting his favourite acts. Except when restrictions are placed on photographing Robert Plant. But we won't go there. This one of Black Uhuru isn't one of his usual dramatic lighting shots, but I love the colour and expression against the plain black of the main stage.
Apart from recognising Rory Coomey from the recent Budweiser Dream Job campaign, you should really recognise his images. Here’s one of The Strypes, who do indeed give you loads to work with as a photographer, but Rory has managed to get that quick glimpse with some really nice lighting highlighting their distinguishing look. He is always ‘on’, always alert, always present. He lives and breathes this stuff. But will still have time to hold a solid conversation in-between about what we’re shooting. There’s a knack to that…
Yan Bourke was another nice person to meet at this year’s Picnic. He carries himself with refreshing lack of pretension and lets his work speak for itself. He has some great documentation of underground and smaller events, so it was interesting to see him transfer his style to the big stage. I like this shot of CHVRCHES as it goes against the grain. It would be too easy to focus on capturing a good-looking female lead and let that be the selling point of the photo; instead the slightly-silhouetted form against the dazzling lights evokes the trance, synth and electronic genre of the music.
I must say thanks to LH Publicity for all their accommodation and for organising the festivals this summer. Crucually, they take a chance on us for us to chance getting that crucial moment onstage.