Tell me a bit about your background in photography and what you do…
I started out shooting a local band for free. I was into photography, and liked studying ‘masters of light’. I used to flit between street photography and music photography, mainly live stuff, but documentary work as well. I got hooked on gear, editing techniques and learning composition, all the basics…basically. I carried on photographing local bands and building a portfolio of work whilst at the same time emailing record labels and management of bands trying to get some paid work. Infact, at first I even sent out emails offering my services for just the cost of ,my travel expenses, I heard nothing for months. I got down at times, and started shooting fashion stuff, portrait work, and a few weddings, which I hated. I wanted to photograph action. I wanted to be in the pit, but I wanted to be in better venues with better lighting so I just didn’t give up, I carried on writing, emailing, sending my updated web site link to everyone I could… Then one day I got an email back from The Charlatans record label, that was it, from there I just kept stepping up the ladder, it meant I had no social life ( that hasn’t changed! ), I dedicated all my time to learning new techniques, I spent hours reading books, watching tutorials, I even assisted a well respected food photographer, and then ended up shooting some campaigns for Morrisons! That was a massive learning curve, I was learning the inside outs of a Linhof Medium Format Camera, it was like nothing I’d seen or used before, I learned so much about camera systems, and though shooting food and music aren’t really the same genre, at all, haha, I was lighting food with up to 9 lights, with reflectors and more, I learned about making sure everything is right, even the tiniest detail before hitting the shutter, and that helps so much when you have a workflow like mine, the demands are high day after day, and if I get ‘shutter happy’ and start just shooting for the sake of it, I will pay for that late at night when I have to sift though thousands of images to find the few good ones where I actually took my time and made it right in camera, not post!
What is it about music photography/Filmmaking that gravitated you in that direction?
Adrenaline. The first time I photographed a show there was about 50 people there, but the room was tiny, it was sweaty, my lenses were steamed up and I think I got one decent photo, but I loved the buzz! You get one chance every night to capture a band or singer in the moment, you have to get coverage, as much as you can, you need to be quick, you need to know your camera inside out, be able to change settings without moving it from your eye, its high pressure, especially, for example, on my first ever job in an arena I had to shoot the cover plus about 6 other options for McFly’s RadioActive tour Live DVD. I hadn’t even seen the show, but, I was still quietly confident I could do it. I’d practiced so much at local venues in rubbish light, getting the most I could from my gear, that when an arena lit up I was heaven. I got the shots, and ended up working with McFLy right to this day, though less now as I’m full time with the Vamps of course.
What do you love most about your job?
Travelling and seeing the world is pretty awesome of course, I get to meet loads of creative people and find I feed off of them quite well, I think. So im always inspired. I get to work with my friends too, which not many photographers probably get to do. It’s quite a lonely job most of the time. Sat in your hotel room or edit suite at home while everyone else is out having fun, but you know what, it probably sounds really geeky, but I love that, I love editing too. It’s funny, when I catually get the chance for downtime and to relax, what do I do? I edit or try and learn something to do with photography or video. I think I’m just intrinsically programmed to do that. I drive my friends and family mad with it! But I think what I love the most about my job is that I’m doing what I love and getting paid to do it!
Who do you shoot for now and how do you make your living in photography?
I am now full time for The Vamps, a UK band I have worked with from the start of their career. I was actually working with Conor Maynard and You Me At Six at the time (two years ago) and living with a friend, Joe, he just happened to manage The Vamps and one day he asked if I’d be willing to film a cover with them, which I said I would. Though there was no pay, I knew these guys were special, so I jumped at the chance. From then on, I started getting paid my travel and did more shots with them, both film and photography. Then, when they signed there record deal I was offered a full time job to keep doing what I was doing…just a lot more of it! I’d say photography is about 20% of my work, maybe even less now, with video making up the rest of my time for the band.