Last year I took photos of Two Houses for the first time. There are bands I will always love to photograph because I never know what shots I’m going to get. Two Houses fall in the category along with Foxing, letlive, that band that was called Baby Godzilla but now I can’t remember the name of the band, Throwing Stuff. There’s more but those are the ones that come straight to mind. You get a lot of bands that stand still when you shoot the genre of music I do, and that’s fine because hell you’re not meant to be performing for the sake of the idiot holding the camera (me) but when you find a band that just lets it all go and moves so fast you have a challenge keeping up it’s a real treat. It’s the moments where the singer from letlive hangs off the pipes in the Old Blue Last and kicks in all the lights or the moment where Ben from Throwing Stuff is being crowd surfed across a venue to the bar, moments you never know are going to happen, that turn out to be the real photo gold. They make for dynamic, energetic shots and really capture the vibe so well.
It’s not easy to get that all though. When bands are running and jumping and climbing all over the place it’s a struggle to keep up, let alone to keep up whilst adjusting settings. You have to always be on your game, always watching. When I have the option of being to shoot a whole show I liked to watch bands for the first three songs, to get a feel of what they’re about. Really observe what people do as they play, how they move, what their presence is on stage. Then I go in towards the end of the set and take the photos I need. I didn’t take photos of Two Houses the first time I saw them at Liar’s Club on 420 in 2015, I simply just enjoyed the show, but every time after that they’ve been easy to photograph, not because they’re repetitive at all but because you know how each person will be on stage.
Observation is key to taking good photos, and I know that seems stupid to point out right now but we live in an age of 20 gig memory cards and the ability to take 300 photos of one band at a show. That’s fantastic, don’t get me wrong, I love technology has given me the ability to have no restriction on how many photos I take but I think sometimes people take that for granted and stop thinking about their shots. Framing, light, really watching your subjects and figuring out how to show them best is hard, especially at shows where you don’t have control over lighting or how crazy the crowd is going to be. As you get better at it the framing becomes second nature, almost instantaneous. As you get to know the bands you shoot everything becomes more exciting. Music photography is a challenge to get a photo that doesn’t look the same as 20 other people in that pit, it’s hard but it’s rewarding.