Ready for this week? Today, we will be reading an interview with *VelesPhotos
! Enjoy! What could you started shooting concerts?
After I finished college I didn’t have much direction with my photography. I was shooting a bit of everything and seeing what stuck, I guess. I was quite into industrial music and the scene was so small and informal it was easy enough to get access to shows on the rare occasion we had an industrial gig in Glasgow. I really enjoyed the challenge of shooting live music, though back then I was firing away like crazy to get a dozen or so decent photos out of 800 shots What equipment do you use?
My main camera is a Canon 50D. The image quality is great up to 1600 ISO but drops away pretty quickly after that. I do lust after some of the newer full frame cameras that perform brilliantly at very high sensitivities, but we have to make do with what we can afford, right?Types of lenses?
I currently use two primes, the Sigma 30mm f1.4 and the Canon 50mm f1.4. I had the 50mm f1.8, which everyone recommends, but found the autofocus on it quite unreliable. The f1.4 is a huge improvement. I used to use a Sigma f2.8 18-50mm zoom, but found it was quite soft wide open, while the image quality from the primes is just superb. Also, f2.8 just isn’t fast enough in a lot of smaller, poorly lit venues. I’d really like something a bit wider than the 30mm, so that’s probably going to be my next purchase, though I do feel ultra wide-angle concert photography, while eye-catching, can be a little gimmicky. How would you describe your local music scene?
I’d say it’s pretty healthy, over all. I’m based in Glasgow and there are a lot of venues for both large acts and small, local bands. As for the genre I shoot/enjoy the most, industrial, there’s a rock club called The Classic Grand which has gone out of its way to get industrial acts playing in Scotland as well as promoting local talent in the last few years, so that scene has really blossomed.What music style do you generally shoot?
It’s mostly industrial music I shoot, with occasional forays into rock and metal. Do you post-produce photos, what program do you use, why?
I don’t do much post-production, just a little basic contrast, sharpening and noise reduction. I used to use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software which was pretty good (and free), but recently I’ve found Lightroom blows it out the water. It’s so easy to use but gives you so much control. Favourite live experience shooting photos?
I think it was probably shooting Rotersand. I’m a huge fan of them. Often when I’m shooting I’m paying more attention to composition and picking the moment to press the shutter than I am to the actual show, but with Rotersand I managed to enjoy both. It was a great night.Ever had photos published, where, when?
Most of the work I shoot is for a music magazine called SonicShocks.comEver been paid, or sold photos, to whom, who were the photos of?
Unfortunately not. There doesn’t seem to be much money in live music photography anymore unless you’re shooting really big acts and even then a lot of them seem keen to force you into signing insane contracts that ensure you never profit from your work. It’s definitely something most of us have to do for the love of it these day. Favourite band and music style?
I find it impossible to pick a favourite band. It changes from day to day depending on my mood. Industrial’s probably my favourite genre but I like all kinds of stuff: Icon of Coil, Rotersand, PJ Harvey, New Model Army, The Distillers, Backyard Babies, Tactical Sekt, Combichrist, Juno Reactor, Officers, Snake River Conspiracy, Rollins Band, just as a flavour of what’s on my MP3 player right now.Do you play an instrument or write music, explain?
No, and judging by my keyboard lessons in high school the world should be grateful I don’t.How long have you been shooting live bands?
Probably about four years, but only seriously for the last two or three when I started covering gigs for Sonic Shocks.What band past or present would you most want to photograph live?
I don’t know, I don’t really have a Holy Grail I want to shoot. Anyone theatrical and exciting really.If you've been accredited to enter the photo pit as an "official photographer" what steps did you have to go through to get there?
These days Sonic Shocks deals with getting the accreditation. All I have to do is turn up and pick up my pass at the door. Any horror stories?
I was quite disappointed with what I shot at Cobcichrist’s last tour. It was called the Evolution tour and the idea was that they played songs from the albums in chronological order, with more of the band coming on and the production stepping up as they went on. Unfortunately there was a three song limit, so I could only shoot during the worst lighting set-up of the night (even the support bands had better lighting) and with only Andy LaPlegua on stage. It’s painful having to shoot under those conditions and then see everything improve drastically as the show went on, because you’re constantly seeing potential photos you can’t capture.
I think the worst horror story I have, beyond the usual pub basements with virtually no light, was when I was shooting Fozzy. It turned out there was only a two-song limit and there was no photo pit, so I was wedged into the crowd and stuck in one position. This was bad enough, but then partway into the second song a security guard walked over and planted himself right in front of me and wouldn’t move. I’ve no idea why he’d do that. In the end I effectively only had three minutes to shoot but luckily I got what I needed, and even more luckily that’s the only show I’ve ever had to shoot in that venue.Why shoot music? What else do you shoot?
When it comes to photography I’ve always been better at reacting to things happening around me than trying to create photos from the ground up. The idea of setting up a still-life, of spending hours tweaking the lighting and positioning of things, just bores me to tears. I much prefer trying to capture brief moments as they happen and shooting gigs, with the constant movement, ever-changing and often poor lighting and strict time limits has to be one of the biggest challenges in photography. There’s a real sense of accomplishment when you get good shots out of a really chaotic live show. Apart from gigs I like to shoot alternative fashion and sometimes for a change of pace and a bit of relaxation I spend an afternoon deep in the woods shooting landscapes. Ever had a photo stolen and used without your authorization?
Not as far as I know. I’ve been tempted to use that Tineye software and check, but I’m not sure I want to deal with the stress. I think I’m happier living in ignorance.