Pat O’Hara


I’ve always loved live music and photography, and my friends never wanted to go to gigs (they were too boring), so I thought I’d combine my two passions and turn myself into an average music photographer.

I love shooting rock/punk gigs mainly because there is a craziness in the atmosphere and that means great shots of the crowd.

MPAs Monthy Winner – January

How long have you been shooting for? 

I’ve been shooting gigs for about 2 years now.  I love live music, but none of my friends wanted to go travel to see smaller shows, so I thought, since I loved photography, why not try and get myself photo passes to these shows?  I saw it as a way of fusing my two passions together and see what happens.

I started down this road by sending a lot of emails.  Any time I’d see someone shooting live music – I’d ask them who they’re shooting for – then I’d check out the website for contact details.  That part was really easy, but there were a few that said, ‘why don’t you go shoot a few more gigs, get some experience under the belt – then we’d love to have you.’  So I just started out by going to local venues and photographing free shows – getting my head around different lighting setups, understanding colors and editing techniques.

Those early gigs were at the Bald Faced Stag, where international artists would play relatively small rooms.  A pub just down the road from me, The Steyne – which is all free entry – so I’d just take my camera along and ask the band, ‘hey, can I shoot for you guys?’  And most of the time, bands love photos, so they’d say,’yeah!’  They were really open to me photographing them – I think, as long as you’re not a dickhead – it’s a pretty easy first step.

How did you get accreditation for Laneway Festival?

I shoot for Scenestr and they’re pretty gig at getting into any gig.  I’d shot the festival for them last year and the editor really liked my shots – so they let me go again and have another crack.

Talk us through the moments leading up to the incredible photo you took of Nick Allbrook crowd surfing…

I had never heard of Nicholas Allbrook before, but I remember Peter Dovgan and Peter Zaluzny ( fellow photographers ) talking to each other and saying that this is going to be a good one.  They told me I better go shoot it.  Those guys are insane photographers, so I figured if they were excited about it – it was gonna be awesome.

For most of the set I was just kinda watching, cause Nick has such a weird stage presence.  Then he jumped down off the stage, and I was like, ‘OK – I should probably take a few photos of this.’  Then he stood up on the edge of the crowd and I can’t remember whether he jumped or he was pulled in – but suddenly he was lying on top of the crowd, throwing all these weird poses and shapes.

When this happens at a show – there’s often a scrum of photographers crowding around trying to get that shot, so instead I took a step back and shot around them.  As he started to be carried along, his whole body turned so he was facing me for a couple clear frames.

I only managed to get a few shots, because I was laughing so hard, in awe of what he was doing.  He was being pulled further and further into the crowd and the microphone cord was starting to stretch – at which point he started trying to get back to the stage.  There didn’t seem to be any security guards around at the time, so Peter Dovgan and me were trying to help him out of the crowd, but mercifully a security guard stepped in and took over.

What’s your thoughts on the MPAs?

I love it, man.  There are a few community groups on Facebook and they are cool but people tend to just show work off – but the MPAs feels more curated – people only enter stuff if they feel it’s a particularly strong image.  I just love being able to see everyone’s best shots of the week – I mean, some of the shots are just incredible!

Like that Underoath shot ( Stuart Mckay ) for example – it just blew my mind – that was amazing.

But there’s also some interesting questions and feedback going on – it’s just a great community thing to have as a photographer.  It’s a great way to meet other photographers, but also to get your name out there.  I know so many more photographers around the country now.   There’s just a lot of consistently great shooters out there.


What’s your favourite band to shoot?

Well.. Being as an Ocean and The Smith Street Band are up there – but I’d have to say Gang of Youths.

What’s your favourite venue to shoot in?

The Enmore Theatre.  The lighting is always great and the venue has a nice sense of history to it – the old theatre vibe.

Who’s the main band left on your photography bucket list?

I’m gonna cop a lot of shit for this – but, All Time Low.  They were the guys who got me into it.  I went to one of their gigs back in 2015 and I remember thinking, ‘I wish I could photograph this gig.’

I actually got pulled up on stage during the show and I remember seeing a photographer there taking photos and I’ve never been able to find those photos.  They were my favourite band growing up – so I just wish I could get those photos, print em out and stick them somewhere…   I don’t know…  But they’re coming in a couple months, so I might get my chance.

If you could go on tour with any band in the world for six months, who would it be…?

Mumford and Sons.  All their live stuff I’ve seen is just incredible.  The crowd get so into it, they’re really energetic on-stage and they play such weird and incredible venues.  Their official photographer is awesome and all the backstage stuff they get… they just seem like a band with such behind-the-scenes potential as well – I reckon you’d get brilliant candid shots of them practicing and chilling if you were given the time on a tour.

They’re big in everything they do – massive sound, big production, huge crowds…

Nominated Photos


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