When did you start shooting?
I started doing gigs about 7 years ago. Before that, photography had always been in the house – my dad was a serious enthusiast. Way back when, I did a semester of photo journalism as part of my Bachelor of Journalism at Uni, so I bought a digital camera and started getting interested in it. A few of my classmates were DJs and I asked them if I could come along and take photos during their sets at nightclubs – so I did that for about 4 months. Me and a friend would drive into the city around midnight and shoot till the wee hours of the morning – mostly people on drugs in the dark. But it gave me confidence to walk up to strangers and ask if I could take their photo. Then one night I went along to a local metal show, to see a band called Darker Half. I took my camera along, and although I had never shot a live show before I had a lot of fun and managed to get some decent snaps. Afterwards, I put a few photos up online and the bass player from one of the other bands that played, called Switchblade, noticed them – he asked if he could share them on the band’s MySpace site. From there it just kinda snowballed, I kept doing it as a hobby at live shows and it gradually built up over the next 7 years.
How did your Splendour in the Grass accreditation come about?
I’ve never photographed Splendour before, so this time I applied through Blunt magazine. I’ve been shooting for Blunt for about 3 years. I started there as a journalism intern. Journalism is my day job and photography has been mainly a hobby. After interning for a couple months I asked if I could go out and shoot a show for them. They had no money to pay me – but sent me along anyway – it was Epica’s first tour to Australia. Blunt liked my shots and kept me on as a shooter. I’ve always wanted to shoot SITG, but it’s quite a difficult festival to get into, they don’t give out very many passes. We applied and we were knocked back initially, but they said if someone pulled out – we would be next in line. And luckily for us, someone must’ve pulled out.
How did you nail that shot of At The Drive-In?
I’ve liked all the bands featuring Cedric and Omar, from The Mars Volta to At The Drive-In and Antemasque. Despite being a big fan, I’d never seen At The Drive-In live before so I was very excited about checking them out. Because I’d seen a bunch of live videos I kinda knew what to expect, knew the visual cues and big moments in songs. I knew Cedric jumps around a lot and so I always kept an eye on him even if I was shooting another member of the band. At first I was a bit concerned as the lighting was very dark, and there was heavy smoke. But things started to clear up a little bit as he climbed onto the speaker stack and as soon as he squatted down to sing to the crowd, I knew he was about to do that massive leap. I put my shutter up ridiculously high and bumped up the ISO. I prepared myself to get as sharp a photo as possible. If it’s dark, you can always save it in post, if it’s grainy, you can fix it later – just gotta make sure it’s sharp. As for the placement between the two guitarists – that was just a happy accident.
Your thoughts on the MPAs?
Honestly, my first thought was that it could potentially discourage some of the younger shooters by showcasing some of the incredibly skilled photographers in the country, but the opposite seems to have happened. I guess I tend to be a little bit of a pessimist from time to time, because there seems to have been a lot of support for people, a lot of advice going around and a lot of tips and insights into some of the posted images. It seems to be encouraging people to get stuff out there and up on a platform – somewhere they can get their work to an audience with a specific knowledge base to give them helpful feedback, new ideas and new angles. I’ve been inspired by plenty of the images by shooters in the competition, guys like Jared Leibowitz and Dave Kan have influenced my shooting and editing techniques in multiple ways.
Favourite band in the world to shoot?
Dude, that question sucks. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. Recently, Vintage Trouble at Bluesfest were a blast to photograph. I tend to prefer to shoot punk and metal – where there’s a lot of movement and energy, although recently I’ve enjoyed shooting pop music – because of the spectacle and scale of production – they make for really theatrical photos.
What’s your favourite venue to shoot in?
The Metro Theatre in Sydney. When they get the lighting right, it’s a great space to shoot within, due to the tiered levels and balcony – there’s really not a bad spot in the venue.
Who’s on you photography bucket list?
The Mars Volta, Muse & Rammstein.
What band would you love to go on a world tour with?
Chvrches – after seeing them at Laneway – I really liked their stage setup, and after checking some of their tour photos it seems they like to change things up from night to night. Cool, interesting variation and unique lighting setups. Also Rammstein – because fire, so much fire. At The Drive-In would be great if they didn’t love playing in the dark so much. Queens of The Stone Age and The Dillinger Escape Plan would also be amazing tours.