James O’Connor


How long have you been shooting for & what got you started?

I’ve been shooting for 5 years now. I got a camera for Christmas, cause I loved going to gigs – and decided to focus in on this passion. I did a short course over in Bondi called ‘Rock Photography,’ and then I was off and running.

I started at the Annandale Hotel. I’d email them when I wanted to shoot a gig and they were nice enough to allow me in despite my photos being pretty terrible. Gradually, I got better and better equipment and better at taking photos. I shot at the Annandale a lot and when that shut down I shifted over to the Sandringham Hotel…   and then when that shut down…

Hang on… are you a venue killer?

Hahaha! It seems I might have the kiss of death!! Well, now I shoot all over the place – but tend to shoot a lot at the Bald Faced Stag.

How did you come about getting accreditation to Festival of the Sun?

The guys who organized FOTSUN, I had a relationship with – having shot a few festivals for them in the past, so I applied direct to them to shoot photos and video at the festival – which they approved.

Check out the video James shot at FOTSUN here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CglFgexgbvw

Can you tell us about the specific moment you snapped your award-winning photo?

Funnily enough – I was standing next to you! It was after the three songs and we were standing at the side of stage enjoying the show. I just noticed that the lighting was getting a lot better – so I went over and grabbed my camera, thinking I’d just snap a couple of frames.   There is actually a real skill to shooting with the camera above your head – because you can’t exactly use your viewfinder – you just have to get a feel for it. I don’t think my aperture was very wide – maybe 3.5 – and I must have luckily hit the focal point right between his eyes because when you zoom in – his face is nice and sharp.   The lights flared up – he looked out at the crowd – and as he turned his head, I caught that moment. It was a nice combo of front light and back lighting.

What’s the concept behind your photo brand ‘From The Pit?’

It’s basically giving people a feel for what the experience of a gig or festival is like – not just the bands, but the crowd, the venue and the vibe – and a big part of that is getting out there amongst the crowd.   It’s less about me the photographer and more about the music scene in Sydney – which I think leads to more engagement without distracting from the images, the artist or the atmosphere. In fact – every Monday I post The Monday Mosh… a photo of a punter in the crowd at a gig or festival. It puts the focus out there where it should be, rather than on me.

Can you give us your thoughts on the Moshcam Photography Awards?

I think it’s awesome! However – I was a bit skeptical at the start, I must admit. I’ve now become quite selective with my entries – instead of posting the maximum 5 photos each week, I’ll save my entries for the special photos – the ones that I’m able to step back from and look at a few days later and say, ‘Yeah, that’s a pretty good photo.’ Those are the one’s that are a chance – cause you’re up against great shooters all over the country – so it needs to be outstanding. It’s quite competitive in the photo pit at shows…   so I’ll often enter photos not taken in the photo pit – for a distinct point of difference.

Who’s your favorite band to shoot?

Parkway Drive. Not necessarily because of what the do on stage but every time I see them, the production is completely different – and having great production for a hardcore band is quite unusual. It’s almost like pop level production, but for a metal band.

What’s your favorite venue to shoot in?

At a festival!! Nah, that’s a cop out… I’d have to say, The Oxford Art Factory. There’s good consistent lighting – you can always rely on that. And the Stag for the same reason…

Who’s on your photography bucket list?

There’s two bands, actually. Who I will hopefully get in Europe later this year…   System of a Down and Rammstein.

If you could tour the world with any band, who would it be and why?

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. I watched a documentary of them touring around Europe – and they look like they get out and enjoy themselves out there – plus, thery’re a band about to really take off…   It’s gonna be a nice ride for the next few years I imagine. From The Pit has always been about picking bands on the way up. I shot Violent Soho at GoodGod a few years back – I love shooting bands that I think will be massive in due time…


In 2011 I first toyed with a camera capturing gigs at Sydney live music institutions such as Annandale Hotel and The Sando. I shot the infamous Bronx Annandale show, Violent Soho at Goodgod and the last ever Peats Ridge. It was at Peats FTP that I developed a love of capturing festivals. A love which would take me around Australia and now Europe.

I recently spread my wings to visit Europe, capturing festivals such as Greenfield, Rockstadt, Punk Rock Holiday and Green Man. My main love is shooting festivals, both band and crowd.

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