Gig Review – Taylor Swift, British Summertime Festival, Hyde Park, 27 June 2015

Taylor Swift, British Summertime Festival, Hyde Park, 27 June 2015Much has been written in the last week to ten days about the hideous ‘copyright grab’ contract that Taylor Swift’s management impose on photographers in exchange for a photo pass. I won’t repeat it here, but suffice to say, despite worldwide media attention generated by Jason Sheldon’s fabulously articulated open letter, that contract was alive and kicking for those lucky or unlucky enough (delete as appropriate) to be presented with it.

To add insult to injury, apparently, photographers were given one minute each of two songs, from the end of what was I have to say the longest concert runway I’ve ever seen – she could have practically landed her private jet on it.

Despite having a commission from a national newspaper, I wasn’t actually given the choice of reviewing the contract as I was not accredited. Two small websites were though…boggles the mind. Anyway, I was interested in seeing what all the fuss is about. I assume I’ll never get accredited for a Taylor Swift concert anyway, so after Ellie Goulding’s barnstorming set, I headed in to the crowd to see what a Taylor Swift concert has to offer.

Well, that runway took off! It raised up in to the air and rotated through 90 degrees over the crowd and was quite a magnificent sight. I’m not sure Taylor Swift thought I was a magnificent sight when she looked straight down my lens as I took this shot though, but at least I didn’t have to sign my rights away to take it. And no, tempting though it might be, I have no intention of filing my shots with agencies for commercial gain. Two wrongs don’t make a right. By the time she was on stage I was just another punter in the crowd. I’ve seen what all the fuss is about now, and until her management back down and come up with a more equitable contract for freelance photographers, I have no interest in photographing her officially.

Gig Review – The Who and Vintage Trouble, British Summertime Festival, Hyde Park, 26 June 2015

Ty Taylor, Vintage Trouble, British Summertime Festival, Hyde Park, 26 June 2015This Hyde Park show and tomorrow’s set at Glastonbury are said to be amongst the last The Who will ever do, perhaps with the exception of the occasional charity show. So I probably ought to have a shot here of Roger belting out his vocals or Pete cartwheeling through a solo. They were fabulous, don’t get me wrong, but for me the day belonged to Vintage Trouble (pictured above).

I first saw VT three years ago here when they supported Bon Jovi. I actually missed their set on the main stage, but later that day they came in to the media tent and played a blinding acoustic show to about 6 people, including me. I went straight out and bought their album as soon as it came out and I’ve been hooked ever since.

So it was a long three year wait to finally shoot them properly. They’re actually pretty difficult to shoot – mainly because Ty is such an animated front man. He works incredibly hard and barely pauses for breath.This was one of those moments where you blink and you miss it – he leaned back on his mic stand for a few bars and then was off again. There was no time to compose a shot as such – I happened to have the wide angle lens to hand and was dead centre in the right place, otherwise this shot just wouldn’t have happened.

At least we only need to wait until November for their next tour over here.

Gig Review – Kylie Minogue and Grace Jones, British Summertime Festival, Hyde Park, 21 June 2015

Grace Jones, British Summertime Festival, Hyde Park, 21 June 2015You may have noticed that this isn’t Kylie Minogue. You were right. It’s Grace Jones. Why have I posted a photo of Grace and not Kylie? Well, firstly Grace blew everyone else off the stage today, and secondly I didn’t photograph Kylie.

You might ask why. Well, in short, Ms Minogue’s management company, Darenote, have a rather tricky clause in their contract with photographers which states “I (The Photographer) hereby assign to Darenote with full title guarantee the entire copyright throughout the world to the photographs”. What that clause does is to give (yes, give) my photos and all rights to them (including the copyright) to Kylie’s management company forever, for free.

It’s an all too common occurrence that major artists are putting copyright grabs in to their contracts. These clauses force photographers to sign away their rights to get a photo pass, which means that increasingly, photographers are refusing to sign, and artists are losing coverage. The tide is hopefully turning. My colleague Jason Sheldon of Junction 10 Photography is leading the charge against the current Taylor Swift contracts which contain exactly the same types of clauses. His open letter to Swift has, just 24 hours since it was published, received international media attention. My own open letter to Kylie Minogue is penned and ready to publish. Watch this space…

PS: Grace Jones was incredible. It’s not every day you get to say you photographed a near naked pensioner on stage. She is as bonkers as she is spellbinding to watch. No contracts, no closed pit. Three songs of pure, delightful craziness.

Gig Review – Download Festival, 12 to 14 June 2015

Marilyn Manson, Download Festival, 13 June 2015Ten years ago I shot my first Download Festival…on film…30 rolls of it if I remember rightly! Slipknot headlined one of those nights as well and in those years I’ve been at seven Downloads. I had planned to shoot as few bands as possible this year, but I hadn’t realised I would shoot even fewer than I’d intended. During Slipknot’s Friday night headline slot it rained a bit, well, actually it rained in Biblical proportions, and my 70-200 lens got water inside it as a result.

Every attempt to dry it out overnight failed, and it’s the lens you use most and is the one you can’t do without on stages this size. So on Saturday I came better prepared for the weather as my aunt had bought me some waders. I looked like I’d lost my fishing rod but I was warm and dry. The fun didn’t last long though as the lens fogged up again and even three hours drying it out on my car window heater only cleared it long enough to photograph Slash, Muse and this chap, Marilyn Manson. I wasn’t missing his set for love nor money and took the risk of missing Muse to do so as their sets clashed. He did his best to hide behind a solid wall of dry ice but the wind worked in our favour and made for fleeting moments of very atmospheric light and smoke when he appeared ghost like from the gloom.

Sunday’s line up was pretty epic, with one of Motley Crue’s last ever UK appearances (for which we were denied pit access), and KISS’s amazing closing show.

All in all another fine Download and whilst I love this festival a lot, the line up will have to be quite something for me to come back next year, but then again I say that every year!