Gig Review – Ella Eyre, Shepherds Bush Empire, 10 October 2014

Ella Eyre, Shepherds Bush Empire, 10 October 2014

There are gigs and there are gigs. This is one of those gigs I am going to remember for a very long time. I was excited about shooting Ella Eyre anyway, although from what I’d seen of the tour so far, I was nervous about the light quality. I needn’t have been. When I arrived, the unusually cheerful lady in the box office told me that after the 1st 3 songs in the pit, I could shoot the whole of the rest of the show from the crowd. That’s unheard of and I didn’t pay too much attention in case she was wrong.

The pit was crowded but not overly (there were 19 accredited, thank goodness a good 6 or so didn’t show up) and although Ella was moving around all over the place, the light was great which made for decent shots.

As it turned out, the box office lady was right, so I headed back in to the crowd with a 70-200mm and did a few shots of the whole stage from the balcony before finding a spot I was really happy with, up a couple of steps at the front, off to one side. It meant I was in range for the lens and could easily shoot over peoples’ heads.

I have to say I am massively impressed with Ms Eyre. What a show she put on. The energy was fantastic and even though it isn’t really my music scene, I may just have to buy her CD when it comes out (how old fashioned!) I got my best shots from the crowd, including this one, when she retreated to the back of the stage and whirled round in a blur of hair about 6 times. I love how you can see her face through what has to be the best hair in British music right now.

So all in all I came away buzzing and even the £65 parking fine for accidentally parking in the wrong space didn’t dampen my mood. Why can’t all gigs be like that?

A Photographer’s View – Getty European Entertainment Picture of the Month – June 2014

Lorde, Shepherds Bush Empire, 5 June 2014For some time, Getty Images has run a monthly competition amongst entertainment photographers for the prize of European Entertainment Picture of the Month. In June, for only the second time, the top 10 shots were then put to an international, two week public vote.

I felt privileged to have my shot of Lorde, taken at her Shepherd’s Bush Empire show earlier in the month, amongst those top 10.

There were some outstanding images submitted, from all types of entertainment genres. My shot came fifth in the end and it will have been seen by thousands of people as a result of the competition, so it was great to have been chosen to be involved.

A Photographer’s View – Getty Year In Focus 2013

Getty-Year-In-Focus-2013-IggyEvery year Getty Images publishes Year In Focus, a stunning round up of the year’s iconic images. It is an international selection, showcasing news, sports and entertainment. This year it features more live music than ever before, with Redferns well represented. I feel very honoured that two of my photos have been used – this one of Iggy Azalea at the Supperclub, which came second in the recent Music Picture of the Year Award, and a shot of Jay Z from the O2 Arena in London.

A Photographer’s View – Getty Images European Editorial Photography Awards 2013

Iggy Azalea, Supperclub London, 14 October 2013Tonight, the Getty Images Gallery in London’s West End hosted the 2013 Getty Images European Editorial Photography Awards on 15 January. The evening was a celebration of the work of the editorial teams right across Europe covering news, sport and entertainment.

Amongst the categories was, for the first time, a new award for Music Picture of the Year. I was very proud to have been nominated for the award some weeks ago and over Christmas I poured over every shot I’d taken in 2013 to come up with the required three that I felt merited submission. Amongst an illustrious crowd, I was delighted and humbled to be awarded second place for the picture shown here of Iggy Azalea performing at the Supperclub in London on 14 October.

The standard of photography on show was inspiring. As a Formula 1 fan I was particularly interested in the sports categories but overall the talent in the room was quite something – it was a privilege to be rubbing shoulders with some of the most talented news, sports and entertainment photographers in Europe.

A photographer’s view – The Beyonce Effect

The history is well documented. An artiste who is a control freak about concert photography restrictions (30 or 60 seconds on a stopwatch from the mixer) and a free-for-all at the Superbowl with sports photographers syndicating unflattering photos of said control freak. Recriminations aside, clearly no-one in Beyonce’s camp was forward thinking enough to consider the Law of Unintended Consequence.

Several months on and all photographers are banned from her current tour. Hired hands are putting out official approved photos through the management company she owns rather like propaganda. Forums are awash with critique of those photos and I’m sorry to say that they are underwhelmingly average. I won’t be popular for saying I know I could do a much better job given the subject, the production and the access, so I won’t say it, I’ll just think it (but I know many of my colleagues do too).

The pap agencies are sneaking in cameras to shoot from the crowd and the media are having a field day with the fact they only have access to a set of carefully controlled shots. The issue is dominating all the reviews here in the UK. I’ve never photographed Beyonce, nor would I want to under the conditions she sets currently so this isn’t a case of professional jealousy, but it is a case of concern for our industry.

I’m all for PRs being allowed to do their job to properly vet applications for photo passes to ensure only reputable bona fide photographers gain access. I’m fine with management issuing sensible, fair and legal contracts that fairly define usage and the penalties for breaking the rules. I happen to think that shooting from the mixer is an inexplicable and pointless exercise except in circumstances where it makes for better shots (eg P!nk’s amazing Cirque du Soleil-esque bungee entrance last week at the same London venue).

The best photos I’ve ever seen of Beyonce live were from Glastonbury in 2011. Photographers got three songs from the pit and I’ve yet to see an unflattering or poor image. There is surely an irony there?

Our industry is going down the pan. Restrictive, one-sided contracts, agencies being barred from many tours altogether for reasons unexplained, and photographers being banished to distant mixing desks for no apparent reason. The whole cat and mouse Beyonce situation is an over-reaction and only creates problems rather than solving them. My prediction is that she’ll have photographers again on her next world tour, but I don’t expect to see photographers at her sets at either Chime For Change or V Festival which is a real shame. All publicity sells gig tickets and they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity but I’m sorry, that’s bonkers – just look at Bieber.

All in all, when an artist as powerful as Beyonce destroys any productive relationship she may have had with the world’s concert photographers, inevitably others will follow suit. I don’t think it’s done her any favours in terms of the quality of images out there and I’m sure it will only make the less reputable amongst our community even more hungry to capture unflattering, unapproved and unofficial shots in future.