Green Day was one of the first bands I ever photographed professionally, back in 2005 at the Brixton Academy. I had frankly no idea back then how big they were but these days they comfortably fill arenas and stadiums. Their shows are unfailingly good fun to shoot but their popularity inevitably means the pit will be full to the rafters.
Billie Joe uses the runway a lot and those the shots I love – if there’s even half a chance of getting a wide shot with the crowd in too, that’s the shot I want…especially as I missed his jump at the end of the third song.
So even though I can’t syndicate the shots to my agency because of their strict contract, I came away with a set of images I was pretty pleased with. It had been a bit of a nightmare getting the pass at all, but it was worth it in the end.
I was lucky enough to be accredited to photograph Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna last year here at the Royal Albert Hall. It was one of the most impressive performances I’ve ever seen and was a completely different shoot to the type I’m used to. So I jumped at the chance of shooting it again this year. Many of the artists have changed but most of the scenes were the same with mesmerising trapeze and high wire artists like the one above performing high above the stage at great speed with no safety wires.
This year we had the option of shooting from lower down in front of the stage or up at the same spot I’d taken last year. I therefore decided on the closer spot which was nice to get a different and more dramatic perspective but I think last year’s shots possibly worked out better in the main for being that little bit further back. Still, another amazing show!
I’ve started to rack up quite a few Matt Goss shows ahead of the Bros reunion next year and I’m building up quite an archive of shots of him in the process. I hadn’t actually applied for tonight’s show but I got a text from Matt’s PR telling me I had an AAA pass waiting for me the night before which was great news.
Shepherd’s Bush is a much more intimate venue than Wembley Arena, in fact I’d go as far as saying that his shows need the intimacy of a smaller venue – Wembley Arena is a bit warehouse-like and soulless. However the Empire is stunning, and with its low stage and with the front row just a few feet from the stage it was the perfect setting for his music.
It’s a privilege to have Access All Areas, and I was determined to make the best of it. Sometimes there’s only so much you can do from front of house, especially without a pit, and the best shots are to be had if you can get the angles and lighting right from on the stage. With this shot I quite deliberately positioned the myself so that the light cast a halo and shadows around him as I wanted to capture the warmth and intimacy of the show with the crowd watching on.
Roll on the Bros reunion, they were the opposite end of the spectrum to the music I enjoyed as a teenager, but there’s no denying those are going to be great shows and I hope I’ll be invited back…
Just wow. What an amazing show. It’s about 3-4 years since I last photographed them and although I got good shots that time, I came away underwhelmed with what I’d got. Tonight though was one of those nights where great light combined with the band being absolutely on fire and seemingly I was generally pointing the right lens in the right direction when great moments like the one above happened.
Here, Flea bent right over during a bass solo and was absolutely going for it. The stage was low enough for once for full length shots and even though you can’t see his face I like the intensity of it. There were plenty of other moments too, and it was one of the highlights of the year for me.
Everything came together tonight, it’s just a crying shame their contract doesn’t allow agency syndication because it was almost impossible not to come away with a lovely set of images.
The Theatre Royal isn’t used all that often for concerts. In fact I think I’ve only ever shot one other show there before. It’s a beautiful venue, but it’s difficult to find a spot to shoot from that isn’t completely obtrusive to the crowd who, after all, have paid a lot of money to be there.
When confirmation of the pass came through I was told to ‘bring a long lens’ and that sends shivers down my spine because when the PR says that it could mean anything from a 300mm to an 800mm. What was clear though was that we would be shooting from the back and the 300mm I have would simply not be enough. So I asked specifically about being allowed down one side, about half way forward, so that I could shoot over the crowd, out of everyone’s way but much closer to the stage and was told it should be fine.
I arrived early and took up the spot I had asked for which on the 300mm lens was about as good as it could get. I only saw two other photographers but it seems they had been told to shoot from the back corner.
I got the impression I could have stayed there for the whole performance – the stewards were lovely and seemed almost puzzled when I packed up to leave after 3 or 4 songs. But I’d got what I could and although it sounded lovely, I wasn’t going to get better shots by hanging around any longer.
I first shot one of Jack’s shows earlier on this year having seen his performance on TV at the Brits. This time it wasn’t nearly as busy in the pit and while he was set further back than I had hoped, I had deliberately brought my fisheye lens with me to make the most of his fabulous lighting rigs. Those towers aren’t as curved as they look in the photo – that’s the effect of the 15mm fisheye at work. It’s not a lens I can use often in a gig setting – you need something dramatic to make it work, but this seemed the ideal show to dust it off for.
Jack certainly doesn’t disappoint – he’s like an interesting version of Ed Sheeran as far as I can tell. However I’m not sure how often I could photograph his shows and expect to come away with anything new – it’s a great show but once you’ve got close ups and wide shots the job is pretty much done.
Tonight was a very special show. This was, as far as I know, the last time that Brian Wilson will ever perform Pet Sounds in the UK. I was working for his PR and management tonight, with access all areas for the whole show. The only proviso was that I couldn’t shoot freely on the stage, but fair enough!
For all his artistic prowess (and he’s written some absolute classics) Brian is a very static performer these days. He didn’t move once from a piano that was positioned facing out to the audience. That meant it was quite hard to see him other than his head and it was really important for me to deliver as wide a variety of shots as possible.
I found a side on angle that worked nicely, but the best shots at the Royal Albert Hall are rarely if ever taken from the pit. I had hoped to get an elevated shot from the organ behind the stage looking out over the whole Hall, but they’d put a screen up making that shot impossible. However with three levels to explore and all sorts of different angles to find, I was able to get really wide angle shots from the very back of the Hall and this was easily the best angle to get a clean shot of Brian’s hands on the piano. I was way up at the top of the Hall on a 300mm lens, but it was worth the trek.
Access like I got tonight is a rare treat, and I was glad to make the most of it.
I was amazed to find there were only 3 of us shooting tonight’s show. I expected it to be packed full of photographers, but it wasn’t, and it was incredibly laid back – so much so that we missed the first song performed by last year’s X Factor winner Louisa Johnson!
The reason for that was that we were backstage in a tiny room doing portrait photos with Nicole Scherzinger, so it wasn’t exactly terrible that we only got time to shoot one of Louisa’s songs!
We had the whole show as each artist was only performing a couple of songs, right up until then end when suddenly we were ushered out of Shawn Mendes’ set after two songs with no warning! Still, it was a decent night, and Fleur East was far and away the best performer to shoot of the night.
The Palladium is an undeniably stunning venue, and seeing Bon Jovi performing in front of just 2000 people for the launch of their new album was an absolute treat.
I had the best of both worlds tonight. I had a photo pass for the first two songs, and I’d won free tickets in a ballot so had great seats for the rest of the show. And what a show it was!
The Palladium may be beautiful, but because it is a fully seated venue, photography is restricted to the back of the downstairs area and the far sides, for which a 300mm lens is just enough. To say it’s therefore tough is true. The lighting was great and the band were clearly on great form. After playing the new album, they then came back for an encore of classic songs that the audience went crazy over. All in all a great night!
Some shows are an absolute privilege to shoot, and this was one of them. Having worked on Matt’s Dorchester Hotel show last year, I was invited by Steve Guest and Rob Ferguson to be the official photographer for tonight’s set. That meant all areas access, and permission to shoot from on the stage as well as elsewhere which is always a wonderful opportunity.
The lighting was very challenging. It was at the Dorchester too last year, but that was only because the poor lighting guy didn’t have a big enough rig for the room. This time it was being recorded for DVD so the lighting was low and fairly orange at times.
From the stage, that meant dramatic silhouettes were the way to go, although I’d hoped for more shots really showing the crowd as well. I really enjoy taking shots like this because they are something a little different from normal. Next year when Bros play again, I’m sure it’ll all look very different.