G4 and Lesley Garrett at Festival on the Close

G4 and Lesley Garrett in Rugby

Lots of the music photography that I shoot is based around indie bands or players playing full on in hot and loud venues where the photographers are in the pit.   Occasionally when it is acoustic shows (which are both interesting and often sensitive)  I work around a seated audience which brings a totally different aspect to shooting music as every click has to be carefully considered for timing, to cause as little distraction as possible. 

Last night was a combination of being audience aware whilst seeing and shooting an impressive event in my home town.    Rugby School are running a superb set of events this week to celebrate 450 years since the foundation of the school.  They are celebrating with a public arts festival which has a great range of workshops for children and have combined professional input enabling children to work with and alongside musicians, dancers and creatives for the festival. 

The school have created a semi permanent structure in the grounds to house the bigger events, complete with outdoor close,  with food, drink and gentle ambience.

G4 and Lesley Garrett opened the festival with what can only be described as a stunning performance.  This brought in a capacity crowd, staffed by pupils and tutors to form an efficient front of house team that ran the venue perfectly, combined with good sound the evening was perfect. 

G4 were lovely, far more charming than I expected and I really enjoyed the show. I may be showing my roots but anyone who can cover an Osmonds classic that well, amongst Elvis, show tunes and opera deserves the respect they worked for.  

Lesley Garrett was a delight, an immense stage presence, sparkling personality and that voice!  Stunning to watch as even when the stage was full, with a choir in support she sparkled and wowed the audience.

I’m at more events this week at Festival on Close, Im looking forward to them.

Full review for Birmingham Live here

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The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present

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The band I have seen most in all the world and I still love them!  

I gave up counting when I reached three figure numbers as those have been repeated a few times but hey they were celebrating 30 years since the release of their brilliant debut “George Best”.  So a trip into Birmingham to cover the gig for Birmingham Live! (full review here) was always going to be fun. 

It is with thanks to The Wedding Present, or more importantly thanks to David Gedge that I made that initial move from being an avid music fan to gig photographer.  His help when I was starting out made all the difference as he enabled me to shoot in a range of venues in quick succession, essential for the learning on my feet that I needed to do.

Going to see the band is always an event as I’m part of a dedicated fan community who meet up regularly on line and in person at the gigs.  I’ve made friends all across the country and overseas due to some of the adventures we (Ian and I) have been part of.  These include ten of us touring the West Coast of the States, followed my most of us regrouping a few years later to do some East Coast dates.  I would never have ventured to a festival as extensive as SxSW in Austin, but TWP were there and it was a interesting experience and the stuff that folklore is made from.   

When I first met my other half, one of his “rules” was that I would need to love The Wedding Present, it wasn't a difficult request the first time I saw them live I loved them.  Friendships made and good people met, go hand in hand with this band as most TWP fans tend to be ardent music listeners.

Last night was a storming set including George Best played in full to a rammed Academy audience - some nights are just for singing all the words with all your friends. 

Echobelly

Echobelly

I’ve had a busy week, which included seeing The Cribs twice, once to shoot and once to simply enjoy. They were great the first time but went up a gear on Thursday in London and the whole place knew it.  The combination of the crowd singing, heat haze and Jarman brilliance put it in the lead for my gig of the year.

Any band following that was going to have a tough job!   So the charm of Echobelly was going to need to be set to maximum and they didn't disappoint.  An unusual gig really, one of those mixed with a club night events, which mean the bands go on late and the whole shindig and DJ’s play into the early hours.

I saw Echobelly at Shiiine Festival last year and it was great seeing them after so long (for me).  On Saturday night they had two supports Save State and The Jack Fletcher Band, the second being the kind of band I’ll see again. I felt they had that sharp edge musically and visually, they reminded me of The Enemy combined with the best coats worn on stage this summer. 

As for Echobelly a busy week too, the new album Anarchy and Alchemy was released and the short tour they are on highlights both the new material and old favourites. Sonya Madan and Glenn Johansson are as charismatic as ever which made the gig pure enjoyment.  Most bands I watch/shoot have frontmen, its great to shoot a band with a female lead and Sonya is the perfect mix of engaging whilst remaining totally cool.

The full report and more images is on Birmingham Live.

The Cribs

The Cribs in Birmingham

That ratio thing about the number of gigs I go to v the level of happiness I feel is rapidly returning to a better balance again.  This factor is multiplied when combined with the quality of the bands and performers I’ve seen recently. 

A jaunt to The Cribs was always going to be good.  I’ve seen them a fair amount and they are one of the most consistent bands I’ve ever watched.  Intense in delivery, talented and loved by a base of loyal and inclusive supporters.  When you watch a band and the crowd knows the b-sides, sings the guitar lines as well as the vocals you are on a winner as the dual work of both artist and band creates an event and euphoria that lasts for days.   

Support came from God Damn (a band loved by the heavier side of the Birmingham Live team)  the owners of some great hair and Slotface who were for me a bit different to their video output.

The Jarman brothers spent the first part of the night watching the supports, wandered on in the most relaxed way and took the Institute from static anticipation to wild crowd surfing within seconds.  One of the most exciting live bands you’ll ever get the chance to see and I'll always love shooting. 

Full report on Birmingham Live 

Sail away with me

Sail away with me.........................

sail away with me

So I/we took a little break in the sunshine and relaxed.  A short trip to Portugal, as one friend who lives there assures us everything is Portugal is “the best”.  When it comes to port and cheese, he may have a valid point. 

Early morning wandering took me to the beach to enjoy the light, the space, the colours and the peace.  I have always lived in central England as far from the sea as possible, whereas my other half grew up with the sea in sight and is passionate about being near to it.   I find it challenging, the strength and sound, wind and sand nearly always feature but here it is “the best” calmer and warmer and I had time to wander with only one other photographer in sight and some amused villagers who obviously don't see many travellers so early.  

My photography is nearly always around people and personality.  Landscapes, architecture and a touch of natural colour are all here instead but mixed with the quirky aspects that I love.   A childs ride looking out to sea, all alone was tempting.  Maybe I’ll grow up one day……maybe not 

Rag ’n’ Bone Man in Birmingham

Rag ’n’ Bone Man @ o2 Academy

There are those nights when you go to shoot a band or performer and you are just stunned as they are better than you expected or even considered.  Last night was one of those as I went out to see and shoot Rag ’n’ Bone Man at the o2 Academy. 

He has been on a major tour, with lots of venues being heavily upgraded.  In Birmingham he had moved from the Institute to the Academy - and it was sold out rapidly.    I knew the album was doing well but to sell out the Academy on a Monday night, the guy must be special!

The train in to Birmingham told me he was a big deal, people were travelling to see him - always a good sign.  With two support bands Gi3mo who were ok but not my thing and Dan Caplen who I’ll be catching again when he plays near here the Academy filled up quickly with a really mixed crowd.  It reminded me of a Seasick Steve gig a real combination of people all to see one rather different performer.

As for Rory Graham, blimey that voice is big and there is a warm personality with it. I’m off to listen to the album a lot more.

I shot this for Birmingham Live! and our reviewer must have been up half the night writing to get this live before noon today, our combined full report here

Richard Ashcroft and Black Grape in Birmingham

Richard Ashcroft and Black Grape in Birmingham

Last night was a great opportunity to shoot Richard Ashcroft at the Barclaycard Arena, with Black Grape supporting.  Of course I was going to love that chance although I find the arena stage a bit of a challenge as its high and I’ve never grown :)

Black Grape were good, the last time I saw them they were on blistering form, by comparison they were working harder and Kermit had more of an eye on Shaun as they had new material to deliver.

Richard Ashcroft was a real wow moment, a jacket so sparkly I wanted to own it, combined with a bigger presence than I expected and that’s before he started to play.  To me he sounded superb.

The whole review (by a proper reviewer) along with lots more of my images are already on Birmingham Live.

British Sea Power

British Sea Power in Birmingham 

The brilliant British Sea Power played to a packed venue in Birmingham last night.  Great to shoot but not easy, heavy amounts of backlighting, foliage of course and a touch of strobe plus bears and a lively crowd, I loved it. 

Ian was with me but had a night off from reviewing to just enjoy the gig.  The full review written by Chris writing is on Birmingham Live!

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Newton Faulkner

Newton Faulkner in Birmingham

I love this going out lark, packing a kit bag and going to see interesting performers.  Last night a quick trip to Birmingham to see Newton Faulkner.  

Those of you who know me will be aware that he is some distance from my love of duelling guitar indie bands (but then my other half would claim to behind my good taste on that score).  I first went to see Newton about 18 months ago and was surprised to find a totally different kind of night out - far more relaxed and laid back than I expected and the bonus, I liked it.

Last night was more challenging photography wise, a seated venue and Ian has written a full review which is on Birmingham Live

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Handsome Boy!

Handsome Boy!

Ok I admit it, I’m desperate for a dog of my own and plans are underway to make this a reality, soon.  In the meantime I am working on a little dog photography and spent a relaxed session with this gorgeous French Bulldog; a truly handsome Frenchie.  He is black with tiny touches of brindle showing in his coat, now that he is an adult.  He has the ability to combine cute with the face of Yoda, a slight head tilt and he is on a winner every time and he knows it. 

I was assured he could be stubborn, in reality he was totally adorable and so friendly he could easily move in with me whenever he wants a holiday home.  His owner was with us all the time and he adores her, so asking for him to sit, wait or even change the direction of his run was straightforward and meant we had images captured quickly.   Next time we will do a studio shoot at his home and maybe he can pull her into the shots with him. 

We opted for an active outdoor session on his walk with his favourite ball (squeeky) combined with portraits and close ups, a small selection shown below. 

Over the next few weeks I will be covering lots more pups and pooches, some of which will appear on here.   

I am offering a dog photography service as part of my portfolio, to include shoots at home/garden, outdoors and home studio (I can bring lights and backdrop to you).  As part of this there will be a first year puppy package to help capture those early days and changes over the first year, email me for the details.

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Lloyd Cole at The Assembly

Lloyd Cole at The Assembly

Last night I went to see Lloyd Cole at The Assembly in Leamington, a change from the gigs I normally go to - this was all seated and pretty dark.

The evening was split into two sets, with Lloyd joined by his son William for the second set.  Lloyd was more lovely than I expected and remembered, as ever Ian was with me and will have a full review on Birmingham Live with my images in full later on today. 

For now Lloyd last night - there are colour images but for me Lloyd Cole and mono images have always been and continue to be the perfect combination.

Full review here

 

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T- Shirts, Days 41-50

T- Shirts Days 41-50

It was quite pleasing to find I only had around 40 band t-shirts easily to hand.  

The more worrying part was when I went to look for how many I had temporarily stored…there were comments made from the other half, about how I owned more shirts than shoes.  Good job he hasn't started counting the shoes yet :)

Days 41-50 shall therefore be dedicated to a “small selection” of my Morrissey shirts.  I’ve been going to Morrissey gigs for a long time and before that - yes, I saw The Smiths a few times too.  If I find any Smiths shirts I’ll never get in any of those - I was too thin in my teens, but then everyone was.

I’ll happily argue with anyone and everyone that Morrissey is one of the most stunning artists you will ever be lucky enough to see.  The gigs are passionate and populated with regulars who travel miles and continents to be there.  I’ve seen him play in different parts of the world, although I’m not as well travelled as many and I have made some lovely friends along the way. 

One of my initial photography aspirations was to get a photo pass for a Morrissey gig. At the time, it was one of the most daunting shows I ever requested and early in my live music life!  That thing about photographing your heroes had to be considered and I looking back I was more nervous collecting that pass than any other to this day.   I shot the gig and I still love the images as they show me how much I pushed myself to be my best.  A wise gig photographer assured me afterwards that shooting that gig was the first mountain tackled and there were a lot more on the horizon!

This first small batch of shirts are a mix from 2004 Quarry tour, Ringleader tour, Roundhouse shirt onwards.  The shirt that appears twice is because I own it in two versions….the dates on the back are different parts of the tour, yep that’s the sign of a true collector.

 

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Dutch Uncles in Birmingham

Dutch Uncles gig in Birmingham

Monday night in Birmingham, so it must be an unmissable band.  Dutch Uncles are one of those bands who should be massive and gradually I've started to see more people at each gig I attend, so its going the right way.  

Last night they played the Hare and Hounds, always a challenge for a photographer when the band move quickly under low light without flash - but the band are always superb and last night showcased some tracks from their excellent new album Big Balloon.

Ian has written a review for Birmingham Live, the rest of my photos will be there - but for now here is the rather dashing Duncan Wallis.

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Elbow in Birmingham

Elbow gig in Birmingham 

Its hardly the best circumstance to go and see a band you love in the frame of mind I’ve been in today, but bad days aside some things are so great that missing them would be a painful experience.

So a quick train journey to Birmingham and a night in the O2 Academy to see Elbow.   I love Elbow, I have done for many years, when the venues were small and Guy got off the stage to thank you for being there.   Ive seen the small venues part full, turn into the barns when the awards started rolling in.  They worked hard for years and it was good to see a proper band achieve the recognition they deserved. 

Lots of those same faces are still attending and its the friendly atmosphere that remains.  The gig was a triumph, summed up beautifully by Ian in his review for Birmingham Live.

Great night for me too - I got to take pictures - see some of the gig photographers I’ve not caught up with for a while and of course there was the lovely Guy Garvey who will always make this girl smile. 

 

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T-Shirts, Days 31-40

T-Shirts days 31-40

I’m now wondering how long before it becomes constant weeks of the same bands/artist….and no prizes to those who know me and are reading this for guessing who they will be.

Meanwhile this little lot, now released from drawers and worn, delighted that the smaller shirts now fit again but thats the beauty of being back on a proper exercise plan too.

From L-R top row first RUSH, Pinky Piglets (Toquiwa), The Wedding Present (Seamonsters), New York Dolls (in subtle hot pink), Antony and the Johnsons, The Magic Numbers, Erlend Oye, LCD Soundsystem, BB Records, The Besnard Lakes. 

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T-Shirts, Days 21-30

T-Shirts the never ending pile 

I'm sure when I started the T-Shirt plan it was to catalogue the amount of music tees that I had.  I didn't consider the washing and ironing or (not ironing) that may be involved in digging shirts out of all the places I've packed them away.

Allegedly my addiction to merchandise is worse than my shoe collection.

This round up includes The Wedding Present (Watusi), The Twilight Sad, The Besnard Lakes, Placebo (Meds), Billy Idol, Low, The Twilight Sad, Morrissey, The Wedding Present (Bizarro), The Besnard Lakes.

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Images I love and printing albums

Albums and printing images 

I completed a meeting with one of my brides last week and we were discussing albums and prints ideas and how they create a record for the family. 

It made me think of my parents wedding album, 36 black and white images in a formal style, typical for the time they married and how treasured that album still is.  How it shows a time when my grandfather was immensely proud of my mum, relatives so much younger than my experience of them, some I never met, plus the cheekiness and charm my mum saw in my dad.

There is still something lovely about the touch and feel of a printed album. 

T-Shirts, Days 11-20

T-shirt Project  

So here are the next ten of my small collection of band/music related shirts.

My Mon-Fri rule is fine, I now get to be even more casual at the weekends. 

Looking at the ever growing pile I’m unearthing,  this idea may run for a while.  

Days 11- 20 Kings of Convenience, Morrissey, Birmingham Live, Johnny Marr, Magazine, Morrissey, Nightmare Air, Morrissey, RUSH, South by South West. 

Looking back at some of these, Im surprised at the variety. 

 

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SWPP Convention

A day at the SWPP Convention 

I’ve wanted to join a professional body for a while and chose the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers for the mix of professionalism and friendliness they offered.  Going forwards they have a qualifications process and my intention is to attain qualifications with them as I progress.

First though they have a big photographers convention every year in London for 5-6 days which includes specialist classes and tuition and this is my first chance to attend classes in the subjects that are on my list. 

Today I attended a specialist class on Gay Weddings with Emma Joanne, which was an absolute joy.  I’ve shot my first same sex wedding and truly loved it and it was great to confirm the things I learned as part of that were all relevant and how to enhance what I can offer and provide to couples going forwards. 

I followed this with a class for Lighting up the Dancefloor with JVS which was classroom and practical combined.  For me it was creative and insightful, plus I left with a whole host of technical aspects to test and try and perfect for myself. 

The standard offered by both speakers was excellent and joining the SWPP was the right step for me.  I have access to more courses and events throughout this year and next year I’ll be in London for successive days. 

 

T-Shirts, Days 1-10

T-Shirt Project 

T-shirt project - so here are the first ten of my small collection of band/music related shirts.

I loved the wear your old band t-shirt to work day that Radio 6 run every year, but kind of had too many to choose from, hence the idea to try and wear one a day (Mon-Fri)  until I had no more to count.    For me it beats wearing a suit every day.

These first ten include Johnny Marr, brilliant charity shirt Frightened Rabbit, Morrissey, The Wedding Present, The Besnard Lakes, Morrissey, The Wedding Present, The Twilight Sad, Placebo and yes Morrissey again.  

Certain musicians may show up regularly. 

 

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