Due to being increasingly busy lately, I unfortunately don’t have time to answer all the emails and messages I receive. I’ve written this FAQ to hopefully answer most of the questions I get asked on a regular basis!
How did your career start?
It started almost by accident really - I was working full time in TV on shows such as Top Gear, QI and The Apprentice and bought an SLR just to play around with as a hobby. I took photos of pretty flowers, sunsets, the usual stuff. Then my friend’s band won a competition to play at The Forum in London and asked me if I wanted to take some photos of them. I’d never done music photography before but I happily obliged. The photos turned out okay and I started taking photos at all their shows, also shooting the other bands they were playing with for the fun of it. At one of those gigs I was approached by someone who’d seen me shooting around and asked if I’d like to shoot for their publication. It was only a small online site (Hevypetal - sadly it doesn’t exist anymore!) but it gained me access to the bigger bands, which obviously improved my portfolio further. It all snowballed from there really, more bands started to notice my work and asked me to shoot their shows personally - so over time my portfolio gradually improved and I slowly climbed the ladder! I was eventually able to quit my job in TV and now I do photography full time. That’s a very long story short, but you get the idea!
One band I have a lot to thank for are GIANTS. They took me out on my first European tour and gave me some great opportunities, including introducing me to We Are The Ocean, who I’ve since done plenty of work for. So it really has all been a case of who you know rather than what you know - there is no set path to becoming successful, but if you work hard enough and make the right impressions, the chances will come. You make your own luck!
What advice would you give me to become a music photographer?
I built up my portfolio by shooting my friends in unsigned bands who were supporting bigger signed bands, which is a great way to practice without having too much pressure on producing results! Failing that, just turn up to smaller venues with your camera (perhaps email the venue first, asking if it’s okay to bring your camera in) and just shoot the bands there. They will appreciate that you’re using initiative and will probably be happy to promote you on their page if they like what you do! That’s how I started and it’s the best way in. Just be patient and things will come. I’m still learning new things every day, so always be open to new photographic opportunities!
How do I go about obtaining photopasses for bigger shows?
In most cases you’ll need to be shooting for a publication. Online publications seem to be the best option for your first passes these days as there are plenty of them around - they are fairly easy and cheap to run so they are popular amongst people looking to make a start in the industry. Do some research and find out which publications are often shooting shows in your area, then send them an email with a link to your portfolio offering your services!
Where did you study photography?
I never did, I’m entirely self-taught. There are a lot of great guides and tutorials available online - Google is your friend! Trial and error also has a huge part to play in my learning process. That’s the beauty of digital photography, it doesn’t cost anything to keep clicking away until you find your perfect settings!
Should I study photography at uni?
In my honest opinion, I would say no. You will end up spending a lot of time and money which could be better spent focusing on making real progress in the industry and gaining important contacts. There’s no guarantee of a job once you have finished your degree either. A few of my friends who have studied it have later regretted it, especially when parts of their course had them writing essays which had absolutely nothing to do with photography whatsoever. This is only my opinion though, you may well end up getting a great deal from going. Personally I hate being told what to do and when, so education was never my favourite thing - you may be different and perhaps enjoy being shown rather than learning on your own. In this case, it would probably be more useful for you than me!
What camera do you use?
I have a Canon 5D Mk3 and a Canon 6D.
What settings do you use?
I don’t give my settings out, I believe it’s always best to develop your own style and technique. Experiment with different settings to find your comfort zone - you don’t want to be a clone of someone else, carve your own path!
What’s it like to hang around with so many famous people?
It’s exactly the same as hanging around with anyone else - we are all human and I wouldn’t treat anyone any differently. If you have fangirl issues this probably isn’t the career for you!
Can I do work experience with you?
I currently do not offer official work experience placements, sorry! However, if I ever need an assistant for a shoot I’ll personally contact someone I think is suitable, or put a shout-out on my Twitter, so keep your eyes peeled!
Can I buy prints of your work?
You can indeed. You can find my print store by clicking here. All prints are signed, numbered and limited edition - I will not sell a print again once all copies are gone!