12 March 2012

So why do I photograph bands? Here's why.

Some of you might have seen this story on my Facebook page, but I thought it's be interesting to repeat it here and go into it in a little bit more depth.

Last week I was out photographing a gig (Julien Dyne, Parks and Alphabethead, in case you're interested). There was a guy leaning against the wall next to me, clearly drunk - eyes almost rolled back in the head, using the wall to stand up drunk - who was watching me snapping away for a while.  I went to move to the other side of the venue, to photograph from the other side, when he grabbed my arm and asked, in a confused/aggressive/agitated way, "what are you taking photos of them for?"

I was thrown by his question and didn't know exactly how to take it. Did he want to know why I personally photograph live music? Or why anyone would want to? Or why I was photographing this particular gig?  To avoid getting into a deep discussion, or fight, with him over it I told him I was photographing for music websites, shrugged him off and kept taking photos.

The experience got me thinking though. Why exactly do I photograph live music? Why does anyone else want to do it? Why do people care if bands get photographed?

Personally, I photograph for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, if you're a regular reader of this blog you'll know that I love music, particularly live music. Music should move me, influence emotions and moods, and create a unique experience. So photographing bands is an attempt at capturing that experience in a visual form. I can look back on photos later and remember, and relive, those experiences. And hopefully others get a sense of that through my photos too.

The second reason follows on from that. Bands come and go, scenes change, venues disappear. Photographing gigs is a way to document both those changes and remind ourselves of our musical past, and again to remember the experiences we had.

When I look at other music photos, particularly older photos, I get an idea of what the music must have been like, what it might have been like for those people experiencing it, and a glimpse into how it shaped what we're doing now. Hopefully in years to come people will be able to look back on my photos and feel the same way.

Are there any music photos that stand out for you - either because they help you recall experience, or give you a sense of that experience, or just because they're aesthetically pleasing?  Let me know in the comments below - provide a link to the photo(s) too if you can.  And if you want to check out my photos, head to either lightandnoise.net or Flickr.

I'm also starting another blog in the next few weeks, that looks more at music photography. More details on that soon.

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