Shouting about music photography

Shouting about music photography

Shout about it Launch

Friday 17 August 2018 – Constellations, Liverpool.

The second hybrid music and photography festival aka Shout about it kicked off last Friday and Jane Davies was at the launch pad at Constellations to see what the shouting was all about.

The Shout about it festival which ran over three days from Friday to Sunday offered an ideal opportunity to see how experienced gig photographers operate, view their work and listen to some great music at the same time.

American artist Melinda Ortner kicked off the proceedings with a lively performance, stamping an international flavour on the evening, reminding us that the Shout about it initiative runs worldwide, connecting gig photographers across the globe.

Next up was Luna Rosa from Northamptonshire changing the tempo, followed by local band Shamona, a Liverpool band I have not seen before, but I’m sure will be clocking up support slots in the city in the future.

Headliners for the evening, Scarlett put in a powerful performance as ever, the perfect warm up for their Cotton Clouds festival appearance the following day.

Aside from the musical backdrop, the event celebrated the work of music photographers from across the world. Each photographer exhibited striking images shot across all types of music genres and venues.

Whilst I was snapping pictures of the displays, a voice shouted out, “That’ll be seventy pounds per print!” Turning round, I made acquaintance with one of the exhibitors; Steven Donnelly, a PhD student from Belfast. Steven got into photography after his father gave him a second hand SLR camera; an unclaimed item of lost property from a local bus company. For the past two years Steven has combined his twin passions of live music and photography and in his words, “It has become a bit of an addiction”. Going out regularly to see live music up to three times a week, Steven got to know local promoters and bands and subsequently plucked up the courage to approach artists’ PRs for photo passes at gigs. One of Steven’s major coups has been to work for Gary Numan on his latest tour as an official photographer. When Gary’s next tour kicks off in October 2018, Steven again will be working as an official photographer to the artist. One of Steven’s career goals is to publish coffee table books of his work.

Over at Constellations’ Garden, I spoke to Alex Rees, a London based professional photographer and lecturer with a background in sports, wedding and PR photography. A regular on the gig circuit for the past 10 years, Alex started off by contacting artists’ PRs to ask if he could photograph them and subsequently his portfolio boasts artists as diverse as The Stereophonics and Katy Perry.

With regards to favourite types of gigs to shoot, festivals are his favourites because he said, “You can shoot so many bands you have not seen before”. The day job involves passing on his experience and enthusiasm for photography to 16 and 17 year old students whom he takes to gigs to gain valuable photo pit experience. Alex’s words of advice are “Have a go, develop your own style, seek feedback, ask PRs and network.”

The organiser of the festival, Georgia Flynn had been interested in photography since she was 15 after her father gave her an SLR camera. Initially starting off with portraiture and landscapes, she went on to complete a degree in film and photography. With an impressive tally of 350 plus gigs under her belt, Georgia got involved with Shout about it to promote greater communication between photographers within the music industry. Georgia now takes photographs for a number of music and cultural magazines, locally and nationally.

Warren Miller, another photographer exhibiting at the festival has worked over 20 years as a professional photographer in the commercial and public service sectors. I met Warren for the first time last year in the photo pit at Wirral Live ducking flying pint pots at the Libertines gig. Warren has been involved in gig photography since 2006. For him it’s the perfect combination of two passions, music and photography.   A veteran of festival photography, Warren cited this years’ Blue Dot Festival as one of his best because it was easy to get round the site and one of his favourite artists Gary Numan was playing. Warren was keen to emphasize that festivals were hard work and involved a lot of running around. His advice to would be gig photographers is to; “Just go out, go to local venues, take pictures, get to know artists who may end up inviting you to do shoots for them. Just go out and do it!”

The festival gave out a strong message that gig photography was very much about having a go and getting to know local bands and venues and promoters and PRs. There is never any harm in asking for a photo pass. The old adage, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained certainly rings true in the music world.


Melinda Ortner



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