Thursday, 29 April 2010

London Burlesque Week 2010

Last week was the London Burlesque week and despite being exhausted and pretty much out on my feet I made it down to three shows.

Burlesque is something over the last few years I've really grown to love. I've been interested in it for quite some time but didn't know really where to look for good shows or how (if at all) it was possible to take photos at them. The first burlesque show I ever took photos at was the 2008 London Burlesque Festival Newcomers show. Straight away I loved it and thought that this was a community I really wanted to be a part of.

This year's festival was extended due to growing popularity and looking at the line ups that I was going to go to the Newcomers Battle Royale show and the VIP Closing Party. I had a friend coming down from Scotland who was in the Newcomers show and the line up was filled with most of my favourite performers.

I was emailing Chaz Royale about coming down and taking photos at the shows I'd bought tickets for and he asked if I'd come down on the opening night and take some shots. I said yes obviously.

The opening night was very nerve racking and great at the same time. They had a big press session before the show and I was given a little brief of what they wanted. This put me out of my comfort zone but I really wanted to nail it.

Something not a lot of people know is I am insanely shy and find 99% of social situations unbareable and awkward. I find it very hard to talk to or approach new people and often don't. I'm sure I can look like a dick as there's always loads of people I've spoken to online but can't say hello to in person. I just get very flustered and panic and just can't do it. On the opening night though I spoke to Ivy Paige who I've spoken to before and Kiki Kaboom, Chrys Columbine, Maleficent Martini and a few others. Also took photos of some of the performers who were around too. This is a big deal for me and a big step forward.

The Newcomers show i've been to three years running and is always worth going to. You see some great up and coming acts but it's intense as there's normally a lot of performers. It was great to get to see my friend Hettie Heartache, she had a great performance and we got to chat quite a bit as well as take some quick pictures backstage. The photos I took back stage aren't brilliant as I really got flustered and rushed things.

Before the closing show on Sunday I spent some time around central London with Hettie and we got to talk photography and burlesque which is always good. We had a quick peek around a couple of galleries and I obsessed over this massive escalator in the National Portrait Gallery. The show itself was probably my favourite show of the week. Everyone was on top form, I got to see Banbury Cross again, Cici Darling, Catherine D'lish and loads more. Finally said hello to Cici Darling, she was really easy to talk to and I really should have done this sooner.

Over the week as well I spoke to a few photographers who shot the shows I was at and that really added to the community feel of the week. Beneath all of the backstage drama that can happen, I love the burlesque world.

One of the photographers I didn't speak to but saw his work was Boris Conte, his work was breath taking and I would seriously advise everyone to track him down and check it out. It kinda got me a bit down as this last month or two has been a big photography high and his work reminded me how far I've got to go to be where I wanted to be but I think I am making progess. I'm very happy with my shots from the week and I'm still recovering.

I got covered in Champagne three times, water and a massive amount of glitter but it was all worth it.

Opening Night

Newcomers Show

Closing Night

The escalator

I'm kind of on a big come down at the moment, thinking a lot about friendships that have fallen away (some are for the best) and things like money. I find it hard balancing everything and everyone.

I made a big school boy error last night, my good friend Mark Gamble was playing an accoustic show at Pure Groove for his birthday, I wanted to take some shots but left my camera battery at home. Whoops.

More photos from the LBW Opening Night are here.

More photos from the LBW Newcomers Battle Royale are here.

More photos from the LBW VIP Closing Party are here.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Melissa Auf der Maur

Melissa Auf der Maur is someone I've been a fan of for sometime now, I knew of her from her days in Hole and Smashing Pumpkins but really loved her debut solo album. One of my first photopasses (when I was using a point and shoot camera) was a gig of her's at the Mean Fiddler. I didn't actually take any photos that night (long story) and I've been dying to see her play again and to shoot her since then.

She was meant to be playing a show last Saturday at Cargo but that got cancelled due to the volcanic ash situation and she was grounded in Finland. She traveled across Europe though to make a screening she was having on Wednesday and managed to re-arrange the Cargo show for the same night at the Jazz Cafe.

Rachel, who was doing Melissa's PR was a saint as she put up with me emailing her millions of times over the last week or so asking about times of things and what was happening with everything. She was a massive help.

Despite being shattered I decided to go to both, I headed down to the screening early so I could get a place at the front to get some pictures. Melissa was showing a short film she made to go along with her new album which was beautifully shot and she did a brief Q&A after. It was really interesting to here her talk about the making of the film, her album and what she has been up to in the years she's been away. I always find it interesting seeing musicians not on stage performing.

After the Q&A it was a mad dash from the ICA to the Jazz Cafe. There was no barrier so I was behind a few people. I know you I write a lot about lighting but it was bright but not really bright enough. It was a hard light to shoot in and I was having to peek round people. Melissa's performance was superb, she has such presence on stage and really draws your attention even when she's being reserved.

Amanda Palmer was also there and she performed with Melissa as part of the encore which was really cool (especially seeing the two of them together) but I had to leave during it to make sure I got the last tube.

I'm editing the second set of my London Burlesque Week tomorrow and then I'm off to the closing night so I'll probably do a big blog update next week with photos from all three LBW shows I went to.

"Out of our minds" screening Q&A

Sky Larkin (support at the Jazz Cafe)

Melissa Auf der Maur

The other Q&A photos are here.

More Sky Larkin photos are here.

The photos of Melissa Auf der Maur (and Amanda Palmer) are here.

Glitter Room - April

Last Sunday was the return of the Glitter Room. I'm so glad it's back as it's really one of the best places to see some great up and coming acts for a really good price.

Keith had someone doing the lighting this time which was interesting, at times it was great but the levels of light are so different across the stage as it is but when the light levels and colours are being changed it makes it more of a challenge but it worked.

Banbury Cross and Beulah Bell returned for another set of really strong performances. There's also a lot of people turning into regulars there which makes for a good atmosphere and I think Keith's hard work is paying off. I just wish more people made the effort to get out to Croydon for this show as it really deserves not to be missed.

Banbury did the Champagne routine again and I wanted to try something else this time, I used the 50mm lens before but I thought I'd try it with my wider lens to maybe see if I could catch the spray a bit better as well as trying to get some full body shots. I don't think the shots came out as well as last month and I really noticed the difference between the two lenses that night. The extra F stop on the 50mm lens makes it so much easier to shoot in low lighting.

This weeks been a really crazy week as so far i've shot the Glitter Room, two nights of the London Burlesque Week and a Q&a plus show of Melissa Auf der Maur. I've also done 4 and 1/2 days work at the day job and i'm so worn out and run down that it's made given me a cold. I don't actually know how I got through the last few days.

I also created a Facebook fanpage which if you are on Facebook then you should be able to find it by searching my name. I just wanted to be able to post my blog and photo updates without clogging up my personal FB page and maybe reach a wider audience.

More photos from the night can be seen here.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Hearts Under Fire - The Peel

Hearts Under Fire are a band I've written about before on here and I went to The Peel in Kingston on Thursday to see them play. It was the first time I'd seen them since Sian officially left and it was great to see them again. It was also a lot less crazy since the last time I was there for Gallows. This sounds stupidly lame but this was the first time I'd spoken to all the girls in the band, which for me is a big deal as I really struggle with talking to people I don't know very well, especially people in bands and things like that. I freak out quite a bit.

The Peel actually has some pretty decent lighting when they decide to use it and it was really nice for Lecarla who were supporting but it didn't seem as good during HUF. There were some really nice greens and yellows during Lecarla but it was mostly blue and red for HUF and I don't know whether it was to do with the placement of the band members on stage but the light didn't seem to hit HUF as well.

Thank you to Hearts Under Fire for an awesome night and being really nice to me. Their new songs sound great.

Pretty pleased with these shots and it was a nice end to a really busy week. I was at Alesana last night at Islington Academy but I wasn't shooting, which is something I still find quite weird. I've heard other people say this too but any gig I'm not shooting I spend thinking about things I could have done and think "that would have been a nice shot". I also spend a lot of time watching other photographers looking at what they are doing and how they are shooting.

I was meant to be seeing Melissa Auf Der Maur today but due to this volcanic ash nonsense she can't make it into the country. The shows been postponed which is a shame as I was really looking forward to it although it's nice to have a breather before another busy week.


Hearts Under Fire

Hearts Under Fire photos are here.

Lecarla photos are here.

You can check out Hearts Under Fire here.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Jonathan Ross & Tommy Lee Edwards signing

At work we had Jonathan Ross and Tommy Lee Edwards signing their new comic (Turf) at the London FP store. Obviously I've mentioned before how important comics are to me and it's always really nice to meet people who share that passion. I'm always a little worried when people come in for signings that I'm going to find out that they aren't particularly nice but both Jonathan (who I met once before) and Tommy were superb. Both really nice guys and love what they are doing. Jonathan Ross' love of comics is really refreshing and when doing press for Turf, he'd much rather talk about the things he loves like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko than promote himself.

There's not much else I can write without gushing too much (and i've written before about what it's like to shoot a signing but you should definitely check out the comic, TLE's art is great on it and it'll be a good read.

I'm out seeing Hearts Under Fire tonight at the Peel and Melissa Auf Der Maur at Cargo tomorrow so expect more photos over the weekend.

The rest of the signing photos can be seen here.

You can check out Turf here.

Monday, 5 April 2010


I've had this last week off work and had the chance to do a fair bit of photography (as you may have read below). On Saturday I went down to see my good friend Kirsty so we could shoot a set of photos for her for Suicide girls. I had to be out of the house not long after 7am which wasn't easy but I got the chance to make a dent in the Emery photos while on the train.

We used a rehearsal room in Monster studios in Brighton to shoot in. It was a nice little room, have a drum kit and amps about. We had quite a laugh doing it while listening to some Bon Jovi.

A while ago I bought a soft box, stand and some wireless triggers for my flash gun but I've never been able to get used to it or find settings that worked. Pretty much everything I shot was just way too over exposed. I decided before this shoot to buy an umbrella and to give that a go instead. It worked so much better than the soft box and I felt quite comfortable with it.

Shooting a Suicide Girls set is a lot different to anything I've shot before. There's so many do's and don'ts as well as the fact there needs to be 40 - 60 shots that are different and show progression. I had to use photoshop to clean up the photos far more than I ever have before. I got to know the clone and heal tool very well over this weekend. Overall I'm pretty pleased with the results and Kirsty is too which is the main thing. We'll see what happens.

We booked the room out for 4 hours and we were done with the SG stuff in about an hour and a half and we planned to try and shoot some shots that were more fetish orientated than the SG shots. We shot using latex hot pants and skirt, a mask and a Jane Doe eye patch. These are the shots I'll be posting below.

Kirsty is a superb model. She has a really good look and she just oozes confidence and energy. She is so fun and lively that she's a joy to be around. Kirsty's really the first person I've shot that I've felt totally comfortable with and not really panicked or stressed while shooting. This was a major step forward for me and a massive confidence boost. I've been thinking a lot about something that was said at the Ross Halfin talk about not being intimidated when you shoot and this time I wasn't. I'm hoping this gives me a real boost and confidence to do more shoots. I owe Kirsty for having faith in me and not doubting me.

The non SG shots can be seen here.

The place we shot in (Monster studios) can be seen here.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Ned & Carly Hartly - Wedding Day

I've known Ned and Carly for a couple of years. They have both been very supportive and helpful to me and I'm very thankful for that. A lot of my experience with music photography stems from Carly giving me a chance when she worked for Rockworld and helped get me a lot of great opportunities besides shooting bands.

They got engaged on last years Valentines day and got married on Thursday. Carly's uncle is a photographer and was doing the official photographs for the day but they asked me if I would come and take photos as well.

Shooting weddings scares the shit out of me. It's such a huge day in peoples lives and I stress about cocking up the photos and leaving the people with nothing to look back on or the photos just being shit. Having someone else take the formal shots took all of the stress and nerves away, they were happy for me to do exactly what I wanted to do and however I wanted to do it. As I love shooting black and white and the fact all the formal shots would be in colour I decided to stick to that.

The day started with going to the hotel the bride and bridesmaids were staying. I got to take some photos of them getting ready and having their hair and make up down. I've always really wanted to do this. Then it was off to the wedding ceremony which was in a stunning conservatory in the Barbican. As it was a conservatory the lighting was just stunning which made shooting so easy and such a joy. Having everyone surrounded by these amazing planets and flowers was great too. I think the only part of the day I didn't do particularly well was Ned and Carly's first dance. I didn't want to use flash and the dance floor wasn't very well lit so I tried to catch other people's flashes going off. It worked but it wasn't great.

I am really happy with the photos and I really hope Ned and Carly do too. I'm proud that I got to be a part of an amazing day. The wedding really was perfect from start to finish and I got spend a lot of time with a lot of my close friends too.

Thank you and congratulations to Ned and Carly.

My favourites from the day are here in my Flickr stream.

There's an official wedding Flickr photostream here, which has a lot more of my photos from the day as well as a lot by other people.

Emery - Barfly

Over the last year and a half I've really grown to love Emery. I got to see them on their first visit to the UK at 'Give It A Name' last year and they were superb so I was eagerly awaiting them coming back. They played a show at the Barfly in Camden as part of a headline tour.

The Barfly is a venue I love shooting in, it's got great sound and a good lighting rig. Providing I can get to the front i'm normally pretty pleased with my shots. For whatever reason (which I have no clue what it is) they just used one set of blue lights for all the bands and for the entire night. It's harder to make photos look different without changes in lighting but I got through it. Their set was amazing but there's still probably 4 or 5 songs i'd kill to see live.

I realised when I came to write this that I hadn't shot a gig since the Gallows which was not far off 2 months ago. Very strange.

Photos from the support bands (Moneen and Deaf Havana) can be seen here.

The rest of the Emery photos are here.