*All work is chosen and supplied by the creative. Words by Flore Diamant.
It was somehow hard to make a small selection from all the photos I’ve taken over the years. What do you want to show, good photos for the image or for the story it comes with? Some great photos are from a few years ago, when I would probably say yes to many quite ridiculous scenarios just because yes, it’s for experience, for your portfolio and yes you will work in a restaurant all week but it will be worth it, because then you leave all that behind and get to do what you want to do. And then you will make good contacts and good work that means you can move forward and up, focusing on what makes your work stand out.
After shooting a lot of gigs I always tried to get access to behind the scenes, to capture those moments that no one sees and be a fly on the wall. Seeing the musicians get nervous, laugh, get in the zone - it usually involves a lot of waiting around - that is what makes it all worthwhile.
Below are a selection of good moments and photos I am proud of.
Initially, I tried to be selective of working with musicians I liked/knew the work of, because that would create a direct connection to avoid any awkwardness that could show in the work. Usually when musicians do a PR tour, you only have an hour or so to meet near where the label / PR company is and quickly shoot before they get taken out for a nice lunch or whisked away to more interviews.
Alex Cameron was in town, I asked if we had a bit of time, we could walk to the lake, maybe rent a boat, why not. Next thing I knew, me, Alex and Roy were rowing away in Victoria park, and yes, Alex wore my bike helmet for safety. I’ve shot them a few times since and they always remember the little boat trip we had.
Festivals always offer so much to capture, from the atmosphere to the people, the activities, the music. Sometimes the down times are the best, when friends just have a nice time sitting in the grass in between acts, or when it is bright and early and you really need to find that coffee stand.
The actual first shoot I ever had was documenting Secret Garden Party for The 405 when I was back home in Belgium, before I moved back to England. They posted about it, I said yes, I jumped on a night megabus, met the reviewer, we got on the train, got there. I didn’t know anyone or what to shoot just yet, but was just running around meeting people and getting lost ( a lot ). This image was at Brainchild last year, where I had a bit more guidance on what to document but also was free to roam around, finding those moments that make it as special as it is.
What tour actually looks like most of the time aka not so glamourous. This was on the first tour I went on with Palace when they were supporting Jamie T in Europe. I had shot one of their gigs before and we got along, they asked if I could come, and there I went. Smaller support tours usually don’t have much budget at all, alone for me, but for everything else. It is something I have tried to capture as much as I can, and that I think is important for musicians to share. As amazing as it is that bands can go touring, the amount of effort and struggle that it brings is always quite misconceived. It is not until bands get to a much much higher level that they can have someone to do everything for them. Until then, it is one of them driving for hours on end, while another tried to sort out hotels and arrive on time for soundcheck, then check in then find time to eat before setting up the merch then play straight away. Getting to witness all that also creates great connections, and seeing Palace now fill up the Roundhouse is incredible!
Being able to be around someone through their musical journey is a sign of trust and . I met Elly maybe 5 years ago, when I shot one of her gigs in a very dark venue with no photo pit and a lot of happy sweaty people. It was hard to get good photos, they ended up quite grainy and dark. But, to my delight, that is exactly what they wanted, and that started a long journey through ups and downs, where she let me into her works, I went to her studio and her house, we had boiled eggs on toast with marmite ( yes, try it ), many discussions and conversations, all of it leading to letting me capture her true self.
This image was taken in rehearsals before her first few shows last year, which brought along a lot of pressure, to make sure her vision was translated well enough for everyone to see.
I always think images work better as a series than alone - depending on the purpose of course, but being able to tell a story through a few details is something I aim to do. This was at StudiOwz in Wales with I See Rivers, where a few contacts somehow all knew each other. That created such a small world it was a great few days that seemed like we all knew other for years. Going through recording / mastering any album with the musicians is always such a privilege, because you get a little glimpse of their world that they’re still working on too.
A lot of touring is waiting around, sometimes doing nothing, sometimes cycling around, sometimes somewhere exciting or in a service station. We were going to a recording studio in Amsterdam with Island, and this picture just happened very spontaneously but stays one of my favourites.
This was taken on a video shoot for Saint Clair’s Violet Hour EP. Shooting behind the scenes for music videos is quite different as you step into someone else’s creative vision, but make your own take on it. Discovering what Tam and Emma had created gave me an insight into what they wanted to transcribe in the videos, and being able to capture some of that is a real privilege as it was a subject very close to their heart that took a wonderful team to execute carefully.
A very uncomfortable tree to sit on, but who knows? A photo I am quite proud of as well as a great afternoon spent with We Are Scientists. We got along straight away, had a great afternoon walking around and chatting about cameras, life, they bought me pizza after, what else would you want! Somehow when some musicians are better known or have more experience I get a little nervous as it seems like a bigger deal - which it shouldn’t - but you always have to remember that they’re all just normal people trying to do what they love, same as us all.
I think this photo captures emotions perfectly. A beautiful afternoon with many nice people, around a glacier lake in Switzerland, before the last gig of a small but big tour with To Kill a King. I had insisted we should all swim, after all, a lake in the sun should be warm right ? It was not, I had to swim to prove my point, it was still glorious.
One of many moments with Eliza Shaddad, who I have built a very good relationship with over the years. We are both very last minute to plan things but we always manage to somehow do it, and I think that is how we always get good results. This was taken at the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, which is a venue I have been to many many times growing up, always wondering how it is behind the stage, hoping I would get to shoot there one day. I always tried to sneak in my camera when I was going to gigs ( usually alone, but I loved it ) and they were always very strict, ‘no pass no camera’, ‘no no no’.
I ended up there, getting lost behind all the doors and the lifts - proved I could do it, showing my pass around, I got there eventually. But only thanks to all the wonderful people that I met along the way, because it would impossible to do it alone.