Posts Tagged ‘Live Music’

I first had the pleasure of meeting this band when Wayward Sons supported them earlier in 2017. I managed to shoot them at both York & Nottingham, on that particular tour, where both performances were absolutely on point and delivered with true professionalism. Our paths crossed again at the Shepherds Bush Empire in London with them supporting Steel Panther.

Whilst it was a shortened support set this time the band managed to steam roll through a selection of songs to which the crowd warmed. I had noticed in Ireland that the typical Panther fan was not going to be the biggest fan of the support acts on the tour, yet both supports gave 100% and won a good percentage of the crowd over.

Inglorious have one major factor that sets them apart from many other metal bands and that is Nathan James the lead singer. He possesses a set of vocal cords and lungs of which many singers would wish to have. Listen to one of their albums, or indeed them all, then hear them live and then you will appreciate what he has to offer. The rest of the band are also good solid musicians and also a sound bunch of fellas to boot. From the dual guitars of Andreas Eriksson & Drew Lowe to the solid rhythm of Phil Beaver and boundless energy of Colin Parkinson the whole Inglorious machine, grabs you by the scruff of the neck and shakes every last ounce of energy from you throughout their set. If you’ve not seen them or own an album I would heartily recommend them.

Photography wise this was easy, though I didn’t stay in the pit for the full three song allocation. Just grabbed a few of each band member and waited for the image below to drop into place. The lighting was generous, as it had been for Wayward Sons, so settings were easy and uncomplicated. I didn’t even exceed 100 images opposed to the usual mad rattling of the shutter in an attempt to get that all important set of worthwhile printable or publishable images. Once I had the image I was looking for I was out of there for a nice cold bottle of water, before simply packing up and coming home. I never even stayed in the hall to watch Panther, as having seen them twice I knew there was nothing different to be had other than a few altered jokes or one liners. Personally I’d prefer less of the joking about and more of the music being played, though I guess its this format that has got them to where they are now, so who am I to suggest change lol.

Image is Nathan James.

Check Inglorious out HERE

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January saw me given the unique opportunity to shoot the band, Steel Panther, in both Dublin and Belfast in January. Wayward Sons were supporting and I’d had the nod that I could cover these dates. Lets face it, I was never going to say no, so organised my travel and accommodation accordingly.

The week before the dates all hell broke lose with the weather and Britain was covered in several feet of snow from top to bottom. Usually I would have looked at the options for this and was it absolutely necessary to travel yet this weather was not going to stop me getting there. A 4am start saw me tip toe for five hours up to the port of Cairnryan in Scotland for my lunchtime ferry to Belfast. When I finally got there it was nice just to not have to grip the steering wheel in an almost constant effort to keep the van on the roads up there. The roads were appalling, travel warnings advised all but essential travel yet I found myself trundling along with hundreds of other motorists, respecting the weather and driving safely. Yes there were the odd idiots out there and one in particular ended up on his roof not several hundred meters in front of me after ludicrously overtaking two side by side articulated lorries by travelling into the uncleared third lane. What happened next is obvious to most and luckily he never touched anyone else with his pirouetting and rolling. Idiot!!

Not my first time in Ireland, though a first for covering gigs. To be fair they both went well, considering they were warm up gigs for the main UK Steel Panther Tour which started the following week. Dublin was small, almost embarrassingly small, for a band of Panthers following yet they roared through their set from start to finish with total professionalism. If you know Steel Panther you will also know that last sentence is a little tongue in cheek. Totally tongue in cheek, the dirty jokes were rife as was the mocking of not only themselves but the crowd throughout the entire set. It was all soaked up by the crowd in the spirit of how it should be and the vibe from the crowd as they left was totally positive.

Wayward sons also gave a 100% performance. They stomped through a half hour of what now seemed to be more crowd aware songs from the album. The album having been out 6 months now is obviously gaining some traction and there were plenty singing along. Nobody would ever have guessed that the lead singer was as green as a goblin having suffered with a rough crossing from Blighty. Add to this a missing keyboard player, owing to a family bereavement, you would not have guessed with the positive response from the crowd.

Belfast, the following night, was almost identical to Dublin for the SP lads, in fact almost too identical for my liking. I’ll not go into how things may or may not be done, by some, these days which certainly made me think. Sadly the more I heard SP on the tour the more they made me start watching certain aspects of the performance, for repetition, rather than just enjoying the fun of it. They are a great bunch of blokes on and off stage so I will leave it at that. Wayward Sons had recovered from the green sea monster and simply powered through their strict half hour set.

The evening was slightly marred by the extremely punctual curfew at 10pm. Steel Panther had barely finished their main set when it was announced that the show was over. Some bemused punters were wondering what was going on, is it part of the show etc? No it was all legit as the Limelight subsequently turns into a nightclub. Thus not an hour after the show had finished there were DJ’s setting up on stage as flight cases were being removed from the building. Steel Panther thus finished on Community Property and not the planned Party All Day, as per the setlist, which is shown below.

Thankfully I had just a short walk to my hotel before a 6am rise to catch my return ferry back to Blighty. A smile which was accompanied by a spring in my step over a job well done. This all before I’d even seen the images taken on a laptop screen.

For all things Steel Panther

Steel Panther live. Images from Dublin & Belfast.

Michael Starr

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Satchel

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Lexxi Foxx

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Stix Zadinia

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Belfast Limelight.

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Setlists.

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I had the privilege of being at this event, in the capacity of photographer, to capture the Wayward Sons Set. It also allowed me to capture some of the other bands on stage too. This is not only good for the portfolio yet, as I found out, also good for networking with other photographers and indeed bands too.

The drive to North Wales was uneventful and as smooth as I could have hoped, arriving around lunch time on the Friday. Booking in and getting laminates was pleasantly easy and the staff were absolutely superb. Odd events have a big “I Am” around who likes you to know it & its really not necessary at all when I’ve found 99% of the bands to be fully approachable and chatty.

The event as a whole went superbly and I met some really nice individuals, some of whom I will be staying in contact with. Photography wise it was a doddle. I had unprecedented access to the band, the entire pit to myself after the first three songs had been completed, and with proper stage lighting I was able to shoot at decent resolutions too.

The Wayward Sons set was superb and they are really starting to gel as a band. The sound was tight and had the entire audience bouncing along with them for the duration. One minor blip was an amp giving up, though that was replaced in just a couple of minutes allowing them to continue. This band can and should go places in the coming year. They certainly deserve to on the album and performances to date.

Not too much on the side of images, as those of you who read this blog will know I have a gentleman’s agreement over images for Wayward Sons. I am however popping a couple from Friday’s headline set on here. Dee Snider, of Twisted Sister, played with his solo band which was a big moment for me. Absolutely loved him in TS all those years ago in my teens yet never managed to see them live. Access to the photography pit and he’s on, see’s me standing there for that first three song opportunity.

Things rounded off drinking a few beers with WS at the after show, kipping on a settee in the bands chalet, followed by an early rising and the long drive back home.

As an experience of work this was fantastic, as an experience of a small festival it was superb and for interaction with other gig photographers it was also fabulous. I just love this side of work and though it pays peanuts I’ll be continuing to slot the gigs in where I can.

Can’t show a Wayward Sons pic so how about an artistically focussed image? I’ve started doing this so I can at least pop something on here rather than repeating the small montage.

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The legend that is Dee Snider

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And you just have to love it when a band member poses for you.

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Firstly I would like to state that all images on this blog are copyright to Cecil Paul Studio’s and we do not give any permission for any individual or company to copy, transfer, alter or amend any image in any known or unknown format without permission. Don’t be a digital thief and pay for the image if you like it that much!!

The above statement comes after one particular radio station robbed an image from here and used it for a promotion. Unbelievably another radio station then robbed that copy for their own radio promotion. The music industry complains about kids downloading songs for free and yet they are thieving when it suits them. Double standards at work which doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.

So onto September –

Things kicked off for us on the first weekend with the third series of the National Trampoline & DMT League, held at Birmingham University. This was a superb venue and being almost new gave us possibly the best balanced lighting of any event this year so far. When you can have your speed with a nice low iso its almost xmas as a photographer and this place delivered in swathes of light.

The weekend as a whole was manic as expected with some 600+ competitors over the two days. We were constantly busy and without barely time to visit the loo for most of both days. The evening meal and a few cold ones, on the Saturday evening, to wash it all down makes things worthwhile though and helps us get a nice nights sleep.

We took some 8500 images in total and had our usual excellent response to the quality of our image and montage offerings over the weekend. Sadly the organisers hadn’t produced the promised event program and so, with no advert, all things regarding our gallery codes went out of the window which had a knock on effect to the subsequent online sales. You’d think they would learn from this, as we were not the only disappointed sponsor, yet you’ll see in Octobers roundup they never. Incompetence at the highest level.

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One thing can always be said for the competitors though is they have a good laugh when there and will happily pose for images such as this one below.

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Our equestrian coverage also continued with several dressage events over the month, one of which was our own business dedicated event. This was a lovely day not only with the quality of competition shown but we had our own branded rosettes. Manor Grange Stud had commissioned a whole series of garlands and rosettes with our name and logo on which was absolutely lovely to see.

The other equestrian events were, as usual, slick and with no messing about. Thankfully the weather held out and so there were no monsoon days where I end up hiding under the main building canopy to shoot from. Our business from these events continues to grow at a steady rate and thus I believe we will chose to continue providing coverage into 2018 and possibly beyond.

These galleries remain our only open event galleries and can be found here – Equestrian Galleries

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Gymnastics also played a key part in September with two competition weekends hosted by Bridlington Gymnastics. This is proper grass roots stuff and we love it. No big arenas, no ego’s, just lots of enthusiastic kids and parents doing what they do. The competitors start around 4-5 years up to the seniors around the 16-17 age group. We are well looked after by the hosts and have a fantastic rapport with both the organisers, adults and kids alike. We are already booked for the 2018 events and look forward to them as its just a fun set of weekends.

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Back in July this year I did a bit of work with the band Wayward Sons when I covered their first ever live gig down in Bristol. This had come about from my involvement with their promotional videos for the new album which can all be read about in an earlier post.

September saw them out supporting UFO on their 2017 UK Tour. One particular date, the 15th, was also the official release date for the album. Thinking it would be a good idea to capture that night I emailed Toby and he said thanks, yes, pop along and do your thing. The night was superb and in my personal opinion the Sons were head and shoulders above UFO in musical deliver and enthusiasm. The crowd were bouncing along to the music, which noticeably stopped once UFO had taken to the stage. The UFO set was slick and polished though I feel lacked a raw feel. I could honestly say that you could have listened to this on the radio as visually and engagement wise things were seriously lacking. To put it into context I was sat uploading and editing my images in the main hall area whilst they were on. Looked up a few times just to make sure things were still going when the music stopped.

On a working basis the Picturedome at Holmfirth is not actually too bad to work in. Yes it is compact though the fans are all stood on a sloping floor leading upend away from the stage. Tis allowed me to move up and down and simply shoot over the top of those in front of me. Non of the usual clamouring about to secure a gap between heads and phones which is nice. Setting were mediocre as though the lighting operator did give some light it wasn’t nearly as much as that given to the headline act. Thank the lord for full frame cameras and f2.8 lenses.

The night finished, I had a good chat with the band and then it was away home, still damp from sweating in the pit for a nice warm shower and bed.

The images from this event are behind a secured gallery and only for the band to see. Images from the gig will be released as and when they see fit which is sad in a way as I like to see my images out there in the wild. To stop any thieving radio stations or any other publications grabbing images of the band you’ll just have to put up with this montage again. Shame how people spoil things for others.

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The month was topped off with a visit to City Of Leeds Trampolining & Gymnastics to undertake a specific shoot of gymnasts who had qualified for a host of national and international competitions. With all new leotards the head coach wanted a series of portrait images taking to help promote the club within the Yorkshire region.

The whole thing took around 4hrs to complete and with a happy head coach, general coaches, kids and parents I headed home.

That was not quite the end though regarding this as we are returning in January to film a whole series of short films about the club, their offerings and what kids can expect to be doing if they join the club. Really looking forward to that.

This image was a fun pic taken after all the kids had individually paraded in each of their leotards for their portrait to be taken. I know from my school photo experiences this isn’t fun so when the coach suggested a pic in the foam pit, we ended up with this.

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I’ll try not to leave things too long before blogging our October exploits.

 

Firstly I need to clarify which Wayward Sons band I am writing and discussing here. The band is the Wayward Sons band formed by former Little Angels vocalist Toby Jepson and not the American band of the same name. If you would like to see what they are all officially about then head over to Wayward Sons Official Website or their Facebook page at Wayward Sons Uk Facebook. If you like the look of all that then you can always become a member of the Wayward Fans official Facebook page too. There’s certainly lot’s going on around these guys with a very positive buzz from the critics.

My connection with the band started in 2013 when Toby was gracious enough to let me shoot a couple of his tour dates, namely the O2 at Sheffield and Hull Fruit dates. This assisted me greatly with my BA(Hons), when certain teaching elements said it couldn’t be done and I am eternally grateful for Toby’s assistance. Recently he moved back from the solo work to forming a the new said band. This has produced an album, “Ghosts of yet to come”, which is to be released on 15th September 2017. The band decided on a quadrilogy of video’s, to support four singles from the album, for which they decided to use fans and acquaintances as extras. A general request was sent out to which I replied and waited. A couple of emails later and I’m booked to attend the video shoot in Leicester.

Check out the bands video’s –

“Until The end” – Watch here

“Alive” – Watch here

“Crush” –Watch here

“Ghost” Watch here

As part of my BA I had produced a photobook of images from the dates, which I wished for Toby to sign one day. The video shoot was the perfect opportunity, to get it signed, so the book came with me. At the end of the day the book was signed and I asked who would be covering the first live gig a few weeks later. Toby essentially said he hadn’t thought about that and so I jumped on the opportunity and sold myself, to which he accepted.

The 26th July 2017 was the first live date the band were to perform live together. With a four hour drive to get down to Bristol it was an early start to get there when the band did. The gig was to be held at The Louisiana in Bristol. Even with some internet searching I wasn’t able to find much information on the size of room, lighting, stage or basically anything. To say the least images of the place were rather thin in the google searches and this started to fill me with dread. I knew the room had a capacity of 120 so this was going to be small, intimate and a bugger to shoot properly.

My reservations about the room were indeed justified upon arrival. A small rectangle of a room, box stage at one end, mixing desk at the other and to my horror barely half a dozen of the new LED stage lights to illuminate things for me. These lights are a pain for the cameras. Colours yes but those precious lumens lighting the stage where just not in attendance. With dozens of them yes you can quite confidently shoot away but this was going to be hard, very hard.

The room taken on my iPhone upon arrival.

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Now you can see what I mean by intimate. Even the mixing desk is situated in what was a small function room bar to the rear. The daylight is from a balcony fire exit which was opened for some fresh air.

I had a couple of hours to see what suited my cameras and lenses best and it quickly became apparent this was indeed not going to be easy. Low speed, wide open and huge ISO’s just to capture the guy’s setting up were not a good start. A few hours later and we where ready to go. I left the band in the dressing room having taken a group image of them all and made my way to the room. It was almost pitch black, other than those lumen free diet LED lighting units at the stage. They didn’t even face the band as situated on the sides of the stage.

I made my way to the stage, sat on it, placed down my two 5Diii’s armed with grips and 24-70mm f/2.8 / 70-200 f/2.8 lenses respectively and felt the intense wall of heat hit me. I, as was everyone in the room, sweating when things began to roll.

A large roar of approval, and introduction from the DJ, the band step on stage and Boom we are go……..

Wide open at f2.8 the ISO’s where on the limit at 12,500 regardless of 100th sec or 250th sec shutter speeds. The bands front three just never stood still either, which just made things worse. Undeterred I simply wet for it with the 24-70mm wide and 70-200 zooms I had to hand. Being literally sat on the stage I was unable to fit the whole band into any single image. I looked back and saw a young lady shooting away with a DSLR whilst being jostled with the crowd moving. I decided that was not an option so I made the decision to go intimate. I knew there would be 100’s of phone images as upon looking back I could see them all glowing away.

Close up and intimate still gave me a challenge, though I began to like what I saw when quick reviewing the images between bursts. The set was short and before I knew it we were on the last song of the night. For this I made my way to the back of the room and shot over the crowd. Being unable to direct the crowd and band to my vantage point the camera was firmly to my face and finger on the trigger for any opportunity that arose in those last minutes. I grabbed a few and was pleased with the overall results.

Post gig the band made their way downstairs, to the bar area, and mingled with the fans. I took a small selection of fan pics with individual members of the band and then made my way home, arriving back at the ungodly hour of 4am.

So the images taken and how did they turn out? Well to be honest I was actually pleased with a good 75% of what I took. From almost individual portraits to the close up where you could see beads of sweat on their faces I had accomplished what I decided to do. I’d even taken a quick scoot through them upon getting home due to my concerns about the available light etc.

This was my view at 4:11am with a nice cold refreshing beer in hand. Amazingly being up for nearly 21hrs at this point, driving some 400+ miles and done a live shoot I was wide awake on adrenaline. Great feeling.

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The image shows L-R,  Sam Wood, Toby Jepson and Nic Wastell

I have agreed that no actual images from the event will be made public without the express permission of Wayward Sons therefore this blog post is almost anorexic in imagery. One small montage which I can show is below. I compiled this for the fans page as a momento of the evening and it has the bands approval to be published.

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The band are L-R Dave Kemp, Sam Wood, Phil Martini, Toby Jepson & Nic Wastell.

The gig itself was superb and the whole band did themselves proud. The enthusiasm, energy and belief on stage was visible to all and received enthusiastically by the crowd. The setlist was a trial run for the new stuff, which is superb, mixed with a few Angels classics thrown in.

The setlist as recovered by Mr Damian Gore –

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Final image here is of Toby and myself just before I left the Louisiana. Taken by an unknown person on my phone my shirt was finally drying out and I was not looking forward to the impending 4hr drive ahead. Smiles anyway.

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Moving forward Toby mentioned me doing some more live gig photography for the band on their upcoming support tours around the UK. I hope he’s good to his word on that, as I love the live gig stuff, and would love to be involved with the band at some level going forward. I think they have a bright future ahead of them.

All images are © to Cecil Paul Studio’s and Wayward Sons Band UK and may not be copied, reproduced or used in any manner without approval.

One of my favourite photography pastimes is shooting live concerts, regardless of size, as I love to hopefully capture the essence and vibe of an evening within my images. I have covered from pubs to full blown outdoor multi band festivals yet sadly not as many as I would like. The reasons why its so hard to get a photographers pass is worthy of a whole new blog.

One rare opportunity did however arise with a group of seasoned musicians, who had not long since released their new self titled album “Colour Of Noise”. I was aware of the lead guitarist Bruce Dickinson, who had previously found fame in the band “Little Angels” and having liked the music offered my services for the last date of the 2016 tour. I had already purchased tickets, kept seeing updates on social media and yet did not see a great deal of imagery to help promote themselves. I sent a speculative email to Bruce and he graciously accepted my offer of covering the event. There was no money involved but just my passion for photography, love of music and the possibility of providing some helpful images to a band on the bottom rung.

The venue is somewhere I have been on too many occasions in my life. Actually that is a lie as some great nights have been had there. By most standards its a small club/venue with three rooms of differing size where bands can peddle their wares to what seems an endless swathe of excited ears. Based in Sheffield UK “The Corporation” is a hot spot for quality live music and has been for many years. With three bands on the night, I was there again, I can only assume things continue to bode well for this musical outlet.

Colour Of Noise where simply superb. With just a single album to draw from you could have possibly expected a few covers in there yet no it was just an onslaught of quality melodic rock music from the album. The whole set was the extremely polished affair you would have also expected. The set was superb, the crowd loved it and all appeared well at CoN towers.

The images were far from the greatest I have ever produced, and when I say far I almost mean fairytale far, far, far away from ……..

The lighting was poor and indeed the young man charged with operating the lighting seemed to have little notion that the crowd actually wanted to see the band. 90% of the evenings light came from behind the band thus giving us all silhouettes to watch whilst listening. This did not bode well for me and the camera. Even with low shutter speeds and whopping ISO’s pushing the boundaries of NASA sensors things were mostly dark. When one of the few front cans did light up land illuminate a band member I pounced to capture something worth looking at. At one point I even stood poised waiting for a young lady to take pictures on her phone. As phones do it gave out a rather long pre flash to eradicate red eye. This gave me a wonderful source of light assistance that I willingly exploited.

I supplied a set of images of which one was indeed used to help promote their proposed 2017 Stark Reality Tour. Little did I know this was not to be.

The bombshell was then announced in March; they had split. I’m sure these guys have their reasons, as all bands do, and I’m sure that reasons will come out eventually. So the frustration of shooting an almost dark concert gig and producing a sub quality set of images turns out to be the only record of their last gig as a band. Nice on the one hand yet extremely frustrating on the other.

The Band –

Matt Mitchell – vocals

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Bruce John Dickinson – Guitar

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Ben Daniel – Bass

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Stand In Drummer – Mark Richardson

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And what was to be their final bow together –

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The guys had used this final image as part of the social media tour promo. Easy enough with PSCC2017 though I didn’t spend too long on it as my OCD on image quality told me it would never be used seriously. I still like the idea though.

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I really do love this genre of photography and yet it all seems so hard to break into. I have applied to several festivals for a pass only to be asked which publication(s) I am working for and yet publications don’t even reply to offers of shooting for them.

I was amazed at one festival that I did cover, for a digital radio broadcaster, that another alleged “Pro” photographer alongside myself had a crib sheet offering optimal exposure settings for him to follow. This had been issued by the publication he was shooting for allegedly enabling him to capture quality images. As expected he struggled, spending most of the day staring at his LCD panel trying to work things out whilst I happily clicked away. I, all too often, read about so called “Pro’s” who are simply lowly paid enthusiasts being used to capture imagery on the cheap which frustrates me when I know I, and others, are capable of providing better quality imagery than some publications currently use.

There are of course the ‘popular’ music photographers who do indeed capture some quality imagery. What saddens me is after they have their passes issued the remaining photography slots appear to end up with glorified amateurs who look almost overwhelmed by the task of capturing the artists in full flow.

I will be trying again to grab myself a pass for any of the big festivals next year and have been given a unique angle from an well known musician/producer so I shall see how that fairs.

Here’s one of my own favourite festival images, which has been used by a publication, and not only because you can actually see me in the reflection. Just sums the atmosphere and scale of things nicely for me.

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Just had a conversation with a rock god of mine who has allowed me to shoot two of his local shows in a months time.

I’ve sent several emails out to various venues offering my services and then directly to performers who I like or feel would gives images worth looking at. Got a polite email from this chap asking a few further details about myself and requested a few sample images. popped those over to him and bingo I’m hired. I have full access for the day at both venues so my University Photo Essay is now sorted.

With my essay subject being a lead singer I included the following two images which I took at Hull’s freedom Festival. The band were ‘The Struts’ with a lead singer, a young chap called Luke Spiller, who certainly commanded the stage and woke a previously lacklustre crowd. It would appear that the sheer cheek of my request along with these images made the decision easy.

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