Tag Archives: photography

The Highs and Lows of the Creative Mind

Once again I haven’t been posting many updates about the gigs I’ve been shooting. There have been few gigs this year but they’ve been very memorable to me. I’ll get into who those bands were soon but I think it’s time I talk about my actual mental state that keeps me at or takes me away from photographing bands.

And I do apologise in advance, I haven’t been writing in ages. I only recently got back to reading novels. Novellas. At least a few pages a night of them.

Maybe I’ll explain what happened after the last successful gig I shot. I was asked by Darren Middleton to be his photographer in Sydney when he played a show at Factory Theatre with Guy Pearce. That was a great experience, despite ripping the only shirt I had that night – by reaching down for a beer of all things – and having a member of the audience grab me violently because doing my job was annoying him. I wasn’t ok after that. I have PTSD and my mind went to a place that was far from the venue and into a very scary place. It was just the two of us in a type of blurry isolated environment and a second later I realised I was still in the venue. So, I sulked backstage and got drunk. I didn’t even go back out to take photos during the encore.

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Guy Pearce and Darren Middleton backstage
guydarrenFB01
Guy Pearce at Factory Theatre

After that I was anxious to return to The Factory Theatre, a venue I’ve been to countless times before. So I missed out on taking photos of The Gin Club playing there. I was also anxious about my safety for other reasons. My PTSD was just back full force and I could barely leave the house.

So, I’ve gone weeks, maybe months without going to a show. I almost went to see Funeral For a Friend last week but the lack of a photo pass, bus ticket, and access to an ATM was just too many barriers in my plans to want to go. Then I had uncontrollable itching. That’s another reason why I’ve not wanted to go out: for a few weeks now I’ve had a severe eczema flare up. I’m able to control it to a degree now but when I couldn’t it was rather depressing.

The Matches
The Matches at Oxford Art Factory
The Matches
The Matches at Oxford Art Factory

I’ve been missing taking photos at gigs. At the start of the year I got to take photos of Davey Lane and his band in dresses and see an old childhood friend perform in his band. You would know him by the name Steve Smyth.  I’ve probably seen more bands than photographed but it was still fun. I got to photograph/video The Matches one-off gig in Sydney. I tried to rescue Shaun Harris’s guitar falling to the ground and when he managed to get a hold of it he swung it up and hit me in the face with it. Later on I saw that I was bleeding. Bruises and cuts in wild mosh pits are more like medals and I got loads at the Gnarwolves and Luca Brasi gig when I kept being pushed onto the stage. I even had a laugh with the Gnarwolves boys when a stage diver landed on my shoulders and I just fell down.

I had some good times with Dallas Crane too. I was always so nervous about meeting those guys, even that night but they are just so nice. I even jumped on stage with them to take photos. It was one of those nights where everything just finally felt right and nothing could ruin the moment. Some guy even tried to pick me up. No, that wasn’t part of everything going right but I wasn’t going to let it ruin my night.

Steve from Dallas Crane
Steve from Dallas Crane at Newtown Social Club
Dallas Crane
Dallas Crane at Newtown Social Club

I was disappointed about not getting a photo pass to You Am I at Twilight at Taronga but I tried to enjoy myself with friends. It was probably the last time I got really drunk, amongst other things. I’m now a complete teetotaler and only take medicines and the medication prescribed to me. Oh, and tea. I’ve been off coffee for years.

Then I didn’t get a photo pass to Bayside and that was another blow to my confidence as a band photographer. Then I took it as a good excuse to get drunk and knowing a secret entrance backstage (where I was hanging out with Darren Middleton, Guy Pearce and the members of their band a week ago) I demanded to be let in. I won’t even tell you from where I was banging on the door from but it made me look pretty ridiculous. I was getting sick of just watching international bands play when I knew I could get some decent photos out of them. I got angry about my lack of a photo pass to Funeral For a Friend that I may have just ditched the whole show over it. It took me three days to work out I was suffering from depression too.

My depression is pretty on and off usually. I do take medication that helps ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, but I get the odd suicidal thoughts a few days a month. It used to be around 10 days of the month so there’s been improvement. I’m only bringing this up because I’ve noticed a pattern in my confidence levels as a band photographer. I can go from average confidence to overconfidence to right back down to despair. The busier I am with my band photography the more confidence I have with the odd-day of having manic overconfidence. If you know anything about bipolar disorder you would know that there are periods of feeling like you’re a god and nothing can stop you. That along with bursts of creative ideas and the energy to carry them out does help out me get out to many shows and photograph a whole lot of bands, up to three shows a week, but then there are periods of having no gigs to photograph so the creative ideas and energy needs something to focus on. Most days I’m fine to play a video game, obsessively or run around with a camera when I get some idea for a project. But when the photography opportunities still don’t come it’s easy to feel hopeless about it and fall back into depression.

Also, being a creative person I don’t want to be stuck doing the same thing all the time. I want to actually create art from scratch, not just snap a photo of what I think looks good. Lately, I’ve been thinking about writing a screenplay or practice my sketching skills. But when you have ADHD you really have to plan to do those things and set aside a time, but you’re also impulsive and kept quite happy by playing a video game for hours.
I know I need to combine playing video games with creating art or doing something productive like that. It’s probably because of my autism that I can’t really focus on more than one thing at a time but I think it’s worth practicing at least. For some reason I feel like I waste time when playing video games, even though I’m proud of what I achieve in the games. I just find writing, drawing and photography more rewarding.

My despair will soon be over because I do have some gigs coming up. An old friend‘s band Sloppy Kiss Soire is having an EP launch at the Lansdowne Hotel, and I’m just surprised by the fact that they are having actual bands there again. There’s The Getaway Plan and Fraser A. Gorman at Newtown Social Club, Against Me at Wollongong University which will at least be another photo pass. The rest I want to shoot do involve getting a photo pass so may or may not happen. I guess I’ve just got to be patient for other bands to announce shows while battling my low self-esteem and whether I’m going to stick with this band photography, and make it into a real money maker. People want to put my photos in an exhibition but I just don’t feel confident about my photography at the moment. I’ve just got to keep busy with it. I’ve made some business cards and I give them to people and wonder why I even had to do that. But you know, I’ve got a skill and I’ll keep practicing it and see if anything comes out of it. I bet you can guess my mental state right now…heh.

– LTTL

Me and The Crane
Me and The Crane at Newtown Social Club

A Few Thoughts On My Photography

Hey there! Welcome to the new home of LTTL’s thoughts and maybe I’ll put a few sample photographs up here as well. The only reason I’m moving my blog here is I just find WordPress so much easier to navigate and check my stats on.  This page is going to be a bit messy for a while but then I’ll put up a nice header and make my writing a bit more formal. I haven’t read a book in a long time.

I grew up in Nowra on the NSW South Coast and was most active as a band photographer in the Wollongong/Sydney hardcore scene a few years back. These days I take photos of musicians who played in bands when I was a kid, and some bands I started to get into in my late teen years. Really, I’m honored to be taking photos of those artists I grew up listening to on Triple J and getting a chance to take photos of international (emo) rock-punk bands is always a great accomplishment. Plus I know most of their songs.

I haven’t been getting a lot of feedback from taking photos of those bands as I expected, which confuses me because I think they’re huge. But I also think Facebook has made me addicted to collecting ‘likes’ from just anybody when really the type of feedback I should be getting is from the true fans of those bands, or just people who really know about photography. Since departing the rock-punk-hardcore (coughsemocough) scene those types of people have been hard to come by.

But I made peace recently with only getting access to a very small number of musicians and those were the ones I knew from Triple J who are older now and willing to give a young photographer a chance, after the website I shot for called The Dwarf stopped sending out e-mails of bands I could apply to shoot for them. I pretty much lost hope that they would ever come back so I applied for another website. Then The Dwarf was re-born and got me into an international show. It was Anberlin by the way; a band that I had lost all hope in photographing because over the years I just kept missing out on that photo pass. The website I applied for never got back to me by the way. Maybe they will one day but it hardly matters anymore because I’m a Dwarftographer now. Yeah. I do refer to myself as that.

I’ve been shooting a lot of gigs recently and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the way I take photos. I take photos of musicians who I know or have seen a lot and picked up a lot about their personality. When I take photos of them what I’m really looking for is a photo that says to me ‘that’s a really Davey Lane shot.’ This may be very hard for me to explain because I have to convert the pictures in my head to words and that’s not my default programming.

I think since I knew The Hot Lies I’ve always wanted to take photos that showed a part of their personality in those photos. The first time I ever got the idea to do this was when I saw a photo of Pete Wood that his girlfriend took. When I looked at that photo it was just like I was looking at Pete. The personality was there, the posture, everything – it was the Pete I knew – oh, at that point it was the Pete I wanted to know. So, I started to take photos like this especially when I took photos of Davey Lane. I would look at other photographer’s photos of him and think ‘nah, that’s not Davey.’ I got a bit cocky about it. Then I started to capture his mannerisms, or sneakily shoot while he was talking in between songs as instead of just while he was singing. I wasn’t always quick enough. I tried the same thing with Darren Middleton. I was still too slow, but then when I got to go to an intimate Tim Rogers gig I nailed those photos. I got personality, mannerisms, emotional faces and action photos.

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Tim Rogers at Anita’s Theatre, Thirroul. For more photos check out http://www.thedwarf.com.au. I also think he looks like Matt Smith in this picture. Yes, I kind of miss him as Doctor Who. I actually told Tim he could be Doctor Who.

Then I got thinking, this is great, but I probably couldn’t get the same results during a 3 songs/no flash shoot, but when I photographed Anberlin I did get one emotional picture of singer Stephen Christian. In all that chaos of ten photographers’s pressing up to the front of stage in the photo pit and me frantically switching from different lenses to just get one good shot, I stood back with the longest and heaviest lens and I got a moment.

Stephen Christian of Anberlin gazes in amazement at the 1000 fans cheering his band on, on Anberlin's Final World Tour and final gig in Sydney.
Stephen Christian of Anberlin gazes in amazement at the thousands of fans cheering his band on, on Anberlin’s Final World Tour and final gig in Sydney.

So, it is possible. I would love to get another chance to practice my shooting skills at those 3 songs shows. My friends go to them all the time and their photos are just fantastic. I like the little photographer circle we were sitting in each time our three songs were up and we quickly scrolled through our photos to see if they were ok. Usually, I go solo at gigs at meet a few fans of the band or I might have a chat with the band, depending on who they are. It’s so good to talk about cameras and photography without someone giving me an odd look or saying ‘I hardly know anything about it’ – that’s pretty much all we talked about.

Currently I’m on a small break from taking photos but I may go out and photograph Megan Washington in Pitt St Mall on Sunday. I like having a break because for at least a week I was doing nothing but editing and uploading photos. Even when I still had loads of photos to edit I would go to more gigs thus adding more photos to my already overwhelming list of band photos to edit. On the other hand I’m a person that can adapt to a situation that was different and want to stay there forever, so I kind of want to get out there again.

Next year I’m going to stop giving freebies to bands and as long as I continue to shoot for The Dwarf on other sites my galleries will be cut back a bit. It’s just very time consuming to put up 60-80 photos on several different sites, and I’m really trying to earn some cash from my photography. I don’t work for money yet (a few live shoots here and there) and I want to turn my photography into more of a business than hobby, otherwise I will probably ever work. The type of person I am wants to work but I want to do something I’m passionate about. No one has ever given me a chance to work and I never wanted to work those jobs and they knew – well, the photography jobs I really did want – so I never got the jobs. I’m going to be making my own business cards to shower the streets with too. Or maybe just hand out to hopeful people at gigs who wanna have a looky at the photos I took of their favourite band.

So, I guess that’s it for the first post of my new blog. Hopefully I’ll get to some gigs soon and share some photos. And I promise you I will start reading books again so I can start writing like a physicist from the 1950s again. At least a magazine.

Here’s a link to my old blog in case you wanted to see a few more photos or read some more ramblings.

Oh and Lost Through the Lens on Facebook has stacks of photo galleries so make sure you check it out. You can ‘like’ the page or not – no big deal.

– Lost Through the Lens