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World Photography Day

Posted on Friday 19th August 2022 at 12:35

Jimi Arundell

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Jimi Arundell

Whilst all the eyes are on the stage; it falls to the skill of the photographer to capture the magic moments that define an artist’s career and create a vivid documentation of music history. The power of the image has become even more important in the digital age and can raise a struggle songwriter to become a superstar almost overnight thanks to social media.

Today, on World Photography Day we reverse the lens and speak to key photographers Shaun Wootton, Georgina Hurdsfield and Jake Haseldine to ask them what inspired them to pick up the camera and the stories behind their best work.




Shaun Wootton (📸 IG: @shaunwootton)


The in-house photographer at Rock City; the expert skills of Shaun Wootton have helped elevate the revered gig venue to iconic status and has often been found snapping shows at Rescue Rooms and The Bodega too. When he isn’t documenting thrilling gigs, Shaun also works with Fred Perry Subculture.



What inspired you to get into music photography?


I’ve always loved music and gigs, it wasn’t until around 2009/10 that I considered combining it with my love of photography as a career. I’d recently struck up a friendship with members of a local band called Baby Godzilla (who later changed their name to HECK) and started attending and photographing their gigs - their incredibly intense and passionate performances were a joy to witness and document. I'd say that is what started me down this road.



Frank Turner at Rock City, by Shaun Wootton



Tell us the story about the image(s) you are most proud of.


It was amazing to be a part of Frank Turner’s 2000th show at Rock City. It felt like such a special occasion so I marked it with a special run of custom prints for the staff and crew on the night. It’s not my favourite shot I’ve ever taken, it's not even my favourite shot of Frank, but it was a wholesome moment.



Nottingham boasts many fantastic music venues, including Rock City, Bodega and Rescue Rooms. Which is your favourite to work in?


They all have their pros and cons and are all part of the same family, but I have to go with Rock City. I was the in-house photographer there for nearly ten years and must have shot well over 800 shows for them. Icons and legends like Toots & The Maytals, Roger Taylor, PiL, Public Enemy, Johnny Marr, Courtney Love… enough memories to last a lifetime.



Little Simz at Rock City, by Shaun Wootton




There’s a great sense of spontaneity in your photographs. How do you capture and convey that energy so well in just a single shot?


There’s a lot that goes into it, you’ve got sound and light techs creating the right atmosphere and vibes for the performer and crowd to be able to feed off each other, then as a photographer you’ve got to understand how performers move and work, and know the music or understand how it’s structured so you can be ready to capture the moment when it happens.



Do you think the art of photography has been devalued in the era of the camera phone and social media?


If anything, I would say it increases its value. Camera phones and social media make visual art so much more accessible, meaning more people can make, discover and share content. Meaning it’s more widely appreciated. The only issue is how some great art can be lost in the noise or destined to have a low reach because of the dreaded algorithm.



Yungblud at Rock City, by Shaun Wootton



Who are your favourite photographers?


I’ve always had an unhealthy obsession with the 1960s so the big hitters from that era like Bailey, Duffy, Donovan and Avedon are always up there. And of course the likes of Mick Rock and Jill Furmanovsky. In a more contemporary sense Spencer Miller (@spencermiller) is doing some great things mixing stills with animation and video. And Katja Ogrin’s (@katja_ogrin) images always blow my socks off too.



Your iconic images have been featured in Fred Perry Subculture. Why is fashion so important in music and youth culture?


It’s all so tribal and interlinked; they all speak to different forms of identity and expression. Your clothes and your fashion are not only a way for you to show your individuality but also allow you to signal and find like-minded souls; then you can do what young people do best and experiment and create... or destroy.




Georgina Hurdsfield (📸 IG: @tinyraindropphotography)

Up and coming fresh based talent Georgina Hurdsfield has hit the festival circuit, capturing the energy and the excitement at Leeds Festival, NEIGHBOURHOOD WEEKENDER and her images have been featured in DIY, Gigwise and Punktastic. She can regularly be found snapping shows in her hometown of Manchester and beyond.



What inspired you to get into music photography?


I had been going to gigs since I was fourteen, and I think seeing photographers in the photo pit was what inspired me to want to be a music photographer, I wanted to be where they were, and I thought it was the best view in the house. I love music so much and I love photography and it just made sense to combine those passions together.




There’s a candid nature in the photos throughout your portfolio; often with artists slightly off guard or totally relaxed offstage. Are their any acts you have a close relationship with?


As of yet, I haven’t really worked closely with any bands or artists, but this is something I would love to do, get to know an artist so well that they allow you to capture these vulnerable/candid moments. I think these photos have been taken during festival season, if you're working directly for the festival, usually you’re given access that allows you the chance to capture moments like this, just before the artist goes on stage, or perhaps to be in a spot where artists don’t usually suspect a photographer to take a photo from. This is how I have captured any candid moments so far. 



What’s the greatest pressure you’ve ever felt that has come as part of your work?


Only recently have I started being paid for my music photography work. I get imposter syndrome a lot usually surrounding jobs I really care about and when you know you’re being paid it makes it 100x worse. It’s like what if they don’t like the photos? What if they’re not good enough? Trying to remember you’re there because they like your work can be difficult sometimes. I put a lot of pressure on myself. 


Sam Fender at Leeds Festival, by Georgina Hurdsfield


Do you think the art of photography has been devalued in the era of the camera phone and social media?


Personally, I don’t think so. It’s made photography more accessible, but I don’t think it has devalued it. I think it has encouraged people to be more creative. 



You can be found squeezed in the corners of tiny venues or side of stage of such massive events as Leeds Festival or NEIGHBOURHBOOD Weekender. Do you prefer working at the big shows or local gigs?


I think big shows are my favourite, especially festival season. I love working on a photo team and being inspired and encouraged by the other photographers, I love the atmosphere of a festival and capturing that. Usually, you get the chance to photograph artists you think you never would’ve had the chance to photograph and that is always really fun and fulfilling.



Easy Life, by Georgina Hurdsfield



Who are your favourite photographers?


My favourite photographers are @kiwimcmc, @harry_hmm, @lindaborscika, @matteachus, @emilymarcovecchio, @wez.dale, @_31photography_, @amifordphoto, @jake_haseldine and @abshipperley!! There’s just too many to name. They’re all killing it right now, so so talented and I love seeing their photos pop up on my feed. All very helpful and supportive in the photography community too!



Tell us the story about the image(s) you are most proud of.


Probably would be this image of Sam Fender playing Leeds Festival on the Main Stage in 2021. I had been offered a placed on the Leeds Fest photo team and was buzzing to be there. It was one of the greatest learning experiences and I captured some of my favourite photos during that weekend and made so many memories. I really like this one as I feel it is very candid, I love the colours, I love Sam Fender’s music, it’s just one of my favourite photos and I’m very proud of it.  





Jake Haseldine (📸 IG: @jake_haseldine)


Based in Nottingham; Jake Haseldine is a freelance photographer specialising in live music and portraits. Jake has worked at the MOBO’s in 2017 in addition to a great many festivals on the circuit, including Y Not, Splendour and Dot To Dot.



What inspired you to get into music photography?


I was inspired by a couple of music photographers already in the scene (Conor McDonnell and Jordan Hughes) who’s work I had seen and it intrigued me to look into music photography in depth.


Tom Grennan at Alexandra Palace, by Jake Haseldine



Tell us the story about the image(s) you are most proud of.


Most recently one of the images I’m proud of is my shot of Tom Grennan at Ally Pally, it was one of my first jobs back after a long break due to the pandemic and a special one. Obviously, the venue is an incredible one, but seeing 10,000 people in one room after everything that had happened in the past two years blew my mind and the phone lights…it was just surreal!


Another one that will live long in my memory is Hamburg with The Hunna where I came onto stage

following the guys and everyone in the crowd had ‘Not just a band, a family’ on signs which fans had

given out, it was really poignant and sums them up perfectly.



What makes a great photograph?


A lot of things, the subject, the framing, the lighting, and many more different elements. I think you

know when you make a great photograph, everything seems to align and it’s a moment that people

can connect with and keep as a memory, that's why I love music photography, creating art of

moments that are live.



The Hunna, by Jake Haseldine



Tell us about your experiences at Y Not festival; which was your favourite slot to shoot?


Y Not was great, myself, Ami Ford, Sam McMahon and Georgina Hurdsfield were all shooting for the

Y Not team and covering as much as possible for the socials during and post festival. I’m glad the rain

mostly kept away as it made atmosphere photos look lovely and made photographing a tad easier!

I shot a fair few sets over the weekend but I loved Blossoms headline slot, it was a beautiful Sunday

weather wise and as they came on stage the sunset was stunning, a rare Y Not sunset we were told,

it made for some lovely wide photos of the site, especially from the helter skelter.



Is it harder to work at festivals where all your equipment is exposed to the elements, rather than a gig venue with a roof over your head?


I personally don't find it too different, unless it’s pouring down then of course it can be a challenge, but also in venues you're sometimes dodging beer cups and that can be worse for your cameras as it's super sticky! But I’d say both have their difficulties at times and you have to adapt as much as possible.



Blossoms at Y Not, by Jake Haseldine



Who are your favourite photographers?


There's so many photographers work that i love and admire, it’d take me forever to name them all but a few that I’m really excited about at the moment are Austin Roa (Lumineers/AJR Brothers), Becca Hamel (Valley), Lewis Evans (Inhaler/Blossoms) and pretty much anyone I follow on Instagram, the music photography industry is so strong at the moment and there are so many incredible creators out there!



How do you compose the posed photographs of artists? Do you give them direction, or do they approach you with an idea?


A lot of the time I leave it up to the artist to pose themselves, at the end of the day I want them to be as comfortable in front of my camera as possible, some artists love to pose and get involved which is great and can make for good photos but also some artists don't, but that makes you as a

photographer work and think more to try and get the best shots out of the situation as possible.



Stormzy at the MOBO’s 2017, by Jake Haseldine



Do you think the art of photography has been devalued in the era of the camera phone and social media?


This is such a hard question and there is no wrong or right answer, to a point yes and to a point no. I

think at the end of the day, even though some phone cameras are amazing and are ridiculously good, nothing can compare to a photographer who is good with a camera and has an eye for a good shot, photographers can make an incredible photo out of either nothing or something which is there for a split second and they have the awareness and skill to capture that moment.


But social media has definitely helped photography I’d say, especially music photography. Instagram is basically another portfolio along with a website and it’s become an easy way to share work and engage with bands, fans and colleagues to progress your work to the next level and gain more work yourself.

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