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Harmonising with creativity: capturing musicians in images

One of the turning points in my career was when a local musician – Roberto Cappellino – reached out to me to ask if I'd be interested in taking some images of him. We eventually worked together on several photography and video projects.


I'd not photographed a musician before, so it was an interesting challenge for me, and now being able to combine the two forms of art – music and photography – as well as getting to collaborate with other artists, is something I very much enjoy.


Capturing the soul of music


We love music because it moves us. It can make us sad. It can make us dance. It can make us go 'did you just hear that?'. Whatever it is, it evokes something in us. That's the power musicians have. The same goes, hopefully, for photographs. In combining music and image-making, I hope to reveal another layer of the emotion that music inspires.


Picturing performance


Photographing musicians in the act of creating music is quite the photographic challenge. For a start, they are always moving! It might be a drumstick or a violin bow or a guitarist's fretting fingers, but physical movement is part of music-making. At first, my images didn't quite align with this physicality, but, as with music, once you find a rhythm and a flow, you can become more in tune with your subject.


Collaboration


One often thinks of photographers as solitary. And certainly, in forms like nature photography or details photography, that is often the case. But something special happens when you collaborate with someone else. Portrait photography is a dance between the photographer and the subject; when the subject is a musician, the dance is a lot of fun.





The joys and challenges of live performances


The unpredictable nature of live performance is thrilling. Capturing it is as well. I don't mean holding your phone up and filming a whole gig (not cool). Rather, waiting for a moment that encapsulates the experience up until that point, that expresses something of what the musician is doing and how it has affected you.


Storytelling through portraits


Songs tell a story, just like photographs. I find pleasure in creating intimate portraits that delve into the people behind the instruments. How an image of a musician can enhance or feed into how their music is perceived is a fascinating dialectic. The use of light, of background and even technique can reflect how they – and you – see them as artists. I mean, doesn't Ziggy Stardust the album gain an extra something from having seen the images of Bowie looking like the universe's best-dressed alien?


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Images and music are not essential to one another. However, they can work marvellously well together. I will always be grateful to Roberto Cappellino for starting me on the path of photographing musicians because it gives me a lot of pleasure to collaborate with people whose own art I admire.

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