Ladies in low light feat. Beautiful Expectations @ Broadcast, Glasgow
I’m so bored of flash. It’s obnoxious. It doesn’t document moments, it steals them. Any kind of photography that rips the subject out of the moment, isn’t the photography for me. So I don’t use flash at shows anymore. Even in venues as poorly lit as Broadcast.
This could also be as much about me not being very good at using my flash as it is artistry or principle, but you have absolutely no proof of that…
When I shot this show for Beautiful Expectations, the limited lighting and tiny venue gave me a great opportunity to really consider not only my shots from a settings point of view but from an artistic one as well.
As loathe as I am to raise the issue yet again, alternative music is still really underrepresented by women on stage. Sure, it’s getting better, which is a reassuring sign of progress, but since more often than not, the first thing anyone says about this band is that they're all women proves we haven't quite progressed enough yet.
You’d think the intricate guitar arrangements might be worth a mention or the aggression they perform with. The constantly changing rhythms and dynamic melodies are pretty incredible too. The instantaneous songs or clever lyrical turns of phrase maybe. These things are always commented on later, apparently, none of them are quite as impactful at first as their gender though.
Obviously, the colour of teddy bear you were arbitrarily assigned at birth is a keener component of songwriting than I previously realised…
I’ve been lucky enough to be close to a lot of women who are incredibly talented musicians, and they’ve been kind enough to let me, often encourage me, to photograph them. And though the intention is always to purely document the artist and the sincerity of their performance, I have noticed I shoot women and men very differently.
Though that intention is totally the same, I do find it difficult not to be aware that my instincts are totally different when I photograph women. I begin to put a lot more focus on eyes and hair. I focus on finding shadows to help define their shape in contrast to their surroundings, in an effort to hold your attention for longer.
With men, my focus is often shoulders, arms and backs. I aim for big, bold movements that fill the frame. A wealth of details that are in your face, devoid of subtlety and full of drama. A sledgehammer approach to immediacy.
It’s an intriguing realisation. I’m keen to explore it more and see if I can turn that dynamic in my shooting on its head. This is the wonderful thing about exploring your own creativity by documenting that of others: you’re constantly confronted with moments that make you contemplate your own process.
An important reminder that as soon as you feel you've nothing left to learn you've peaked. Lucky for me, I'm an idiot. Who knows how far I'll go with that kind of natural disposition?