Celebrate the art of gig and live photography, Shout About It – a music festival crossed with a photo exhibition which aims to shed some light on the practitioners who normally toil away in the shadows, but are an essential part of the live music experience. Festival founder – and regular Bido Lito! contributor – Georgia Flynn tells us why it’s an art that needs to be celebrated.
I’ve been a photographer for around eight years now. While I can safely say that’s a super short time to be in the industry and I’ve still got a long way ahead of me, I’ve found that gig photography has always been my biggest challenge. I started my gig photography career photographing Loyle Carner for Bido Lito! in 2016. Since then, I’ve photographed over 190 gigs alongside weddings, events, promotions and sports, and I’ve still found gigs to be the most exciting and thrilling challenge of them all. What could be more of a challenge than trying to take an incredible picture in the darkness?
In my short time of being a gig photographer, I’ve learnt a lot. The main thing I’ve learnt is that there is never a lot of love shown to the work gig photographers put in. Yes, we’re all super lucky that for a short time we get to stand in the pit for some of our favourite bands and that is never forgotten. But I think people forget that many photographers have travelled for miles, paid a fortune in petrol and parking and constantly work hours way past their usual 9-5 to stand there for 15 minutes getting shots that people may never even see.
SHOUT ABOUT IT focuses on gig and live photography because I feel it’s the forgotten art. Music is a huge part of everyone’s life and if someone can capture that moment for a large group of people, that should be remembered. The festival brings together the work of gig photographers from not just the UK but Germany, Austria and Australia. Live music plays a huge part in many people’s lives for various reasons and Shout About It Live – our first ever festival – aims to showcase that alongside some live music from upcoming bands that will thrive on gig photographers for their future promotion.
There is a massive sense of risk and reward with live photography. You feel such a huge sense of reward when you get that shot you’ve come out for. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve photographed over 190 gigs and I’ve only ever been paid for one. I think people have no sense of how much work goes into photographing a gig. Not just the photographing and editing but the travel costs, late nights away from family and time just to do something we love for people we respect. There’s also a lot of pressure to make sure you get the shot you’re expected to get and to send that over before the deadline.
The great thing about live photography is the thrill of the event. If the band are clearly very happy to be playing and particularly happy to see a photographer in the audience, this makes a huge difference. Unfortunately, there are a fair few gigs where people just see you as a massive nuisance to the whole event.
I guess the biggest reward of photographing hundreds of gigs is that lucky moment when you get the gig you feel you’ve waited for your whole life. Just the other week, I got a last-minute confirmation to photograph Coldplay in Cardiff. It took me six hours in torrential rain to drive there and four hours to drive back. Standing in that pit with just 20 minutes with three ‘big wig’ photographers, who had clearly been in the industry for years, I’ve never felt so out of place with my tiny camera, but so ready for the challenge at the same time. Luckily, it all paid off and I got shots I will be proud of for the rest of my life.
No matter the size of a venue, the energy in the room always makes a huge difference. As I mentioned, a lot of the time I can be tired from a full day of work and questioning whether I have the energy to get out and take photographs that night. The second you walk into a venue and people are buzzing, it changes everything.
I love going to gigs, it’s one of my favourite things to do. If I’ve decided to attend a gig as an audience member and not photograph it, there is a lot of excitement that builds up in the day and I really feel that buzz for the gig. If I’m photographing a gig, I have often found out very last-minute and things are so rushed I don’t feel that sense of build up to the gig.
Sometimes, there are moments where you manage to get some incredible crowd shots which you wouldn’t expect. This is something a lot of magazines and blogs ask for, but are often difficult as people shy away as soon as your camera points at them. I love those moments: I catch myself smiling at a concert and photographing an audience that are having the time of their lives.
I love it when someone I photograph shares or even likes a photograph that I’ve gone through a huge amount of effort to capture. Shout About It is all about bringing live music and gig photographers together, to make sure that those photographs that gig photographers work so hard for are never lost. I hope that this festival helps people to appreciate the work that photographers have put in, and to show them the importance gig photographers hold within the music industry. Personally, I don’t think people would fully value gig photography unless there were no photographs of live music. As the old saying goes, you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.
Technology has played a huge part in the work of gig photographers. I have grown up in the new age of rapid technological advancement, and I understand the importance of giving your work a place to exist. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have provided a massive space for photographers to share their work with fans, friends and family.
When I first came up with the idea for the festival, I had absolutely no idea who would step forward to take part. Frankly, I didn’t know if anyone would want to be involved. I had been running this little community of gig photographers for a while and just wanted to make something magical happen. I had no idea of what themes, angles or kinds of work would come to the festival.
But something magical did happen: a small handful of gig photographers came forward and said that they believed in the idea. I have opened up the exhibition space to be as free as possible to exhibitors and I can’t wait to see the ideas they come up with. I believe that giving people the freedom to exhibit however they wish will bring a wider variety of styles to the table. We all have photographs we are proud of for many different reasons. This exhibition isn’t about showing off or name dropping, it’s about coming together to celebrate all of this work we put in.
Ultimately, the endgame of this project is to give gig photographers a friendly, enthusiastic place to share their work; a place where bands, musicians and artists can come to get themselves out there and support them in any creative need. Shout About It loves and supports live music and the people that make that happen.
Shout About It Live takes place at District on 19th and 20th August, with an exhibition of work from 15 photographers, including Jed Stuart Welland, Deb Kloeden and Tomas Adam. There will also be live performances from Black Pulp, Eleanor Nelly, The Buffalo Riot, Astles and lots more.
Georgia Flynn will be taking over the Bido Lito! Instagram and sharing her favourite gig photographs this month. Check it out here.