Anthony Shaw is a professional photographer and videographer who’s been the man behind the lense at some of the most exciting live alternative music gigs and festivals. In an industry that’s saturated with amateur snappers, Anthony’s work is quickly becoming recognised as the trading standard in intimate and professional gig photography.
Recently, he’s been pointing the lens away from the stage. We caught up with him to find out why, and hear about what it takes to make it in his industry, stageside.
What best describes what you do, as technically as possible
I am a Videographer & Photographer, specilasing in music, events and portrait photography. I predominately photograph rock, punk and metal shows. These shows appeal to me due to the intense engergy of the bands and crowds. My work captures the emotion and atmosphere of the moment. I have worked as a Photographer/Videographer at multiple festivals including NASS Festival, Reading Festival and Glastonbury.
In my portrait photography, I work with a varitey of models including fitness models where my style is to bring out the subject’s body tone and defintion, showcasing their physic. I also shoot street portrait photography, where I carefully match the subject to the environment with the use of colours, wardrobe and makeup. Combining this with the use of vibrant colours results in an intense atmopsheric shot.
How long have you been working on your craft?
From an early age I have always been interested in photography. I started out photographing bands a local venue when I was in college. Since then I studied videography at university developing new skills and meeting like-minded creatives. Buliding on this I have enjoyed working with multiple bands and publications.
If you could give a lecture to a top university class, what would it be on?
I would like to share my knowledge and experience and encourage up and coming photographers to stay true to themselves, to keep on experimenting, not to feel pressured to shoot in a certain way due to trends. I think that with the use of social media creatives can feel the strain of comparing their work to others and at times put themselves down, but it’s important to always remember, everyone has their own style and art is subjective. Never stop creating.
How did you start out securing shows on the music touring circuit?
As an avid gig goer myself, it all stemmed from going to see bands and getting to know people within the local scene. Talking with bands, promoters and sending my work to music publications.
How does your life experience find its way into your work?
Music has always been a big part of my life. I’ve been going to gigs from a young age. Since working in the industry I have made connections and friendships with band members and I’m always keen to promote their work and hear new music. Having moved around a fair bit, one of the first things I do in a new city is check out the local music scene. This way I have made new connections and heard new music. With my portrait work whenever I go to a new city I am always looking for interesting and unqiue spots as locations.
What’s started to change in your industry?
Social media has has become far more dominant, with bands being able to stream their live shows and give fans a constant feed of their work/tour life. This means that within a tour crew, there has been an increase in bands looking for Videographers and Photographers to capture all aspets of tour life.
How do you prepare for each shoot?
Before shooting a band, if it’s not a band I am familiar with, I check them out, looking at their stlyle and past live shows. In particular, any noteable moments that I think would be great to capture. Researching the venue beforehand is also vital, lighting is a big aspect when shooting. Knowing this in advance helps with choosing what gear to bring. Another aspect is knowing where you can shoot in the venue, for arena shows more often than not, you are limited to the photo pit or the front of house. Knowing this information also helps with your kit list. Most importantly, triple check your camera bag before each shoot, the last thing you want is to get to a venue and realise you don’t have enough memory cards or have not packed the specific lens you need.
How important is strong live photography to a band’s marketing success?
Now more then ever with social media, fans want instant photos and information. It really puts the fans in the front seat, getting to relive that gig or moment. With so many bands promoting themselves on social media, having strong live photography can increase the band’s production value and set them apart from the rest.
How important is self-representation in your line of work?
Massively important. You never know whose going to be looking at your work. Your online presence and portfolio is your business card. It is vital when making new connections and attracting new clients.
How can venues make your job easier?
Communication – For the most part, in my experience the venues have done a great job for me and other photographers to fulfill our job. However there have been some cases where there is a break in communication where photo passes have been issued last minute, the consquences of this have been missing a band’s set.
What’s it like working in an industry you love?
I enjoy working in the vibrant atomsphere of live music. Being able to meet with other creatives who inspire me to push myself and try new techniques. As bands tour its great to be able to catch up with band members who have become good friends.
Your photography is looking excellent as usual, what makes a great shot?
Live music photography is all about capturing the atmosphere and energy of the moment. Some of my favourite shots have actually been in between songs or just after a song ends. Where the artist is so immersed in the moment and they’re just feeding off the crowd, for that brief moment, they just get to take it all in.
You get to go back in time and shoot one band again. Which one?
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. Frank Carter has always been a performer, he loves playing to the crowd. The band is known for their chaotic shows. You never know quite whats going to happen. This keeps me on my toes and I know at some point there is going to be that killer shot.
Get in touch with Anthony