They are a growing breed of professionals. Armed with their DSLRs and humongous lenses, the music photographer’s growth and significance has been directly proportional to the proliferation of gigs and music festivals that India has seen lately. And if there was a great time to be a gig shutterbug on the scene, it is now. The genre of concert photography is picking up like never before, and now we have professionals who derive their identity not just by the way of what they shoot but how they do it. In this feature, we profile some of the leading names in music photography in the indie music circuit.
‘I use the non-interference form of photography’
Active since: 2009
How it happened: I like the crowd, the lights, the music and the vibe. I also like the candidness and the liveliness of the crowds.
Her approach to photography: I use the non-interference form of photography. I don't tease the subject until required, so as to maintain the natural aura of the photograph.
On shooting bands: Each experience is as crazy as the other. But a lot of times, when my favourite bands, such as Shaa'ir + Func and The Lightyears Explode, perform, I keep my camera aside and start dancing.
‘I like to focus on a single performer individually’
Active since: 2011
How it happened: I love attending music concerts, and I love photography. It was natural to mix the two.
His approach to photography: I like to capture portraits of musicians while they are performing. I like to focus on every single performer individually, as it gives each one of them equal prominence. The lighting is usually tricky, especially when bands play in pubs, so to capture them in the best possible light is challenging.
On shooting bands: At a metal gig in the city, I was trying to get one last perfect shot of Sunneith Revankar (ex-Providence and Bhayanak Maut). The venue was small, filled with college-going metalheads moshing all over the place. With the focus in place and my finger ready to click, I felt someone's elbow landing on my back and the next thing I knew, I was flying at Sunneith, on to the stage. I blacked out for a few seconds. Both my camera and my back suffered some irreparable damage, which forced me out of action for a little over three months.
‘The best photos transcend simple documentation’
Active since: 2001
How it happened: In the early 2000s, I worked as the guitar technician for Warren Mendonsa (of Blackstratblues), who was then the guitarist of a great local band called Zero. My dad bought himself a DSLR around the same time, which I quickly picked up and started carrying to gigs.
His approach to photography: I prefer to shoot live music in a more editorial style as opposed to fine art. However, in my opinion, the best photographs are the ones that transcend simple documentation and provide a glimpse into the actual experience of watching the artiste at the venue during the performance.
On shooting bands: In 2009, Independence Rock was held at the Chitrakoot Grounds. After two days of a near-continuous downpour, the venue was reduced to a giant field of sludge. In spite of this, over a thousand people showed up. Shooting the bands and the crowds that night when the rain came down was particularly memorable.
‘I love shooting from the audience’
Active since: 2010
How it happened: For the longest time, I only photographed music that I loved. I later moved to photographing all kinds and noticed how different stages look depending on what's being performed.
His approach to photography: I never really prepare myself for a show. I shoot what is in front and, usually, never go out of my way to get a particular shot. Knowing the artistes' music helps a lot, though.
On shooting bands: It is always fun, especially when you're a fan of the band. I hate it when photographers get on stage and come in between other people's shots or, in general, disturb the audience's experience. I love shooting from the crowd. It adds a lot of mood.