Talking ’bout my inspiration
It will come as absolutely no surprise that I draw most of my inspiration from the music world. I’ve been an active concert goer since Reading Festival 1992, when a music journo pushed Kurt Cobain onto the stage in a wheelchair. That was the year Danita Sparks from L7 pulled out her tampon and threw it into the crowd, as a protest from all the beer bottles thrown at her. I also saw the Beastie Boys for the first time, and I’ve never been the same since.
Some notable gigs the following years were: Sonic Youth, Nine Inch Nails, RHCP, Rollins, Pulp, Paul Weller (inside Battersea Power Station), Blur, Teenage Fanclub, The Foos, Daft Punk, The Prodigy, Hole, The Manics, DJ Shadow.. And all before 1999.
I saw the Chemical Brothers nine times that year. The last performance was at Fabric, New Years Eve 1999. Poor guys must’ve thought they had a stalker.
I’m also so lucky to have been at Fatboy Slim’s Big Beach Boutique, on Brighton Beach 2002. I’m in the video, blink and you’ll miss it. He finished his set with Pure Shores by All Saints and it was beautiful af.
Speaking of videos – this screenshot is from an Alice in Chains concert filmed at at Brixton Academy, 1993. I was 18. This was back when you’d be actively encouraged to stage dive. The security helped me on stage. I had a little run around behind Jerry Cantrell, then jumped into the crowd. Those are my skinny little legs you can see, clad in army boots two sizes too big.
And, in the summer of 1994, I was in a Riot grrrl band called Beaver. None of us could play our instruments. Now I’m back in London permanently I’ll be getting the band back together. I still can’t sing, but for my next project it’s all about stage presence instead. If you know any lady musicians, especially over 40s – send them my way.
As you can see, I’m so fortunate to have witnessed some amazing concerts. Grandmaster Flash took us through the decades one night at the Camden Jazz Cafe. The Killers did a matinee as Hot Fuss came out. I was privileged to see Soundgarden, The Pixies, Morrissey, Kendrick, Arctic Monkeys and Green Day when I lived in San Francisco. I even made it to Coachella in 2019, which just cemented my love for The 1975.
However, the biggest highlight for me recently was getting to see the great Johnny Rotten. Legend. He is a prime example of being unapologetically himself. And boy, can that man WAIL.
It’s a different experience attending a concert for fun and not for work. Photographing a concert, you have to abide by the ‘three photos no flash and leave’ policy. And with good reason. So, although I am a music photographer as well, I find being at one with the crowd a more spiritual experience.
In my humble opinion, Spike Jonze is an absolute genius. He started his career photographing skateboarders, and shooting skate films. His filmmaking style made him an in-demand director of music videos for much of the 1990s, resulting in collaborations with R.E.M., Sonic Youth, Beastie Boys, Ween, Fatboy Slim, Daft Punk, Weezer, Björk, Arcade Fire and Kanye West.
I like photographing skateboarding too, although snowboarders were my main focus in the 90s.
I took this after a Beastie Boys concert in 1999. That’s my brother and his friends, we were acting out the Sabotage music video. That’s also my car. A Ford Cortina. Best car I’ve ever had.
I’m not a particular fan of movies, but I’m obsessed with music videos. Especially from the 90s. My best friend had Sky TV and would tape three hours of MTV for me at a time, to devour later when my parents were out.
A music video is a mini movie, with music. What is not to love?! When you relate that to photography, and weddings, I try to capture each frame as if it were a frame from a music video. I have no truck with many modern ones though – I don’t think a woman humping the floor has the same panache as Christopher Walken tap dancing, for example.
If live music is the dancefloor candids, and music videos are the wedding ‘moments’, then album covers are the portraits.
I love The 1975. I also love how their live set pieces are influenced by Talking Heads and David Lynch. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend watching Rabbits by David Lynch.
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here. Photographed by Aubrey “Po” Powell. They have been a massive source of inspiration from a young age. I’m lucky to have seen them reunite onstage at Live8, but Syd Barrett was my favourite.
Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around. Photographed by Martyn Atkins.
The Strokes – Is This It? Photographed by Colin Lane.
Blink-182 – Enema of the State. Photographed by David Goldman. This cover started my journey into slide film and direct flash.
And finally.. My entire website is based around this album. I had this, The Clash, and Iggy on repeat for four days while I designed and built my site.
Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols.
The last month before I left Los Angeles I was invited to shoot a pre-Grammy show for an incredibly talented musician – Mercy Collazo. As we walked onto the set in Hollywood, I felt at home. I belong in the music world. It’s such a massive part of my life. Mercy completely aced her set, and people took photos of my boots. They are very cool, to be fair.
The day after, I was invited to shoot BTS at a music video for an up and coming rapper – CJ. We had such a fun time, and he’s since used a couple of my images for promotion. I’m also thrilled to have introduced him to Mercy, and I have no doubt they’re going to create absolute fire together. Check out the vid HERE, filmed by the incredible Spicy Rico with Reel Goats. Now that’s what I’m talking about! They create banging music videos.
Which brings us to today. I’m home in London, and planning on expanding the Hampire! My couples can expect the usual analogue anarchy, with a little extra rock and roll thrown in. Now I’m back in my beloved hometown, as well as weddings, I’ve got some absolute belters of live gigs to photograph. Watch this space!
You can see my music and non-wedding work HERE.
Such a great opportunity to see how and why you do what you do, and what INFLUENCES you to create such stunning art!
This is amazing! Love to read about your inspiration and creative process.
This is such a wonderful insight into why you do what you do and how your style has been influenced over the years. Thanks for sharing!
Creatives pull their inspiration from so many places, loved that you shared insight and stories behind your inspiration as a photographer!
It’s great seeing where your inspiration comes from! I’m sure all of that plays a role in how you capture your images which makes you stand out from others.