Music Photography


First Three, No Flash: The Specialist World of Music Photography

Kieran Frost in the photo pit as The Script play Croke Park

I talk to specialist snapper Kieran Frost about the niche world of music photography

At almost every sizeable gig you’re ever likely to attend, they’ll be a small exodus of camera-clutchers from the very front just three songs after things get going. Popular musicians, you see, typically believe they look their best at the start of a show, and they want to show their good side. Photographers are there, by design, for the sweat free, visually perfect early moments.

Some artists are so tight on their imagery, in fact, they specify the side of the stage photos are to be taken from, or manipulate the lighting early in a show to ensure photographers get a specific type of image.

And then, usually three songs in, photographers are often escorted from the front barrier and out of the premises. They hold a camera full of photos, but are forbidden from watching the remains of the show to prevent sneaky [less perfect] shots from being grabbed by the professional from the back. Quite the irony, in today’s camera-phone heavy concerts.

Kieran Frost, a freelance music photographer who works with photo agencies like Getty, and features regularly in the likes of the Irish Times, Q Magazine and on musicians billboards, gave us an insight into the world he occupies night after night.

“Normally there would be e-mails between me, my editor and the publicist a few days before a show to arrange access,” he begins, explaining the set up. “The day of the show, I’d listen to some of the act’s music, and possibly research what other photographers have gotten from previous dates on the tour, to give some idea of what lighting profile the band are using, and what kind of restrictions photographers may face.”

“In the evening, I turn up, get my access pass, and head into the venue. If it’s a larger venue, I say hello to security and I sort out my gear. If it’s a smaller venue, I have to hope the front row are going to let me squeeze past them for a song.”

“The usual rule is we get the first three songs, then we have to pack our gear, and get out of the way. I’d usually stick around for a bit of the gig, if I’m allowed, then head home, edit 20 to 30 images, and caption and file them that night.”

GoldenPlec Magazine Issue 3

GoldenPlec Magazine 3GoldenPlec Magazine issue 3 is now with us! You can find spots around Ireland to grab a copy here (we’ll be adding a London location shortly), and if you’re outside of our immediate area, we have a few copies left on eBay, here.

While we’re proud of everything we’ve put out so far, I think it’s fair to say issue three feels like something of a coming of age. It defines everything I hoped this magazine would turn out to be – we look at the macro story of Irish music (through the development of BIMM, for example, and through an analysis of the value of music photography, and an incredible chat with musician turned filmmaker Myles O’Reilly).

We also take the chance to hype some acts we really care about. Bitch Falcon might seem an unlikely cover choice, given they’ve only released three singles, but that’s kind of the point: we think they’re potential world beaters, and running a magazine like this is a chance to throw a serious hat-tip to someone when you think they warrant it. Bitch Falcon warrant it (go and listen to them, or better still, see them live, where they really excel). Having done the cover interview myself, I can also tell you they have a lot to say about who they are and what’s going on around them. This was an interview that was chopped to probably 10-15% of what we actually talked about, and it was an effort to condense as a lot of it was truly fascinating.

We also chatted to Lisa Hannigan about her move into voice acting in ‘Songs of the Sea’, and Wolf Alice, who are proving one of 2015’s great rising stars. We covered the Marlay Park action for Longitude Festival, as well as the usual selection of Irish album reviews.

There’s a lot of work that goes into this stuff by a lot of people: Stephen Byrne, my co-editor, is one of those people who just gets things done, and done well. If you’re not impressed by David Dooley’s design, well, I don’t know what to say, because I think it’s fantastic (he’s available for freelance work, head over here). Ros Madigan and Sean Smyth were both their usual powerhouse selves.

But you can’t judge a magazine by its online blurb, so you’ll have to pound the pavements (or eBay) and tell us what we did right/ wrong this time round.

I’ll throw up an online link when all the physical copies are gone (and they’re flying, so grab one quick!). For now, it’s paper only, folks!