In the third edition of this series, we invited our photo editor, Marv Watson, to share his favorite five images, shot on assignment for us. Scroll through and enjoy Marv’s top photographs.
I’d never had the opportunity to shoot Metallica before, so when the opportunity came to shoot the amazing lineup at the initial Big Four Festival, I knew I had to make the most of it; I packed as many lenses on me as I could, so I could get as many different options as possible. Luckily, Metallica don’t really do two-minute songs, so the “first three” rule gives the photographers some time to get creative.
I just love the intensity in everything Lars is doing in this photo. This was towards the end of the time we had in the photo pit, and you can see how sweaty he is already, and they probably played for another 90 minutes after we left. It was a hard choice to pick a favourite from this set, but there was always bound to be one of them in my favourite photos.
I love small venues, where you get to get up-close-and-personal with the bands. I think this was my first time shooting at Club Nokia, which was a venue completely lacking in charisma, but Coheed & Cambria certainly provide aesthetics. I actually missed the first half of the gig due to a mix-up on the press list, but the second half, the electric set if you will, was the one I’d have chosen, and that’s what I got to shoot.
I knocked off my standard shots and started to play with compositions and ended up shooting this detail shot of Claudio Sanchez’ guitar. While his hair is the ‘obvious’ thing to shoot, I wanted to just get a small amount in the frame, so that anyone looking would know who this is. I enjoyed the energy in this photo, even though he’s not even touching the strings, and felt a monochrome conversion really draws the eyes in.
After this band split up, I assumed I’d never get the chance to see or shoot them, so I threw my hat in the ring really early to cover this. Shooting at The Wiltern is kind of hit-or-miss, as you have to shoot from an access ramp about 20 feet away from the stage. The good thing is you avoid the up-the-nose photos of the performers, while the bad thing is that any intimacy of a live-photo is naturally removed from the equation.
I saw Geoff Rickley swinging his mic around his head, and blasted off as many shots as I can. When the mic was at full extension to the side, it managed to ‘freeze’ sufficiently (I’m usually at a fairly slow shutter speed during concerts) that it was plain to see what it was. If I’d been lower down, in a traditional photo pit, the mic would probably have been lost in the background, but here it just pops, and really makes the photo, showing the band’s energy. Something different than the usual “guy singing into a mic” safe shot that we always need to get.
I always have two cameras, where possible, so I can have access to long and wide lenses and be able to swap quickly. Definitely paid off not to be shooting too wide or too long on this one.
Shooting Crystal Castles gave me as a photographer an insight into ‘staged spontaneity.’ I’d shot the band a couple times before, so I was expecting to be instructed to stand on stage, literally alongside the band, which is a vantage point the standard media/photographer pass never grants you.
Standing there, it makes it hard to see the singer, but I knew that during the third song, Alice Glass was going to go lean on the balcony and lean into the crowd, so I was prepared with a long lens. I’d already seen this, it was choreographed, yet to the audience seems totally spontaneous. I love this photo for so many reasons; not many singers are apt to go crowd surfing, so this is a great moment to capture. I love the fact Alice’s eyes are closed; she’s totally in the moment.
Lastly, I felt black-and-white worked best here, as Alice is dressed in black and had very light hair, and with the light setup, all the hands reaching out to her are blown out and pure white. It just feels a very surreal experience for the artist and the audience.
I’ve seen these guys play a good number of times, from humble beginnings playing in front of a (capacity) audience of about 300 people in my home-town, to performing on the main stage at Coachella. It’s been amazing to see them grow. While they’ve never really cracked America in the way that they are huge in the UK, they draw a crowd and never phone it in. With Biffy Clyro, you know you’re getting 100%, every time.
For this shot, I certainly wasn’t expecting it, but at the El Rey there is no official photo pit, so you have to get there early, find a decent spot, and simply not move. It’s only once you have the safe shots you can roam around (they don’t enforce the three song rule, which is a bonus). I had brought my longest lens for this show, knowing I could be stuck in a shitty spot, so when I saw Simon jamming and trip over the drummer’s stand, it was serendipitous that I was using this lens and able to get up close and personal.
You can see Simon’s eyes are closed, he’s totally lost in the moment. He tripped over and didn’t miss a chord; just kept jamming away (unlike when I saw Bernard Sumner trip over a rug once, followed by a hissy fit and snide remarks up to 10 minutes later). That’s a performer dedicated to his art. I know it’s a butt-shot, and I hope if he ever sees this he doesn’t mind!