Photography – In Focus with Sam Ryan

Far from the genre of posed portraiture, photographer Sam Ryan captures the world around her in a series of authentic shots that draw the viewer in to share the moment. Here, she shares some favourite pictures and tells us how her interest and skills in photography have developed over the years…

‘My passion for photography goes back to childhood.  My grandfather took photos at every family get together, day out and on every holiday.  He’d make albums and write funny captions for each photo. I’d always ask my grandparents to drag the albums out of the cupboard so I could sit at their dining table and look through them.

After many years of experimenting with different styles and cameras, I homed in on street and live music photography.  They might seem very different styles or genres, but to me they work to the same principles.

Both, for me, are about the adrenaline rush and being able to react to the scene.  I try to focus on feel and action, shoot with intuition and not overthink. Shots might have a concept based on the available light and environment,  but nothing is posed. Similarly my music shots are not portraiture; if it’s a chaotic metal band with hair and sweat flying everywhere, that’s what I want you to feel when you look at the images.

I rarely shoot in colour.  I want my images to be classic.  With colour images there’s always a prevailing style or tonal trend – which if you’re good at it can be great to get you ‘going viral’, but I’d be concerned the images would age badly  – so I only use colour where I feel it’s essential to the photo.

My home is just outside of Glasgow, Scotland. Glasgow is a great city for all kinds of photography and has a thriving music scene, so it really is the perfect place for inspiring me to keep on photographing.’

Live Music Photography 

I’ve always been passionate about live music and a couple of years ago I got serious about wanting to shoot at gigs.  It’s hard to get started; with no press pass you can’t get a D-SLR camera in to venues. I started shooting gigs with a point-and-shoot camera, posted my photos on Instagram and was able to strike up a relationship with some bands. This led to being able to obtain photo passes to shoot from the photo pit  I’ve focussed here on bands that I love and that have given me my start in this area. It’s been an amazing journey so far; I’m very proud to say I’ve shot most of my favourite bands within just 18 months of starting out.

Bleed From Within

This band gave me my first ever photo pass, an opportunity for which I will always be grateful.  I’ve shot them a few times now, but nothing beats their hometown headline show at Saint Luke’s in Glasgow.  The band members have insane energy and can be an inch from your lens one second and at the opposite end of the stage the next. I’ve chosen some shots to tell the story of this show; the energy, the heat and frenzied crowd reaction.

Zeal & Ardor

I’ve shot this band many times in different types of venues, and believe me, shooting one of your favourite bands is an immense and powerful experience.  Their music has some very dark themes, and is performed with a ton of emotion. I want people to feel this in the images. I’ve chosen my favourite shots from different venues to illustrate the drama and intensity of the band’s performance.

Street Photography 

I’m a candid photographer, which means I don’t interact with the people I photograph.  I’m trying to capture everyday life, so it shouldn’t be contrived. Often when I’m shooting on the street I don’t even stop walking to press the shutter, because I think this will cause the person to move aside or make eye contact, which changes the scene entirely.  Sometimes I’m not sure what I’ve really seen until I look at the photos and then I realise it’s a fleeting expression, a shadow the person has cast, or maybe a little wave of the hand. 

Chasing Shadows

I recently completed a year long project shooting high-contrast images on the street created by light and shadow.  I noticed after returning several times to my favourite locations that there were unique scenes created by the light at certain times of day and people moving through the scene.  I got obsessed and since I was shooting almost every day, I thought it would make a great project. I’m really proud of this work and have curated my best images into a book.

All photos are taken and copyrighted by Sam. You can see more of her work or make contact via her website. Sam is also on Instagram – follow her street photography posts here and her music posts here.

30th August 2019

 

Live – Bodega at Concorde 2

Bodega / Working Men’s Club, Concorde 2 Brighton, 27th August 2019

Tuesday night saw a much anticipated line up arrive at Brighton’s Concorde 2 in the sweltering heat. The support slot was filled by Working Men’s Club, fast gaining a following and live reputation of their own. With a short but sweet set, they brought bags of energy and pulled in a good crowd. Pending headline dates of their own will paint a fuller picture of their potential.

Playing to a now packed room, headliners Bodega’s performance was in no way hampered by the temperature as they leapt around the stage and beyond. Their sound is quintessentially New York art pop and that’s meant in a very complimentary way. Double drums are always welcome, more so when you have two drummers channelling the spirits of Moe Tucker and Animal combined. Bodega’s sound overall is like the lovechild of Talking Heads and Devo attending a frenzied dance party with a welcoming electronic host.

Incorporating favourites Shiny New Model and Jack in Titanic, the music was visually enhanced by the stage show and their hour long set (excluding encore) was warmly received – in more ways than one. Some bands just don’t look like they’re having fun. Bodega look like they’re living their best lives and it’s impossible not to join in; catch them live if you can.

Bodega are playing at Esquires in Bedford tonight (29th August) then head to End of the Road Festival tomorrow (30th August) before commencing their US tour dates – check out all things Bodega here and catch up with Working Men’s Club here.

Words and photos by Siobhan

29th August 2019

Festival – Victorious 2019

Victorious Festival, Southsea Common, 23rd – 25th August 2019

Once again, Victorious Festival managed to entice a huge range of artists to play by the seaside at its late summer bank holiday weekend gathering. The line up is so varied that there really is something for everyone and it manages the family friendly tag with ease. As well as offering showcase spots to local emerging artists, Victorious pulls in some big players, both current and long established acts. Seemingly growing every year and now running across three days, this year’s headliners encompassed the eclectic bunch of Two Door Cinema Club, Rudimental and New Order. Across the myriad of stages and activities, no genre was left unturned and with a weekend filled with blazing sunshine, this looks to have been one of the busiest years ever. Here are our highlights from Saturday.

A long road trip from home, West Lothian indie four piece The Snuts have been much lauded as ones to watch and had some early singalongs going on, clearly a widespread fan base on their hands already. South coast blues pop trio Hooli graced the Seaside stage with a chilled set and plenty of local support; probably the only UK festival stage with passenger ferries running along the river on the other side of the wall.

Another rising young artist, Casey Lowry, brought his own brand of catchy trop pop tracks to the table. A suitably sunshine feel to the songs as he and his band breezed through their set, his initial suspicions that everyone would leave after ten minutes to see All Saints were soon allayed.

And so to a long established festival favourite and Victorious returner, the infectiously happy Tim Burgess. Having played here with The Charlatans two years ago, Tim returned for a solo set backed by his other bandmates The Anytime Minutes (also making waves in their own right as Average Sex). A mix of songs old and new put a smile on everybody’s face, I’ve never seen this man do a set that isn’t feel-good and full of energy – a sound booking for a show of any size.

Arriving onto the Common stage, Damon Gough aka Badly Drawn Boy looked slight bemused by the size of the crowd, asking if he was at the right festival. His performance is always understated but doesn’t take long to remind you exactly why he should be here. Over the years he’s written some beautiful songs and it was great to hear tracks from one of my favourite films and soundtracks About a Boy in amongst the set.

Considering the numbers there and the fairly intense heat, the atmosphere across the site was a happy one with areas for comedy and kids’ activities, a village sized merch and shopping square and a wide choice of reasonably priced food vendors. There was even space to dance by the castle in your wedding dress if you felt the urge…

Drawing one of the biggest crowds I have ever seen at any stage at Victorious (Castle stage is the second largest but must have outnumbered the main stage here), man of the moment Lewis Capaldi received a rapturous welcome from an all ages audience. His 7pm slot must surely have been booked some time ago; there’s no doubt he could have headlined and still had people watching him from as far as the eye could see. Capaldi’s self-disparaging songs of love and heartbreak combined with his imperturbable sense of humour look set to see him continue his rise to the top.

Difficult to follow… until you realise that next up is The Hives, Sweden’s incorrigibly wonderful rock ‘n’ rollers who hit the stage with such force that you knew the party had just moved to a different level. From Come On and Walk Idiot Walk to the inevitable closer Tick Tick Boom, it wasn’t hard at all to see why The Hives are still so popular, 20 years of mayhem and still going strong.

Headlining the Castle stage, Bloc Party provided the perfect way to end the evening, playing their landmark debut album Silent Alarm in full and no doubt creating waves of nostalgia for many of those present in the process. The tracks more than hold up over time, Bloc Party were never your bog standard indie band and the intricacy of the songs is clear to see, She’s Hearing Voices and Banquet personal favourites that it was an absolute pleasure to hear live again. Stunning.

The end of a long day but still these guys on security were having the best night, checking that everyone was ok while throwing synchronised dance moves to the sounds of Rudimental closing up the Common stage in the background – thanks to all involved for another memorable festival, see you next year.

No doubt Victorious 2020 will be even bigger and better – early bird tickets are already available here.

Words and photos by Siobhan

26th August 2019

 

Instore – The Murder Capital at Resident

The Murder Capital, Resident Brighton, 22nd August 2019

Promoting their debut album When I Have Fears, The Murder Capital are playing a run of record shop instores, last night visiting Brighton’s Resident. There has been much talk of their part in the new Dublin punk scene and comparisons therein but it’s wrong to lump them into a category; this record is a stand-alone piece of work and brings the rawest of tunes to the table. The album title is taken from a Keats’ poem that begins ‘When I have fears that I may cease to be before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain’ – the fears and vulnerability we all have of not achieving what might have been. The tracks are dark and compelling, the drumming phenomenal. A modernised hybrid of Joy Division, Killing Joke and a smattering of Theatre of Hate, this is not by any means background music.

The band’s performance is similarly intense, from the turbulent Green and Blue to the pin-drop poignancy of the beautiful On Twisted Ground, they protract a reaction that I’ve seldom seen at this kind of event. The great thing about instores is that you get to see a band up close in a small, intimate setting; they can feel very personal but it’s not like being at a gig. Usually. This time though it is, and being able to create that kind of emotion-filled atmosphere in a shop on a sunny Thursday evening is really something quite special.

Keats’ sonnet ends with the lines ‘Then on the shore of the wide world I stand alone and think till love and fame to nothingness do sink’. Far from sinking from fame, The Murder Capital are stepping ever closer towards its epicentre; it will be interesting to see what comes next, that’s for sure.

You can buy When I Have Fears and check out more from The Murder Capital here and find all the wonders that Resident has to offer here.

Words and photos by Siobhan

23rd August 2019

Photography – Pictures from the Past

Found in amongst a miscellaneous lot at auction, six boxes of black and white photos offer a glimpse into the past of one Mr AC Henwood. The story begins with the purchase of a fairly sophisticated, and expensive for the time, camera – a Petriflex V – bought from The Camera Shop in East Street, Chichester in 1965.

From the details noted, it looks as though Mr Henwood was stationed at the RAF base in Emsworth, Hampshire at the time, close to the Sussex border. The boxes are full of home developed shots; lots of portraits, family group shots and even a couple of weddings. The photos in the header shot sum up beautifully the new found freedom and style of the ‘60s; they’re fascinating to look through.

The two larger print photos below show a different street photography style; the first appears to be Amsterdam, the second with the punk couple is clearly taken much later and quite solitary and out of sync with the other captures. There is no indication of where any of the other pictures were taken.

Just one envelope of negatives and a handful of slides, everything else is photographs. A reference on this envelope to 324 London Road Photography but, given that there’s a London Road in almost every town, that doesn’t really narrow things down at all! 

Whoever the enigmatic AC Henwood is, he patently had a good eye for a picture, some decent photography skills and a plethora of family, friends and maybe even just acquaintances who posed happily for his camera. As well as the envelopes addressed to him, one of the boxes is marked ‘Simon Henwood Pre BA’. Despite all the clues, we’ve drawn a bit of a blank with researching the history of this collection. If anyone has any ideas about who the photographer or subjects are, or has links to the family, let us know and help solve the mystery… (*see edit at end of page)

Words by Siobhan

Auction lot courtesy of Ticking Along Antiques 

19th August 2019

* Edit 11th September 2019 – Delighted to say that the photos are now back with a family member who was unaware that they were still in existence. Huge thanks go to fellow photographer Nigel King for his help and the astute detective work that allowed this to happen. Photographers – print your pictures, put them in albums or boxes and leave at least a clue as to who took them; one day they might just end up back with someone who they will mean the world to.

New Music – Omni, Drusila, Mermaidens

New releases – Omni, Drusila, Mermaidens

Omni – Sincerely Yours

Set for the release of their album Networker with the mighty Sub Pop Records on 1st November, Atlanta’s Omni share new track Sincerely Yours. The album takes the familiarity of the band’s experimental post punk and adds softer harmonies, giving a fresh twist on their older work. To promote Networker, Omni will be bringing their tour to the UK in late November stopping off in Brighton, Bristol, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and London. Take a listen to Sincerely Yours here.

Omni

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Drusila – Single Life

Giving the 80s a run for their synth-pop money, Portsmouth duo Drusila released their new track Single Life on Friday. The song takes a perhaps unexpected melancholic turn but retains the catchy electronic backbeat that has become their trademark; it’s an accomplished sound for a band so new. Drusila have been busy on the live circuit this year and proved to be a stand out act on the urban festival scene. Look out for more from the two piece in due course and listen to Single Life here.

Drusila

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Mermaidens – Millennia 

New Zealand trio Mermaidens bring new track Millennia to the table, full of dreamy vocals and indie pop hooks. The band’s Lily West describes the song as ‘A deadpan dig at the masks we wear. I wanted us to explore the mess of feelings around that twisted meeting of media and identity and how it can create such a warped sense of reality. There’s an implication that we can’t be successful without this system, despite it not being that much good for anybody.’ The album Look Me In The Eye is due for release via Flying Nun Records on 6th September and Mermaidens will be playing live dates in Margate, Oxford, Glasgow, Sheffield and London also in September. You can hear lead track Millennia here.

Mermaidens

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Words by Siobhan

14th August 2019

 

Live – Dry Cleaning at The Prince Albert

Dry Cleaning / Social Haul, The Prince Albert Brighton, 8th August 2019

Having heard little of their music but many recommendations I finally had the opportunity to see Dry Cleaning on the Brighton leg of their tour. With so much hype surrounding a band it’s easy for expectations to fall short – that certainly wasn’t the case here.

I also have to confess to having been fairly ignorant about the support band, Social Haul. So as they took to the stage it was a welcome surprise to see that one third of the band was Leigh Padley,  also one third of the mighty Traams, whose Wikipedia entry ‘a British indie rock band which formed in Chichester’ I’ve always considered to be a line unlikely to be repeated. Social Haul’s 11 song set was packed with energy and short, piercing segments of post punk. The Albert was deservedly already busy and it was more than worth getting there early. I hope to see more of Social Haul and redress my ignorance.

And so to Dry Cleaning and a collection of articulate spoken word tracks with occasional inflections of caustic sarcasm, this is absorbing storytelling rather than pithy poetry. The juxtaposition of the softly spoken lyrics against a background of bouncy riffs is close to hypnotic and the by now packed crowd were suitably impressed. The band seemed genuinely surprised by the scale of the positive reaction but it really was more than warranted; they’ve managed to achieve something that stands out and it’s hard to think that they’ll be playing venues of this size for much longer. Look out for their new EP Sweet Princess due for release next week; currently available to pre-order on limited edition cassette on Bandcamp.

Dry Cleaning are touring across the UK throughout August, be kind to yourself and go along to see them.

For live dates and more information you can find Dry Cleaning here and the elusive Social Haul here

Words and photos by Siobhan

9th August 2019

 

Live – Imarhan at The Wedgewood Rooms

Imarhan / You’re Smiling Now But We’ll All Turn Into Demons, The Wedgewood Rooms Portsmouth, 5th August 2019

Another great booking from The Wedgewood Rooms saw Algerian Tuareg desert rockers paying a visit to Portsmouth on Monday. The band mix meditative desert blues with elements of psych and funk and, with two critically acclaimed albums already under their belt, are surely heading for wider recognition. No doubt the crowd will have been boosted by adding local psych distortion stalwarts YSNBWATID to the bill, a popular inclusion on any local line up. Photo gallery and links to both bands’ pages below…

You’re Smiling Now But We’ll All Turn Into Demons

Imarhan

Check upcoming live dates and hear more from the bands here
Imarhan    You’re Smiling Now But We’ll All Turn Into Demons

Photos by Hannah Mesquitta

8th August 2019