Kevin Barrett is one of the newer recruits to the Getintothis team of photographers and Peter Goodbody had a chat about how he got into gig shooting.
It’s been an interesting year for Kevin Barrett from shooting his first gig proper in September, followed by a chart topping The National gig in Manchester, he’s quickly become a valued member of the Getintothis team of shooters.
We had a chat with him to find out what makes him tick and how he got into gig photography.
Getintothis: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into photography.
‘I started when I bought my first DSLR in 2013. I’m lucky enough to do a quite a bit of travelling in my day job so wanted to capture as many places as possible when away from home. My style of photography has varied quite a bit over the years but the main topics that interest me have remained constant being cityscapes, architecture, street photography and music‘
Getintothis: What was the first gig you shot?
‘Up until last year I’ve only ever dipped my toe into shooting music at local festivals from the crowd, such as LIMF at Sefton Park, but wouldn’t really count them as a gig shoot and I didn’t take it much further than that until last September when I went to see Sinkane in Liverpool Central Library. I was let down last minute by a mate but didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see them at such an intimate venue so I went along with camera in hand, rattled off a few shots, and was pretty much hooked from that point.
The next gig I shot, and my first photo-pass pit gig, was at the sold-out Manchester Apollo to shoot The National in the same week that they hit number 1 in the album charts with ‘Sleep Well Beast’ so no pressure!’
Getintothis: So what’s in your camera bag when you’re shooting?
‘I probably carry a bit too much when I’m shooting gigs but I’m still getting to learn the ropes of some venues so will likely scale down over time. Currently I shoot with a Nikon D7500 and carry 4 lenses with me, 3 primes; 35mm 1.8, 50mm 1.8, & 85mm 1.8 as well as a Tokina 11-16mm 2.8 wide lens.
‘Anyone watching me would think I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing with changing the lens up to 4 times during the first 3 songs, but as much as you’re restricted with the single focal length I love the results you get with the primes with them being so fast. Also, a handful of spare fully charged batteries is essential, no explanation needed on this one really!’
Getintothis: Which is your favourite shot?
‘Probably split between two; the crowd shot of Everything Everything at the end of their set to close out Liverpool Music Week is one I pleased with, the atmosphere in there at that time was electric, I was buzzing and I caught the band’s sign off as well as the audience reaction to an outstanding performance.
‘Then the other one is the shot of Mick Head for his sold-out gig at IWF. I love the beam of light casting a half shadow on Mick’s face on this one, I think it really brings out the raw emotion of the performance, the whole night and gig will be talked about for years.’
Getintothis: Any terrible or fun shoots you’d like to share?
‘Princess Nokia at Liverpool Music Week was one of the more interesting gigs I’ve done. She was brilliant to photograph, great look, energy, and stage presence, but completely nuts that night. I’ve never seen an artist split the opinion of the crowd so much in such a short space of time with her audience intro. It was then a steady flow of jaw dropping scenes pretty much all the way through the set’
Getintothis: So what’s your favourite bit of kit?
‘Definitely my Nikon 85mm 1.8G prime lens, it’s a bit limited for focal length in some of the smaller venues but handles superbly where the light is almost non-existent. When I want some close-up head shots this is my go-to lens’
Getintothis: Any particularly difficult musicians?
‘Thankfully I haven’t experienced any difficult musicians as of yet, but in true gig photography cliché I would say any band that plays in darkness is very frustrating. Arcane Roots played the first two songs of the recent Arts Club set in complete darkness, no light whatsoever. When you only have the first 3 songs to get your shots away this leaves for a frantic couple of minutes to grab what you can!’
Getintothis: Who are your favourite Liverpool bands to shoot?
‘I’ve shot She Drew the Gun a couple of times and loved the results in every pic, they always look great. Pink Kink were also a lot of fun to shoot when they played Liverpool Music Week. I’m going to cheat on this answer now; probably the band I’ve had the best results from are not technically a Liverpool band but signed to Liverpool label Deltasonic – White Room, can I squeeze that one in?!
‘They are definitely a band to keep an eye on this year, huge talent. Musically The Vryll Society are my favourite Liverpool band at the minute, hoping to catch them play a few times this year, really think they’ve got a massive future’
Getintothis: Where’s your favourite place to shoot?
‘Invisible Wind Factory is a great place for photography. The venue’s existing features and décor can really add to the feel of the shot, I love the old fan above the back of the stage, plus the lighting in there has always been excellent. The other benefit of the IWF is the different vantage points available to shoot from so no matter who’s playing you can always get some good variety in your pics.’
Getintothis: What one tip would you give anyone starting out?
‘Learn to use manual settings and get to know your camera, nothing worse than watching that perfect shot through the viewfinder only to look down at the screen and see the end product is completely over/under exposed, or the auto focus has zoomed in on the stage lighting rig and not the artist. Be respectful to other photographers in the pit, a bit of courtesy goes a long way when your all jostling for the best shot’
Getintothis: What’s the worst advice you’ve been given?
‘I Can honestly say I haven’t had any bad advice yet. Although the one thing that does irritate is when you post your photography online and someone responds with a comment along the lines of; “that would look much better in black and white”, or “I’d have changed that by…”. There’s a fine line between given a constructive opinion and just picking faults’
Getintothis: Any favourite photographers?
‘Yeah, too many to mention them all but I try to take inspiration from all genres as and styles. For music photography people like Todd Owyoung, Matthias Hombauer, and Trust A Fox have some amazing work. I’m also big admirer of photojournalistic and street photography – the likes of Steve McCurry, Martin Parr, Dougie Wallace, David Hurn & Tish Murtha. David Yarrow’s travel & wildlife work is excellent.’
Getintothis: What would be your ideal gig to shoot?
‘Got to be Foals in any smallish venue. They’re probably the band I listen to most, I’m still kicking myself that I missed them play the Liverpool Olympia in 2015. I would have loved to capture Yannis jumping from the balcony in there.
‘Benjamin Clementine is another. I went to see him play in Manchester recently and was so annoyed with myself for not trying to get a photo pass for it. His visuals and stage props set the scene for what was an intriguing but incredible performance. I managed to grab a few pics on phone but it’s just not the same!’
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