Why I became – was – am a music photographer.

It takes a strange breed of people to start doing it. Why do I?  

Some people write, others play music or have other ways of “therapy” for me it is this. 

I have always chosen passion over money and I always needed that little bit of extra in life. I always need to do something that makes my heart beat a little faster. For a long time those extra beats were created by diving and travelling the world. After living in Jungles, deserts and on boats for about 10 years, I moved back to Belgium.  Not much time was waisted before I started a completely different adventure: I became a fulltime mum! Although I love my daughter more than is humanly possible, after staying at home for two years with a baby for only social contact because the husband is always traveling for work. Let’s just say I came close to losing the plot. I needed to breath, I needed something of my own, I needed to feel appreciated for more than being able to chance the perfect diaper. Even though motherhood is the best job in the world, I needed to know that I was capable of more and I also needed an outlet. I couldn’t bear to leave my daughter yet while she was awake and going out drinking without a reason except to let steam of gave me guilt and no pleasure. Somehow music photography stumbled on my path. And it turned out to be perfect and just what I needed!

When I got into photography I used to browse sites of music photography and be in complete awe. I didn’t dare to think or dream of ever doing this. It seemed to far-fetched and very unrealistic, so I left it to the photographers I admired.

I started off shooting for an online magazine like most of us and as everyone I was limited to the 3 song no flash rule. I hated and loved the fact that we only got to shoot 3 songs.. I hated it because the light is always shit in the beginning (next time you are at a gig watch the lights for the first 3 songs, they are usually bleu or red and try to take a photo with your i phone and you will see what i mean)  plus the action on stage would usually only start later in the set. Still you had to deliver and show a set of photos that look like they could represent the whole show.  At the same time I loved the three songs rule and still do because it sort of gives me an adrenaline rush.. Light or no light you have to deliver while having no control about anything around you. Not the lights, not the singer and not the die-hard fans in front of you if there isn’t a front stage. The other reason I love it is because I get into my own little bubble.. Everything around me fades away and the only thing I feel, see and hear is the rhythm of the music. For three songs there is only me and the artist(s) in front of me, and for three songs I believe their performance is just for me. For three songs I let the beats control my breath and the lights control my blinks, If the artists go’s inside him er herself I follow.  Somehow that way I can sort of anticipate what the lights and the singer will do.  Sometimes it all gets a bit weird and intense but when you focus so hard you can feel the build ups and you are usually in position to press the shutter when you need to.  It all sounds very romantic and most of the time for me it is. Of course it doesn’t work all the time but only shooting artists that I like sure helps. I was always on a high until I got in front of my computer as that is the part I will never enjoy. For three songs I would spend hours choosing and choosing and choosing and editing.

After doing it a bit more I started to get more picky and maybe less motivated.. Yes it was fun but it wasn’t really going anywhere and I sure wasn’t making any money. So I set myself an end date to the whole thing.. ONE YEAR.. One year I would go for it and then return to a normal life. Halfway during that one year things started changing. I needed to do some photo reports for evaluation at photography school. It made sense to me to try to do it about music photography so I decided to use the few contacts I had and send out a few mails. To my surprise those mails where happily received and I could do a backstage reports about ID!OTS and Customs on top the local venue gave me all access to shoot whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. From then on things started growing and changing and I started to change as well. The three songs started to become more of a routine and this whole new world opened up. I got to meet the people behind the music: Musicians, managements, light and tech engineers and roadies. The world backstage was not all the glitz and glamour as most of us normal earthlings would think and I got really motivated to put that on camera. Slowly here and there trust got built up and in the meantime I was getting better and more self-sure about what I was doing (although there is still a lot to learn, I guess there always is) I think it is around that time that it was safe to say it sort of got an addiction. The more I did the more I started getting back and the more I did again. The one year end date was coming soon however and only a few months after that end date we were going to move to Dubai. It all fitted well: finishing the work,  our goodbye party and a year overview exhibition at the venue where I was a in-house photographer. So for the last months I was crazy busy and by the time we came to move to Dubai I said goodbye to Music Photography with lots of tears. I now needed to find a new outlet, new therapy, a new way to keep me sane.

While I was doing just that and got in touch with my traveling self again I started getting some emails and seeing some opportunities myself for the month I would spend in Belgium over the summer. Somehow that month turned into longer and I will now be spending most of summer in Belgium while I’m nicely booked with concerts.. I think it’s clear that its impossible to say goodbye to music photography completely.  If it’s not to feed my addiction to push that shutter then it’s because of all the fantastic people that I get to meet on the way. So I am more than happy to follow therapy a bit longer as planned and I will probably have some therapy sessions here and there for the rest of my life.. Whatever to keep me sane I guess (smile)

Sincerely “the addict”