British Journal of Photography - August 2015

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A contemporary spin on music photography

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Volume 162 Issue No 7838


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SAVE 75% ON BJP* *Subscribe at £6 for the next 3 months by Direct Debit; thereafter paying £16.50 every 3 months. Promoted offer is redeemable by UK subscribers only. Price and savings may vary depending on the country, payment method, subscription term and product type; ie, Print, Digital or Pack. Images are for illustrative purposes only. Offer ends 05 August 2015.

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You and My Friends 6 © Ryan McGinley, courtesy Team Gal gallery. See page 48



Dummy Award Kassel winner 2015 | Magnum’s David Kogan on ‘big plans’ and creating a consumer brand | Anton Corbijn | Products



Angelika Wierzbicka | Elanor Marielle | Joseph Ball | Sara Foryame | Michael Vince Kim | Giovanna Petrocchi | Nina Band | Kyle Galvin



Seeking a fresh vision of Africa, Michele Sibiloni immersed himself in the vibrant nightlife of Uganda’s capital city. Lucy Davies investigates


Sanna Charles’s book, God Listens to Slayer, is the result of 10 years spent photographing the metal band’s fans. Rachel Segal Hamilton reports

42-47 Sven Marquardt, the bouncer of Berghain, talks to Michael Grieve about shooting underground Berlin


Lauren Heinz goes behind the scenes at The Wire, XL Recordings and Noisey

60-64 Avid vinyl collector and curator Antoine de Beaupré speaks with Gemma Padley about Rencontres d’Arles’ blockbuster exhibition of LP covers by leading photographers




Amber collective on the northeast’s working classes | Paris Photo LA



Leica M Monochrom Type 246 | Wide-gamut monitors | Lowepro rucksacks – the Protactic 450 and Fastpack BP 250 AW II



An exhibition of the fastevolving contemporary music photography scene goes on show at The Photographers’ Gallery in July. Curator Diane Smyth offers a preview

The Photocaptionist explores the ambling narrative of an image from Daniel Shea’s Blisner, IL, alongside a quotation from Michael Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion

[Right] Leica M Monochrom Type 246 AUGUST 2015

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Volume 162 Issue No 7838 editorial director Simon Bainbridge 020 8123 6873 august issue editor Diane Smyth 020 7193 0886 online and social media editor Tom Seymour projects editor Gemma Padley senior production editor Donatella Montrone creative director Mick Moore ipad designer Nicky Brown contributors Gerry Badger, Laurence Butet-Roch, Kevin Carter, Lucy Davies, Jonathan Eastland, Martin Evening, Michael Grieve, Peter Hamilton, Simon James, David Kilpatrick, Richard Kilpatrick, Stephen McLaren, Colin Pantall, Juan Peces, Steve Pill, Aaron Schuman, Liz Seabrook, Rachel Segal Hamilton, Julian Stallabrass, Jelena Stojković, Shana Ting Lipton, Eliza Williams, Paul Wombell advertising manager Monica Chopra 020 7193 6763 sales executive Cat Gummersall 020 7193 0635 marketing director Marc Ghione cto Tom Royal digital operations manager Ross Harman founder and ceo Marc Hartog 020 7193 2654

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Photography, like literature, has many genres. And as with literature, some of those genres have more stature than others. Where literary fiction has more cachet than detective novels, documentary has higher status than music photography – which is all too often dismissed as generic PR. But just as pulp fiction can throw up geniuses such as Raymond Chandler or James Ellroy, and just as writers such as Truman Capote and Paul Auster can sometimes turn their hand to classic formats, music photography can throw up brilliant work – and that’s why we’ve devoted our August issue to it. We’ve included Sanna Charles’s decade-long project on Slayer fans, and profiled photographer and bouncer at Berghain nightclub Sven Marquardt. I’ve written about We Want More, the exhibition of music photography I’ve curated for The Photographers’ Gallery, which includes work by Ryan McGinley, Jason Evans, Roger Ballen, and Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. We’re featuring interviews with the creative directors of The Wire, XL Recordings and Noisey, and a head-to-head with Antoine de Beaupré, one of the curators behind Les Rencontres d’Arles’ forthcoming exhibition of record covers, which includes work by William Klein, Joel Meyerowitz and William Eggleston. “The full range of photography is represented,” says de Beaupré. “You can really get a sense of the history of photography in the second half of the 20th century.” As de Beaupré’s words suggest, music photography can include all kinds of work by all kinds of photographers, and it includes gems by some very well-respected names. It’s the imagery nearly everyone has in their home, and the photographs they know even if they never open a photobook or go to an art gallery; it’s the format that’s blazing a trail online, effortlessly assimilating first pop videos and now gifs, and reconfiguring them into something that’s interesting. Perhaps, paradoxically, that’s why it’s been overlooked – part of the fabric of our lives, it’s been hiding in plain sight. We think a reappraisal is long overdue and, as the exhibitions at The Photographers’ Gallery and Arles show, we’re not the only ones. And it’s not just the photography that’s got traction – artists such as Christian Marclay, who have an unashamed appetite for popular music, are now accepted in the institutions, while musicians such as Bjork are getting solo shows. To a cynic, these shows might smack of populism, of getting visitors in at the expense of intellectual rigour. I beg to differ. By collapsing the boundaries between high and low culture, and welcoming in commissioned work, these institutions are getting with the programme. To me they’ll soon start to look fusty, or plain snobby, if they don’t. But music photographers and musicians have been doing just fine without the institutions and are pushing the digital boundaries to boot. Maybe the bigger question is what they get out of being involved, and what they gain from magazines like us trailing behind in their wake. Diane Smyth August issue editor philanthropic & media partner

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Phase One XF

A custom-made autofocus system and touchscreen user interface are the standout features of Phase One’s newly introduced medium format camera, the XF [1], which arrives alongside digital backs, lenses and viewfinders designed to make the most of the modular capture system. Built using “aerial-grade mechanics and advanced electronics”, the XF is claimed to deliver faster response times, and with its highly customisable Honeybee autofocus system – using floating point architecture and Hyperfocal Point Focusing among other advances – has been made for greater precision. Likewise, the new OneTouch user interface is designed to be quick and versatile, allowing for advanced custom configurations. It has two touch-sensitive screens, the larger of which gives a 100 percent zoom detail of an image at a single tap; or the camera can be controlled from a tethered computer or mobile device. Among the accessory modules is the IQ3 80-megapixel digital back, offering exposures of up to an hour, while two additional Schneider Kreuznach Leaf Shutter lenses – a 35mm and a 120mm – are both designed to resolve beyond 100 megapixels. In addition to the XF’s full-frame, glass prism viewfinder, a waist-level version is available. An upgraded version of the Danish maker’s Capture One software is also on the market, claiming 30 percent faster shooting


in tethered mode, and direct wifi connectivity with IQ3 backs. An XF with IQ3 80 back is priced €38,990 +VAT.

Leica Q

The Q Typ 116 [2] is the first of a new compact camera system from Leica, sporting a fixed 28mm f/1.7 wide-angle lens, a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor and touch-sensitive rear screen. Unlike many digital compacts badged with the red dot in the past, the Q is “a true Leica”, designed to bring some of the best attributes of its iconic M rangefinder to a simpler-to-operate and more affordable camera format, adding 1080/60p video and built-in wifi. The specs include a 3.7-megapixel electronic viewfinder, 10fps capture at highest resolution, ISO sensitivity up to 50,000, and what’s claimed to be the fastest autofocus in the ‘compact full-frame camera class’.

Sony a7R II

Offering up a whopping 42.4-megapixel resolution, Sony’s new £2600 flagship mirrorless camera, the a7R II [3], uses a specially developed full-frame sensor which includes image stabilisation and on-sensor phase detection delivering quicker autofocus that, with its 399 AF points, is up to 40 percent faster than the original a7R (and still works with other makers’ lenses).

The backside illuminated CMOS chip, which Sony says is the most versatile and advanced full-frame sensor it has ever produced, combines remarkable speed and resolution with high sensitivity (an ISO equivalent up to 102,400). It also captures video at 4K in various formats. Sony is also introducing the Cyber-shot RX10 II, a 20-megapixel compact with 24-200mm equivalent f/2.8 zoom, which can shoot 4K video. This camera and another new compact, the Cybershot DSC-RX100 IV, use a ‘stacked CMOS’ sensor design, which maximises light sensitivity.

Sigma dp0 Quattro

Sigma is adding to its range of fixed-lens compact cameras using its Foveon X3 sensors with the arrival of a wide-angle version, the dp0 [4]. The £899 camera features a 14mm f/4 optic, equivalent to 21mm in 35mm format, made up of four glass elements and two aspheric lenses (including a wide double-sided aspheric lens), designed to reduce the chromatic aberrations and distortions characteristic of such wide angles (in this case, delivering a view of 91 degrees). An optional viewfinder is available, matched to the 21mm focal length. Three further versions of the camera are already available, offering focal-length equivalents of 28, 45 and 75mm.


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Anton Corbijn 1-2-3-4 Great musicians and even better photography are on show in Anton Corbijn’s blockbuster solo exhibition at Fotomuseum Den Haag, writes Diane Smyth There are music photographers and then there is Anton Corbijn – one of the most successful of them all, he’s shot many of the major stars of the past 40 years, and has seemingly effortlessly segued into moving images, too, shooting pop videos for many of those he’s photographed, and directing films such as Control and A Most Wanted Man. His work is now the subject of a huge retrospective in his native The Netherlands, which is divided into two parts and held at two institutions, 1-2-3-4 at the Fotomuseum den Haag and Hollands Deep at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. 1-2-3-4 focuses on his music photography, Hollands Deep on his portraiture in music and beyond: together the shows have attracted press from media such as CNN, The New York Times, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Le Monde, plus 130,000 visitors so far – an all-time record for the Museum of Photography. The Museum has decided to


extend the show to mid-August because of it, with director Benno Tempel commenting that Corbijn’s work “is embraced by people of all ages. These exhibitions are bringing a completely new public into the museum.” Perhaps similarly, CNN has commented that, if the musicians depicted could step down from the walls, 1-2-3-4 would form “a line-up with no equivalent in any music festival we know of ” – a comment that, while flattering, is perhaps not exactly what Corbijn is aiming at. He got into music photography because he loved music as a teenager, he tells BJP, but feels his work “is not rock-photography; it’s photography of musicians”. “The accent being that the value of your work is not determined by who is in the photograph but what you do with the person in the photograph,” he explains. “The attempt is to elevate the work above and beyond the person in the photograph. I like to think that my best work also speaks to people who don’t know who they are looking at.” Even so, he’s also still a fan – he’s been described as the fifth member of U2, or the fourth member of Depeche Mode, for example, and got into making videos “partly through annoyance at how great songs were translated into meaningless films”. 1-2-3-4 is a selection of 400 images from his huge archive and focuses on just 12 subjects, each of whom he worked with over an extended period of time, and whose visual history he played a big

1 Morrissey, Sussex, 1989 2

Nick Cave, London, 1988


The Rolling Stones, Toronto, 1994

All images © Anton Corbijn, 1-2-3-4, Fotomuseum Den Haag 2015

part in creating – U2, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, Nick Cave, Depeche Mode, Metallica, REM, Tom Waits, Johnny Rotten, Siouxsie Sioux, The Slits and Arcade Fire. The exhibition also includes 70 images of “other people I ‘found’ during my extensive research through my archives”, including shots taken on the road. His Hollands Deep exhibit showed his work with other creative types, though, and a project in which he depicted himself as various deceased musicians. “What attracted me to this world [music] in my early years was a sense of a different life being lived,” he says. “I was interested in the mystery of that world. Now there is no mystery any more, and hence my interest has disappeared. I tend to work with musicians I know and love, and beyond that world I am very interested in photographing painters and visual artists.” BJP


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Walker Evans – New York City, about 1933

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The courage to face the demons of her past, and the ability to forgive, feature heavily in a project as much about pain as it is about love Love, pain, happiness, loneliness and joy are fundamental human emotions, and while they run through Elanor Marielle’s overtly personal project, Any Other Name, other issues that are much tougher to face also figure large. Marielle’s twin brothers developed autism as toddlers and she became a carer for them while her father battled heroin addiction and her parents split up. Staying with her dad between the ages of eight and 10, she was sexually abused by one of his acquaintances. “That my dad didn’t do enough to protect me was a burden I carried for many years,” she writes on her website. “My dad is a man who has made many mistakes in regards to being a father. I love him, and I know he loves my brothers and me. He got his life back when he nearly lost everything. That is the mark of a brave man.” Combining images of her family and her boyfriend with archive family photographs and panels of text such as that quoted above, Marielle tells the story of her life so far. “I’d known for a while that I wanted to make a project about my life, but I’d never felt ready to fully commit to it,” says the 22-year-old. “Making the project was instinctive. It was November, and I don’t know why but I just felt I was finally prepared to try. I think I’d been scared that prior to this I wouldn’t have done a very good job at telling the story.” Marielle, who is from Preston, says the family photographs add “a tangible sense of memories”, explaining that “since the project is about my life, I felt that including only images I’d taken this year would do a massive disservice to everything that happened when I was a child. I thought they would help my project work better as a narrative.” Adding text was equally important, she adds, because of how potentially controversial some of her subject matter is. “I thought it would be better to explain it than to leave it open to interpretation. I just wanted to explain what my family and I went through. “I felt so strongly about being totally open about what happened to me that it never felt difficult,” says Marielle, who is finishing a BA in photography at Middlesex University. “I just wanted people who have been through similar things to see that it doesn’t have to destroy you. It was cathartic to show that you can survive, no matter how bad life gets.” BJP


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All images Š Elanor Marielle



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FUCK IT! Disenchanted with his standard reportage shots of East Africa, Michele Sibiloni turned his attention to Kampala’s legendary nightlife to create a vivid alternative image of hedonism and abandon, finds Lucy Davies Late in 2010, Michele Sibiloni left the sleepy town in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy where he had lived all his life and moved to Kampala in Uganda, a city eight times larger. He had come to cover the lead up to the 2011 general election in the country, which many had predicted might depose its leader, following the lead of the Jasmine revolution in North African countries. But, despite the jitter, all Sibiloni witnessed once the voting had ended was the swearing-in of President Yoweri Museveni for his fourth term in office since he helped overthrow Idi Amin in 1979. Even so, Sibiloni was hooked. “It’s so different to where I come from,” he tells me, by telephone from his apartment in Kampala. “At the beginning I found it really chaotic, but the more time I spent here, and the more I got to know about the surrounding region of East Africa, the more fascinated I became. In fact, I got really excited.” It’s taken many attempts for us to connect, not least because he had to dash off and cover a coup in neighbouring Burundi. Sibiloni often works like this, using his base in the Ugandan capital to cover stories in Congo, Rwanda and Kenya for news agencies throughout the world, but it’s Kampala he fell in love with. A year after the elections, his girlfriend moved over too. Now 34, he loved to go clubbing when he was a teen, driving miles out of Parma to attend illegal raves. It must still be in his blood, because when, after two years in Kampala, he began to feel frustrated with his photographs, he turned to the city’s nightlife for sustenance. “I’d been doing all this reportage and news, and I just didn’t see myself in the pictures at all,” he explains. “I wasn’t taking these photographs

because I liked the subject, and it was always for someone else, a client. After a while it wore me down.” In 2013, he decided to try to focus on what had struck him so forcefully when he first arrived in Kampala – the nightlife. “Kampala has a vibrant night scene; there are a huge number of people moving through the city 24 hours a day,” he says. “From the beginning I enjoyed taking part in that, and not having to be at work in the morning every day… I felt very free.” With only a nebulous idea in his head, Sibiloni started photographing the many night guards on duty throughout the city, stopping off at a bar here, a club there, along the way. Very quickly, he realised his experiences in between the portraits were more interesting, and he began shooting what he calls his “night adventures”. “I would document the night in different places,” he says, “going from bar to bar, in the ghettos, to parties with expats, night churches, photographing every kind of activity that happened at night. I was really committed. Somehow it was an excuse to go out and enjoy myself, but also to enjoy taking pictures again. It was really good for me because my subject was very accessible, just outside my home – I didn’t have to catch a plane to get there, I didn’t have to have any money. It was perfect.” The pictures he has amassed will soon be published as a book. When we speak, he’s still in negotiations with publishers and tinkering with the layout, but the bones are in place. The sequence is quite magical – a crazy journey

through a crazy city, the accompanying essay quoting a Peace Corps blogger who described Kampala as “Tijuana on acid”. It’s dirty, disturbing, psychedelic, wicked, seedy, sickening and sometimes very witty – and partying is big business. Kampala has come a long way since Idi Amin’s state-sponsored killing spree of the 1970s and the ensuing civil war and economic devastation of the ’80s. Today it is one of the most dynamic cities in East Africa, full of street markets and beautiful gardens, grand embassies and boutique hotels. There are as many ropedoff restaurants and swanky bars as dive-like shebeens, and all of them are full of people drinking, drinking, drinking.

Floating city

“Alcoholism is a real problem here,” says Sibiloni. “Uganda is one of the biggest – if not the biggest – consumers of alcohol in Africa, and it’s not just rich people and expats in bars. Even poor people, who have zero cash, drink. On the streets they sell spirits in plastic bags to make it cheap. It’s gin and rum, but really awful stuff with awful names like ‘Chief ’ and ‘Boss’. You see it everywhere, and the women drink as much as the men.” Drugs are less ubiquitous, he says: “A lot of people smoke [marijuana], but cocaine and heroin, those are things that only happen in certain places. It’s more for upper-class people.” Sibiloni’s book is titled Fuck it, a phrase he found – and photographed – tattooed on a woman’s leg on one of his nights out. “For her, it was definitely a sexual statement, and although


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METAL HEADS Sanna Charles spent a decade photographing Slayer fans, capturing the devotion the thrash metal band inspires. Rachel Segal Hamilton catches up with her, as her book, God Listens to Slayer, is published by Ditto Press

Years ago a goth I knew told me about a conversation he’d once had. “You goths – you’re so desperate to be different, but you all look the same,” someone had said to him. “You don’t get it,” he replied. “We don’t want to be different from each other, we just want to be different from you.” I can’t help but think of this while leafing through God Listens to Slayer, Sanna Charles’s photobook about young metal fans, which has just been published by Ditto Press. Whether it’s a sweaty, tangled, mosh pit or a pair of pensive, long-haired kids, what comes across is the sense of community. As my goth friend pointed out, subculture is as much about being an insider as it is about being an outsider. Charles first saw Slayer perform in 2003, when she was 23 and covering the Download Festival for NME. “It was a really dusty day,” she remembers. “Slayer’s set was put back by three hours and everyone was restless. Not only that,

they’d been moved from the main stage to this boiling tent.” When the band eventually came on, she was blown away. “It was the first time I was seeing a heavy metal pit, which is essentially loads of guys thrashing around, forgetting about everything and focusing on the music,” she says. “It’s a great feeling.” She filed her pictures to NME but kept returning to some of the portraits she’d taken, and when her friend, the filmmaker Sophie MacCorquodale, said she was looking for a new project, the two decided to try to blag their way on to a Slayer tour. “We had to speak to the manager, Rick Sayles, over the phone from LA,” Charles recalls. “It was scary because I’d never done anything like that before. I think he found the whole thing hilarious.” When they explained they wanted to shoot the fans, not the band, he said it had already been done, and sent them an American Slayer

All images © Sanna Charles AUGUST 2015

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DVD that featured fans outside shows as one of its extras. “It was really macho and pumped up, with everyone going ‘Slaaaaayer’, so we were like, ‘We don’t want to do that,’” she laughs. In the end Sayles agreed to give them passes for the Unholy Alliance tour, with certain provisos attached: “Whatever you do, I don’t want to see you backstage at all. Don’t film any of the other bands; in fact, if you turn your camera to the stage you’ll be off.” Bar a minor misunderstanding with a member of Slipknot, all went smoothly across nine UK shows, then a further two in Norway and Finland. Back in the UK, MacCorquodale made her documentary, Slayer Rules, and the two put on an exhibition in Shoreditch with some friends. “My dad worked in a repro centre, so he did us some cheap prints and it was a fun party,” says Charles. But exhibiting made her reflect, and she decided she wasn’t finished yet. “I wasn’t that happy with

some of the pictures,” she says. “I’d found myself sticking to a formula of straight landscape and portrait shots, and there’s only so much of that you can do before it looks like street style. I wanted to continue building the project – and by then I was really into metal.”

Metal pilgrimages

For the next 10 years, Charles followed Slayer fans all over Europe in between, or tacked on to, freelance jobs. Using the same trusty medium format Mamiya 7 II rangefinder she’d had since her student days in Brighton, plus a 35mm Nikon FE, an Olympus Muji and a Vivitar flash gun when needed, she visited Hellfest in France, Metalcamp in Slovenia and Summer Breeze in Germany, deliberately adopting a looser, more candid style. She also continued to shoot material in fans’ homes, finding subjects through Slayer forums, or through friends


she’d met at The Crobar, Soho’s metal haunt. She also shot “loads and loads” of front rows, getting “really obsessed with trying to get people who are stuck in that limbo between absolute joy and absolute pain – elbowed in the ribs but really ecstatic about what they were seeing in front of them”, she says. What’s striking is how little the fans’ appearances change over the decade – so enduring is this scene’s visual culture, that it’s not immediately apparent what’s recent and what’s not. “There’s an element of nostalgia to the scene,” says Charles, but she points out that it has evolved. “Metal has become more accessible as a whole; it’s promoted in a different way,” she says. “Maybe people have realised that there’s money to be made, so it’s broadened out into mainstream culture. I think people understand that it’s not as scary as it looks, and it can actually help with your psyche.”


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WE WANT MORE Images of stars and their fans go on show at The Photographers’ Gallery this summer in an exhibition that attempts to delve into the business of music, writes curator Diane Smyth What is music photography? It’s a simple question, but one that gets more slippery the more you look at it. With holograms of dead stars such as Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur resurrected and ‘performing’ live, and Kurt Cobain a playable character on Guitar Hero, it’s clear that depictions of our pop icons have opened up. Meanwhile, more open-minded attitudes towards pop culture have allowed fine artists to incorporate popular music, vinyl records, cassette tapes and even rock groups into their work. Grappling with these issues after The Photographers’ Gallery asked me to curate a show on the subject, I decided to set some parameters. First, I restricted myself to full-time, working photographers – not programmers, not producers, not the many amateurs who share images online, not the stars who post images of themselves on portals such as Instagram, Vine or YouTube, and not the webcams behind the Boiler Room. I find this work interesting from a

sociological and anthropological point of view, but maybe not so much from a photographic point of view, so I was happy for it to find a separate home on The Photographers’ Gallery’s Media Wall during the exhibition. Equally, though, I decided not to include fine artists who use music in their work, such as Christian Marclay or Bettina von Zwehl, because somehow what I was more interested in – and what I understood by the term ‘music photography’ – was image-making that comes from, or at least relates to, the music industry. This soon evolved into an exhibition about portraiture because, while the music industry obviously uses lots of other kinds of imagery, showing the stars – and to a lesser extent showing their fans – remains key. As I collected projects I was interested in, I naturally found they focused on pictures of people. I was also specifically interested in music photography made in the past 15 years or so –

since the turn of the century, that’s to say, and since both music and photography started to go digital. What kind of work do photographers make now that music can be streamed, and now that the images on billboards, album covers and magazines can move? The exhibition, We Want More, includes just 14 photographers, plus an extra section showing pop videos – a tiny drop in a huge ocean of image-making. But I’ve tried to include work that comes from a variety of sources and adopts a variety of viewpoints – from the carefully stage-managed portrait to the behind-the-scenes insight, and from the commissions from the stars or record labels to the self-assigned projects. Some of the photographers in the show don’t work for the music industry, but many do: there’s Dan Wilton, who has worked for record labels such as XL Recordings and Domino, and magazines such as Dazed and i-D, for example, while Deirdre O’Callaghan has shot for labels


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Zach Hill, from the group Death Grips. From the series The Drum Thing © Deirdre O’Callaghan


Lady Gaga / Dope – Artpop, 2013 © Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin


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THE IMAGE FACTORIES Magazines and record labels are the linchpins of music photography, commissioning the hard-to-access portrait shoots and conceptual imagery that often become ubiquitous in print, online and on billboards. Here, Lauren Heinz speaks with three of the best – The Wire, XL Recordings and Noisey


The Wire

Founded in 1982, The Wire magazine has earned a name for itself as an arbiter of taste in the underground music scene. An indie print publication, it often commissions photographers such as Nigel Shafran, Todd Hido and Tom Hunter. It wasn’t always that way; since art director Ben Weaver joined seven years ago, one of his main achievements has been a radical overhaul of The Wire’s approach to imagery. “What I inherited was quite a uniform approach to photography,” he says. “Everything looked similar, and I wanted to add more variety.” The Wire is run on a tight budget, with only a skeletal team – there is no picture editor, for example, which means Weaver alone compiles all the photography in the one week per month he works on the magazine. The rest of his time is spent running his own design studio and working on projects such as Here Press, which he co-founded with Harry Hardie in 2011.

“I was initially only commissioning photography for the main features – maybe two or three stories a month – and everything else was sourced from record labels or directly from artists,” says Weaver. “But there were times when we weren’t happy with what we were getting in, and we realised we could start commissioning smaller stories and single images. “For me, that was a really exciting part of the job, but it was also time-consuming – and it still is. I now spend more of my time working with the photography than I do on the design. And because it’s a music magazine, it’s based very much on what’s going on currently, so most stories are commissioned at short notice – we don’t tend to have many stories in advance of the next issue.” As a result, Weaver has built up a database of hundreds of photographers around the world, who can be in the right place at the right time, often at extremely short notice. And they’ll do so


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at a fraction of their usual rates because The Wire offers them almost complete editorial freedom. “It’s hard to tell how musicians are going to be because they tend to have very strong opinions on how they want to portray themselves – or if they don’t, they may not actually be able to spell out what they want,” says Weaver. “So you have to trust the photographer to react at the time. “Because I don’t have a big budget, I tend to rely on a relationship developing between the photographer and the musician. Most of it is really just getting the right person and asking them to do what they do. I just tell them what kind of environment they are going to encounter when they get there.” By way of example, he cites Shafran’s shoot with Carter Tutti, the duo best known for their work with industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle. “There was this bizarre domestic setting to their life and they wanted to portray that, to counteract what they do [musically],” Weaver







says. “I thought of Nigel because he’s very good at shooting domestic situations, but once I’d spoken to him and said, ‘This is where they live, and this is what they’re like, go and do what you do,’ I couldn’t really be any more specific than that. “It’s just about getting the right photographer to do it,” he adds. “There are always problems to try to figure out. I think a lot of the work for me is developing my knowledge of photography and what photographers out there are doing, because at some point something will come up that will feel like the right job for them.” This approach also helps him avoid commissioning well-worn or cliched imagery, something he feels is endemic in so-called music photography. “I’ve tried to stay away from any well-trodden ideas of what music photography should look like,” he says. “I don’t see myself as commissioning music photography – it’s just photography, it’s just portraits.” BJP


Mica Levi by Clare Shilland for The Wire, February 2015


April 2010 cover by Pieter Hugo


October 2011 cover by Leon Chew


August 2010 cover by Jake Walters


Konono No 1 founder Mingiedi Mawangu by Pieter Hugo for The Wire, April 2010

6 July 2013 cover by Juan Diego Valera 7

March 2015 cover by Nigel Shafran

8 February 2014 cover by Alec Soth 9 May 2010 cover by Michael Schmelling 10 May 2013 cover by Mark Peckmezian 11 July 2014 cover by Takashi Homma AUGUST 2015

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In this month's Intelligence, we look at two very different worlds: the Amber collective's underrated photography and film collections in the north of England and the Los Angeles incarnation of Paris Photo

WH Douglas, Gents’ hairdresser, Raby Street, 1974, from Byker Revisited © Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen. Images from the series are on show in For Ever Amber at Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle.

Preserved in Amber Deeply political and devoted to documenting marginalised and working-class communities in the northeast of England, Amber collective is building a worldclass archive in the process. Tom Seymour reports On 17 March 1968, when the founding members of the Amber collective were film students at London’s Regent Street Polytechnic, more than 8000 people gathered in Trafalgar Square to protest against the British government’s support for the Vietnam War. Led by Tariq

Ali and Vanessa Redgrave, and with Mick Jagger in the crowd, the protest snaked up Regent Street and through Mayfair, until it reached the American embassy in Grosvenor Square. The embassy was surrounded by hundreds of police, standing shoulder to shoulder to cordon off the part of the square closest to the embassy. The crowd refused to back off and protesters hurled mud, stones, firecrackers and smoke bombs until mounted officers charged the demonstrators. Some broke through the police ranks onto the lawn of the embassy, tearing up anything they could get their hands on. By the end of the afternoon, more than 200 people had been arrested and 86 treated for injuries.

The early founders of Amber documented the protest, turning it into a film called All You Need is Dynamite. They attempted to screen the film at student unions but, even in the context of the student culture of the late 1960s, it was considered an incitement to violence. But if the film didn’t get off the ground, something else rose from these incendiary beginnings – one of the UK’s biggest, and most underrated, photography and film collections. The students behind All You Need is Dynamite relocated to Newcastle a year after the protests and set themselves up as a collective; after a two-day debate, they settled on the name Amber. The move up north went against the fashion of the age but,

politicised and motivated, Amber appreciated its “rich industrial, working-class history” and hoped it would help them reconnect with their own working-class roots, writes Paul O’Reilly in his thesis, ‘I Will Survive’: Forty Years of Amber Films and the Evolution of Regional Film Policy. “The move from metropolitan centre to the most northerly English province is in diametric opposition to the widely perceived magnetism of ‘swinging’ London upon the nation’s politicised, cultured youth,” he adds. The collective, which launched its first major retrospective at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle in June, aimed to make films and create and collect photography that said something distinctive about its


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Leica M Monochrom Type 246 Equipped with a new sensor and delivering exceptional quality, the Leica M Monochrom Type 246 needs to be fully appreciated to deliver the best results. Jonathan Eastland explains Anyone switching from blackand-white film to black-and-white digital capture should be aware that the two mediums produce different results. As with its predecessor, the 246 needs to be fully appreciated to deliver the best results. Panchromatic film can render the grey tones of all colours in the visible spectrum pretty much as the eye is able to interpret them – as a nuanced range of blacks, greys and whites. In a properly developed negative, the brightest of whites will hardly ever be pure white, and silver needs a lot of exposure to turn it completely black. By removing the colour filter array from the sensor, the first M Monochrom turned in a creditable performance over a wide range of lighting conditions. Where it failed was in its capacity to render the subtle transitions at the bright highlight end in high-contrast bright light settings, well illustrated by Leica’s own spectral sensitivity graph comparing Kodak’s Tri-X 400 film with the camera sensor; at the blue-violet end of the spectrum, sensor capacity dropped off the scale, whereas the film kept going in more or less a straight line.


The Monochrom 246 employs a new CMOS sensor from the Belgian firm CMOSIS, replacing the


Truesense Imaging CCD type used in the first version. The resolution and sharpness have moved up a step and, according to Leica, the new sensor is better at rendering the subtleties of highlight tones. Four image-size settings enable capture from 24 down to 1.7 megapixels, though the intermediate 12- or six-megapixel file sizes should be more than enough for the most demanding publications. Whereas the previous model’s default maximum print size was 18 inches at 300ppi, the new one offers close to 20 inches – and the files contain so much data that an output resolution of 200ppi will

still deliver a stunningly detailed 30-inch-wide print, far larger and of greater clarity than anyone could reasonably expect from a grainy 35mm Tri-X negative. Leica now publicly states that JPEG files from this new camera will “satisfy professional demands” – this about-turn has been a long time in coming, but it meant I could capture JPEGs, confident that they’d look as good on the printed page as anything captured in raw. But there was also another reason for sticking with JPEG; following the launch of the 246, Leica issued a warning that Macintosh users running the Yosemite operating system who attempted to import its 246 .DNG (raw) files using Apple’s new Photo replacement for iPhoto would cause a crash and a likely wipeout of data already stored in iPhoto’s library. Other reports that Adobe Lightroom was similarly afflicted was enough to seal the deal. The 246 forerunner was a capable camera, but users had to be aware of bright point source lights intruding into the frame, which rendered the traditional exposure techniques a little hit and miss. The successor’s sensor is more forgiving,

yet care is still needed to capture the right amount of file data for effective post-processing. Everyone will have a different aesthetic but, as with silver halide, if the information isn’t there in the first place, it will be impossible to get it back. In practice, and given the new sensor’s phenomenal ability in dark areas, the old mantra – “expose for the highlights, let the shadows fall where they will” – worked well.

New look

The Monochrom 246 body shape, rear screen and button/dial layout are more elegant and less clunky; the heavy brass top plate is now flush to the left side. The back features a large three-inch, 921,600pixel resolution screen of hardened, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass, allowing useful inspection of images, plus a new live view mode, which offers many advantages, not least the possibility of using any lens that can be mounted to the body. Previously redundant Leica-R SLR film lenses can be used in the same way as on the Leica M, and a Visoflex electronic viewfinder, which plugs into the top plate accessory shoe, makes the camera even more versatile. The new


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camera also features sound movie recording at the press of a discreet button next to the shutter release; it records in full 1080 HD format, and an optional microphone adapter set is available.

Operating buttons

I was pleased to see that the one useful device omitted on the first Monochrom model has been added – the 246 rear top plate now features a raised thumb-stop, incorporating the command dial found on other Leica models. The operating buttons have a new layout down the left


side of the screen, while on the right an earlier dial-and-button combination is replaced by a simplified thumb-switching disc. Overall, it’s a cleaner, simpler layout. Jewel-like viewfinder image clarity is combined with sophisticated distancemeasurement precision, allowing for rapid, accurate focus and composition. Put this together with a virtually instant shutter release, exceptional glass and a tough, durable body, and you have an outstanding camera. BJP


Leica Summilux-M f/1.4 50mm, 1970s version, shot at ISO 320 in northerly window light, 1/12s at f/8. The original scene contained a broad range of subtle red and yellow through blue, white and soot-black hues, as well as metallic tones, all superbly rendered by the 246 sensor at camera default settings, marginally tweaked after greyscale conversion to lift shadow areas.


A camera default RGB JPEG capture processed to greyscale only. The original image was underexposed by 1.5 stops, evident in the blocked black and darker grey tones, which nonetheless retain stacks of data. Brighter white and off-white areas are well held, except on close examination, where extreme ends of the highlight scale appear clipped. Summarit-M f/2.4 35mm ASPH lens, no filter, shot at ISO 320, 1/1500s at f/9.5.


Leica offers a range of coloured filters for black-and-white users. This scene was shot using a well-hammered Leitz Canada f/2.8 90mm Tele-Elmarit, fitted with a red filter to render the light yellow-green leaves of the plant with a more pleasing grey tone range.


A 100 percent crop from the previous image leaves little doubt of the new 246 sensor’s ability to capture the finest detail. No in-camera sharpening or contrast adjustments were made. Image quality is at least equal to, and possibly even better than, what’s possible with large format, fine-grained 5×4 film.

Illustrative images © Jonathan Eastland

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