SunLive – Shot Depth

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“Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field.”

It’s something Australian photographer Peter Adams said; and that is undeniably very wise and very true.

I saw it offered as advice to would-be musicians, those ambitious souls brave or reckless enough to venture into the world of concert photography. It reminded me of another famous photography quote, from a member of the Magnum stable: “Don’t photograph what it looks like. Shoot what you feel”.

More words to live for if you’re a cameraman. Inspiring. But there’s one thing these quotes have in common, other than that they’re both catchy and clearly accurate. It’s that, from a practical standpoint, if you’re actually planning on going out and shooting a gig, they’re completely useless.

Because concert photography is difficult. Really hard. I’ve known a lot of ordinary people with cameras, who took really good pictures of just about anything – buildings, faces, animals, rally cars – but were eventually broken when they tackled concert photography.

It’s just a perfect storm of technical issues: lighting that can be too dim one minute and too bright the next, or both; subjects that ignore you and are constantly moving; and, more than likely, no convenient place to shoot. And often, correcting one of these difficulties leads to other problems: how best to photograph fast-moving subjects at a distance in low light? It is not easy.

Concert Photography

I mention this because of an upcoming exhibition at the Galerie du Peuple – Toi Ka Rere – in the Historic Village. Gig Photography, which premieres at 5.30pm on March 18 and runs until April 3, is a look at the Tauranga music scene through the lenses of nine Tauranga photographers.

There are a wide variety of settings: there are shows at the Jam Factory, mainstream events such as the Jazz Festival, and alternative events like Woodcock; there are rehearsal shots and even posed photos as well as a few from out of town shows.

The idea for the exhibition originated from an investigation by Gary Harvey, a veteran musician on the Auckland scene, known to Gary Harvey and The Night Owls and other working groups. He moved to Tauranga last year and has recently worked with members of Brilleaux at the Colourfield Studio in Welcome Bay.

Gary is also a photographer, interested in showing his work. He spoke to the good people at The Incubator and there Simone Anderson suggested involving more photographers and creating a group show. Gig Photography was born, along with fellow artists John Baxter, Nicola Baxter, Jamie Coxon, Colin Lunt, Nick Newman, Paul Edwards, Nic Clegg and Chris O’Donnell.

Gary Harvey

By calling him

Gary says his interest in photography started when he was a child, but changed completely with the arrival of the iPhone. “I could now create and edit my own videos, posters and more, all instantly in this little machine which, for someone who likes to do everything yesterday, is a creative paradise.”

How did he approach the images in the exhibition? “Like most photography, it takes a lot of photos to get one that’s good enough to use. I then edit them and turn them into what I consider to be works of art. It’s kind of like painting with images – I have a vision lurking in my twisted mind that I’m trying to bring to life like I did with these concert photos.

Meanwhile, veteran local photographer Colin Lunt, once a regular fixture at gigs here, has moved the other way and now lives in Auckland, where, unplanned, his photography work has taken off. He even won awards. More recently, he launched a state-of-the-art photo restoration online business, which looks fascinating and can be found at: clc-photographic.com/photo-restoration.html

Colin is sorry to miss the exhibition but says, “I’ve done some successful bird photography (those awards I mentioned – WW) and I’m going up north for a sea trip to go bird photography sailors. It’s retirement!

Colin Lunt

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