This week we talked to Amy Stephens.
Q: Tell us about yourself. What is your photography story - how did you get to where you are now?
A: I started photography completely and utterly by accident, as someone who was almost always at gig anyway it was a spur of the moment decision stood in the middle of Currys PC World that made me decide to buy a camera and try my hand at photography. I’ve always been told I had an eye for capturing the right moment so I decided to upgrade from my phone camera and see what I could do with it.
Q: What was the first gig you shot? How did it go?
A: The first gig I shot was actually a festival! It was Wilkestock festival last year and I didn’t have any sort of press pass so was shooting from the barrier. It’s quite a little festival in the grand scheme of festivals so luckily i wasn’t too far away from the action and got to shoot some really good bands. Slaves headlined the Saturday night so that was a big challenge for my first delve into gig photography but i still managed to get some photos that i’m still pretty proud of. Although we did only end up doing two out of the three days of the festival as i actually cracked my rib shooting Slaves’ set!
Q: Photography can be quite a subjective art. What do your photos mean to you, and what inspires you to keep shooting?
A: Photography allows me to relive the times I am at my happiest. Anyone who knows me knows that I am most content at a gig surrounded by music and people and love, and taking photos allows me to capture those moments and remember that feeling again. I just love music, and to be able to look back on gigs and experiences and to have those things permanently there for me not to forget is something I hold incredibly dear.
Q: Exactly what it is you want to capture with your photographs, and how do you get your photographs to achieve that?
A: I want to capture people at their best. One of my favourite things to do when shooting a gig is when a band/singer will go into the crowd and things just go crazy. I’ve experienced so much love and warmth within moshpits and crowds at gigs so one of my favourite things to do is to capture people in those moments, screaming along with their friends to music that they love, and to see the bands going crazy with the people who are the reason they get up on stage and perform. I like to think that my photos capture those moments pretty well.
Q: What camera and lenses do you typically bring to a gig?
A: I have a Canon 4000d at the moment, and I use the two lenses I got with it when I bought it. My kit is pretty basic, i’m not the most ‘tech savvy’ 20 year old so it’s a pretty simple camera but i like to think it works for me.
Q: How do you edit your photos? What software and filters do you use, and what’s the usual process?
A: I tend to edit my photos on my phone, my photography is still very much a hobby so i didn’t want to fork out on editing software when i was just getting started, it’s something i definitely want to look into but at the moment i am currently still editing on my phone!
Q: Gigs can be an especially tough environment, with the bustle of a crowd and a limited time frame. How do you prepare yourself for that? What do you aim for going in?
A: Gigs are an environment I am already incredibly comfortable in, and I don’t really plan for any one specific thing when shooting a gig, a stark contrast to my incredibly routine and structured personality, it’s one of the very few situations I put myself into in which i completely just go with the flow. Every gig and crowd and venue is different, so my plans going into shoots are just to be on my toes to pick out the moments that will hopefully produce the best photos.
Q: In the current COVID climate, there haven’t been many gigs to shoot. What other types of photography have you worked on? What have you been up to?
A: I work full time in the Civil Service, in an job that couldn’t be done from home so I have been working all the way through the Pandemic. I’ve spent most of my time at work purely to keep myself busy, I’m incredibly lucky to work in a great office with some fantastic people and we’ve all kind of helped each other through, simply by having to get used to being the only people outside of our households that each other saw for a while. Photography has kind of fallen by the wayside a little bit for me but as socially distanced gigs are now becoming a thing i’m hoping to get back into it very soon!
Q: Tell us about your all-time favourite moment you’ve had whilst shooting a gig. Do you have a favourite photo to go with it?
A: Probably one of my favourite moments shooting a gig was a packed out Sugarstone gig at the Ferret, bands playing their hometown gigs have special places in my heart. They played one of their older songs ‘Choking Out’, a song they don’t really play much now, and everyone in the crowd was singing it back to them. I was towards the side of the stage and I just remember standing and watching and being so proud of my friends. I also got some of the best photos i’ve ever taken that night.
Q: Finally, do you have any tips for someone who’s starting out?
A: I’d tell anyone just starting out to not be afraid of putting yourself out there! Me putting myself out there was my biggest challenge but after a few gigs and a few shoots I gradually got more and more confident to the point where I now wouldn’t think twice about accepting offers to shoot gigs even if i’m on my own or i don’t really know the bands. I was incredibly lucky to have friends in bands who didn’t mind me turning up to all of their gigs but for me putting myself out there was my biggest fear, i look back now and wonder what i was ever worried about!
You can find Amy on Instagram at - @amestakephotos__