The winners of this year's Kiss My Camera music photography awards presented by WAM have been crowned, and photographer Denis Radacic has taken out the 'Best Live Photo Of A Touring Act' category.
Denis earned the award for capturing Brisbane metal act The Butterfly Effect in full flight onstage (pictured). We chat with Denis about the win.
How do you feel about the win?
Pretty darn stoked, haha. I’ve been entering this comp for years and I’ve been fortunate enough to have been a finalist every time I’ve entered. However, this is the first win.
How did you respond to finding out you won?
I believe I chucked on some ‘The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza’, did some brief shadow-boxing in the corner and blew the froth off a couple of coldies.
What made you want to enter your particular photo in the competition?
Well, to tell you the truth, I wasn’t even going to submit that particular photo! I had a different image in mind from the same gig (The Butterfly Effect @ Metro Freo), but my wife liked the winning image better and made me change it, haha. Seems like she knew what she was talking about.
What does winning this award mean for your career?
I’m obviously super-famous now, so maybe hang up my cameras and retire on a high? Nah, I don’t see that happening for quite some time yet. Maybe I see it as a form of self-affirmation, that maybe my photos aren’t that bad after all? I started shooting bands in Sweden in the early '90s and many of my friends were in bands at the time, so I’d just go to all these hardcore shows with a borrowed 35mm camera from school. I’d shoot a roll or two and then process and print in the small darkroom attached to our Arts classroom. So much has changed in the past 25 years or so. But here I am, still shooting sold-out arena shows as well as local floor-shows in someone’s lounge room. I mainly shoot for Wall of Sound these days, and I just found out from Browny (owner/ editorial Manager) that Def Leppard shared my pics from Friday night on their Facebook page, which obviously wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been a WAMAward winner. ;)
At the time of taking the photo, did you have a feeling it was going to be a great shot?
The Butterfly Effect boys are awesome. I’ve been shooting them since their first gig in Perth for the Heavy Impact Tour with Full Scale and Heavy Weight Champ back in ’02…? Now, you can’t really go wrong with these guys as they always bring the house down. Clint has always been such a great front-man with an electric presence on stage. You’re always going to get a few shots you’re happy with. I think I had 3-4 photos in mind from this gig, but yeah, I really liked this one. However, I submitted a few different pics for all three categories, but I didn’t actually know which image had been nominated until the winner was announced.
What is the trick to capturing a great image of a band during live performance?
It’s a bit like a sport, where you’ve got to read the play. It is always going to be easier if you know the band or even just like the music. You get into a groove and move along with the music and the performers themselves. Once you have a feel for how the band operates, how they move on stage (and off), the poses they do, the placements of lights and smoke-machines or where the safest spot in the mosh is, you’ll be able to more or less predict what’s going to happen and be ready with the camera. Is the bassist always jumping to the beat? Is the singer always holding the mic out for the punters during the chorus? Is the guitarist always standing still in that one spot on stage that doesn’t have any light whatsoever? I pretty much exclusively shoot heavier bands, and it is very rare that anything is calm, quiet and collected during these gigs, so yeah, you’ve gotta stay on the balls of your feet, take on the mosh and expect a few elbows or boots to come flying your way. I tend to save my camera with my face.
What is your strategy for getting the best live shots. Eg, do you take a whole lot and hope for the best, or wait for the ideal time?
As I started shooting on film, I used to be very careful with the number of frames I’d fire off at each gig. It just ended up costing too much with the film, processing and printing. I have definitely become much more trigger-happy these days, but the downside there is that I keep filling up hard-drives with images I’ll never touch again. I find it really hard to delete photos. I must cull more, haha. I usually know what I want to get, but I tend to over-shoot the same frame just to be sure I get the focus where I want it, and to make sure that the lights hit in that one specific spot. When I only have the first three songs to shoot, I tend to shoot in burst for most part. That’s how I captured the flying bra during Scorpions the other day, haha.
Does it get rough in the photo pit? Ever had to elbow a rival out of your shot?
Haha, not yet! Most people here know each other, and everyone is really friendly and courteous, getting out of the way, making sure everyone gets the shot they’re chasing. That said, I’ve had quite a few stage divers land on me over the years, and I’ve had security grabbing crowd surfers over the fence and throwing them on top of me. I’ve had myself and my camera drenched in every kind of alcoholic beverage you could think of. Good thing they weather seal the gear these days.
For bands onstage, how should they interact with the photographers in the pit? Obvioulsy kicking them in the head a la Josh Homme is a bad start?
In one way, we (the photographers) are just like any other punter really, but we are also there to work. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad experience with any band, but rather the other way around. A lot of bands come up to you and have a chat, asking to see the pictures after the show. It is always great when the bands acknowledge the photographer and seek you out and actually stand still for a second or so whilst on stage, giving you a chance to get a few shots in focus.
I’m always told off when I’m performing myself that I never bloody stand still and that I’m hard to shoot, haha. As photographers, we’re there to make the band look good! It really is as simple as that. Most bands I’ve shot know this and are quite happy to perform for the camera. I don’t even know how to hold a guitar, but many guitarists I’ve spoken to don’t know how to hold a camera. I love action shots, but I never use flash, so I just need enough light to be able to capture the on-stage antics I’m there for. The toughest gigs to shoot are those where the singers hang out over the foldback in front of all the stage lights and you just end up with black silhouettes.
Do you have any advice for amateurs who want to make a career of music photography?
Have fun. Stay with it. Shoot bands you love. Share your pics. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Get into the pit. Use fast lenses. Share your pics. Contact EVERYONE (bands, promoters, venues etc). Shoot bands you hate. Talk to EVERYONE. Shoot portraits. Get a day job. Edit your photos. Wear beer-proof clothing. Share your pics. Don’t be a Terry - be a Gary!