Linda McCartney – Retrospective

There are not many major exhibitions that can claim to be curated by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney, let alone one of the photographs taken by Linda McCartney. Neither can there be many which feature iconic photographs of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix amongst its images together with many more intimate works by this acclaimed and prolific photographer.

With much of the material on display being seen by the public for the very first time the retrospective features a huge amount of private archive material, including Linda McCartney’s diary from the 1960s, which allows the viewer to obtain new insight into the contemporary music scene of the 1960’s and the beginnings of the photographic career of Linda McCartney.

Also on display are polaroids, contact sheets and cameras used by Linda to take many of these iconic images along with vintage magazines from her expansive archive.

The Retrospective features a large section of photographs Linda took in Scotland which detail and highlight the themes of family life, self portraits, nature and social commentary.

If you are in Glasgow then pay a visit to this exhibition which is running at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum until 12th January 2020.

Four Seasons In One Day

The delights of the unpredictable British weather.

This shot was taken on the first day of a 2 day at a music festival where the weather was apparently going to be horrendous for both days. Most people were sensible and turned up prepare for the worse which, on the first day, never arrived. The sun was splitting the skies and it was t-shirt and shorts weather all day other than one small period where the festival had to be halted for fear of a lightening strike on the stage area.

Everything was cleared from on stage and no performances were allowed until the threat passed. The crowd took it well and many had decided to put on their rain ponchos in preparation whilst others did not bother and took their chances.

Fortunately the storm passed with only a few flashes of lightening and some very loud thunder – but no rain.  It seems that Crowded House had it correct all those years ago with their song ‘Four seasons in one day’

Taken in Linlithgow, Scotland, during the Party at The Palace, August 2019

Unacceptable Harassement

An article on the BBC News website regarding female performers at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival being the victims of sexual harassment brought to mind an incident I witnessed at the start of this years Festival.

Whilst waiting to meet a friend for lunch I spent some time watching the street performers on the Royal Mile and taking some photographs of things that interested me. As I walked I noticed the girl in the photograph and made enquiries with one of her colleagues regarding the show they were performing at the Festival.

As I watched the girl, bearing in mind this is an actor, a small group of males came over having reading her sign and politely asked “well what do you want ?” to which the actor quickly shouted “Some fucking respect”. Needless to say the youths made off rather quickly after that without taking a flyer for the show.

As I reflected on what I had just witnessed my initial thoughts were about how the actor was correct in her response though, as the day passed I thought about it some more.

Yes, it was shouted in the context of an actress trying to sell tickets to a show about female directed sexual harassment by men but it also struck me that there had been an opportunity lost for a dialogue with the men about the show and the issues it was highlighting.

At the end of the day, the men were not being rude and appeared to be genuinely asking a question about a show that, up to that point, they knew nothing about having simply seen an actor standing with a sign above her head.

Respect works both ways, the actor deserves respect but the men also deserved respect and certainly didi not deserve to be shouted and sworn at in the street regardless of the fact it was the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Potential ticket sales were lost, the men still know nothing about the show and the chance to enter into conversation was lost by the actor and her friends.

Info: The show was called Coming Home With Me by Brighton based theatre group Girl Code and is billed as ‘a night exploring the grimy underbelly of a girls night out’. Using completely verbatim material from 15 female-identifying students aged between 18-23, two girls who run an initiative called Consent In Clubs , a member of a prominent anti-harassment charity and a Brighton Bouncer.

Girl Code do point out that  it is not all men who engage in inappropriate, and often criminal, behaviour in clubs though their research highlights that every female they spoke with during research has had to deal with this in some form or another on nights out.

It’s also important to highlight that this kind of unwanted harassment also happens, possibly to a lesser extent, to men perpetrated by females. It is not an exclusive one way street though it is important that people realise the behaviour is wrong and completely unacceptable regardless of who the perpetrator is.

Don’t Over Indulge

The temptation to forget all your inhibitions at an outdoor music festival is all too easy a trap to fall into. The important things to remember are to stay hydrated, not to drink too much alcohol and to let your friends know if you are not feeling too well at any point.

This is before you even think about sunscreen if its a hot day, keeping warm and dry if it is wet and eating enough throughout the day and all the other things that go together with keeping yourself safe and well in a big crowd.

At the 2019 Party At The Palace in Linlithgow, Scotland there were not too many people who had over-indulged during the weekend and the man in this photograph was generally the exception to the rule. Shortly before this was taken he was bent double with what he had taken in during the day making a sudden reappearance next to the fence where he was standing.

Of course you should go and enjoy yourself, but its always worth remembering that you probably paid a lot of money for the ticket to see your favourite bands and there is nothing worse than not remembering a thing about it when you wake up the next morning feeling very sorry for yourself for having overdone it the day before.

Put Your Phone Away

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

It used to be the case where nothing was more annoying at a gig when someone, usually taller and broader than you, stood in front of you and partially blocked your view. This normally caused you to dodge from side to side to see anything the band on stage were doing or, at worst case scenario, squeeze into a smaller space in front of the person just so you could see anything at all.

Now it’s all changed and, with the advent of the mobile phone, everyone thinks they are a photographer. It’s not uncommon to go to a gig and see people who spend the entire time watching the event they have paid very good money for through the back of the small mobile phone screen they are holding above their heads as they video the show or continually just take photographs.

Now, I am not saying don’t take photographs. By all means take a few snaps on your phone or even a very short video clip if that’s your thing. Once you have done that, put your phone away and actually enjoy the event you have paid a great deal of money for.

It is not only you who wants to enjoy the show, the artist on stage probably does not want to look out and see thousands of mobile phone cameras pointing at them and, from personal experience, other members of the crowd who have now had their view completely blocked by the person just standing there holding their phone aloft, really does not want to see that.

Everyone has paid good money to get into a show and not everyone is fortunate enough to be 6ft tall or on the front barrier – people can’t see if you have your phone out for the whole show – just put it away and use your eyes to watch the show instead.

stock image by Pexels via Pixabay

Life as a music photographer – It’s not as glamorous as you think

For most people growing up and going to gigs the same thing happens on the path to seeing the band you love live in concert. There is the anticipation of a live tour, the stress of buying tickets for the show and the cost, usually exorbitant these days, and then, finally, the concert itself and the hope that they band will be as good live as you hoped.  For many there is also the queuing for hours before the venue opens so as to get a good position on the barrier at an all standing gig just to be that little bit closer to the band and to feel the noise and heat from the stage.

It’s whilst waiting at that barrier, in the 5 minutes before the band come on stage, that the official photographers can be seen making their way into the pit space between the stage and the crowd. For the next 10 minutes the place is busy with photographers darting around, each trying to get their photographs in the short time allowed before being escorted back out of the pit. For some fans it is an annoyance to have people in the pit, even if it is only for a few minutes, as they believe they are spoiling their view of the band, not realising that without the photographers there would be no photographs or reviews of the event to be viewed in magazines, newspapers or online which are often treasured for years by those very same fans.

For some fans the photographers are of interest to them as they want to be part of that scene, those few precious minutes in the pit taking photos of their idols. These are the fans that usually end up chatting with the photographers before the band comes on the stage and are usually the nicest of people.

For those fans who want to be part of the music photographer scene it’s important to understand that whilst it is an incredibly rewarding experience for the most part, it is not always as fun as you think it is going to be.

I feel the most important thing for people to understand is that music photographers don’t always have the best experience on the evening, often not finding out if they have been given a media pass to photograph the event until a few hours before the show. Then comes the waiting game when you reach the venue, often being held in dark corridors just outside the venue for that precious 10 minutes of being able to take photographs. Quite often as soon as your time in the pit is over, and its usually the first 3 songs or less, you are escorted back out the arena and not allowed back in to watch the rest of the show as you don’t have a ticket.  Sometimes luck is on your side and you will have been given a ticket with the photo pass but that’s usually reserved for those who then have to review the bands performance as well as take photographs and you can’t begin to review until you have found somewhere secure to store your expensive camera equipment and then made your way back to the main venue. By the time you get back in, half the show has gone.

The pit is not always glamorous, or the best view of a band during a show. Often it is not a great experience as you have to cope with high stages which don’t make for great photographs, trailing cables everywhere on the floor which are a trip hazard and, naturally, security who are doing their job of keeping the fans safe.  It won’t be the first time a photo pit has become a complete nightmare due to fans being pulled over the barrier into the pit for their own safety at a rock gig or bottles and glasses full of some kind of liquid being thrown from the back of the venue to the front, usually miraculously hitting a photographer on the back of the head just as they are taking the shot.

The best example would be a gig by KISS in Glasgow, Scotland where there was very little room to accommodate the 11 photographers and equipment in the pit. With security tight, explosive charges being detonated all around during the show and members of the public who had paid thousands being led into the pit as well so they could stand in a small penned off area to be closer than anyone else – you can imagine how crowded the area was.

Photographers were only allowed to stand at the side of the pit until the curtain dropped and the first barrage of explosions went off before being rushed to the small space allocated for 1 and a half songs before being escorted straight back out of the building.

The photograph above is the view just as the show started and the curtain dropped – not the best photos but they at least document what the view was like for the photographers in the pit and as to how life as a music photographer really is not as glamorous as you may think.