Behind the Lens: Backstage pass
I grew up in the 80s, which was an extraordinary time for music. It was the birth of MTV, the beginning of the New Romantic movement and the rise of new technology like the Fairlight keyboard. So, while most people know me as a conceptual fine art photographer creating multilayered portraits and landscapes, one of my passions is photographing live music, especially artists I really admire.
Photographing this genre is a privilege I have never taken lightly. The bands and their management trust in your technical and creative ability. They expect you to be discreet, invisible and to deliver! It's a very different discipline from my other work. Capturing live music is like herding cats in a strobe lit space with 1000 volts of spaghetti cords underfoot.
You work at lightning speed to document spontaneous moments, hoping the image is exposed and composed properly, as well as interesting enough to hold the viewers’ attention. Now that everyone’s mobile phone can produce images acceptable enough for social media, a photographer’s job is to stand out from the crowd and create something unique. The most striking images are those that someone in the audience is not able to capture – an obscure angle, a backstage image, a close-up.
This image is from Duran Duran’s final Australian show in the Hunter Valley during their “All You Need is Now” tour. Along with some of my other shots, it was featured on their official calendar for the following year in 2013.
During their tour, I captured some great images backstage and in jam sessions and I spent every night editing into the early hours to have new photographs ready to present to management in the morning. I recall one night while working, I was really annoyed by the loud TV blaring in the next room at 4.30am. I almost started banging on the wall for them to turn it the f%@# down. I’m glad I didn’t as I found out the next day the person with the loud TV was the lead singer, Simon Le Bon!
By the time we got to the Hunter Valley, the band completely trusted my ability and professionalism. I was given on-stage access, which is extremely rare. This allowed me to document a dynamic moment from a completely unique angle – capturing Simon jumping in the air mid-song. There were several other images featuring band interaction, but this remains one of my favourites.
You can see more of Mandarine's work here.