Talking about a gig we are more likely to say we have seen a band than hear them, and armed with camera phones images of bands are now like wallpaper. But the trick is to make the picture stand out. Capturing the sweat soaked gritty performance of a rock n roll band is what Sally Newhouse aim’s for… ’My favourite photographs are probably not the most perfect in composition or taken on the biggest stages of the most famous rock stars, or the ones that have been published. But are often the ones that show passion in the performance’.
Where are you based ? ‘I’m a live music photographer based in Bedfordshire and London. You’ll find me as ‘Punkrocksal’ online’.
When and how did you get into photography? ‘I bought my first ‘proper’ camera when I was at school studying for A levels, yet never took it to gigs with me. How I wish I had. My brother was a bouncer and took me with him from when I was 15. I always had Access All Areas passes and met Lemmy, Dire Straits, Wilko Johnson, Midge Ure – to name a few – and got hooked on live music for life. Then I got married, had 3 children so spent the next 16 years or so being ‘mum’. When the boys were old enough to be left alone, I started gigging again with just a compact camera and got some good shots. I also started filming bands for my YouTube channel with my nifty little camera. Bands liked what I did and kept asking me back. I thought I’d ‘up my game’, so bought a digital SLR and my hobby grew from there’.
Have any of your photos been used for adverts, printed in magazines or entered into competitions? ‘Yes, yes, yes, too many to mention all around the world and no – I’ve not entered any competitions, apart from an online one once, where I got a highly commended in a nature category. I really enjoy photographing wildlife as well as wild rock stars – and do the occasional wedding. There isn’t a day goes by when I don’t take a photo. I carry a fab little compact camera for when I run cross country to get those wildlife shots. I live in a very rural area so am blessed with woods, rivers and lakes to explore. My most recent publication was in ‘L’Eco Di Bergamo’ an Italian daily newspaper with a circulation of circa 5000 – It was a full-page feature on singer Luca who I spoke about earlier; they used 2 of my photos. I have quite a few credits on albums where my photos have been used too, of which I am extremely proud’.
Do you use flash or any extra lighting? ‘No, never for gig photography. It’s so off-putting for a band having a flash blinding them and annoying for the audience too. Most venues don’t allow it for those reasons anyway. You just have to do your best with what light there is. It’s always interesting arriving at a new venue and guessing what lenses you’ll need to do the job and if you’ve only got 3 songs in the pit, you have to get it right first time’.
Have you had any photo days when nothing seemed to work and shots weren’t as good as you hoped ? ‘Not really. I dropped a camera once on a hard floor and broke a lens. I blame the lovely Nathan James of Inglorious for that; buying me too many vodkas and making me rather wobbly! I also had a camera body pack up during a shoot – but I always carry 2 bodies and spare lenses for that reason’.
What are your favourite photographs that you have taken, and why? ‘I was dreading you asking me that question!…That is so difficult to answer. My favourite photographs are probably not the most perfect in composition or taken on the biggest stages of the most famous rock stars, or the ones that have been published and so on, but are often the ones that capture memories with friends, show passion in the performance, and capture personal moments. They are the ones I am proud of’.
‘Arron Keylock – the young blues rock guitarist/songwriter/singer I first met in 2014. I pressed the shutter just as he lifted his head and his hair went flying. The stage lights lit his hair up like a rainbow which I liked. BUT, I nearly deleted the photo as I didn’t like that his face was illuminated bluey-purple as well. I dithered for a while and decided to upload it to Facebook anyway. Arron loved it, so did his management and the photo ended up being used for the next 2 years for all his promotional material and was used for his debut album ‘Cut Against The Grain’.
‘Uriah Heep at Koko – The end of the gig and the band called me onstage to photograph them with the audience behind them. I just love all the happy faces and that buzz I felt – honoured to take the picture. I can see quite a few friends in the audience too. It was a real tag-fest when the photo went on Facebook’.
‘Michael Monroe – October 2015 taken side of stage. Lots of stage smoke and lights flashing on and off – it was the last song of the set and I anticipated Michael would do something dramatic at the end. I caught the moment as he launched himself from the bass drum’.
‘Luca Ravasio – my Italian friend who I am blessed to hear sing every Sunday at Metalworks in Camden, the rock/metal night I PR for. He is one of the best frontmen I know and always gets the evening going with his zeal and energy in every performance. I’ve photographed Luka more than any other performer over the last 4 years. I never tire of watching, listening to and shooting him’.
‘Richie Faulkner – Judas Priest, formerly of Metalworks, and comes to play with the band if he is back in London. I just love that snarl he is pulling in this shot’.
‘Craig Ellis – the drummer of Tygers Of Pan Tang. I have hundreds of photos of Craig. He pulls the most wonderful faces whilst playing. I particularly liked the colours of this shot, taken at Cambridge Rock Festival’.
Any photos that have surprised you how well they have come out? ‘Most of them! haha…You never can quite tell how good a photo is till you download the raw file and look at it on a pc screen. Sometimes, even the darkest photo can reveal something beautiful during editing – the beauty of Adobe Lightroom’.
What and where is your next project? ‘As I type, I’ll be in Camden Sunday shooting Metalworks as usual, then off to Butlins Rock & Blues Weekend in Skegness 19th January where my personal challenge is to shoot the 51+ acts over 4 stages during the weekend. I’m under no obligation to photograph all of them, but always try. I always attend Butlins Rock & Blues Festival in January and the Alternative (Punk/Ska) weekend in October. I might also be squeezing in a quick promo shoot for an imminent album press release midweek too’.
To see more of Sally’s work go to: www.facebook.com/punkrocksalmedia
Interview by Gary Alikivi January 2018.
Par Can – Stage hand and Lighting Designer, Backline, 20th November 2017.