portrait

Negative Gemini: The Grand Social by Aaron Corr

Straight off the back of my long overdue holiday, GoldenPlec offered me two assignment for the day I returned. No rest for the wicked. Shooting this show was the second of the two shoots I had that day, and boy was it a challenge!

The Grand Social can be tricky to shoot in sometimes due to the lighting and this was definitely one of those cases. Lindsey French, aka Negative Gemini, took to the dark stage and leaped around in a black coat and tinkered with her samplers and keyboard to either side of the stage. A screen projected images along to her songs but this largely created a large white light when trying to expose for Lindsey in the dark corners. Focusing was tricky on it’s own, never mind keeping the shot from blurring due to long exposures combined with the high ISO in use.

After the show I approached Lindsey to ask if I could grab a quick portrait with her. With the video projector still in use on the stage I decided to use that and light her with it. I took five quick snaps and said my goodbyes. I love the psychedelic nature of how they turned out.

Check out her interview with GP and review of the show. Click any image for the full gallery.

Rosborough: Plec Picks 2018 by Aaron Corr

The GoldenPlec Plec Picks shoot with Rosborough was a last minute addition to my schedule of shoots.  The Derry man was in town to play the Paul McLoone Christmas show in the Workmans Club with Bitch Falcon and Otherkin.  The shoot would have to happen in or around the venue between soundchecks.  I was used to this happening with the GoldenPlec gigs that used to run every month in there, but the need to make the shoot not look the same as all the portrait shoots that has happened there is the tricky part.

I arrived to meet Glenn and set up my usual equipment, Canon 430 EXII Flash on a tripod lit through a soft-box.  I got him to stand and I took some portraits where I’d darken the background so that it is not visible.  There was some reflection of the flash in the doors that I removed or muted in photoshop.  We took some wider shots that takes in the main bar room of Workmans before I made things a little more portable to take photos on the stairway.

I used a portable soft-box, held in my left hand and tested this for a few shots while Glenn sat on the stairs.  I wanted to get a look with the yellow and red steps adding some muted colour to the shots.  We finished up with the same set up on the landing between the ground and first floor.  The look of there has changed since I took Orla Gartland’s portait there so I didn’t feel like I was retreading old turf by shooting there. 

I've seen Rosborough twice now, once acoustic, and the past weekend electric with his drummer.  His voice is incredible, and he really has the potential to have an amazing career.  If you get a chance to catch him live, do it.

Click to read the feature, click here to see my gallery.

Vulpynes: Plec Picks 2018 by Aaron Corr

Vulpynes were the first band I shot for GoldenPlec's Plec Picks for 2018.  Maeve & Kaz hit upon the idea of using the Light House cinema in Smithfield as an interior for some of the shoot.  It was December, it was freezing and the options can be tricky.  We got the go ahead from the manager, and a time for when it wouldn’t be too busy in the halls while screenings were in progress.  The trick to this part of the shoot was balancing the ambient light with the strobe.  I wanted to get these wide shots, but the strobe sometimes would overpower the fairy lights.  While there was no one breathing down our necks to hurry it up, I knew we had to keep things ticking along and not take the piss, so I got to a point where the lighting felt like a happy medium.   

I took some solo snaps of each of the girls, leaving the strobe alone for these shots since being this close to the fairy lights wasn't working to balance the two.

We ventured out to the cold and had a look towards a pub that we hoped to use.  It was busy for a Monday so we nixed that idea.  We moved up towards the Old Woolen Mills area to see what the square there was like.  We shot a few portraits on staircase, I used my portable soft-box for this part of the shoot.

We moved on to a location I'd long had in mind to use.  It was just around the corner from where I live in Dublin 7 and was a corner of a traffic junction, previously a wall with posters on it, and now it's a section of a rustic garden.  I like finding places in the city centre that look like you are somewhere completely different.  I set up the strobe on a tripod with the soft-box and we took within five minutes to take some photos as traffic passed us by.  Maeve and Kaz were great to hang out with and I'm grateful for them to participate in some of the colder shots on the night.  

Click to read the feature, and here for my gallery.

Erica Cody: Plec Picks 2018 by Aaron Corr

Erica Cody was the second shoot I did for this year’s Plec Picks for GoldenPlec.  We met up one Saturday afternoon in December to do our shoot around the city centre.  We began in Smithfield with a graffiti’d wall that Erica had in mind for the shoot.  The sun shone very bright down the alley way, which took away any need to set up a flash.  Erica’s boyfriend was there to give a hand holding a reflector, to bounce back some light to the right side of her face in the above photo.    After a few shots and poses we moved on towards the Tivoli Car Park to make use of it.

I used to worry that taking photo around the Tivoli car park would seem cliché but it’s such a deadly place to use.  I’m glad I held off until now as Erica is a great personality to photograph against its backdrop.  We started with a few shots of her sitting on a wall of the car park.  The shot above makes it appear like the graffiti lightning is coming from her fingers which was a fun touch. 

We moved over towards the back wall and shot a variety of poses, this time with the flash/soft-box set up.  The final round of shots took place over by the smoking area of the Tivoli Theatre, where there are a load of picnic tables set up.  The same flash set up was used again.  I read this week that the Tivoli complex is to be knocked down, including all the graffiti except that it had to be preserved in photographic form.  I'm now glad I didn't leave shooting here pass me by, because very soon it will be gone.  It will be missed.

Click to read the Plec Picks feature, and click here for gallery.

Laoise: 18 for '18 Photoshoot by Aaron Corr

This December and January have been the busiest for running portrait shoots for GoldenPlec and The Thin Air so far.  I added Laoise to my list of shoots to do for The Thin Air's 18 for '18 features.  We were to meet up on a Saturday evening in Dublin city centre, and try get a neon look for the shoot, inspired by her recent video for her recent single, Rich.  I got to thinking about where had good neon lights or that colourful vibe at least.  I took a stroll around the city trying to get ideas, with the focus being on a particular restaurant that has a very cool neon interior based on all the pictures I’d seen online, but I’d yet to visit it.  They called me back late in the day, it turned out they wanted a hefty fee for us to do the shoot, so that was out of the question.  

This setback left me wrecking my head in the last hour before we were to meet.  We'd reluctantly agreed to meet at Grand Canal Dock to see about using the giant, red light poles that decorate the front area of Bord Gais Theatre.  It was a chilly night, and I don’t like to use obvious locations if I can avoid it so it wasn’t ideal.  Twenty minutes before I left my apartment a friend messaged me with a pic of a new enough bar on the quays, Riot.  They had this neon sign that said ‘fuck what people think’.  Laoise loved it.  I stopped in to inquire on the way to meet her, and the guys had no problem to let us use the premises for the shoot.  As luck would have it, the neon sign was downstairs, which wasn’t yet open for customers at that yime of the night, which gave us more privacy to work without being distracted.

All was going well, and then my Canon 430 EX-II decided it didn't want to participate.  It wouldn’t turn off or let me adjust the settings.  I used my Yongnuo 565 backup flash with a blue gel and shot it through my trusted softbox.  I turned the lights of the room off to get the full effect of the neon glow.  At times this made it difficult to focus on Laoise as she was completely in the dark.  I'd focus at times by using the flashlight on my phone.  Her friend helped out by holding a reflector so the blue flash would bounce back and light up the left side of her face that was getting cast in shadow. 

I loved how these shots turned out.  When we finished using the neon sign we tried a handful of snaps in a dimly lit corner room with a leather couch, and a lamp.  I tried using a pink gel on the flash this time to mix things up.  The writing on the wall was a bit too garish and the tight space in which to shoot wasn't as ideal as it looked from first impression, so we moved on.  

We took a few more shots on the stage that was opposite the neon sign, where more neon-ish lights light the roof and changed colours every few seconds.  I stood Laoise under a light in the ceiling, and put the bare flash with pink gel behind her for some rim light.  Her eyes were cast in shadow so I had the reflector fill in some light to her face to overcome this.  Thankfully, despite initial frustrations in getting the ideal location, it turned into a really cool shoot.

Click here to read the feature, and here for my photo gallery.

Dowry: 18 for '18 Photoshoot by Aaron Corr

In December The Thin Air  set me up to do an 18 for '18 feature with Dowry, aka Éna Brennan.  Éna was great at collaborating on picking a location for the shoot, and organised for us to take photos in her chosen location.  This gave us a lot to work with in terms of rooms, hallways, and stairways that gave a variety of looks from run down, abandoned and class.  Even though only one photo was required for the piece we took advantage of the opportunity to shoot a few set ups around the building.  

Read the feature here, and my gallery here.

Conor McGregor Portrait by Aaron Corr

Conor McGregor

A huge surprise landed my way near the end of October when I got asked to do a photo shoot with Conor McGregor for Virgin Media Ireland for their Play magazine.  He would be doing press for his documentary film Notorious.  I immediately felt a sense of pressure, a good pressure.  You know the type, the one you get when you're about to photograph probably the most famous sports star in the world right now.  The biggest question I asked myself was "How much time will I have with him?"  As the days neared I set the expectation that maybe five minutes could be my maximum time since it was a press junket.

The shoot took place on Halloween during the day in the Merrion hotel.  As I waited in the press room Conor popped the head in to say a quick hello to those of us waiting before returning to his room for more interviews.  My designated time was to follow TV3’s Lisa Cannon's interview with him for Box Office and the Play mag.  As I waited I learned that I didn’t have a set number of minutes, as soon as I got the picture I'd be done.  No pressure.  I had all my equipment with me, tripod, softbox and flash triggers.  I quickly set up my mini softbox that is more portable, but more tricky when holding it with my left hand while taking photos with the right.  

Conor McGregor

When the interview wrapped I was allowed in.  People leaving took selfies as they were saying goodbye to Conor and I surveyed the darkened room, lit mainly by the large studio lights for recording the interview.  In that moment I made the decision to abandon my impromptu flash set up and take advantage of the lights already set up.  Before I had time to think any further Conor was introduced to me, and he asked where I wanted him standing.  A standing position would have been ideal, but my decision meant I had to ask him to sit for the portrait since the lights set up at a lower level.  I took a test image, updated my settings and took the portrait you can see above of him smiling.  I asked him for a ‘power pose’.  He raised his fists and I took three more snaps.  He motioned to get up from his seat and I knew that in his mind I was to just there to get a picture  There were many people in the room, and not wanting to cause any delays I knew to wrap things up.  Lisa requested a quick photo with him while I was there.  A big part of me wanted to get a selfie myself, but the way I looked at it was that if I could afford the time to take a selfie, then I should have used that time to get another portrait as option. 

Conor was a gent to deal with for the short space of time I had.  I must have had a total of one minute, resulting in four photos.  I was reminded of the photography episode of Abstract on Netflix, when Platon notes at one point how he was under restriction to take just one portrait of a particular world leader.  So, I guess I didn't have it that bad by comparison.

Conor McGregor

Body & Soul Festival 2017 by Aaron Corr

This festival marked two firsts for me.  My first overnight festival where I'm doing photo coverage, and my first Body & Soul.  I've always wanted to go but it's right in the middle of a holiday blackout with my day job and I hated the idea of ruining the fun by leaving the festival early.  What I've found is I've wasted a few trips there and it's time to make up for it.

GoldenPlec sent me with resident reviewer Bernard and we roadtripped to Ballinlough Castle Estate to be greeted with a quick entry through secutiry and in to the Us & You Eco campsite.  My tent was set up in no time and I was amazed to discover all the relevent bits were still there since I last used it at Electric Picnic and couldn't remember what state it was in.  From there it was straight in to watch some bands, starting with Jafaris in the forest on the Pagoda stage.  I followed up with Talos on the main stage and pretty much kept there for the day, covering Anna Meredith and true headliners of the night, Metronomy.

It's now just over a year since I took some portraits of frontman Joseph Mount, and the release of their fourth album.  At the time he said he wouldn't be touring the album and I was a bit heartbroken.  A year later and a handful of gigs lead into festival season and the band make their return to Ireland.  I can sacrifice a headline show in Dublin to see them again at a festival.  I've only ever caught the band at festivals, since they've rarely played their own shows in Ireland, so this wasn't a bad thing.

They were in flying form and had amazing lights to shoot them on stage.  They segue their first three songs together, the same opening three songs from Summer 08, and as I go to leave I get the nod from our photographer liaison that we have one more tune to shoot.  A cool mistake and one I wasn't going to debate.   This was far better shoot than at Longitude 2015, when they were on a higher stage and where wide angle options were not great.  The Body & Soul stage is a cool one to shoot on, but the little raised bit in the centre does get in the way of a good few wide angle band shots from the weekend.  That gripe aside, it was a great start to a weekend's shooting.

After waiting around for final act of the night, Parcels, the festival organiser came onstage to announce that the band was here but their equipment stuck in Berlin.  They were replaced by Le Cool.  This was disapointing as I was really looking forward to seeing what Parcels were like.  I just stayed for one song as it was time to unburden myself of the camera bag and go enjoy the festival's sights at night.

Saturday began with photographing Loah.  I've seen her twice live since I did some portraits with her for Plec Picks 2015 but never shot either of those shows.  It was great to capture her, bright and colourful on stage on a sunny day.  Next up was Icelandic band Mammút.  I didn't hang around to watch their show, they didn't really do much for me.  I went to explore the festival and get some people shots around the walled garden.

I returned to the main stage again to photograph Lambchop.  There was nothing interesting to shooting them so I moved on during the second song and didn't stay.  The day was redeemed by La Femme, a French new wave band whose only song I knew was the one featured in the Renault adverts recently.  They put on a great show, swapping instruments, vocals, dancing around the stage, smoking cigarettes and looking quintessentially French.  

The day was further improved by Sleaford Mods arrival. This was the first time I've caught them live and they were cool to photograph, primarily vocalist Jason Williamson's passion in delivering the words on stage.  I always have a laugh at Andrew Fearn just standing around the back smoking, drinking and pressing play on the laptop.  

Bonobo were my last act to shoot on the main stage.  At first I thought it would just be smoke and silhouettes until their vocalist came onstage during the second song and saved the day and the photos.  She was beutifully lit and greatly improved upon what I was getting from the camera beforehand.  The night finished with King Kong Company in the Midnight Circus Tent.  I tried to shoot in this tent earlier but it was just DJs, low lighting and heavy on red lights.  Not helped was the extra addition to the stage at the front which made for a tight squeeze in the centre of the pit, and made it a no go area for photographers according to security.  Shots were limited for movement as a result, and the lighting didn't get a whole lot better, with dry ice and heavy yellows and purples washing everything out on stage.

Sunday was a better day, starting with Æ MAK.  This is my second time photographing them, after their support of Warpaint recently.  I nearly didn't make the set as I packed my tent to drop to the car, leaving my camera gear in Bernard's tent and locked with my coded lock.  When we returned the combination wouldn't work suddenly and we were stuck.  I managed to squeeze my hand in what little could be zipped open, reached his bag and he pulled out his swiss army knife from the front of it.  A zip was removed and we were in.  All was well again.  

Ailbhe Reddy followed Æ MAK's performance and later on I returned for Sinkane.  The big clash of the day came in the form of the two bands I wanted to see most that day.  Austra and The Moonlandingz. Due to band cancellations, the Midnight Circus timetable was given a reshuffle and hence the clash.  I had fifteen minutes between Austra beginning and Moonlandingz taking to their stage.  I was not missing them for the world.  I stayed for half a song for Austra, hence how limited options I had from their set.  I took a few shots and ran.

The Moonlandingz were so good they deserved a set all to themselves when I submitted them to GoldenPlec.  Lias, aka Johnny Rocket arrived on stage cling film wrapped to his mother, walking backwards to his microphone.  From there she escaped and he took off, launching to the front of the stage, stalking the crowd, dribbling beer and pulling all sorts of shapes an poses.  They are such a good band to shoot live, and I love the music and attitude.  Like Fat White Family, they are a different beast live to on record.  Unfortunately Rebecca Lucy Taylor was absent for backing vocals and her duet on The Strangle of Anna, opting to stay at Glastonbury it seems.  

The second to last band I shot that weekend was Hundred Waters.  This was another band that just didn't stir me at all.  I found the singer to seem a little shy, sometimes seeing the cameras and turning around.  It could have been coincidence but to me and a fellow tog is had an air of unconfidence.  Maybe we were wrong.  

The last act of the festival, Birdy Nam Nam, cancelled and the headline slot was given to Mykki Blanco, upgraded from the Midnight Circus tent.  This was of much benefit given that stage's set up.  We were advised that we could shoot the whole show as he loves photographers.  I chose to stick with the usual three songs as it was cold, late and I wanted to get home to bed as I had work in the morning.  Unfortunately bed was to wait as he had a DJ play for half an hour before he came on stage.  When he did arrive he was like whirlwind, boucing around the red light soaked stage, picking up props and roaming the stage.  I left my zoom lens in the bag and kept to my 24-70mm for the whole set.  By the third song he jumped into the crowd and got them to form a circle pit.  This was the best part of the shoot and a great way to end the weekend.

So I've talked about the bands a bit, now it's time to show off the people, the festival goers and music lovers.  It's a great festival for people to dress up and not give a damn.  I didn't realise there was so much going on around the site to encourage this, secret parties, raves, masked balls and wine parties.  I didn't see the half of it.  Maybe next year.