Behind the camera: Chris Blizzard

Who are you? My name is Chris, a music photographer based in Oxford (UK). I’m one of the house photographers at the O2 Academy and often travel out to punk rock shows elsewhere (since the scene for punk in Oxford is a little sparse). As well as the photography, I also play. My main instrument is bass, though I’m also a classically trained saxophonist, and I’ve played drums and guitar in bands too. Honestly I think a passion for music is important for gig photography, since a paycheque can be so hard to find.

How did you get started? I don’t have the long history that some do, using their parents camera at the age of two, I started relatively late, first getting a fuji bridge whilst working as a sound engineer. I occasionally got chance to take a couple of pictures, but it was more of a family camera. Eventually, hitting the limits of that camera, I went ahead and got a “proper” camera, but still didn’t pursue any kind of serious photography. Eventually, in an effort to get better photos, I did a project 365, which helped me learn more about the camera, and also what I enjoyed pointing it at the most.

What’s in the bag? What I have in my bag varies depending on what I’m shooting. My day to day camera is my Pentax K1000, which always has a 50mm f2 stuck on it. Sometimes when I go for a walk I’ll take something odd, like when I took my Kodak 620 Jr up Scafell Pike. Most gigs I have my Pentax K5, a 16-50mm f2.8, 50mm f2, 135mm f2.8, a rarely used flash, and perhaps most importantly, at least one set of ear defenders.

Which photographers do you admire? Always a hard one, since I’m always finding new photographers, and there’s usually something about every one that I admire. The one’s I put down will probably seem cliche, but here they are anyway.

  • Todd Owyoung. Great, colourful, clean portraits of musicians. So consistent. The next generation will think of him the same way we think of people like Jim Marshall and Bob Gruen.
  • Adam Elmakias. Mainly for his wide angle work. I’m also jealous abuot him spending so much time on the road with awesome bands.
  • Chase Jarvis. Anyone who shares as much as Chase does should be admired. The things I’ve learned from watching Chase Jarvis Live…

Your top 3 tips for music photographers?

  • Do it because you love it, not because you think there’s easy money in it.
  • Always wear ear protection.
  • Ignore the gear snobs.

My favourite shot is? Always changing. I think I’m too close. Sometimes I really like a photo because it was so hard to get. Sometimes because the stage manager gave me extra access, but I shouldn’t like a picture more because of that. The trouble is we link photos to experiences. If we have a positive experience, or overcome a challenge in some way, we look at the photos more fondly. Having said that, my favourite is probably not a live music one.   It’s a landscape I took on the way up Scafell Pike (using the Kodak I mentioned earlier). To me the photo represents a photography challenge (no help focusing, awkward viewfinder, no exposure meter, having to modify film, etc) but also a personal challenge overcome. To me it represents the day I successfully climbed our highest peak with my sister. If I had to choose a music one, It would probably be my shot of The Vinyls playing into the sunset. Again, it represents a fantastic day of live music, in the sun. And how often do we get to shoot a sunset with live music photography?

How can we find out more about you and find more of your work?


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