Who are you? Simon Fernandez. Born and raised in London, I’ve been shooting mostly gigs and portraits of musicians for about fifteen years. In that time I’ve photographed for a variety of magazines and websites, and covered most genres of music. I also have an unhealthy interest in film photography, so when I can I take myself off to beautiful parts of the countryside and photograph landscapes.
How did you get started? After graduating, I got talking to the PR of a club in Spitalfields called the The Spitz. They were just beginning to put on bands and needed photos of their gigs; so I offered myself to them as I thought it would be a good way to get experience. As luck would have it the profile of the club grew, and with that more famous acts would play there. After a few years I began a succession of steps from small magazines such as Plan B, Looses Lips Sink Ships, and Careless Talk Costs Lives, to photographing for larger titles such as Mojo. In amongst that I would occasionally have work in other publications like Vice, Sunday Times, Wire etc.
What’s in the bag? I carry as little as possible; and all depends on if it’s a large venue, and if flash is allowed. I’m currently using a Canon 5D MK2, but about to go to a Mark3 for the extra ISO range. Two standard zoom lenses 28-70 2.8 and a 70-200 2.8 and a 580EX flash gun. If I know there’s no flash allowed or it’s a small stage then I’ll reduce the amount of kit I bring. On rare occasions I’ll bring a 50mm and 85mm 1.8 if I know it’s a particularly dark venue. I try and use my flash as little as possible as it gives a false impression of the gig.
Which photographers do you admire? Eugene Smith and Sebastiao Salgado
Your top 3 tips for music photographers?
- Think about angles and what’s behind the performers. Stage lights are a good way to fill the background and make a shot look more interesting.
- It’s easy to fall into a routine where you take the same pictures time after time. When possible try shooting differently so you’re not repeating yourself Less predictable compositions, angles to bring out energy; or if you’re using flash then to use it creatively.
- Keep an eye on the stage; and try and capture the action and energy of a performance rather then just someone standing at a microphone.
My favourite shot is? I find it hard to have a favourite shot, as I always think there’s a better one around the corner. I got a shot of Nick Cave in Grinderman which I quite like, simply because it captures energy.
Nick Cave photo (above):
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM
Shutter speed: 1/160
Focal length: 30 mm
How can we find out more about you and find more of your work?