Getting the shot, no matter what

OliviaColdplay at the Etihad Stadium
5th June 2016
Photo by Olivia Williams
Camera: 5DMKIII
Lens: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II
1/1000th, f/2.8, ISO 3200, 24mm

This is an amazing photo Olivia. Tell us about how you go the shot. I’d seen Coldplay’s set from R1 Big Weekend and knew how much energy Chris had on stage – so decided if I was going to this gig my camera was coming with me. I did my research on bag searches from the night before, and headed in. I did nearly get caught, but managed to blag my way out of the situation! After squeezing through hundreds of people I was far enough from the runway to be out of sight of security, but close enough to use my 24-70. I shot some photos throughout their set but knew if I got closer I’d get a much cleaner frame. So I made my way to the barrier, when everyone spaced out before they came back on for their encore, and stood behind two fairly tall people so I could shoot from behind them and not get caught. The confetti shot up so I followed him down the runway and waited for it to surround him. The second he turned around and sprung into life I grabbed a few frames and got the shot I needed! I knew I could really push the settings on my camera, and wanted as much light as I could on the crowd and confetti without blowing out the highlights.

Coldplay by Olivia Williams

Coldplay by Olivia Williams

Some music photographers may take issue with the fact that you released this photo without credentials and that you weren’t an ‘official photographer’. What would you say to that opinion? I think it’s fair enough, but it doesn’t bother me at all. I understand they feel like they have to protect the industry, but they know how hard it is to get started and get accreditation when you don’t work for a publication. I just figured I’d be proactive – I was too eager to get out and shoot than to sit and wait for a reply to appear in my inbox, when I’d sent out one hundred emails. As fellow music photographers, surely they understand the passion I have for what I do. I put my heart and soul into my work and I’ll jump at any opportunity I have to get a good photo. At the end of the day, if I hadn’t pushed the boundaries and broken the rules a little bit, people wouldn’t have seen my work and I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I’ve had. I just think people should appreciate the effort I’ve gone to, to try and improve and get somewhere in the industry. We should be encouraging new photographers instead of scaring away the ones with a huge passion for what they do.

Tell us a bit about yourself? I’m Olivia Williams, I’m 19 years old and from Manchester. I shoot both photos and video, whether it being a festival with Fanatic, or filming on a Live DVD. If I’m not at a gig, I’m taking photos at horse shows or working as a runner for the BBC. I just love having a camera in my hand.

How did you get started? From a young age I’d always loved taking photos, and going to gigs was a massive part of my growing up. So when I spotted a photographer at a show, and realised people actually shot live music as a job, I was unbelievably jealous and had to have a go myself. I couldn’t think of anything better than taking photos of my favourite band. I persuaded my dad to upgrade from our old point-and-shoot to an SLR and snuck it into a McFly Racecourse show, not really knowing what function any button on the camera served. After stumbling upon the backstage area, we walked straight to the front before they opened the gates and let everyone in. I had so much fun and got so much good feedback off everyone – from the fans to the band members themselves. I realised that I wanted to get serious about photography, so after picking up the camera up that day I switched it to manual and haven’t put it down since. I made sure I took my camera to everything I could do, to learn the ins and outs of how it worked, and seized every possible opportunity to shoot. I’ve been very lucky with meeting people in the industry that have believed in me and given me a chance at working with them on some really cool jobs.

Which photographers do you admire? I most admire Danny North & Andrew Whitton, their work blows me away. They really are the best at what they do. They’ve produced some of my favourite images to date and are the best/nicest people I’ve ever worked with. The same goes with the rest of the Fanatic team. I get to see their work as they create it and it’s always next level. Not only that but they’re also willing to share everything they know to help you improve, and being around people as genuine as that inspires me every day.

I could name so many but I’ll keep it short. I love the work of Conor McDonnell; how much he’s achieved already just shows how talented he is, and he continues to impress me with everything he works on. Marcus Haney is also a massive one for me. He wasn’t afraid to break the rules and I like that; he captures beauty in everything he shoots and it looks like he has the time of his life doing it.

How can we see more of your work?
Website: www.oliviaahw.co.uk
Twitter: @livsphotos
Instagram: @oliviaahw

Do not use this image without the correct permissions. Thank you.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Paul says:

    Fuckin class as always

  • Martin Templeman says:

    The restrictive practice this photographer mentions annoys me also. I always take my camera with me. I have a slim bum bag for my camera body and give my girlfriend the lens to put in the bottom of her hand bag. I always get to the front and I nearly always get a great shot. Good on you. A decent artist will appreciate a great photo no matter who takes it. If a pro can’t get the shot then someone else will. GREAT SHOT!! And well done.

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