Behind the camera: Simon Fernandez

meWho 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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
Aperture: f/2./8
Focal length: 30 mm
ISO 3200

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

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