2013 review

I was really keen to improve the quality of my images in 2013. At the start of the year, I was aware that a few of my live shots were starting to look a bit samey – I’d been paying more attention to getting my shots sharp, and the creativity of my compositions had suffered as a result. I had to raise the bar if I wanted to progress any further, and to do so I decided I needed better tools for the job. In January, I invested in my first full frame camera – a Canon 5D MarkIII – and I was instantly impressed with the sharpness of my shots and the quality of images taken in low light conditions. If I was going to improve my images, this new piece of kit certainly stood me in good stead.

My first few gigs of the year were all very well lit – Paloma Faith, Jake Bugg and Two Door Cinema Club at Leeds Academy and Example at Sheffield Arena:

ExampleSheffield Arena, Feb 2013

The new gear got it’s first real test when I got a pass to shoot the awesome Frightened Rabbit at Leeds Met which was a much tougher gig, and the 5D MkIII held it’s own really well:

Frightened RabbitLeeds Met, Feb 2013

At the end of February I made my first trip of the year across The Pennines to shoot one of my favourite live bands – The Joy Formidable – in Manchester. Here’s my favourite shot of Ritzy at the Ritz:

The Joy FormidableManchester Ritz, Feb 2013

March saw my first big gigs of 2013. Being a massive Biffy Clyro fan, I was keen to get in to shoot their first full UK Arena tour. So much so, that I got photo passes for both the Manchester and Sheffield dates:

Biffy ClyroManchester Arena, Mar 2013

Following the Biffy arena dates I shot a handful of awesome smaller gigs, including Peace at Manchester Club Academy and Pure Love at 53° Preston, before heading back over to Manchester at the beginning of May to pay my first visit to my my favourite venue – The Apollo – to scratch the Yeah Yeah Yeahs from my bucket list:

Yeah Yeah YeahsManchester Apollo, May 2013

May also saw me shoot my first festival of 2013, as part of the official photo team for Live at Leeds. This was the usual slog of marching around Leeds to shoot as many bands as physically possible, and I manage to catch some awesome acts throughout the day. Tribes, Lone Wolf, Hawkeyes, These Monsters, Alunageorge, Everything Everything and Mercury-nominee Laura Mvula were all on my list:

Laura MvulaLive at Leeds 2013

And the May bank holiday weekend was drawn to a close in emphatic style, with The Vaccines putting in a well received shift in Millennium Square:

The VaccinesLeeds Millennium Square, May 2013

May went on to be a fairly busy month for me, with further landmark gigs. Firstly, Mercury-holding Leeds University Alumni Alt-J returned to “Yooooooorkshiiiiire” for a sold-out date at Leeds Academy. I then popped over to Manchester to cover cult-icons The Postal Service do their first gig in ten years.

Alt-JLeeds Academy, May 2013

Had my first major promo shoot of the year in May, too. I spent a very sunny saturday with the local legends The Sunshine Underground to get some shots for their upcoming single release and tour:

The Sunshine Underground

The summer of 2013 brought with it my greatest photographic achievement yet – shooting Leeds’ biggest gig for decades. I was one of a handful awarded a photopass for Bruce Springsteen’s ‘test-run’ of Leeds’ brand new Arena:

Bruce SpringsteenLeeds Arena, Jul 2013

Festivals came thick and fast in the Summer, too – first up was Y Not? Festival in Derby – holder of the Best Small Festival award, and sporting a lineup that featured The Cribs, The Darkness, The 1975, The Horrors, Drenge, Swim Deep and Mystery Jets, but my favourite shot of the weekend was of legendary Northern Irish trio Ash:

AshY Not? Festival 2013

Next on my festival calendar was the rapidly-growing Hipster weekender, Beacons Festival. Egyptian Hip-Hop, Lulu James, Stealing Sheep, Ghostpoet, Dutch Uncles, Local Natives, Gold Panda, Django Django and Savages all contributed to a line up that had the festival punching successfullly above it’s weight:

GhostpoetBeacons 2013

The weather wasn’t particularly ideal for festivals this summer, and this was no more apparent than at Leeds Festival, which was a veritable mud swamp:

MudLeeds Festival 2013

Weather aside, the weekend was great to shoot – Headline performances by Biffy Clyro, Eminem and Green Day were all fantastic, with sets by System of A Down, Deap Vally, Deftones, Editors and Foals being particular highlights:

Green DayLeeds Festival 2013

My final festival of the summer came in September at Bingley Music Live. The lineup for Bingley was a lot stronger this year, with Chic feat. Nile Rodgers, Primal Scream, The Fratellis, Wilko Johnson, Katy B and Tinchy Stryder, as well as Wakefield heroes The Cribs, who I was lucky enough to join on stage:

The CribsBingley Music Live 2013

September saw the end of my Festival Season, and before I knew it Gig Season was well underway. To kick things off, the Kaiser Chiefs headlined at Leeds Arena:

Kaiser ChiefsLeeds Arena, Sep 2013

September also provided a landmark for me – my first portrait commission for The Fly magazine. I was tasked with doing a quick shoot with Mexican Psychedelia-grunge duo Lorelle Meets The Obsolete:

Lorelle Meets The ObsoleteCommission for The Fly Magazine

Probably the biggest act I photographed in the Autumn was Hip Hop icon Jay-Z, when he kicked off his Holy Grail tour at Manchester Arena:

Jay-ZManchester Arena, Oct 2013

With gig season in full swing, I photographed Ellie Goulding in Manchester and Johnny Marr in Leeds, before getting the call to shoot one of the most challenging gigs I’ve ever covered – Daughter at Leeds Town Hall:

DaughterLeeds Town Hall, Oct 2013

Arctic Monkeys’ AM tour as well as 90’s legends Travis and Suede filled the rest of my calendar for October, and a very busy November featured Vampire Weekend, Placebo, bucket-list occupants Depeche Mode and Queens of The Stone Age, one of my favourite bands of recent years – The National:

The NationalManchester Apollo, Nov 2013

but probably my favourite shot from November was from the Leeds Arena debut of one of my favourite bands of my late teens and twenties, Welsh legends Stereophonics:

StereophonicsLeeds Arena, Nov 2013

As winter drew in, I made the trip over to the west coast of shoot recently-announce Glastonbury headliners Arcade Fire perform their Reflektors show at the Empress Ballrooms..

Arcade FireBlackpool Empress Ballroom, Nov 2013

December kicked off with a trip over to Preston for The Darkness who are a music photographers wet dream, before shooting Peace for the third time this year at Leeds Met SU. I was back at The Met a few days later for my penultimate gig of the year: LA havoc-wreaking sisters Haim:

HaimLeeds Met, Dec 2013

My final gig of 2013 was at Leeds Academy, for the first of two festive “Cribsmas” dates:

The CribsLeeds Academy, Dec 2013

So, those were my highlights for 2013. I think I managed to get a bit more variety in my shots to previous years, and hopefully I’ve increased the calibre of my work enough to make the next step up. Fingers crossed..