With live music gigs cancelled since the end of March, not only are the bands losing out but a whole ancillary network has also been forced to stop, from the venues to sound engineers to the often overlooked music photographers. Joyzine’s podcaster and occasional contributing photographer Chris Patmore is one of those. We spoke to him about how he’s occupying himself during lockdown, and with no gigs happening for, most likely, the rest of the year.
Joyzine: How have you been coping with lockdown?
Chris: Apart from the lack of gigs, it’s actually been a nice break because being idle is my default mode. But I’ve been able to do lots of projects that I didn’t have time to do when I was out shooting three to five nights a week.
Joyzine: What sort of things?
Chris: First of all I did a print zine of some of the gigs I’d shot in the first three months of this year, which you can get here. I’ve been doing the zine sporadically for a few years now, but didn’t make one for a while as I was too busy shooting. At the beginning of the year it had been my intention to start doing it again as a quarterly, so I started well, but the ’rona put an end to that plan. I always wanted to do a printed portfolio of my favourite shots for no other reason than to have something in print that I could show to people that might want to hire me, but again, I was too busy shooting. When I started putting it together it was a daunting task as I’ve been shooting gigs around London for about a decade now, so I have many thousands of shots. I initially narrowed it down to around 500 shots, but then had to cull it to a manageable number that I could afford to get printed, which I was going to do using a print on demand service. While I was doing it I heard about the Music Venue Trust’s #saveourvenues campaign, so I thought I would make it available for sale and donate some of the proceeds towards the campaign.
Joyzine: So what is in the book?
Chris: It’s mainly indie and underground bands playing small venues around London, because that’s primarily what I choose to shoot. There are a few surprise name artists in there, but mostly they’re bands probably only known to people who frequent the various indie scenes, like the ones Joyzine supports. And it’s mostly guitar bands because that’s what I like. I’ve called the book Finding the Light because when shooting in the small venues the lighting is invariably awful, so to get a decent photo you need to find the best light and make the most of it. The photos I ended up using are those “decisive moments” when the lighting and the performance coincide to capture what I hope is the essence of live music. My underlying philosophy when I’m at gigs is to try and shoot iconic photos instead of just photos of icons. Hopefully I’ve got some way to achieving that goal.
Joyzine: Where is the book available?
Chris: Online, from Blurb (Finding the Light by Chris Patmore | Blurb Books UK) for £49.99, £10 of which is going to the Music Venue Trust. Because it’s print on demand it costs a bit more per copy than if it was a huge print run through a traditional publisher, but it was the only way for me to do it with no budget. I was originally only going to do just the one copy for myself, until I thought of selling it as a fundraiser. I’m going to limit it to 100 copies, which is a pretty optimistic target, or to keep it on sale until venues open up again, whichever comes first.
Joyzine: Can you tell me more about the book?
The book is seven inches square with a hard cover and dust jacket. It looks the business, and will fit in nicely with vinyl singles. There are 90 pages with 83 full-page photos in colour and black and white. On the website you can see a preview of the whole book to help you decide if you think it’s worth parting with your hard-earneds. I’ve made a Spotify playlist of the bands included. The sales of the book are going to help a good cause as well being a record of the recent London indie scene, because who knows how many of the venues, or bands, will survive this lockdown. We were losing enough venues as it was, before the pandemic. But I’m sure the scene will survive in some form or another, even if it means having warehouse gigs, because we need live music as it’s the life blood of new bands.
You can listen to Chris’s fortnightly To and From Show podcast of new UK and Australian indie music for the Joyzine Podcast Alliance on Mixcloud.