Mia Pyrah’s on the beginning of her gig photography journey and, despite the current industry conditions, has been finding ways to keep busy by capturing live streams. There’s something to learn from everyone and the passion behind Mia will bring many more great photos in the future. Read her story.
What got you started?
There’s always been a camera in the house to take pictures of the family but never anything else really. I first picked it up when I was about ten, but I was taking crap photos of the cats or an out of focus tree.
About four years later I’d explore with it. I’d watch YouTube tutorials about how to control the camera and take what I’d learnt into the countryside surrounding my house.
It was never my intention to pursue photography at this point but it was something to do and my mum always seemed impressed when I’d show her pictures of the lamb I’d just taken.
My family have always played a part in all my photography endeavours. I’d take portraits of them, experimenting with different lighting conditions and consistently improving the picture.
As time passed, other things (life) got in the way and photography was getting less and less of my time. It felt almost pointless; I was beginning to become dissatisfied and separated from the shots I was taking.
Time that was previously filled with photography was now used to discover new music. But It was in this period that I’d find some incredible female musicians that were so blunt and honest that it completely changed the game and I fell in love.
I was captivated by their unapologetic confidence.
Capturing their empowerment on stage as they approached topics like lesbian relationships, depression, anxiety and the day to day struggles was my new purpose. Hearing other women share these similar experiences with so much conviction that other women could relate and feel comfortable, was something I had to shoot.
Who or what inspired you?
The Big Moon, Marika Hackman, The Japanese house, Arlo parks, Muna, Art School Girlfriend, the list just goes on… It’s wild to think that I didn’t discover them before, I must have been looking in the wrong places- living under a rock. Or taking too many photos of trees.
After discovering all these amazing female artists, I’d search for photos of their previous gigs and get inspired. I’d always want to throw my own spin on my photos, though. I didn’t want to create stereotypical gig photos, so my edits have always been experimental.
I’ve always been drawn to dramatic edits like light leaks, grain and double exposures. Capturing the vibe of the artist and atmosphere is important in all my images.
It’s the musician’s energy that inspires me the most. I don’t look to conventional practices for my inspiration. I want my photos to stand out as much as the band on that night.
I wanted to watch all the musicians live and have something I could take away from that, not just their meaningful lyrics but a captured moment.
All of the female musicians I’ve found all mean something to me, so seeing them live is like a dream come true. When you love them that much it’s an unreal experience seeing them perform right in front of you, it’s like you’re connected to them on an emotional level.
What has been your favourite show so far and why?
My favourite gig I’ve attended so far is the Marika Hackman gig before lockdown. Although the last gig I attended was the St Martins gig at the poetry club in Glasgow. It was quite a special night because on the same day they released their EP Hoping for the Worst (that didn’t age well).
But I have a lot of love for Marika she was the first musician that I discovered that I could fully relate to and also get completely obsessed with. Her songs are just so badass and unapologetic, so honest and definitely don’t beat around the bush. That ‘not holding anything back’ energy was the thing I needed at the time. Like I said before it’s super empowering hearing it from another woman.
She’s been in the game for a while. It’s like she’s peeling away a layer of skin becoming more exposed and vulnerable with every album. She’s able to express her sexuality and insecurities with the way she writes becoming more developed as time moves on, becoming blonder and not giving a damn in what people think
It takes self-confidence to say “right, do I want to talk about this or just leave it?” She was quite poetic and metaphorical in her EP’s and debut album We Slept at Last which I really loved. There was a lot more mystery and a lot more to unpick, but she’s progressed in such a way that she’s completely comfortable now than she ever was.
I’m such a marika Hackman nerd.
What’s your favourite photo you’ve taken and why?
It’s a really really really tough decision to choose one photo. The photo’s I’ve added is a collection of my faves. They are quite diverse and have different textures such as grain/dust and also double exposure which I’ve been playing with a lot recently. I think they sum up what the artist/band is all about.
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I really like your live-stream shots, how have you been doing those?
Thank you. This is probably really surprising but I mainly use apps on my phone/iPad I don’t use photoshop to edit my photos, my go-to is Lightroom and other photo edit apps that offer effects/filters which I’ve been using to edit the live-stream shots.
For the first couple of live-streams I shot, I’d have them playing on my iPad and I’d take the pictures just using my phone. Then it evolved to me just taking screenshots so I’d have them directly on both devices.
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What’s the first thing you’re gonna do after lockdown?
I’ve got a Big Moon gig planned in October hopefully it doesn’t get cancelled or rescheduled to next year. I’m planning to take one of my friends to a gig, she’s recently got hooked onto their music so it’s the perfect opportunity to see them live.
Immediately after lockdown though, it will be reconnecting with my mates. Facetime works, but it doesn’t- y’know.
I imagine there’s a lot of pent up energy without the gigs, what are your dreams once shows are back in full swing?
My dream is to capture the emerging musicians in Newcastle.
I haven’t had the opportunity yet to go to local bands gigs, COVID-19 has stopped me from doing that I’ve basically just started gig photography and when everything was getting in to swing of things this shit storm came and stopped it all.
I had a few lined up that I was planning to go to but it’s not happening now. I honestly can’t wait to get into the photo pit and take photos again, but definitely, my main aim is to take photos for local bands and writing concert reviews again, I’ve written three and I’m keen to start it up again.
What have I not asked you that you think is really important when it comes to gig photography?
As I said previously is still very earlier days for me and I kinda jumped into not knowing where I’d go and where it would take me. The people I’ve talked to/met is crazy to me because I didn’t think anything like that would happen to me, my expectations are very low when it comes down to stuff like that.
I think-just keep going to gigs and shooting gigs and try and be involved with it as much as you can to build a presence in the community of various types of photographers and supporting photographers work, you’ll get nowhere in this industry if you’re not dedicated to it, but If your heart is in it and you’re passionate about it you’ll see results.