Music photography isn’t all beers and Belgium waffles from the best seat in the house. Actually, it kind of is.
We got deep in the photo pit with music photographer Charlie Hardy, who’s been snapping away at festivals in Australia, America, and Europe of late, not to mention touring with some of Australia’s most prominent bands. Get acquainted with Charlie and some of his best work from front and centre stage below.
You’ve got the best seat in the house for some of the best bands in the world, is that lost on you now after shooting so many shows?
Each time I go to shoot bands either at my local music venue, something new or even on a massive stage, I’m always excited to capture what goes down. It’s never lost on me that I get to shoot from the best seat in the house.
Survival tips for any festival?
Make sure you stop for a second while you’re shooting and take in where you are. Even stand back and just watch a band, because when you’re on the go it’s important to just stop and look around you for a moment. Oh and most importantly, drink lots of beer.
If you could give a few words to describe each Australian, American, and European festival crowds what would they be?
Australian – get a beer into ya. American – whatever you can imagine, we’ve got it. European – raincoat on your back, beer in one hand and a Belgium waffle in the other.
Any on the job casualties?
Last month I was in the Netherlands shooting Pinkpop Festival in the far south. I was photographing the RHCP for the first time, and during the second song, I noticed Flea was running across to the other side of the stage. In that time frame, I thought I’d follow and shoot from that side of the photo pit. As I held my camera up to shoot a photo, Flea landed in front of me and I copped the headstock of his bass to my face, splitting open my right eyebrow. He apologised to me on stage in front of the whole crowd at the end of the song. The song they played after was Scar Tissue. Pretty fitting.
How you capture the most incredible stage performers?
I guess there are two types of shooting, being able to predict what the musician or band are going to do on stage and making sure you’re there at right time and place to capture it. And then there are moments where it just all falls together without any intention and you’re just lucky to capture it.
If you could’ve photographed at any festival, any year in history, where would it have been and who would you have wanted to shoot?
That’s a tricky one. I guess Big Day Out, I never had the chance to shoot there and it was a festival that I grew up going to. If I had a choice of year it would be 1992, Nirvana and the entire lineup would be all time to shoot.
Best thing about what you do?
Always expecting new things. There have been bands I’ve photographed six times in a row on a tour and each time it’s always different. Not knowing what’s next around the corner has always pushed me to go that extra step.
What were some of your Lollapalooza favourites?
At Lollapalooza, I lived off deep pan pizza and Budweiser jumbo cans. Only neg thing was they get warm quick, so down them fast. It was cool to see people doing sign language to the crowd at the side of every stage, you just don’t see that back home. One of them was even lucky enough to be joined by Anthony Keidis for a whole song and got a hug from him at the end.
Check out more of Charlie’s work right here, and his shots from last weekend’s Lollapalooza below.