Interview: Maclay Heriot At ACP

I think I speak for everyone at Monster Children when I say Maclay Heriot is our favorite guy.

Besides having unbeatable photographic intuition (he knows where to look and when to press the button), he’s a genuinely good-natured and professional dude, who’s fun and cool and an absolute dream to work with. I met him for the first time in 2013 and assumed his enthusiasm and positive attitude must be compensating for mediocre work, but then I saw his photos and thought, ‘Fucking hell. This kid is going places.’ And he is. He just opened a show with Ruth Medjber at one of Australia’s most prestigious institutions: The Australian Centre for Photography. The show is called Sense The Music, and we hit him up for details on the eve of the opening.

How did the show at ACP come about?
I don’t know if you remember but there was this post-bushfires/pre-COVID moment where we had a couple of blissful weeks, and I was approached at that time by ACP curator Allison Holland, asking if I would like to be apart of their ‘In Dialogue’ for 2020. Each year the ACP offers an opportunity for two artists—an Australian and an international artist—to discuss their creative practice, experiences and inspirations. So, in early February, I began corresponding with Ruth Medjber in Dublin. Ruth is also heavily based in music photography, and prior to this we had never crossed paths or been in contact, but now our conversations, thoughts and touring music photographer struggles are available for everyone to see online.


How will attending the show work with the Pando situation?
The COVID has the space currently limited to 20 persons at any one time, and the opening night has been pushed back a few weeks till we can best manage the masses of people that will attend.
Tell me this: when did you start taking photos and why did you gravitate toward music?
I started shooting during the last few years of high school, then made an effort (to make it a career) a few years after that. I’ve always played music or been around music and bands, and a camera worked out to be a pretty good way to get through the door and up the front of a gig for free.
How old are you right now in years, months, days, hours, and minutes?
I’m 32 years, 10 months, 18 days, 1 hour, and 47 minutes old. And counting.

How many pics are in the show and how did you go about making your selection?
Between Ruth and myself there are around forty selects. A common thread that kept coming up between us was community and family—family in the sense of being on the road and on tour; the relationship you build with that touring family you create. So, there’s a selection of proof sheets from my Portugal. The Man collection; then there’s ‘Mates in Music’, which is a project I’ve been working on, documenting friends and creative colleagues… I was becoming really aware of the friendships that form and cut across different bands, artists, and neighborhoods in my local Sydney scene, and I wanted to capture them and start to build a strong narrative that I could work on over years to show how much we contribute to each other’s growth and creativity—while not knowing where any of us will end up. I’ve also included a massive panoramic print of King Gizz shot on an XPAN at Melbourne Laneway Festival earlier this year, which shows the dynamic relationships that happen inside a band, and in the moment on stage.
What would you be doing if not photography?
Park ranger would be pretty fun. Anything that gets me outside into some nature would be good.

What’s the deal with James Adams?
The James Adams? That photo guy? Pappy is a dear friend, which is nice in this cutthroat industry. It’s good to have a confidant that you can bitch over beers with about how you’ve been rinsed this month.
Pearl Jam or Nirvana?
Come As You Are
Blur or Oasis?
Spooky Tooth or Arianna Grande?
Crank the Tooth.

President Trump knocks on your door and asks to use your toilet. What do you do?
Fuck that chud. I’d hope he just ate Taco Bell and shits his Calvin KKKleins.
How many photos do you think you’ve taken in your life?
Oh, shit… Tens of thousands… Hundreds… Nah, probably millions. Possibly even billions… If I cut out all the digital photos I’ve taken and only count film… We’re talking 36 frames a roll, sometimes 12 if I’m on 120… Maybe shooting close to 500 rolls a year, maybe not this year… But over my life, it’s got to be almost capping the 100,000s. The strike rate for good shots is most definitely at the opposite end of that, though.

Five recording artists on your photo bucket list?
Can I choose recording artists I’d want to tour with? Because, like, I’ve shot a lot, after a bunch of festivals you cross off your bucket list pretty quick. But to get to go on tour and spend a few months with a band, that’s where the gold happens.
Ok, five recording artists you’d love to tour with. Go.
Jack White, in any of his creative combos; The Arctic Monkeys—AT and the band are always looking so good my Leica is crying; Nick Cave because Nick Cave. Dead & CO—I love some GD but think I’d spend more time shooting the Dead Heads in the parking lot… Tame Impala because, visually, the live shows would be incredible, and who couldn’t listen to Tame every night of the tour? The enigma that is Kevin would also be an interesting relationship to grow and document.
What happens next for Maclay Heriot?
Booking jobs for 2021. Don’t hesitate to reach out: 😉

Check out Sense The Music at ACP Projects Space Gallery, 21 Foley Street, Darlinghurst. Free and open to the public Tuesday to Friday 10 am—5 pm and 11 am—4 pm Saturdays till August 15.

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