I first started delving into the works of the legendary Bev Davies only just over a year ago but after discovering what I have (which is simply scratching the surface) I realized what an important person she is to rock and roll history, along with Vancouver history.
Along with Kris Krug, whose rock photography is recent yet not any less inspiring and captivating, Dave Olson will guide these two through a journey of their craft both on and offline.
“I wanted to start with something a little bit bigger than that, which is why you are taking these photos,” asks Dave while avoiding conversations about aperture and depth of field etc.
Bev was working at the Georgia Straight during some of these shots, including one of Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden. “I was collecting, I wasn’t sure what I was collecting for but I was.”
Why are you there if everyone else is there? With regards to crammed photo pits that Krug has been a part of (while Bev was often the only camera at a punk show back in the day.
The next slide is Iggy Pop, decades apart – one from Davies, another from Krug. “I have a real crush on men that wear eye makeup,” says Bev.
Krug says Davies is “one of the pillars on which the entire movement is built,” talk ing to how she captured these moments and opened doors for fans and photographers.
Dave asks how perspectives change when you’re a fan versus just showing up at a concert – how does your appreciation and passion for the subject affect your shots?
“There’s also a pressure to get a good photograph, whether you’re doing it for a newspaper, a magazine, or for yourself.”
Bev’s style changed with digital, while Krug carries a big kit almost everywhere (although sometimes it’s left in a corner until he needs to pull it out get snap some unmissable shots).
Dave loves to casual shots, talking about the edginess of the Dead Kennedys (as photographed by Bev) but behind the scenes both Bev and Kris can capture those more casual moments. Pointing to the Dead Kennedys shot Dave notes, “And look like them, they look like the IT department at work!”
He also asks them to talk about those surprising and candid moments and Bev describes the joy of photographing the band interacting with each other – capturing their times with each other, not just the poses for the fans, posters, and calendar covers.
Dave, “once you get to know an artist is it easier to shoot them?” Bev got a heads up from members of DOA whenever something noteworthy was going to take place ie. the burning of the guitar that we see in an image on the screen.
Tips for getting caught without accreditation? Krug swaps out memory cards, while Bev says “in the bra” worked for her. However there is the fear of being blacklisted – you don’t want to totally go nuts.
How do you go in and capture these shots full of movement? Bev says, “stand at the front.” With regards to workflow, you’d get that one shot and what happens to the rest? Bev references her 144 Punk Rock Photos exhibit that Dave actually covered a while back. She says she’s been working on archiving her photos digitally by scanning them over the last two years — Dave does a quick shout out for an intern for Bev.
Dave pulls up two comparison photos of shadowed, backlit rockers and Bev says you’re always aiming for the eyes, face definition etc. but sometimes you just have to “start shooting for the shape, rather than the content and let the shape tell a story.”
More shots without faces appear on screen including one from a backstage perspective of the frontman’s legs, shoes, then the lit up faces of the audience. “I was just standing back in one area and again, I just liked the shape,” noted Bev and she says she started noticing the shoes and footwear of bands — quirky examples of connecting (or not) with a band through all artistic aspects.
“It’s one thing to shoot your buddy’s punk band but it’s another for these bigger shows just to get in and get your camera in there,” Dave asks Bev and Kris about access. Kris says, “it’s always the same dudes at most of the same places, life’s long and you don’t want to burn out right away,” his advice is to take it easy – even show them some shots you’re taking on the fly.
Bev’s shot for The Province and the Georgia Straight before so she knows the difference between having “access” to the photo pit compared to looking out and seeing cameras in the crowd — be one with the audience if you can, whenever you can. The photo that’s up on screen for this part of the discussion is one Bev took of Madonna during her first concert… ever.
“Look we have a young earnest Bono (look his head was only tiny then,” Dave says pointing to a shot Bev took of Bono that’s up on the screen. Bev notes that she’s getting all kinds of feedback from Flickr – people saying she could crop and photoshop these images although I think we all realize the impact of her captures of these moments and these people at this point in their careers far out weighs any ‘photoshopping’ criticism.
Pressed for time, Dave rips through the remaining slides and the final image is of the band “The Spores” at a concert in Surrey that Bev took and a little young DaveO is right there, in black and white, in the audience.
Update: Slides from this presentation are available online.