I’ve been racking my brain lately for something to write about that could be a regular feature on the blog. Loads of people say you should just write what interests you, but so much interests me and I want to keep the blog photography themed. Hence, “The story behind the photo” – an occasional series where I post one of my favourite photos and explain how it came about.
Today’s photo is a shot from Iceland Airwaves 2013, the annual music festival held in Reykjavík, to which I have been as photographer for The 405 since 2011. Even in that short space of time I’ve seen the festival grow; I’ve seen popular venues close and new ones open, and I’ve seen Björk in the wild several times. During the early morning of 3rd November, Jon Hopkins took to the stage of Harpa Silfurberg to close the night with some face-melting electronic music.
When shooting electronic music, there isn’t really a lot you can do. In this case, Hopkins was alone on stage standing behind his gear, so all you could see from the photo pit was his head and shoulders, and little else. The lighting was mainly from the back of the stage too, so you could barely see his face, leading to a few disappointing shots of an anonymous figure looking downwards with a frown of concentration barely visible through the dry ice.
As a photographer, one soon learns that many of the best shots come from looking the other way. Nowhere was this more true than at this particular gig, as the aforementioned backlighting would occasionally cast amazing colourful shadows on the walls of the venue, while also illuminating the faces of the crowd. So I stood to the far end of the pit, hoping that nobody else would spot what I was doing, perched on a step (taking care not to get in anyones way) and waited for the silhouette of Hopkins to appear.
The final result is one I’m very pleased with – the larger-than-life silhouette with the coloured edges makes Hopkins appear as an almost supernatural presence, as much operating the crowd directly as he is his equipment.