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Category: Professional Interviewed

James Looker's music photography career - James Looker's work is honest and full of passion. Here's how he blagged his way into the industry.

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Photo by James Looker.
Early photos of The White Stripes and the Strokes were just a few of the images that made up James Looker's portfolio which he marched up to London to show off to the NME. He didn't have an appointment, just plenty of bravado and the right images at the right time: “A week later I was flying to New York to do Radiohead,” said James.
For someone who attended numerous gigs and who's always played with cameras, music photography was the perfect career path particularly as the photographs James wanted to see were never being taken. James would see a moment happen on stage and realise that no one was shooting. It annoyed him that these moments were being lost and that's why his work has a look no one else has. His pictures are loud, colourful and full of passion, something which he describes as his handwriting: “I can't change it it's just the way I naturally am.”
Whether it's the chaos of a live gig or a wry smile of a portrait, James believes a photograph should connect, tell a story, expose character and draw you in. He likes an honest photograph and will only shoot genuine people, those who are what they are with no pretences. “If they believe in who they are or what they do I'll do an honest photo of them.” An image of Carl Barat of the Dirty Pretty Things crowd surfing is a great example of his ethos at work: “It sums up the chaotic moment perfectly, it reminds me of a religious painting, monumental. I still see new things in it even now.”
Carl Barat of the Dirty Pretty Things crowd surfing by James Looker.
Because of what he produces and how he shoots it James had worked for many clients and has found himself in numerous pits across the globe with his Canon EOS 1 series and his 50mm lens. He worked for NME as a freelancer for six years and more recently he's had work published in GQ, Elle, The Sunday Times and Dazed & Confused. “People tell me what they want and then leave it up to me to get it. I always know what I want to shoot before hand and then I go looking for it, I anticipate situations as much as I react to them.
The Killers by James Looker.
Photography isn't an art for James, it's not instinctive, you can either see an image or you can't. Something which has got even more important in the days of digital. “Digital has levelled the playing field, what once took months to learn technically now only takes hours, so you must always up your game to stay ahead commercially. You should always strive to learn new techniques, learning from your mistakes is as essential as learning from your successes.
For more information visit www.jameslooker.co.uk
Beth Ditto by James Looker.

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