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Photographing the Kaiser Chiefs, Katy Perry and Enter Shikari

Photographing the Kaiser Chiefs, Katy Perry and Enter Shikari - If you had to choose between photographing at gigs or revising for your finals what would you pick? Here's Peter Hill's answer.

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The Automatic from warped tour 2007 in Virginia beach.
Being a fan of music, having a passion for photography and choosing to take pictures at a gig rather than revising for his final University exams were all good signs that music photography was something Peter Hill was meant to do.
 
I did initially turn the gig down when their manager called as I thought there was no way I could sack off all the last minute work and revision. I realised how stupid I was being though, and with photography being what I really wanted to do,  I called him back 5 minutes later and said yes.
 
After finding some useful insights and searching for the best people to approach, Peter's journey to becoming a full-time music photographer began. The Ordinary boys were one of the first bands he shot at a “proper” show and they were also the first band he toured with. He also shot the centrefold photos for their debut album, which was some of his first published work. Over time Peter found that every show he shot just got him more and more hooked on music photography and while doing graduate interviews for mind-numbingly boring positions he was out shooting shows, getting the last train home at 2am from London then spending the rest of the day editing his work.
 
It got to the point where I just thought that's it, and put all my efforts into the photography. It was pretty heavy going on my credit cards for a while, but I managed to make it work and sell enough shots to just about keep my head above water. This was all in late 2004 and I haven't looked back!
 
Paul Mullen from the Automatic at Geneva airport in August 2008 after we missed our flight home after a long few days travelling!
It's a far cry from school were Peter was told he wasn't artistic enough to do anything photographic. Instead he read a lot of photography magazines. His photography fascination did eventually take hold fully and his first SLR was bought while at University. Now he's touring the UK and spending quite a lot of time on tour in Europe, North America and Japan.
 
I've toured the UK more times than I can count. I love it more than anything but I've probably taken enough showers in dingy dressing rooms in Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow to last a lifetime!
 
Music wise, people that I've spent the most time documenting include The Automatic, who have been kind enough to take me all over the world (Spending the summer on the Vans Warped Tour and shooting Fuji Rock are definite highlights for me so far), and Kaiser Chiefs who I shot a book for covering their rise to success. Other things I'm pretty pleased with would probably include album and DVD covers or artwork for the likes of David Gray, Enter Shikari, Polysics (who are one of my all time favourite bands, and the time I got the call for that was pretty exciting), The Ordinary Boys and Frank Turner to name just a few. Outside of music I've recently shot DVD covers for clients including Fonejacker, Phil Daniels and Dom Joly. I did the cover and sleeve for the most amazing street magician called Dynamo's DVD a while back too and have always been pretty proud of those shots.”
Enter Shikari, July 2006.
 
When it comes to favourite pieces obviously images which have seen lots of press and have gotten a lot of attention are pieces that Peter's particularly proud of. One press shot of Enter Shikari has been in pretty much every music magazine that's ever written about them so that's high on the list as too is a shot of Peanut from the Kaiser Chiefs taken in September 2004 on the set of I Predict A Riot.
 
It's of Peanut playing his keys in the background, with the same scene in a monitor in the foreground. Pretty standard stuff I guess but I'm quite fond of it. My favourite of recent times is definitely a shot I took of Coldplay just before Christmas when I was out on their UK arena tour with their support band. I actually randomly met one of their management team during a late night group karaoke session in Tokyo a few years ago, so I got them to let me shoot the show from wherever I wanted and I took a shot of Chris Martin lit pretty nicely during the paper butterfly drop they did each night at the end of the set. It takes a lot for me to like my own stuff, but I've got to admit I'm pretty pleased with that one.
 
Peanut from the Kaiser Chiefs from September 2004.
 
If you ask Peter about his style he'll tell you it's something he's never really thought about he just tries to capture the energy and vibrancy of what he's shooting. This is why he probably enjoys live shows the best. Particularly shooting wide crowd scenes as this is one of the ultimate way of capturing the whole energy of a show. However it's his job to record and capture an event and he will shoot what the situation needs even if that's something that doesn't fit in with his usual way of shooting.
 
Coldplay from December 2008.
I always try and push my boundaries as much I can, and to try and do things differently. I really need to do that more and not just settle for what I know will look good.”
 
When it comes to equipment Peter's always got his trusted Canon so he always has his 24-70L f/2.8 with him. The rest of his bag is usually made up from a 17-40L f/4.0 and the 50mm f/1.8. Alongside that there's his Macbook,  Blackberry (pretty essential for keeping in touch while living on a tourbus) and his Xbox. “It's not really photography related but I find it quite harrowing being separated from it, so I think I might get a flight case made up for it to take it on tour.”
 
Even though Peter takes great pictures and has found many fans there's still plenty he feels he needs to improve on. Photography is endless and there's always a new technique for Peter to learn. He would like more time to study and read up-on things such as Photoshop and other techniques and even though he always always take 2 or 3 books in his case on tour they just end-up sitting in a pile on the tour bus.
 
There's certainly plenty of things left on my to do list!

visit Peter Hill's website and Flickr page for more details.
 
Katy Perry last month in Munich.

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