There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a tough year for the music business. My life as a music photographer clearly reflects that. For a start, we had to contend with a lack of live music. No festivals, a handful of gigs and just a continuous stream of cancellations and postponements. With little of that traditional bedrock to cover, coupled with challenges of sales and distribution, the music press has been battling. Some magazines have opted for digital only publication. Others like Q, have disappeared altogether.
This, inevitably has an impact on photography in terms of both opportunities and remuneration. Looking ahead, the question remains, will things ever get back to where they were? Or will some of these changes permanently define our marketplace? Sadly, no crystal ball on that one but I’m hopeful that with the welcome arrival of vaccinations it won’t be too long before I find myself back in the photography pit, possibly with a bit more personal space!
And this is not to say that 2020 has been the death of the music industry. It has been tough, and continues to be so, but it has also been brilliant to see what musicians have been doing. There has been so much mutual support and virtual collaboration. A hugely creative approach to maximising any and every opportunity to make and share music. And while I’ve missed my live music (but not always cold, wet, Saturday nights heading out to another dimly lit venue), I have really enjoyed my music assignments as part of the Loftus Media photography crew.
With Loftus, I’ve photographed bands like Bigfatbig for BBC Introducing, missing their Leeds Reading moment but no less enthusiastic about what the future holds; I’ve joined Working Men’s Club in Hebden Bridge for a BBC 6 Music feature on the value of independent venues. And most recently I’ve met some of the bright new talent heading into Radio One’s presenter slots over Christmas.
So at this point in 2021, I’m feeling hopeful. My bass playing has definitely improved through the lockdown days. And one positive to come out of this, loud and clear, is that we love our music. And we value it. And we really need it! It has helped us get through the last 10 months and when those venue doors finally, and safely open we will be queueing to get back in there and share the love.