THE 1975

As a creative, there’s no more fulfilling feeling than getting “the shot”, or leaving the pit after the first three songs quietly confident knowing there’s definitely a few bangers you can work with.

But what happens when it doesn’t all go to plan? Those fulfilling feelings are quickly overshadowed by the heartbreak that will inevitably happen the longer you’re in the business. You know, a dropped lens, exposed roll of film, formatted memory card, ‘missing the opportunity’, the list goes on and on. So, here is my story…

Laneway Festival, The Domain Sydney, 2nd February.

I hadn’t shot a festival in about a month and was looking forward to this one. Laneway is always one we circle in the diary and here I finally had the opportunity to photograph The 1975. They’ve been a band I’ve seen live and followed for a while, and their lead singer, Matt Healy, is a particularly unique and photogenic subject.

The day started off normal - beating the sweltering heat, bouncing from stage-to-stage while catching up with old photo buds. It was a good vibe. While it was forecasted to thunderstorm, I didn’t think too much about it, but at the same time, I had my wet-weather gear ready to go. 

At about 6pm during RUEL’s set, a torrential shower poured through which stayed fairly consistent right up until the last act; The 1975. While both of my cameras were wrapped in plastic, there was no possible way of completely covering them from the rain while photographing undisturbed.

I figured, both cameras are weather-sealed and have endured worse conditions during travels and at other festivals - it should be OK. But before I knew it, one had already begun playing-up; firstly with the monitor not responding, and then with the lens having issues connecting to the body.

Not the worst scenario - I still had my trusty 5D Mk III - What are the chance it would happen to both, I thought.

Literally as I walked into the pit and the opening of ‘People’ began to play, I looked down at my 5D Mk III - the only option I had left wigging out in a world of it’s own. Anxiety hit - I only have three songs. What do I do?!

Thankfully I turned to my friend Bruce Baker, who had a spare Canon that I was able to use. But the settings were all out! He had configured the auto-focus in his own customised way. I could barely get a shot in focus!

It ended up being the most disappointed I’ve been in a shoot. Mainly because of just how much I wanted to get it right from the start and how everything seemed against me at that moment.

But there was a silver lining…

As I trudged off, shattered, telling myself I wasn’t going to shoot another festival. I tried to look at the positives - at least I still got a couple of good shots in.

Imagine if Bruce was using that camera? I would’ve been left with no alternative, not one photo even.

I didn’t think I’d get another chance to shoot Matt Healy, then I remembered… The Bushfire Relief gig he announced earlier that day - It was being held at Metro Theatre - The venue I photograph personally for. But despite being their venue photographer, these high-profile, stripped-back events hardly accredit anyone - especially for a charity gig.

It got to 4pm the day of the gig and still no word. I didn’t even bring my kit to work that’s how little of a chance I gave it.

Then I got the email. The impossible happened but we’ve got you a photo pass was literally the first sentence. I quickly raced home to pack my gear; in a state of excitement and disbelief - I’ve been shooting for a while so I know how rare it is to get a second chance of this magnitude.

I knew this was fate or mother nature giving me another shot for fucking me over at Laneway, plus the intimate setting made for such a unique shoot. It felt as though we were in his living room, flies on the wall, while he played acoustic songs to friends.

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