I first met Atzi in late 2008. At the time, I was serving as the webmaster of Amnesty International’s Edinburgh St Mark’s group. As the webmaster, I was responsible for the content of the website, and I had realised it would be very useful to put photographs of the events we were organising online. It would show what the group did and who we were. It was very effective in that we had a steady stream of visitors to our monthly meeting.
I also wanted to have the best possible photographs, because I knew that having good quality pictures on the website would reflect positively on the group. Since the events were usually low light affairs, I needed to use additional lighting. So I decided to learn as much as I could about using speedlights to improve the quality of my photography.
This location has got plenty of great elements of design. Line, shape and texture. It took me a while to set up this shot as I wanted the line of lights to lead to Atzi’s face
Back in 2008, Amnesty was running a “Stop violence against women” campaign. Erin Townhill was responsible for that campaign at our St Mark’s local group. Since she’d realised the campaign events would need to appeal to men, the St Mark’s “Stop violence against women” events included whisky tasting, wine tasting events and on one occasion, a band night. Erin’s boyfriend, now her husband, played in Atzi’s band, Lipsync for a Lullaby. Needless to say, it was one of the bands featured at Amnesty St Mark’s 2008 “Stop violence against women” band night.
It was my first time photographing live music, and as I big fan and follower of music photographer/one light instructor Zack Arias, I was very excited. I so enjoyed taking live band photographs that I told Erin to let the bands know that if they wanted someone to take pictures at their gigs, I’d be happy to volunteer. Atzi was the only one to respond. In the following year, I went to nearly every Lipsync for a Lullaby gig to take pictures, and in the process learned to use off camera flashes. And ever since, I’ve been a fan of Atzi and Lipsync for a Lullaby.
For this medium shot, I used a longer focal length to compress the perspective of the tunnel, playing with the lines and shapes to achieve a pleasing composition.
Atzi is a very talented composer. He studied economics and not music at the University of Edinburgh, but he was nevertheless accepted into the Music School’s Master program in Composition on the strength of the works he showed to composer and professor Nigel Osborne. Atzi also wrote the score for “The Making of Longbird”, a film that was awarded “Best Short Animation Film” at the BAFTA 2013.
Even though it had been a few years since I last photographed Lipsync for a Lullaby, I knew Atzi would be interested by my light painting personal project. He let me decide on the location for the shoot. My original plan was to photograph and light paint him amongst the rocks and fall coloured trees of Salisbury Crags. Everything looked fine until we were on location waiting for the sun to set to begin the light painting. We noticed a storm in the distance, and strong winds were directing it our way. Ten to fifteen minutes later we felt the first drops of rain. It was time to retreat!
This photograph nicely illustrates the power of lighting. Simple background and simple pose, yet the resulting image is quite dramatic.
Atzi asked me if the light painting technique works in a covered area, which it does. I then remembered the Innocent Railway tunnel just a few minutes walk away. In the end, I think it worked out for the better, and I’m quite pleased with the results. Atzi also felt the tunnel as a location better reflected the kind of composer and musician he is.