Photographer spotlight: An Interview With DeShaun Craddock
Shortlisted Photo - Surf Gang
Surf Gang put together a DIY performance in a bus yard that drew hundreds of fans and went on well into the late hours of the night.
Photographer spotlight: DeShaun Craddock
Live music is such an experience, and a good subject represents part of that experience, whether it's the performer, crowd or the venue's atmosphere. - DeShaun Craddock
DeShaun A. Craddock is a self-taught photographer, lover of music and a native New Yorker. As someone who has always had a passion for music, he began shooting local bands around New York as a hobby in 2008. Craddock's big break came in 2014 when he had the opportunity to meet and photograph Alicia Keys. When not shooting shows, Craddock enjoys capturing street photography and city scenes.
How did you fall into music photography specifically?
When I first pursued photography as a hobby, I never even considered music photography as something that I could try. I was already a huge fan of live music and after I got more comfortable with my camera, I decided to take it with me to small venues in my area. A couple of years later, I ended up winning a contest where the prize was a chance to photograph an Alicia Keys concert. Having that experience really hooked me and made me think about what else could be possible.
And was there a particular image or body of work that was a major inspiration when starting out?
There wasn't a specific image, but there definitely was a specific person's influence. At the beginning, I tried to scour the internet for information on how to get started, and there weren't many resources available. Todd Owyoung's blog was one of the only sites I found that discussed really useful things and answered questions I didn't realise I'd have. It was really inspiring to see someone who had such great work be so approachable and open.
What makes a good subject in music photography and what makes a good music photographer?
Live music is such an experience and a good subject represents part of that experience - whether it's the performer, the crowd or the venue's atmosphere. I think a good music photographer can extract and distill key moments from a performance and amplify the mood, whether it's calm, chaotic or something in between.
What advice would you give to someone getting started?
Start small and local, where people will be more accessible. Allow yourself to try new things and get them wrong. Also, find people who are kind and generous with knowledge.
How has social media shaped music photography, both as a craft more generally, as well as your personal work?
I think social media has provided us with an instant window into what people are doing with their work. It's far from a perfect system but at its best it gives people a place to hone their craft, experiment and find others doing the same.
I also think that it has made the line between photographers and musicians much more direct in some ways. It can be difficult to stand out, especially in a digital space that you share with an artist's fans, but it's still possible.
Who is someone, alive or dead, you’d love to photograph?
I'd love to photograph Kendrick Lamar or FKA Twigs. Perhaps putting that in writing will be a step toward making it happen!
In one word, how would you describe your photography?
How did it feel to be nominated in the Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards 2022?
It came as quite a shock initially! It's such an honour to be nominated for something like this. There is so much talent out there and being nominated really filled me with a sense of pride.
Why do you think it is important to create a platform like the MPAs to showcase music photography?
It's because music photography doesn't really get the recognition it deserves. Music photography has artistic merit and historical significance - those descriptions have typically been reserved for music photography of a certain vintage.
It's so important to have a platform that can acknowledge the classic as well as the contemporary, and celebrate what is being done today alongside long-term contributions.
Have there been any benefits to you since being nominated?
I've been able to reach out to a couple of the judges since then and I've scheduled a time to meet them when I visit the UK. That's an opportunity I know I'd be very unlikely to have without the nomination.
There haven't been any other benefits yet but the nominations were only announced in May, so who knows what opportunities could appear?
What have you been doing since the awards? And what do you hope is next?
I'm still photographing live music and I've been revamping my portfolio to include some additional work I've done, broken down by year. I'm hoping to get bigger opportunities and the dream is to have my work in a gallery.
I just went to a music photography exhibition at Pace Gallery and every time I see something like that it makes me want that for myself and my peers. I hope that contemporary music photography can continue to be recognised and celebrated and I hope that I can continue to be a part of that process.