Photographer Spotlight: Alex Amorós
Our first post in this series shines a light on talented photographer Alex Amorós, who was the deserving winner of the Underground Scenes category. We recently spoke to the talent behind the lens to find out a little more about his approach and journey through the industry.
Alex Amorós is a photographer, director and musician based in London, UK. Born in Alicante, Spain, Alex studied Photography at Blank Paper Collective and School in Madrid. Since moving to London, Alex has worked on different photographic projects, mainly within social documentary and music. He is the co-founder and in-house photographer of Paper Dress Studios specialising in Music Photography located in Hackney Central.
With an eye for storytelling, Alex has released a number of photobooks and fanzines, including the sold out debut, Londoners, 40 Music Venues and London Football Fans are now a part of the Martin Parr Foundation, The Photobook Cafe and The Photographers Gallery, London. His work has been exhibited in several cities and galleries in Europe. Alongside freelancing, Alex is now working as a professor of photography, teaching a multitude of courses and workshops for different schools, individuals and collectives.
How did it feel to be nominated in the Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards 2023?
It was an incredible feeling, Abbey Road for all lovers of ‘60s music is a special place.
Why do you think it is important to create a platform like the MPAs to showcase music photography?
I think it is very important that music photography has awards like these that recognize the work of so many professionals who work hard on a daily basis.
Have you seen any benefits to you since being nominated?
Logically more attention to my work. I don't put pressure on myself in that sense, I try to enjoy the moment and the experience.
How did you fall into music photography specifically?
I am a great lover of music and I have played in a few bands, by taking photos during concerts or our tours I realised that photography allowed me to continue enjoying my passion from another point of view, I like the feeling of being able to work individually but at the same time be part of a team.
Was there a particular image, body of work or photographer that was a major inspiration when starting out?
There have been many photographers by whom I feel inspired, especially I would highlight Gered Mankowitz, Kevin Cummins, Anton Corbijn, Robert Freeman, David Mc Enery, Henry Diltz, Jill Furmanovsky, Chris Killip, David Bailey, Lynn Goldsmith, Daniel Kramer, Pennie Smith, Jim Marshall and Jane Brown.
What makes a good subject in music photography and what makes a good music photographer?
An interesting subject is anything in which you are interested and that you have a special and real connection with, it could be a genre, band or artist. I think that to be a good music photographer you have to be able to capture what the artist's music makes people feel at that moment and the most important thing is to try to understand what the artist feels or wants to make them feel. Music in my opinion is something very personal and a state of the soul and you have to try to get into the mind of the artist.
What advice would you give to someone getting started?
Be patient and if you really want to do this, go for it, there will be ups and downs but when you walk the path is when you really enjoy it. I believe that being yourself is the path to success in the end.
How did you go about building a portfolio?
I started talking to people I met and that's how it all started, from one thing to another and so we continue, now we also use social media as a tool to find more clients.
What are your top tips you can give to any music photographer?
Personally, I think it is important before making a shot to research the artist to capture their essence. I always try to chat for 10, or 15 minutes with them before the photoshoot to create a good energy, trying to make that connection with them makes your work easier. I personally work very intuitively, and logically, with an idea of what I am looking for, but I think that flexibility is another important tip that allows you to get what you are looking for in a good photo.
What are some post-processing techniques that can enhance your music photography?
I think that depends on the project, you can work in post-production with colours or black and white, always looking for the style that fits each photoshoot. There are many tools in post-production that allow you to achieve that goal, but I believe that if you can shoot everything from the camera better. I work with film or I try, if it is digital, through analog pugglings to achieve that goal, as I said, always depends on the project.
How do you create a distinctive style and visual identity in your music photography?
Being yourself and trying that your photos to capture your personality and interests in life, in the end that is the basis of everything.
When shooting a live show, how do you prepare? What challenges do you typically face?
I try to get to the venue a little early to see what kind of lighting I can find and depending on the space I use different lenses. I also try to know beforehand what kind of music and atmosphere there will be at night to capture the vibe of the night. The biggest challenge is always the lighting and then also deciding how you are going to move looking for different angles and positions, I try to cover everything.
Do you have a preference of working on location/on tour vs in a studio?
I like both but if I have to choose I prefer location because you always have more options.
Creativity / Inspiration:
Can you share some insights into your creative process? Are there any specific techniques or equipment you prefer to use?
On a creative level, I try to draw a small story of the idea, but if I think it doesn't work at the moment, I am flexible and look for alternative solutions that fit. As for techniques or equipment, it depends but if I have the option I really like to use Cokin filters.
In your opinion, what distinguishes a remarkable photograph from an ordinary one? What elements do you priorities when framing your shots?
The most important thing is always to capture the essence of the moment or what the artist is feeling, then there are some technical aspects that influence such as light or composition, but for me, the most important aspect is being able to live and capture the spirit of the moment.
Do you think there’s a genre of music that naturally lends itself to photography?
All genres have their soul, the photographer's job consists of interpreting them. Logically being close to a genre allows you to have more knowledge of what is required, but the interesting thing is to investigate and discover new things.
Who is someone, alive or dead, you’d love to photograph?
The Beatles, The Doors, The Yardbirds, Joy Division, Oasis, The Verve, Bob Dylan, The Strokes, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Tame Impala, The Dandy Warhols and many more.
Working with artists:
How does your approach differ when working with upcoming talent versus established artists?
It is interesting to see the difference perhaps in the excitement of new artists and the experience of those who are already established because they understand the codes of the camera, but all this always depends on the person or people, there are no stereotypes for this.
Can you share an interesting or memorable experience you've had while collaborating with an artist?
After some photos I recently took of Donovan, he was telling us about his experience with The Beatles in India, the reason for the trip and his conversations with George Harrison about it. As a fan of that genre and era it was something very interesting.
How does the photographic process differ between working with introverts and extroverts?
Extroverted people give you extra energy and predisposition but for me, it is always a challenge to work with introverted people who have an interesting inner world to share, I want to capture the souls of everyone, that is my job.
Have you ever been starstruck when photographing someone? How do you overcome that?
Maybe there are times when you can be more tense than others. For me, all people are the same and I treat them the same. Every shoot is important, as is every concert for an artist. I think like that.
Business / Social Media:
How has social media shaped music photography, both as a craft more generally, as well as your personal work?
It has democratised everyone's possibilities and given us the option to use these tools to share our work with our audience. I also use them to show my work giving it my personal style. I don't like it to be seen simply as something structured. I like to give it a real character.
What are some common mistakes new photographers make when starting out on the business side of things, and how can they be avoided?
I don't like to give advice to anyone because everyone is different, but what I see is that people want to achieve things right away, perhaps because of the immediacy society in which we currently live, but I believe that everything has a work process and that in that process is when one enjoys, patience because with work and dedication things come. As Picasso said inspiration exists but it has to catch you working.
In one word, how would you describe your photography?