The work involved in Shooting & Reviewing a Festival solo.

It’s been almost a month since 2016’s edition of Ramblin’ Man Fair and my review for the second day only got submitted over the weekend, finally, I’d felt it at the time, but when you take a step back and look at the work involved Reviewing and Photographing the guts of 20 bands over a 2 day Festival can be quite tiring while you are there doing it, having to run from one stage to the next to ensure you are in the pit early enough to get some shots and listening to and noting important points of the set for your review. People do things in different ways, personally I do my gig reviews from memory rather than writing physical notes while a band is on, that way I think you can immerse yourself in the show a bit more.

The Dead Daisies – Doug Aldrich.  As always killing it at Ramblin’ Man Fair


But the real work starts when you get home and start editing and trying to put it all together. The reality is that it’s a time consuming process and even more so when you have a busy full time job and a 9 month old son at home, time is not always your own and when you lose a couple of days to life the whole project becomes that little bit more involved,  more stressful and plays on your mind a little, add to that you know you have another even bigger Festival coming up with only a three week gap – where does the time go😉    So you keep chipping away piece by piece, when the words aren’t flowing work again on the photos and vice versa, but it always depends on the time of year and the other life influences. On the plus side I got to work with my new Sigma 70-200mm lens at Ramblin’ Man for the first time, on the negative side the budget didn’t stretch to a new camera body, but will keep saving the pennies for that one, but we will get there, hardware doesn’t come cheap (and neither do boilers by the way).

GingerWildheart - 14
GingerWildheart – 14

With the upcoming work for Bloodstock approaching rapidly the only choice was to cut down on other review work for the rest of August, things being busy enough as they were and a tonne of hard work to still get through. Anyway I’m starting to go off topic here, back to the main thing behind this post, doing Photography & Reviewing solo at a Festival, well one of the main problems is fitting in everything you want to see while remembering to eat and take on board liquids (especially when it’s 29º C and the sun is baking us all). With 10 to 11 hours of moving, shooting, storing memories, repeat for two days in a row, keeping energy levels high enough is a struggle, but the music itself generates an energy all of it’s own which helps to carry you part of the way, for me there’s always a problem in dropping a band to get food or take a seat for a half hour, at least when the weather is this good you can grab some food and sit on the grass watching a band, or on the off chance that there’s nothing on that interests you there’s the opportunity to scan through the photos you’ve already taken and clear out some of the errors. This weekend I’m working for the great guys at Overdrive, so there’s the added option of taking a break or two in the Media Area when coming out of the photo pit. Reality this saved me over the weekend I think. In an interesting conversation with a friend also covering the Festival it was revealed that they had seven personnel working the weekend, more involved of course as they were doing interviews on top of Photo/Review, but still, what a luxury, and it’s at that point you go to yourself “I’m mad, aren’t I”, but having seen it a lot with gigs over the last couple of years it is very true that getting reviewers that can commit is getting more difficult as time passes by, so it’s going to be more of a reality for photographers to double job. Thankfully for Bloodstock I was just going to be reviewing, but reviewing 30 bands is still a large body of work, had there been thousands of Photos to work on as well then the Ramblin’ Man work would still be ongoing and the end of the month would come and go without much progress.

Thin Lizzy - 11
Thin Lizzy – 11

So doing both tasks for a Festival rather than a gig is pretty crazy when you think about it, but in reality on occasion you have to step up and help out the team, modern life doesn’t always allow us the extra time or flexibility we need, so I have one more double job Festival in the pipeline this year, but it’s an easier format and should require a lot less running around. For now it’s back to the Bloodstock Reviews and in between times add galleries here for Day 2 of Ramblin’ Man, we will get there one way or another. Hard work for your passion is often a difficult thing to add onto the hectic daily toil, and maybe it will have to be scaled back in the years to come to avoid falling apart, but it’s a pleasure to try and bring a flavour of these events to others, and I’m always hopeful that others like these Photo’s/Reviews.

The Kentucky Headhunters - 2
The Kentucky Headhunters – 2


Finally time to look forward to the Summer gig season.

It’s been a very difficult year so far, have missed more gigs than I’ve been to, which is never a good thing. As we get older stuff we used to brush off takes longer to clear or has a more severe effect on the head, personally I’m finding becoming overtired and dealing with bad headaches is just taking a lot longer to come through than it used to. Sensibility at least means that I no longer ignore this stuff and sit back and take care of myself when I know my body can’t handle things.

But I digress, as we approach the end of June it’s rolling into Summer Season, and although there tends not to be so many individual gigs on around the place there’s Festivals and off Fest one off shows which adds to the list of shows. This year for me I’m heading off to see two of the best lineups out there, both in the UK, Ramblin’ Man Fair at the end of July in Kent and the mighty Bloodstock Festival in Derby in August. Will be great to catch up with friends at both, but will be hard work as always. As ever will get to see some bands from the Bucketlist this Summer and some bands that haven’t been seen in quite a long time.

Praying that the weather Gods are kind to everyone making trips or going on holidays, it’s all a bit odd at the minute. Wish me luck \m/ \m/

Time for a hardware refresh.

Well I think the time has come to upgrade some stuff, going to start with the Camera, to date I’ve just been using an entry level DSLR (Canon EOS 700D/Rebel T5i) and it’s served me well, have learnt a lot while using it, but now it’s time to move up a level, without breaking the bank completely, so a second hand model for the moment😉

So while probably sticking with Canon, for the moment it’s looking like a 7D or 7D Mark II depending on a few things, but still researching, and as I’m covering some festivals this year I’ll be looking to pick up a a decent zoom lens to go with it.

Then I need to set things up properly at home, have far too much equipment, need to do a clearout of the old, setup my workstation in the Office and start doing my edits there, it might force me to be more critical and not try to fix shots there’s no hope for. Up to now, although there has been improvement, there’s still been too much time wasted trying to fix things, and save things. No more .

Lot’s of shows being added to the calendar, yey😉


When health gets in the way of your music passion.

While we pass through mid April 2016, on a Sat night I sit at home resting and ever so gutted, this month really hasn’t worked out anywhere close to how it was planned, and nothing serious it definitely seems that as the years pass when my head crashes it takes longer to recover, and then that leads to having to be more sensible – and that grates a lot of the time, sensible, me.

Never being one to dodge a personal subject and having worked with the ups and downs of Epilepsy for twenty seven odd years, it’s not the condition itself that I feel causes me the most problems at this stage in my life, medication and more care than I used to take when being overtired means that I have been seizure free for a few years now and any incidents over the last ten years have been few and far between, but I definitely feel the the side effects of taking this form of medication long term have put other obstacles in my way which sadly means missing far more shows than anyone would want to. Leaves me semi functional, so will play with some photos this weekend.

Last weekend was supposed to be Sat seeing and photographing some of Irelands top Metal talent and Sunday should have been enjoying watching one of my favorite bands Overkill on only their second visit to Dublin, but instead ended up spending four days sitting/laying around the house doing nothing, but hey it happens sometimes, we get over it an move on.  Thankfully last night I actually managed to get out to my first show of April, a terrific relatively new band called REWS based out of London, female duo that were really outstanding, wished I’d brought the camera, but sometimes you need to give a band your full attention. Keep an eye out for these ladies, they’ll be playing a number of Festivals in the UK this summer and I have no doubt you will be hearing their name a lot more.

And onto tonight, gutted to be sitting here typing this, should be on my way from Belfast to Ballymena right now to see only of my favorite bands from this side of the water, hard rock beasts Maverick – also one of my favorite bands to shoot live, they aren’t shy and always put on a terrific show.

So while I’m sitting around why not revisit my most difficult show to date, it’s always difficult when you physically have difficulty seeing the Keyboard Player from the pit, so why not see if we can get anything out of that set. The band Enslaved, from their show in the Button Factory, Dublin last September.

Enslaved - 03
Grutle Kjellson of Enslaved – Button Factory, Dublin – 26-09-2015

Where does the time go ?

The more you do the more there seems to be to do, and it never seems to end. But hey most of the time it’s just good fun so you have to go with it. The trials and tribulations of March are now becoming a distant memory, and although it was wonderful to catch some bands from my bucketlist it was so tiring, I need to get into better shape for shooting Festivals I think.

And so we approach mid April rapidly, there’s a lot of work to get through, many album reviews, a couple of gigs to shoot and review, this weekend starts it off again with the second Semi Final of Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Ireland with some awesome local talent including Black Svan and AeSect, each year I think the bands are producing higher quality sets and the competition is getting more difficult, hopefully there will be some decent shots from the night appearing here soon. Following that on Sunday we’ve got the return of the mighty Overkill, who first visited Ireland only two years ago, I will be Reviewing that one.

Currently working on some slightly older photos from 2014/2015 and some of the first shows that I shot properly, just some of my favorite photos from those shows and will create a Gallery or two.

Below is a favorite so far from any of the shows I’ve shot Pat McManus in, this was The Pat McManus Band at one of the Christmas shows in The Diamond Rock Club in Ahoghill, Ballymena. This is a shot that I love to look back on and brings the night back into the memory vividly. A lot of the shots won’t be technically great, but I feel they are an important part of where I have come from and will include artists such as Rage Of Angels, The Answer, Screaming Eagles, Maverick, Tyketto and many more.

The Pat McManus Band - DRC - 26-09-2014
Pat McManus – DRC – 26-09-2014


HRH Photo Galleries

So the HRH AOR/Hammerfest Galleries are going live now, most of the first day are already up now, just going to keep adding tomorrow and if I get any time over the weekend.

Hope you enjoy them and more content is to come very soon.

Steve Newman – Newman – HRH AOR 4 – 12-03-2016

Tears Of Fire Photography

Welcome to my new Site, as a Live Music Photographer and Reviewer I thought it was about time to have an online presence.

Brion James – Dan Reed Network


Photography and Reviewing of Gigs and Albums can be a very time consuming passion, but when you love music so much and it’s such a privilege to get up close and personal with bands and new music it is definitely makes it all worthwhile.

Having always been a bit of a music nut it is only in the last couple of years that I moved to taking both writing and photography more seriously. It has been an honor to photograph some of my favorite bands, to date I have been lucky enough to shoot shows and festivals both at home and abroad.