Hello, My name is Jamie Drew better known as @jdshotyou – I am a music photographer from the West Midlands, I shoot with a Canon 6D & have been lucky enough to have credited work appear in Q Magazine, Music Week, The Independent & Billboard.com, I went to college for about 8 weeks to study media & photography but dropped out. I shoot for one of the best music platforms around today nationofbillions.com & our most recent set of cover stories #0121TheRiseofBirmingham was featured in Complex’s Highlights from the world of music journalism in 2017.Personally, its always been more about the music & creativity than photography for me, I’m not a photography gear head, I can’t give you the correct terminology off the cuff, I don’t care if you use photoshop or lightroom. I don’t shoot to get hired by event companies or labels, I shoot for the artist on stage in hopes they like it, that’s it.
2 – Where did your journey with gig photography start?
I would get so tired looking spreadsheets in my day job for 40 hours a week that naturally I would end up on the internet googling my actual interests, I was about 18 somewhat of a late bloomer & still not totally sure of who I was going to be or what I really wanted to do in life, this was during the ‘blog era’ where any gatekeeper or artist had a blog and would share their interests, I recall seeing shots from Kanye West’s the glow in the dark tour, Drakes show at the House of Blues, The Weeknd’s first ever show in Toronto – although you had to have pretty niche interests to find something like that I wondered why the actual fans of the artist would never see these? or why the artist themselves dont use the images?
I read a cover story on Complex one day titled ‘Project Runaway’ & I think I must have gone back to read it 7 or 8 times and then it hit me…’this is what I want to do’.
My girlfriend at the time pleaded with me to make a facebook page for my photography & eventually I agreed, starting out shooting for small indie blogs, my first show I requested to shoot was The Weeknd’s Kissland tour stop In Birmingham on November 24th 2013, I was the only photographer in the pit & he retweeted the article, it got so much traffic it temporarily broke the website. That’s how I began.
3 – In a world of ever changing technology, do you think it is important that gig photographers still shoot gigs?
I think its incredibly important to still allow us at the show, alot of so called ‘Tour Photographers’ tend to be the artists friend and that shows in the images…in a bad way. I read recently how Kendrick Lamar isn’t allowing press photographers on his ‘DAMN’ tour, Which obviously crushed my chances of shooting that but he’s putting on a real event with dancers, performers & pyrotechnics, he said it was because he wanted the show to remain a surprise but the very next line explained fans could shoot all the pictures they wanted on a mobile, which makes me believe its more an image protection issue…and if thats the case these photographers who have caused that issue, shouldn’t be photographers. protect the artist.
But when he looks back in 10 years does he want the DAMN tour experience to be in twitter videos & Instagram highlights or does he want that grand show experience to be shown with the spectacle it deserves?
4 – What photographer/s do you look up to?
I love Greg Noire’s work, everytime I see his stuff it makes me mad that I’m not that good aha, He tends to shoot concerts like his own personal portrait session. I’ve been lucky enough to come into contact with many other great photographers during the journey though so please check out work from Chloe Newman, Daniela Monteiro, James Stride, Chloe Wilkinson, Zek Snaps, Shot by Sensai, Mukesh Mistry, Yaya Dirir. All good photographers & even better people.
6 – What has been the biggest challenge in your gig photography journey?
I had a tough talk with myself I realized If I kept doing what I was doing nothing was going to change, A magic life changing email wont arrive in my inbox one day & nobody believes in you, because you don’t even believe in you. One of my fears at that time was hearing ‘Well, you tried your best’, because I knew I wasn’t even trying my best, so in order to say I tried my best I really had too, So I made a real effort to be more consistent, I spoke with other photographers, I hit up as many shows as they let me into, I spoke about what I wanted to do openly & it would happen, the more experience I had – the better I got.
Eventually I got noticed by the same industry figures I followed during ‘the blog era’, I respected them so much if they tell me I’m good at what I do then I believe them.
It’s hard for me to word this the right way but I’ve never been particularly religious, or loyal to one political party I find they tend to get brought up in the news when something bad or in-just has happened most of the time, they always cause more problems than they solve to me. However live music I find is the opposite it only ever unites people – I see so much beauty in that when its done correctly, There’s usually somebody crying but it could be from anything, maybe a certain song helped that person cope or a song reminds that person of somebody no longer here and without that show they may not have got the feeling out, I’ve seen people pass out when their favorite artist just walked out on stage, I’ve seen Chance the Rapper get 400 people to turn the person next to them and tell them they love them, even if its a complete stranger. Id rather photograph those more pretty but truthful moments of humanity than the uglier ones.
8 – If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
There two types of industry people I have met, one is the person with passion for the creativity & a love of music, and the other is the ‘I just came to say I came’ type of person, please be the first kind – I wish photographers weren’t bottom of the list when it comes to the order organisation, I’m not saying we should be top of the list – Just a little more thought of, When the gig ends, the people with the content from said show are the most important people, so why am i being contacted to shoot your show literally the day before or of? Why am I being told my name isn’t on the press list, but all the guest list groupies are? It’s because our craft isn’t as respected as it once was, but everybody’s so quick to ask you for their shots afterwards and forget your photo credit twice as fast.
9 – What is your hope for the future?
The feeling that hopefully theirs some kid stuck at his desk at work or at school bored out of his or her mind, that might see one of my photo articles and think ‘ahh, this is what i want to do’