Posts Tagged ‘Alvarez Kings’

Carpe Diem for Alvarez Kings

October 8, 2013

Alvarez Kings

Alvarez Kings

Over the years I’ve got to know Sheffield indie rockers Alvarez Kings pretty well but since I moved to Leeds I’ve been pretty busy and, perhaps more significantly, they’ve been touring here, there and everywhere in their quest for world domination.  OK maybe not world domination but at least making a dent in a decent part of it.  They’re currently in the midst of the Vans Warped Tour which has taken them all over the US and now the UK so when I heard they were making a pit stop in Leeds I thought I’d best make time to see them, especially as the venue they were playing in is called Carpe Diem.

Come Saturday night a decent crowd of followers had found their way down into the cellar bar and on the face of it the band haven’t changed much in the way they perform. Still loads of energy and enthusiasm, great sound but keeping things interesting with the addition of backing tracks to a couple of the newer songs.

Alvarez Kings

I hopped onto the side of the stage to get in there with the action – when they’re all drumming its great to see – but got a bit more action than I bargained for. Paul does have a habit of swinging around  and as I looked up from the camera my face found out what slap bass actually feels like.  I thought it was hilarious but Paul was mortified and hugely apologetic.  Such are the risks of being a stage invader.

Alvarez Kings

It was great to have a proper catch-up in the pub and needless to say I stayed for the whole gig. With our Facebook connections sorted they were on their way again.  Next stop London and the ever so slightly grander Ally Pally.  Here’s hoping they get a warm welcome. Carpe Diem London!!

Alvarez Kings

Alvarez Kings




Kings with conscience

June 19, 2012

For some years now Alvarez Kings have been my favourite unsigned Sheffield band.  In fact quite honestly it would be nice if I could stop saying that as they are just too good to be sitting there consigned to the unsigned shelf.

Last weekend they were launching their new EP Cold Conscience and they organised a great line up of bands to support them at the Sheffield O2.  They also had a guest rapper JKas join them which is not really my thing but still it added a different dimension to the sound. Truth is though they don’t really need any help.  All the songs are written by lead singer Simon and they are quality stuff.  The Saturday night crowd were bopping along as enthusiastically to the new tracks as they were to their old favourites which is always a good sign and you just can’t help yourself. Cold Conscience is another catchy tune.  I’m aware that sounds bad but I mean catchy in a Smiths way not in your Rick Astley Too many Broken Hearts way (apologies if that song is now lodged in your head for  the rest of the day).

So to the big question…why are the Alvarez Kings still unsigned after half a dozen years of turning out great songs and great gigs?  Well when it comes to management they won’t compromise.  They know what they want and that involves a level of control.  So should they make some concessions to get the backing, the deal and the airplay? Who knows.  They are who they are, I’ve known them a long time now and I wouldn’t change them. I just really hope that eventually the success will come.  And I can photograph them at the Arena. Where the lighting is a bit better and the pit more spacious….come on it for me!!

Surreal moments

August 12, 2011

I take every opportunity I can to capture images, even if it means getting my camera out in the back of a van or during a stroll in the park.

The images I took this week that I feel deserve highlighting on my blog came from my journey to a music festival with a local band, the Alvarez Kings.

Sat in the back of the band’s splitter-bus I listened to Simon Thompson’s impromptu acoustic set; the lead singer was wearing a checkered shirt and sat casually against the worn seats, I knew this along with his distant gaze would make for a great shot.

Thanks to the Lens Baby (mentioned in a previous blog post) I was able to use the subtle lighting and create an image that appears almost surreal. If shot with an ordinary lens it would still look good, but I think that the use of the quirky bit of equipment manages to generate an almost dream-like quality.

As we alighted the bus with the band I noticed that one of the guys had placed himself on a park bench; with his great sense of style, coupled with the leaves casually scattered on the ground, this was another opportunity that I was able to take advantage of.

Using the same piece of equipment I caught an image that offers the viewer an almost ethereal shot with the central character telling a story of perhaps a lover sat patiently waiting, or someone deep in thought reflecting on their life’s accomplishments.

Let me know what you think!

Savvy savings (and Tinchy Stryder in Shropshire)

June 1, 2011

You may remember my blog post ‘Bespoke solutions‘, that I posted on here a few months ago. The main point raised was that the cost involved in sourcing your ideal image from the libraries of shots online can end up costing you more than hiring a professional photographer. It was this point that was brought to my attention whilst sat in a meeting with a design agency earlier this week.

To break this down they have a finder’s fee that can set you back between £60-£120, then to use the image for marketing on your website or online, you have to buy the rights to the image – that has already cost you a minimum of £60 just to find. The cost of securing the image can range from £20 (for a low resolution) to £450 (for a high resolution), and higher resolution images are required for use online and in print.

On top of the finder’s fee and securing the rights to the photo, you also have to pay someone to retouch the image to ensure it has the right look for its usage. This is usually an hour and can add another £60 to the total cost.

This means that for a single image you may end up paying over £500! An amount that could secure you a day’s photoshoot with a professional photographer, like me.

So, if you are considering using new images in your company, feel free to give me a shout and let’s see just how much you could save!

Moving on to what else I’ve been doing this week, apart from sat talking money. I went with one of my favourite bands, the Alvarez Kings, to OsFest in Oswestry, Shropshire. The Alvarez Kings were set to perform on the main stage, followed by the British rapper Tinchy Stryder.

Along with a press pass, I also got my hands on an all access pass to enable me to get shots from not only the front of the stage, but also from the side. I really like it when I get this opportunity, as I am able to get shots of the crowd in. I was given an all access pass at the Leeds Festival last year, if you look at my blog post I wrote following it (click here to see the post) the images I took capture the crowd, adding a different perspective.

Below are the pictures of the Alvarez Kings and Tinchy Stryder (who was flown stright to Wembley to performing at the European Cup Finals!) at Shropshire’s biggest music festival.

Jeers, cheers and plenty of beer!

April 14, 2011

As a photographer heading out to see live bands, you do expect a little disturbance from the crowd, but something had possessed the crowds in Sheffield this weekend. Let me explain:

On Saturday night I headed out to the Leadmill to photograph The View, the popular indie rock band with a loyal following. The View are a very gritty band, who I have met and photographed at the Leeds Reading festival and the Big Reunion in Skegness.

As I entered the pit (yes, a pit at the Leadmill) I was confronted by cheers and jeering that could leave a novice more than a little afraid.

The band performance fueled the crowd resulted in copious amounts of beer thrown around, fortunately I was secure in the photographers’ pit (not that I didn’t get the occasional shower of alcohol!).

As I have mentioned before, after three songs you are usually ushered out of the pit with or without the shots needed; on this occasion the third song came and went and no one had asked us to move. I stayed a few more songs and then decided it was probably best to leave before it got too manic!

Following my time at the Leadmill I headed over to a secret gig by the Alvarez Kings, located just behind Henry’s bar in the city centre. Let’s just say that following the Leadmill I was wondering what crowd I would meet, but nothing prepared me for the enthusiasm the Alvarez’s fans had.

I knew the lighting at the event would be terrible, so I carefully packed my camera away (wiping any sign of beer from the lens!). As I arrived at the venue and the band began to play I knew that the lighting wasn’t the only good reason I didn’t bring my camera.

The crowd quickly begin stage diving and upturning tables pulling the leads to the sound system meaning we were left with periods where the band couldn’t be heard over the cheers. At one point, Simon (the lead singer) had to ask the audience to stop pushing forward as the microphone was moving around so much.

As I held myself up, keeping one hand on the sound desk to ensure I didn’t fall, I realised just why I loved the live experience in smaller venues. The crowds may be raucous, but they certainly had a passion for music and create an atmosphere that can be truly memorable – regardless of whether you choose to forget it!

St Patrick’s Day

March 21, 2011

Due to the upheavals involved in moving home, I was unable to find time to post a blog – not that you would have had much interest in my disastrous experience!

Last Saturday night I was booked to photograph Elbow at the Motorpoint Arena, so regardless of the move I grabbed my camera and hotfooted it back to Sheffield.

The stage was laid out in a way where the band had the opportunity to perform on a runway that stretched out into the heart of the crowd. Stage setups like this are perfect for a diverse range of shots and the lead singer, Guy Garvey, also benefited from a white light on him as he performed (this varies at different venues, although my favourite is white) adding to the range I shots I captured.

Now I would love to share the images with you that I took from the pit on Friday but they are to be published in Toast magazine, so expect to see them on my blog next month (if you are unable to wait that long, just grab a copy of April’s edition of Toast).

Following my job at the arena I headed into the city centre, where the Alvarez Kings were playing in the Big White Tent near to the Sheffield City Hall.

The group had been booked to play as part of the St Patrick’s Day celebrations, as they were waiting to get on stage I caught a few words with the lads.

Although the tent was large (hence the name) it was not large enough for a photographers’ pit, so I stood at the front of the crowd just behind the barrier. As the tent offered a more intimate environment I was able to request that the red lighting wasn’t used, exchanging it for a yellow and blue.

You’ll be pleased to hear that I can show the images I caught that night – some people have asked about the varying lens sizes I use, for this job it was 70-200mm (I hope that helps!).





Work on display

March 7, 2011

It may have only been a few days since I last posted a blog, but I thought I would mention that my work that I did for Sensoria will soon be on display (I blogged about it a few months ago and you were all pretty eager to see the pictures!). Running from 29 April the images will on display at the Forum in Sheffield and will available for you all to see for two weeks. So, if you are heading to the Forum for a bite to eat (or a few drinks) then why not check out the pictures and let me know what you think.

I also wanted to quickly mention that work I did with the Alvarez Kings is featured in March’s edition of Exposed Magazine. Click here to read the interview and see the images of the guys online (pages 18-19).

Finally, you may remember that I recently blogged about a project called ‘Disconnected’ that was being made for the Bradford Film Festival. Starring Rhona Cameron, it was featured in the Yorkshire Post on Friday (along with the images that your saw on here first!).

Anyway, here is one of the images that will be featured in the Forum in April (along with one of the Alvarez Kings):

My trip to London

February 8, 2011

If you follow me on Twitter you will have seen that I recently popped to London for a full day of business meetings, a catch up with an old uni friend and some good food!

After arriving at St. Pancras International I jumped on the Hammersmith and District line (which was surprisingly quiet) from the recently refurbished international commuter hub, with its incredible glass roof.

I have to admit that I do enjoy a jaunt around London, as you never know who you might spot and they always seem to have nice weather, well it’s always sunny when I’m there!

My first meeting was with Steve Roberts, an account manager for clients such as Ray-Ban, over a rather nice pub lunch in Hammermith. As a former northerner it was good to catch up about what’s happening in Sheffield, but what is also developing in London. As a friend of Alvarez Kings, he was keen to find out how the band are getting along.

As I finished the meeting I jumped back on the underground and whizzed over to Faringdon, where I paid a visit to my agency: Retna. As they are reruiting a new account handler to deal with all imagery in the north I was keen to make the new appointees acquaintance, but unfortunately despite the interviews having taken place the chairs that were once occupied by my good friends and former account handlers, Kelly and Anthony, still remained empty.

It was onward to One Trick Pony following my drop in to Retna, and I was keen to see the young guys at the creative agency as we had worked together in the past on an album cover for Ultramegasuperdeadly (featured in the blog). I spoke to its managing director, Dave Uprichard, about future collaborations.

Before I knew it was time to make tracks and head back on the underground from Faringdon to Kings Cross where I was meeting an old university friend. I hadn’t seen her since last summer (every time I visit London she seems to be away), but we now met up and sank two strong coffees followed by dinner and a hot chocolate to finish the day.

I would like to have met up with with Richard Engler from Autonomy Music (rebranding specialists for acts such as Mylo and Robyn) although time didn’t allow me the opportunity and I think seeing the creative minds behind such acts will give me the perfect opportunity to jump back on the train to The Big Smoke.

Oh, here are the Alvarez Kings (who I will be working with later this week) and the album cover for UMSD…enjoy!

Smart moves

February 2, 2011

At a local networking event I met a lady that was not only a graphic designer, but also a keen dancer with her own dance school.

Tracey Barnes has embraced the growing craze for dance and launched Smart Dance Works (formally Easy Dance) and as part of the relaunch asked me to pop along and take some shots of her dancing with a partner for her new marketing material (including new Twitter account and Facebook page!).

I suggested that we use my studio for the shoot as in the consultation it was felt that the focus should be on the her posture and feet and the plain white backdrop (or colourama) would really help emphasise this.

As Tracey and her dance partner (a top student of hers) arrived and changed into various outfits (including the rather fabulous red dress) we discussed moves and spent a few hours working on perfecting the shots. I think that what we achieved really capture the essence of dance and if you want to see them online and in use then check out Smart Dance Work’s social media accounts including Facebook and Twitter.

I am looking forward to a shoot with the Alvarez Kings that I am organising for Exposed Magazine. The guys will not only be styled but interviewed for an article to accompany the shoot, so not only will I put up the images but a link to the magazine article as the online edition is uploaded.

Oh, a big well done to the winners at the Sheffield Scenester Awards earlier this week, unfortunately I was in London so I was unable to attend but I heard it was a great night at Soyo and I caught the pictures on Facebook.

Keys and Kings

January 20, 2011

As I have been mentioning in various blog posts it has been a mission to get back out amongst the crowds at the various gigs to capture live shots.

I was intrigued to hear that the Elephant Keys had been working with the Doncaster based studio, Higher Rhythm, to put on a night at the Leadmill. Not only would the Sheffield band be present but also the Alvarez Kings, a group that I have been good friends with for a number of years.

So, on Saturday night I packed up my camera equipment and hitched a ride off the Alvarez Kings over to the legendary nightspot, where the fans and followers were slowly making their way in and preparing themselves for what would be an amazing night.

The night consisted of ten bands, but the headlining acts were the Elephant Keys and the Alvarez Kings. Moving between the Steel Stage and the Main Stage I was able to take advantage of the limited space available (no photography pit!), the lighting was OK but I did use a filling flash to help bring out the essence of the performers onstage in the images.

Before the night had begun it had ended and the revellers from uptown made their way to the doors of the club to end their night partying until the early hours.

I look forward to bringing you more images like the ones below as I move into 2011.