Interview With Photographer 'Mark Chesterton'
I'm Mark Chesterton. 38 years old. Father of 3 kids, husband of 1 wife. Born & bred in Rhyl, North Wales
What were you all up too prior to being a photographer, was this always the chosen path or did you have other dreams and aspirations?
Unfortunately, photography isn't my job. I work in a factory.
I have always had an interest in photography and it wasn't until the age of 30 that I was finally able to get my first DSLR (Nikon D3300). The photographer for my local football club, Rhyl FC (Welsh Premier League) relocated for work purposes and I stepped in to the role. Because of this, and being pretty much the only photographer at most games, the local newspaper got in touch about publishing my match photos.
I think around 2013 I found myself trying my hand at live music. It was a local free event called Rhyl Proms on the Prom which featured Tenors Of Rock - way before they appeared on X-Factor! I wasn't in the pit though, as I didn't have contacts at that time.
On the same day just down the road in Prestatyn, was the 'Prestatyn Rocks' one day festival and I was able to find out who was in charge of that.
I am also a small time local gig promoter (no harm in a bit of self promotion - northwalesgigs.co.uk)
What do you believe is your greatest achievement to date?
I can't pinpoint to one single moment. A fun one to mention though is regarding the photography for Rhyl FC. We had signed a player called Steven Lecefel. He played a couple of pre-season friendlies and I was the only person doing photos of those games. Anyway, it turned out that he was commuting to Rhyl at his own expense, travelling from Paris. The media officer at the time had some contacts and the news went National and International. Because I was the only one with photos of Steven playing I had some published by The Daily Mail, a French newspaper and more (the BBC used the image without asking but did give credit...never trust the BBC). The best publication the story was featured in was the football magazine FourFourTwo.
Another big achievement involved the band Madness. They were doing shows that they wouldn't normally do and it was announced they were coming to play the outdoor events arena in Rhyl. I had a contact within the council who kindly passed my details on to the promoters. Next thing I knew, I was the Official Photographer given Access All Areas and I also covered the Meet & Greet backstage. Thankfully all the photos from the meet & greet came out fine.
Have you ever come face to face with someone within the photography scene who has left you awestruck and why?
Do you mean actual photographer? Sean Friswell is bearable. (Sean: This is such a loving burn haha) I've met some great photographers and we are all pretty much close-knit. The photographer I'd most like to meet/work with is Ross Halfin. He's been there and done that. I once contacted Mr Halfin asking for advice about a lens. I didn't expect a reply, but reply he did. Another photographer I really admire is Todd Owyoung. Locally, you can't help but admire Brent Jones.
If you are talking about being awestruck by anyone in particular when doing photos, the answer is still no. Sure, I might be little taken aback when I'm in the pit and the likes of Lionel Richie are staring straight in to my camera, but take Madness for example. I find myself backstage with them and I should be awestruck but in my mind they are ordinary people just doing their extraordinary job.
What process do you go through to prepare yourself for a live a show?
I get nervous all the time. What if I get in people's way? What if all the shots are crap? And then, when the band comes on the stage and the lights (hopefully) come on, I'm in the zone. In the lead up to the gig, I try to find out how the acts perform on stage. Do they jump about a lot or do they stay still? What sort of lighting do they tend to have? Saying that, I often find myself going in blind due to lack of time for research.
Do you have any advise for those looking to get into gig photography?
Get to know your local scene.
Always ask the bands if it's ok to do some photos and also ask if it's ok to use flash if needed. However, you really should practice without flash - read on for why.
Contacts are very important. Ask your local newspapers if they would like photos of certain events.
When you find the right contact, send a polite request for a pass but don't expect to be doing photos of the well established bands. You might get some, you might not. If you do find yourself being granted a pass, don't believe it until it's in your hands. I was once told I had a photo pass for a singer and after travelling on the bus for an hour, it had been decided last minute that no photographers were permitted.
When you find yourself in that pit, show respect and be polite to everyone around you and know your surroundings. Stick to the rules, usually 3 songs no flash. Don't get in the face of the performers. I was at a gig once and I watched as a fellow photographer was getting right in the singers face. Put yourself in their shoes. They are putting on a performance for the paying public.
If you had one artist/band that you could go on tour with tomorrow who would it be and why?
Def Leppard, because it's Def Leppard!
You have to opportunity to photograph a musical icon living or dead, who would you pick and why?
I have been very lucky to photograph living icons already. Elton John and Lionel Richie being the biggest two. It would have been amazing to have photographed The Beatles.
And finally and most importantly is Die Hard a Christmas Movie?
Does Christmas Eve count as Christmas?