Our beloved Julia interviewed Snow Patrol photographer Bradley Quinn. Thanks to our girl and also Bradley for taking the time, it is deeply appreciated.
What was it like growing up in such a turbulent time for Northern Ireland?
I suppose when you live it you don’t realise you are in it. Northern Ireland has changed so much since peace – new opportunities, more culturally aware, more progressive… It reflects the need that we desire for peace & unity. I feel fortunate to be part of this new Northern Ireland & appreciate the quality of life I have here.
Did you attend University? If so what was your focus while there?
I had planned on attending university but a fantastic opportunity arose to work with a leading commercial photographer & I seized that opportunity. It was a more hands on approach to learning & I saw the pitfalls & the highs of running my own business from that early stage. My focus was to learn learn learn …& create. It was an exciting time not having the pressure of running a business but enjoying this photographic world that I was thrown into.
Was the idea of being a photographer a suggestion from someone or did it come from within?
My Father introduced me to photography, learning the basics, darkroom skills, techniques etc. I got my eye from him I guess!!!
Early on, while you worked for Ashley Morrison, did he pass on any pearls of wisdom about studio work?
Yes, F8 and don’t be late… Haha. Ashley was a perfectionist and i soon learned that you just worked until the job was in the bag, i remember some nights working until 4am with a shoot the following day. Actually thats what i did in the first two years of business but i now have it more under control now with the aide of a full time assistant. Ashley taught me a lot about location lighting which was invaluable, he would often push the equipment to the limit and it often got damaged in the process but we always got the shot!!
What kind of camera do you use?
I started with manual olympus cameras then moved to canon digital and a year ago moved to Nikon as they brought out some fantastic cameras that work in very low light. I have a Nikon D3 and D700 and a range of fast lenses.
I see by your current Snow Patrol prints that you print on Endura photo paper, did you learn to print in a darkroom or did you jump right to digital/computer processing?
I was very fortunate to grow up with a darkroom in the house, my last one was in the attic which was not ideal as it freezing in the winter and boiling in the summer and the chemicals were supposed to remain at a constant temperature.
I did enjoy the darkroom but i much prefer computer processing, i often shoot in raw and process through Lightroom which allows me to have some presets for black and white etc. It is much faster than using photoshop.
My photographs are printed by a professional lab in Scotland and they use Endura stock.
Were you ever a Kodachrome guy and if so were you sad to see it go?
I did use Kodachrome but mostly Fuji Velvia, I just to love collecting the film from the lab and heading straight to the light box to check out the results, the quality was amazing!
Of all your images, what is your favorite photograph? Does it have a story you can share?
I think my favorite image was the black and white image shot Christmas 2006 at the the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. The band had just finished playing Run and they had snow cannons fire into the air, i walked onto the stage and stood on Toms riser to get the best angle.
How long after Jonny joined the band did you start photographing them & can you remember the first image you took?
I have photographed Jonny in about 5 bands but one of the first Snow Patrol gigs I remember photographing was at T in the Park which appears on the recent box set. Here is the first some promo shot in Ashley’s studio in about 1990.
One of my favorite photographs of yours (that cracks me up) is Jonny, Tom & Gary lying down on railroad tracks, in your SP Europe album on Facebook. Where is that and what are they doing!?, and does Gary always have miss matched socks on?
The Tour bus was parked beside a disused railway track in Dusseldorf and i thought it would make a great shot. I had tried an image with Tom earlier in the day but it was after we left the gig i thought i would try it again. One of the crew is holding a torch in the background and two in the foreground lighting up the boys. Yes, gary always wears odd socks.
Do you have free reign over what you publish of the band or do they also have input?
The band give me full access and trust me to edit what goes online. I know some of the girls would love to see nathan in just a towel but i have saved them for his Christmas Calendar.. haha. I did think for a second before publishing the railway shot incase their insurance company thought in was for real but it was too good to leave out.
Was it your idea to put the KOKO photo in the Up To Now box set? Can you tell us a bit about that image?
I supplied the designers with thousands of images so they could choose for the dvd and booklet. They choose the image but i think it was the most appropriate. As i arrived at the stage door i noticed the Koko sign and knew i had to get a shot there. it was taken after the sound check and i have about 5 frames, a 20 second shoot which ended up in a box set, i didn’t see that coming.
Your photos from the Reworked tour in the Royal Albert Hall have a beautiful quality to them, was it different in any way, photographing them in such an auspicious place?
I love the RAH, the walls are lined with all the photographs of rock legends who played their over the years. The venue is big but you still feel connected to the band. the Staff and security are the friendless I have ever met which helps when moving round the place. My favorite shots have to be the wide angles shot which incorporate the celling. Davie Sherwin did an amazing job lighting the venue.
I see on your web site that you have many images for sale. You have even more images on Facebook & the official Snow Patrol web site, are those for sale too? If yes, then how would your fans go about purchasing them?
I have held off selling images for a number of years but felt the time was now right to coincide with the exhibition. If anyone would like to purchase any images that are not on my site they can do so via email.
In Belfast this July you had a major exhibition, Snow Patrol – Behind The Scenes. How was it received? – Did the band members of SP come and view it, what was there opinion? How did you display the video of The Lightning Strike?
I didn’t appreciate how much work would be involved in sorting through ten years of image to produce 40 prints. i usually upload more than that after each gig. i narrowed it down to 60 prints including some montages. I received some great press from exhibition and the opening night was packed. The lightning Strike was displayed on an large screen monitor. I have to pay a big thank you to Adam Turkington from the waterfront who asked me to host the show and Cashier No9 for playing a set. Unfortunately the band were on tour but thankfully they will get to see it tomorrow.
You have just announced that the exhibition, Crack the Shutters, is being hung in the Waterfront Hall for the three days that Snow Patrol will be performing in Belfast, December 7th, 8th & 9th. It will give so many more fans a chance to see your work. Will you be there after the Reworked shows to talk with people? Will they be able to purchase any limited prints in the gallery while the show is up?
I will be shooting at the concerts but i will pop up to Exhibition in between. A range of limited edition prints will be on sale at the Merchandise stall each night.
What is your next photographic venture?
I have couple of ideas but it may tour this exhibition to other parts of the Uk first.