Louder: Behind the Music with Katie Frost
Turn It Up Louder goes behind the scenes of the much loved music to give you the insight into who's doing what and how you could even get into it. The series continues with photographer, Katie Frost. Katie talks us through her work and progression as a photographer whilst also having a full time day job.
Hey Katie, give us a little insight into you and your career thus far.
I am an award-winning photographer based in London (UK) specialising in rock and metal live music. I shoot at music venues of various sizes - including The Black Heart, Brixton Academy, Kentish Town Forum, and Wembley Arena. I am part of the photography team at both The Moshville Times and Stitched Sound, as well as writing live music reviews and other articles for both publications. In 2018 I became the Photo Editor at The Moshville Times. I have had my work published in Kerrang! Magazine and Revolver Magazine as well as on a variety of online music blogs. In 2018 I exhibited my work at Shout About It Live (a music festival and photography exhibition in Liverpool organised by fellow music photographers) and at the Women In Live Music (WILM) 2018 awards event at Signature Brew Taproom in London.
So how did you get into photography? When I first started going to gigs around 1999 I found myself taking photos with a little point-and-shoot camera, trying to capture the action. In January 2015 I received my first DSLR as a birthday present and managed to get a couple of photo passes to shoot gigs around London. In the early days I photographed in-store band signing events at PULP on Oxford Street and was part of the old House Photography team at MAMA & Co venues (including The Barfly and The Borderline). In June 2015 I travelled to Norway to photograph Tons of Rock festival as part of a photography workshop, which was when my passion for documenting live music really kicked in. I have returned to photograph the festival every year since and have been lucky enough to photograph some big international acts there including Slayer, KISS, Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper. In 2015, whilst photographing a show at The Garage for MAMA & Co, I met James from The Moshville Times who asked if he could use some of my photos of the show to accompany his review. He liked my work and asked me if I wanted to join their photography team. As well as photographing and reviewing shows for The Moshville Times, I started to become more involved in the watermarking of staff members' photos and applying for photopasses, and in 2018 was offered the position of Photo Editor.
What’s one tip you wish you’d known when trying to get to where you are now? That there was very little money in the music photography business, and getting to the paid work is very hard unless you happened to know the right people. I still don't earn more than a few hundred pounds a year for my work, and therefore work 4-days a week at an architectural practice in order to pay my mortgage. Experience is of course also key in moving up the ladder in the music photography industry. I feel like now my portfolio is pretty strong and I can start applying to shoot for print magazines that pay photographers, or get paid to go on tour with a band or to shoot a show on behalf of their management / PR / record label.
Any cool bands you've worked with over your career?
I have worked with a few unsigned bands such as Everything Aside and Karab, and have photographed a large number of well-know international acts including Amon Amarth, Behemoth, Lamb Of God, Alice Cooper and Machine Head.
What's a highlight been for you?
Getting to spend the day with the Sabaton crew and document how their huge show went together at Wembley Arena. You can read all about it (and see my photos) here: https://www.moshville.co.uk/feature/behind-the-scenes/2020/03/behind-the-scenes-sabaton-at-wembley-arena-february-8th-2020/
There are a lot of people trying to get into photography, what advice would you give to those who want to follow that path?
Some of the photographers who are doing quite well (getting paid work) seem to have started out at this straight from school / college / university, so that is probably an easier router into the business than starting when you already have a full-time job and a mortgage. This would enable you to stay up all night editing photos without having to get up early for work the next day, and to go away on tour with a band without losing your job. There is lots of portfolio-building to be done in the early days of becoming a music photographer - nobody goes straight into shooting the big bands. Many of the photographers I know cannot survive solely on the income from music photography so also shoot weddings and corporate events, which tend to be better paid, so having a wide skill-set is probably an advantage, as photographing someone's wedding is very different to shooting a metal concert! Getting to know how your camera works and making sure you can shoot in Manual mode is key. Shooting unpaid for small online publications is a brilliant way to gain experience and build your portfolio, but going from that to getting paid work can be a steep curve. Networking skills are also important. This is something that I am not particularly good at as I find it hard to juggle alongside my day-job, but I think I am starting to get better at it!
What do you see as a long term career goal?
I would love to be able to be a full-time photographer one day. Just before the COVID-19 outbreak I spent a lot of time putting together a portfolio of some of my best work and contacted a selection of print publications asking if they were looking for photographers to join their team. Needless to say I haven't heard back from a single one, but I will try again once all this is over. I would love to get more of my work published and also to go on tour with a band. I would also love to have some of my photographs featured on an album cover or on the side of a tour bus.
If people want to get in touch with you or keep up to date with you work what’s the best info.
You're currently working on a women in music project, can you talk us through where the idea came from and how you built it? What have been some of the best moments doing this?
A few years ago I started a personal photography project celebrating women in the live music industry called "Live & Loud" (https://www.katiefrostphotography.com/live-loud). In late 2018 I joined Women In Live Music (https://womeninlivemusic.eu/) and met some incredible women working behind the scenes in the live music industry. I have also always been fascinated with how live shows go together and the people that are involved in making them happen, so I started contacting members of WILM asking if I could photograph them doing their jobs. I have had a really great response to the project and am hoping to expand it further once the live music industry returns to life after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. One of my favourite moments was photographing Alice James who is the production manager at Hammersmith Apollo - she showed me some of the secret rooms that you never get to see, which was so interesting. My most memorable time was photographing the women working in Sabaton's crew during the set up of their Wembley Arena show in February 2020. They have a relative large number of women on their crew doing all sorts of jobs from truck driving to stage building. You can view my Women Behind The Scenes In Live Music Project here: https://www.katiefrostphotography.com/women-in-live-music
What are 5 tracks that get you pumped for shooting gigs?
Tracks that get me excited for shooting a live show (some of which remind me of great times I have had in the photopit shooting my favourite bands) would be "Great War" by Sabaton, "Prey" by Parkway Drive, "Death In Fire" by Amon Amarth, "Isaak" by Baroness, and "Burn It" by Fever 333.