Photographer, Artist and Proud Metalhead Sabrina Ramdoyal shares the highs and lows of being a a music photographer, the Slipknot moment that changed her life and Bloodstock Festival 2012!
Please [CLICK HERE] to access Sabrina Ramdoyal’s portfolio.
Let me first ask you, how and why did you get into music photography?
In 2007, I completed an honours degree in Psychology & Counselling Studies. To get a job within the industry would take a further seven to ten years. So, being very distant towards my job goal, I was very fascinated with Art Therapy from my studies. I love Art and I’ve used it as a means, along with metal music, to control my hectic mind. It was one day I was with my partner, now of six years, I told him my experiences and showed my Art. I questioned if I should take up a course in Art and Design to expand on my interest. He simply said to follow my dreams and he’ll support me along the way. So, after learning the many art forms within the course for one year and gaining a Merit after completing my final major project specialising in Fine Art & Photography [I used a digital camera]. The tutors and the examining board expressed, however, I was of Distinction level and they’ve said to take my talents further as it shouldn’t go to waste. I got a job after the course and with the money I’ve saved up, I’ve got a ticket to see one of the incredible gigs of my life – Slipknot, Machine Head & Children of Bodom on 9th December 2008. It was the song “Prosthetics” of Slipknot’s set that clicked [no pun intended] “I could have captured that moment with my camera”. After the show … well, I let you fill in the blanks from there!
How would you describe your photography style?
As a wise photographer once said to me, there are no rights and wrongs, but as long you feel it is a great picture that meets the client’s requirements, it is a job well done. Coming from a self-taught background for nearly four years, my photographic style tends to change within time by techniques I gained through many assignments I’ve done. It could be a little alteration in my editing, an interesting method from a professional photographer being put into practice or whilst being on a photo shoot. I make sure the final product is authentic to the eye, but adding my own flair. It expands on my creativity and confidence in my work. The last thing you want your work to be is the same.
Your credits range from Soundshock, Ed Stone Rockwear, Punk Star (UK) and your photo work has featured in Metal Hammer as well as Roadrunner Records (UK) – what keeps you going?
With those achievements alone, I wouldn’t have thought my work would be recognised with some of the top names. Although I have a long way to go until I know I have reached that level of success, the amount of support since starting have been nothing more than delightful.
As a freelance photographer – what are the highs and lows of the job?
As you can see, there are many great things when doing this. You gain access to some of your favourite gigs and festivals; your work is recognised by potential clients and most of all, you get to have the time of your life being involved in the music scene. You meet new people and it is your chance to shine through networking with other professionals. Recently, I had two photography students from Canada and England to interview me as part of their reports as I’m one of the reasons why they started photography. Even when I am asked to do an assignment by one of my clients is a high in itself!
But, as someone greatly put it, it is a luxury lifestyle through minimum wage. Photography is an expensive job and as technology advances, you can’t do the job without raking a fortune on the latest equipment. Unless you’re working for a major magazine or you’re contracted with a client, it doesn’t pay your bills. Sometimes, you don’t know when your next assignment will be, so you have to find your own means of work. When all the fun and games are over, you will be constantly editing, networking and promoting your recent assignments to the world. It takes a lot out of your body and mind.
Recently, you were at Bloodstock Festival – please do give us some feedback.
I’ll be honoured to! I photographed the almighty Bloodstock Festival 2012 for two clients. One is coverage for my music website This Is Not A Scene and I had two photo shoots to promote a great clothing apparel Ed Stone Rockwear. So, prioritising the many bands playing across three stages to organising times for the clients’ photo shoots was a challenge worth achieving. On the first day of shooting, I had an accident in which stopped my workflow. But the amount of support I got from the photographers on the weekend was tremendous. They made sure I was okay, if I needed help and I could use their laptops if I was struggling to transfer work. I’ve seen through the weekend that the media are a very tight community striving to give it our all to make Bloodstock Festival one of a kind. The people ranging from The Noise Cartel PR, record companies, the management, the sponsors, the security, the fans and many more have been immaculate. In the end, with the intense work, it wouldn’t be complete without the memories. The music, stints on stage, laughs, an incident involving sleeping on the job, duck pout pictures and witnessing a sourball challenge balanced the chaos. It was a great festival with like-minded people with the same passion and I would it all over again!
Your portfolio has amazing shots from Spires to Lamb of God! What has been your most memorable assignment to date?
Thank you for great words on my photography! This is a tough one as each assignment is memorable to me in some way! The one that sticks to mind was when I was asked by my editors of This Is Not A Scene to be their photographer for Sonisphere Festival 2011 across all stages. This was my first ever festival to document and as you would expect, I was as nervous as anything! As the weekend went by, I became comfortable in my own skin. The moment when it finally hit me was on that heavy raining Sunday night whilst singing to every word to the emotionally-charged Slipknot stage set dedicated to the late great bassist Paul Gray. It made me realise “Wait, I was in the photopit photographing all of The Big Four [Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica], including legends Diamond Head! I photographed the British icons Motorhead! Holy Hell, I was …” It was at that point where I have something to prove in my work. I’ve worked very hard on getting to that stage [sorry about the pun] and to work alongside the professionals. I’ve met some great people and I’ve learnt so much just from that weekend. That gave me the insight that I shouldn’t quit after this.
What do you think of the rock/metal music photography industry at the moment and where do you see it 5 years from now?
So far, I hadn’t seen any problems as there are many new photographers wanting to do this and they have the same level of passion for the music in this line of work, apart from photo releases being used to some bands’ shows. I can’t exactly provide an answer as I don’t know what will happen in the next five years. As long as everyone supports each other and don’t get ahead of themselves, and then it will be good.
Is it true that you are from the gorgeous island called Mauritius but the United Kingdom is your home?
Well, it’s my parents who are from Mauritius. I was born in London, but I have lived in Manchester since the age of two. Learning from my parents of how life in a tiny island is difficult and to see how they’ve worked from the bottom of the gutter to where they are now, I am absolutely grateful to learn not to complain of what we have in this day and age! That gives me strength to work harder.
Apart from photography, what are your hobbies and interests?
Well, I keep my ideas flowing by going to Art galleries and being constantly inspired through the many aspects of life. I make sure it is all recorded in a diary of some kind, just in case of a photo shoot! I love going to gigs, whether I photograph or just being a punter. Since doing Zumba for a couple of years, it’s becoming a nice way to release some pent-up energy and keep healthy. With all the work, spending time with your loved ones is a great way to treat the soul. You need that to keep you going and sane more than anything. Every now and again, I like to go to a comedy show. I rarely watch TV but I do watch Metalocalypse, Robot Chicken and TV series The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Spartacus, and Game Of Thrones. I need to catch a few more! Who says photographers are boring, eh?
As a metalhead, do you have any must-have albums picked out for 2012?
As a proud metalhead for over eleven years, I’ve been confronted with many recognised and new artists with their blasts of metal. This year is no exception. Recent records released from artists like Katatonia, Testament, Gojira, Kreator, Moonspell, Anathema, Ihsahn, Cannibal Corpse and Devin Townsend Project shows how great 2012 is shaping. There are new bands like Alcest, Aborted, Mark Tremonti and Storm Corrosion in line too. There are artists from the local and UK scene such as Triaxis, Saturnian, Savage Messiah, Orange Goblin and Oaf as they are fast becoming just as great as some of the major bands. My Dying Bride, Stone Sour, Cradle Of Filth and Sylosis are the last bands of this year to check out too! I am going to have a difficult time choosing my best records of 2012! I can’t wait what 2013 will bring to us in metal!
What advice would you give to up-and-coming photography journalists?
All advice is based on experience I’ve been through and seen. Beware as it is a lot to take in. Document a music scene that you are comfortable in and support it. Bands work tirelessly for great music and they need your support for exposure to the public. You won’t get any attention with potential clients without a body of work. There are social media sites to reveal your adventures. Create a website and blog for your work. It is essential to have business cards and nowadays, an iPad on the go. Expect the work to be voluntary as you don’t get into major publications that easily. Once you get an assignment to document a gig by applying to a music publication, remember the rules of the photopit – respect the people involved and do not give others a hard time. They were once like you. Be wary of crowdsurfers and drinks that may come over the barrier as you will get a few knocks. I’ve seen professionals go underappreciated whilst “fauxtographers” get more attention. It is a tough world out there so it is very important to stand out from the crowd with your own photographic style. Never copy or steal from others as there will be consequences. You’ll get critics assessing your work and even you can be your own worst critic. Ask the professionals for advice. I ask for constructive criticism so I’m aware of what to do for improvement for future assignments. You never know the accidents you may encounter so, it is important to have financial support in order to pay for your equipment and insure them.
With all of the advice, it all comes down to two imperative points if you decide to become a music journalist. The first is practice. That’s where all of the mentioned will fall into place. And the second is being careful once you take this profession. As AC/DC famously said “It’s a long to the top if you wanna rock and roll.” Don’t take it very lightly because it will be a journey of tears, tantrums and long hours if you want to succeed.
Are there any last words that you would like to add?
Remember, as an Artist, appreciate your work, embrace your achievements and learn from your mistakes. I am sure you have made some at one point. I have had mine and I’ve learned, hence I am carrying on loving what I do. Only you need to prove that you’re worthy of this. Be fearless and show other competitors that you are the competition.
Thank You Sabrina! Please [CLICK HERE] to access Sabrina Ramdoyal’s portfolio. You can catch Sabrina on TWITTER