Armed only with his camera and a capacity for Red Bull that would be lethal to any other normal human person, Matt Gleeson spends most of his weekends capturing Melbourne’s prodigious live music scene. This Saturday May 25, Bombay Rock have the pleasure of hosting the celebration of one year of 3 Chord images with the much anticipated event Shooting Bands In The Face!
In addition to the event showcasing 5 amazing local acts, Matt will be exhibiting a selection of prints that will be available for purchase on the night
Hosting such a unique event called for an interview so we chased the man up for a juicy little Q & A.
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today Matt. Firstly, at what age did you start getting into photography?
I guess I got a relatively late start. I didn’t pick up a camera until I was in my late 30’s. Basically I bought a camera to take on a holiday to the UK and didn’t really work out how to use it to its fuller potential until after I got back to Melbourne (I really wish I could do that holiday again!)
What attracted you to taking photos of the live music scene?
I pretty much fell into shooting bands by accident. I was pretty obsessed with taking photos when I found out that an old house mate had got his band back together after 17 years of not playing. Although I’ve always loved music, I hadn’t gone out to see a band live for years (talk about bad life decisions!) Anyway I went to the show which was actually the very first Nevermind the Warp’d Tour Festival at the Brunny. I met a few people there including the promoters who encouraged me to come to more shows and it kind of just got out of control from there.
What is the craziest photo you’ve ever taken at a live performance?
Probably the nude bicycle ride. I was shooting Jay Wars and The Howard Youth who were playing in the beer garden at the Brunny when I noticed that everyone had turned away from the band. I looked over my shoulder and saw several hundred nude cyclists riding by. I did what any decent photographer would do and fired off a few shots and then went back to shooting bands.
Who is the most famous person you have photographed?
Oh that’s a difficult one! I guess it depends on how you define fame. The stand out for me though would be Glen Matlock (ex Sex Pistols). Love them or hate them, the Sex Pistols became a household name and really left a mark on music that you can still see today if you look hard enough.
If you could photograph anyone in the world who would it be?
I keep a little list in my head of bands I’d jump at shooting and I’ve been lucky enough to tick a few off the list already. I’m a huge fan of Anti-Flag and Booze and Glory, and I’ve been lucky enough to shoot both bands in recent years. I’m shooting Svetlanas later in the year which will be a bit of a treat too. I guess Rancid would be the ultimate for me though.
How many cameras do you own?
Two that I use routinely – My canon 6d for shows and an Olympus mirrorless that I occasionally use for street shooting. I also have a collection of old film cameras but I’ve never used them. There will be some purists that will diss me for saying this, but film scares the fuck out of me!
What was your first camera?
Canon 1100D – It was the base model DSLR in the Canon range at the time and wasn’t a great camera for shooting in dark environments but I had a lot of fun trying to stretch the capability of the camera. I still had it until a few weeks ago, when I sold it to a friend who is just starting out in photography.
How does your photography process go from start to finish?
Prepare, shoot, sort, select, edit, publish, sleep. That’s pretty much it (although if you ask those in the know it also involves consuming large amounts of Red Bull too).
Do you photograph other things? Or do you stick to live music?
I used to do a lot more street photography and a bit of urban exploring stuff, but don’t seem to find the time for it much anymore. I’ve shot a few weddings for friends and do some commissioned works for bands for promo materials and album covers.
Apart from that my family is absolutely sick of me waving a camera in their faces!
You are a contributor to Behind the Scene – How long has that been in motion for?
A bit over a year now I think. My input has been a bit intermittent as I’ve been pretty much focused on photography projects. I used to run an online zine called Ragged Press, but as it grew larger and larger the demands were taking me away from my primary love of live music photography. Doing the occasional stuff for Behind The Scene means I can keep my hand in with writing and interviewing without the pressure of having the buck stopping with me. Byron who heads up BTS is a pleasure to work with too.
Last year you held a launch for your photography book at Bombay Rock. How is the book going?
I don’t think I’ll be hitting any best seller lists anytime soon, but the initial print run of 130 or so books sold out within a couple of weeks of the launch. People can still buy the book via the 3 Chord Images website and I organise a print run for them when the orders come in.
Do you have plans to make another one?
Definitely! There is something very satisfying about producing something you can hold in your hand. Producing the book has had some challenges but in the end I felt it was worthwhile and I’m keen to do it again. I’ve toyed with the idea of releasing a 3 Chord Images Annual but nothing firm at this stage.
Where can people find your work?
The 3 Chord Images Website – https://3chordimages.com/ is where most of my pics end up. I’ve also got an Instagram account where I post a smaller selection of my favorite images. https://www.instagram.com/3chordimages/