Ladies with Lanyards is a blog post I published a while ago that put a spotlight on some of the most talented music photographers in Australia. That blog post had such a good response so I decided I wanted to dive deeper into this and interview these creatives! So, I'd like you to meet fellow music photographer, Jade Kennedy...

My name is: 
Jade Kennedy, AKA Girl at a Rock Show

I am based in: 
Townsville, North Queensland

I started shooting live music because: 
My very first gig was out of complete necessity! I am a journalist by trade and qualification. I have been interviewing and reviewing bands since I was 17 years old. In 2007, I had reviewer tickets to Silverchair’s first Young Modern show at The Tivoli in Brisbane. Because I had to travel 2,000 kms to see it, I didn’t have a photographer to take with me, and the review was being published in a youth mag I was the Editor in Chief of, which was published as a lift out in the local paper every month. So I borrowed a camera and jumped in the photo pit. I thought I was doing everything wrong – when I was in front of Daniel, everyone else was in front of Chris. When I went to Chris everyone else went to Daniel. It was also my first experience of being accidentally spat on due to proximity! 
When I got the photos back, the guy laying out our pages at the paper asked if I had studied photography, as “these shots are as good as any of our guys’ pics would be.” I took that on board and as my day job was next to the local tour venue, I started wandering over after work on show days, checking out sound check and meeting the acts then going back with a borrowed camera to shoot. I had nowhere to send the pics - and this was before social media was much of a thing, so 99% of the shots have disappeared now – but cut my teeth on the likes of Something With Numbers, Eskimo Joe, Little Birdy, Josh Pyke, The Screaming Jets and The Butterfly Effect. During these gigs I started learning what different settings on the camera did, and eventually bought my own camera in 2009 – with the proceeds of my divorce.

My favourite gig I’ve ever photographed was: 
Ooh, tough! I would say Hotter Than Hell is up there, primarily because the bands are all ones I listened to in high school and still actively listen to today – Eskimo Joe, Spiderbait, Killing Heidi, 28 Days, Shihad, Bodyjar, Jebediah, The Superjesus, etc. Plus the lighting is good, the stage isn’t small or cramped, and at both festivals there’s only been a max of three photographers (at the Townsville event)… and this year, all three of us were women, which was awesome.
Shooting Twenty One Pilots at Groovin The Moo a few years ago was definitely a highlight, though – their energy and stage presence was incredible, plus despite a tall photographer with a big hat’s best efforts, I still managed to get a shot of the confetti cannon going off in focus, without her head in the way! 
Oh, and finally getting a shot of Scotty from The Living End standing on his bass was a score last year. The first time he came and stood over me at Groovin (years ago) and I had too long of a lens on and was too close to the stage, so when he came near me all the other photographers crowded around me and I couldn’t step back, so I missed it. This time, he gave me a bit of a nod and a smirk, so I got down on the floor (the stage was knee-high) and he came over and stood on the bass and I had to backbend til I was laying on the floor of the pub, but I got the shot. They shared it across their socials the next day as well. That felt like a bit of a win.

The hardest / worst gig I’ve ever photographed was: 
Oh, Diesel! Without a doubt! The lighting was a very dim spotlight and that’s it. My camera just could not handle that low of a lighting situation – I think candles would’ve probably worked better! I could’ve cried, I tried everything to salvage the shots in the three songs I had but nothing worked. I also couldn’t get side stage access, which might have worked a bit better by getting some profile definition, as the light was coming from in front of him… so that was a major fail. I love Mark, too – he’s the loveliest guy. I was super disappointed with that gig. 

My photography style can be described in the following 3 words:
Natural. Gritty. Realistic.

My advice to young women looking to join the music industry as a live music photographer is:
Contact me! I’m always looking for young women to write and shoot for my web site! I’ve managed to give some girls some crazy opportunities I myself would kill for – including shooting the ARIAs red carpet and shooting Gang of Youths. I’m all for empowering and mentoring young women who want to get involved with music media – my youngest team member is 8 years old! She lives in America and her mum is a photographer – she wanted to learn how to do interviews, so I send her tips and whatnot and her mum films her interviews for us. It’s awesome. 

If I could tell my younger self anything it would be: 
This industry is hard – especially being based in regional North Queensland, where the boys club mentality is sadly still very evident – but don’t give up. 

The best advice I’ve ever been given is:
‘The minute you have to resort to using your sexuality to get anywhere in this industry is the minute you have to re-evaluate who you’re working with.’ It was about the music industry in general but it’s still pretty relevant. 

The hardest thing about being a live music photographer is:
Keeping up quick turnarounds when live music photography isn’t the only facet of your business (or isn’t the only thing you do) so that your images stay relevant in the world of social media. That’s a big one. Also, affording new equipment. I desperately need another upgrade and I cannot even think about it at the moment… maybe when my car loan is paid out I can take out another loan to cover it!

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt as a music photographer is:
Don’t undervalue yourself or your work. Also, don’t base your self-worth on how others respond to your work. I have massive issues with self-esteem and anxiety and these are things I still need to remind myself.

My favourite live music photographer is:
Tony Mott and Michelle Grace Hunder! I have met both, I completely fangirled out on both, and can count both of them as Facebook official friends now. Haha. I met Tony at his exhibition at Blender Gallery in Sydney, and at first couldn’t even speak to him but ended up having great chats. And I met Michelle at the Killing Heidi crew house at Queenscliff a few years ago… she was sitting on the bench in the kitchen when I realised exactly who she was and fangirled at her. I still facepalm when I think of it!

My goals as a live music photographer are:
To get more work published. To tour as a photographer, not merch girl (though I do love marching and being able to interact with happy fans every night) and get a full visual tour diary with candids and whatnot… basically like Michelle did with Seth Sentry, or like Phil Jamieson posted from WA a few months ago. Also to get one of my live shots in the Percival Photographic Portrait Prize… I made it last year, but not with a music shot. I would also love to do a lot more portraits and press shots with musicians, which is difficult when so many just pass through where I live and don’t really have time nor inclination to shoot… but I’ll get there!

I also:
I run Girl at a Rock Show as a fulltime business. I was forced to quit the mainstream workforce in 2012 due to extensive health issues, which ended up being diagnosed as fibromyalgia. I had initially started Girl as a blog, then in 2014 decided to step it up a notch and attempt to make money. I ran a few events, but the effort vs. outcome didn’t match up – especially when my medical issues made the effort ten times harder. I did a little management and bookings work, and still occasionally do bookings, but my real passion now lies in journalism, photography, publicity and merch. I do non-music journalism as well as writing for my own site and Music Feeds, and regularly write for a business development magazine in Townsville, which is super inspiring. I do publicity for bands and comedians, specialising in North Queensland because it’s notoriously difficult to get good media saturation up here. I also love touring the north with bands selling merch and, as I mentioned before, meeting fans who are excited and happy to be seeing X¯ act in person. I’ve also been training as a radio announcer with a local commercial station and LOVE IT. Hoping to do a lot more on-air work in 2019.

Excluding camera equipment, in my camera bag you will also find:
ID, keys, gum, sharpies & pens, a small notebook and maybe some cash (though I tend to avoid taking cash to shows so I’m not tempted to drink, after some very embarrassing incidents pre-2012!)

This is the photo I’m most proud of because:
Let’s roll with the Living End one I mentioned before 

I shoot with: 
Currently, my most-used camera and lens is a Canon 70D and 18-135mm lens. My theory is if I can get ‘good’ shots with pretty crap equipment, I’ll be laughing once I upgrade my kit!

You can follow Jade here-
Instagram: @girlatarockshowofficial
Facebook: /girlatarockshowimagery or /girlatarockshow
Twitter: @grlatarockshow

Until next time,
Chels x

Instagram- @littlek
Twitter- @littleksnap


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