Big Shots

Big Shots: Sal Thompson…



Welcome to our newest Zone: “Big Shots.” The title refers not only to the extremely talented music photographers we feature each time, but also to the six photographs each photographer chooses to showcase their skills.

We invite amazing camera creatives from around the world – from veteran guys and gals whose images of iconic famous bands and artists have been seen globally for decades, to new and exciting young professionals who are star snappers of the future.

We also showcase the best of today’s most respected names in music photography – to choose half a dozen shots from their own archive, and tell us why they chose each picture.

The photographs they choose can be live concert and/or festival shots, portraits and/or candid backstage images. We also offer a brief bio of each photographer.

  • The latest photographer we are happy to feature in “Big Shots” is Sal Thompson…





Music photographer Sal Thompson uses the pseudonym GigJunkie for her work. Having spent most of her life with a camera in her hand and a love of live music, it was a Babyshambles gig in 2004 that changed everything for Sal. Photos from that night were published in The NME and resulted in Sal getting a contract with them to cover their NME club nights as well as other gigs.

Outside of music photography, Sal worked as a medical photographer before retraining as a diagnostic radiographer and has spent almost 20 years in music photography alongside her day job.

Stoke-based Sal has worked for many different publications and websites, as well as having her photographs published in books and included in album artwork. She worked as the promoter’s photographer at The V Festival’s Stafford site for many years and has also covered Reading festival, Kendal Calling, Bluedot, Bingley and many more festivals around the UK.

Sal has worked with some of her favourite bands for a long time and is grateful for the friendships she has made, and the trust given to her to capture live gigs, backstage and portrait images. Sal also enjoys taking photographs at other events too, such as book launches – of which she has covered many with author and DJ Dave Haslam – in-conversation events and live podcasts.

Alongside her usual work, Sal has recently started a new project, Gigjunkie portrait project – to capture a quick portrait of a musician, either just before or just after a live set. 




Sal has chosen six images of:

The Libertines’ Carl Barât and Peter Doherty, Liam Gallagher, Dave Grohl, Paddy Considine [Riding The Low & actor], Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner and Jack Jones [Trampolene]. 



  • Peter & Carl – The Libertines


I can’t remember where this photo was taken, but it’s one of my favourites. I’ve worked with these guys for years and I love capturing the closeness of Peter and Carl on the microphone like this. I have a lot to thank The Libertines for and I feel very lucky that I get to spend so much time with them.



  • Liam Gallagher – Oasis


Having been a fan of Oasis for a long time, I had always wanted to make photographs of them, but I never got the chance until The V Festival 2009. I have always been a massive fan of Jill Furmanovsky too, so it was amazing to meet her a few years ago and talk about my photographs from what ended up being the last ever Oasis gig.



  • Dave Grohl – Foo Fighters


This is one of my favourite photographs that I have made of Dave Grohl, when I photographed the Foo Fighters at V Festival in 2007. When I first started working for NME, I was given some great advice by the picture editor at the time, which was to try and capture an image away from the mic’ which could look like a studio shot. I have always tried to achieve this with every gig since.



  • Paddy Considine – Riding The Low


I have worked with Riding The Low for years, and I love the energy that these guys have at every gig. I made this photo in 2013, and although I’ve taken so many more photos of them over the last 10 years, this is still one of my favourites. I love the energy it captured and the composition is perfect, with the kick framing the drum kit.

When I was at college studying photography it was one of my dreams to work on movies, doing stills and thanks to Paddy Considine from Riding The Low, I was invited to shoot the  stills on one of his films, ‘Journeyman’. This was an amazing experience and one of my best GigJunkie adventures.



  • Alex Turner – Arctic Monkeys


I first photographed the Arctic Monkeys at a small gig in Wolverhampton around 2006, then the next time I took pictures of them was at V Festival in 2011 where I made this image. Even though it was a massive festival stage, I still tried to take a few photos that were more portrait style, and this is one of my favourites.



  • Jack Jones – Trampolene


I first met Jack when he was with Peter Doherty and the Puta Madres, and I’ve taken photos of him and his band Trampolene ever since. This is one of my favourite photos, which I made recently during an event in Liverpool to promote Jack’s new book. It is one for my Gigjunkie portrait project.



Sal’s 10-year-old daughter Alice, aka GigJunkie Jr. has followed in mum’s artistic footsteps as a music photographer, and regularly shoots bands from the pit next to Sal, and is well known among some major bands such as The Libertines. Alice has already sold several of her images.

Here she is “at work” taking pix of Peter Doherty and Carl Barât at a festival, and with Peter in 2023 . Keep it up Ms. Alice.


















  • More “Big Shots” coming very soon…




Festival crowd from the ‘big wheel’ photo [top of page] credit: Katja Ogrin



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