Welcome to “Big Shots” – launched in January 2024. 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 – who choose half a dozen shots from their own archive, and tell us the backstory to their images and maybe 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 in the “Big Shots” spotlight is Katja Ogrin……
West Midlands-based freelance photographer Katja Ogrin’s work is well respected by her fellow ‘togs’ for her work, which has been published internationally for more than a decade, syndicated via Redferns Picture Agency,[part of Getty Images] since 2013.
A full-time photographer for 10 years. Katja is originally from Ljubljana in Slovenia and moved to the UK in 2001. She “stumbled into photography by chance” in her late teens when she was given an old camera and began taking photos – “random stuff”, mostly involving her friends.
She got the live music photography bug when she managed to “blag” a photo pass for Ljubljana Jazz Festival. Katja says: “The moment I started taking photos of musicians on the stage I knew I had found my thing. I felt happy, excited, inspired and most importantly, I felt like I was meant to be there.”
Katja continued taking photographs at various gigs in her home town, and after moving to the UK. Katja found the move quite hard to begin with, because she didn’t know anyone and had to start from scratch. She eventually joined a music website, ‘Brum Live’, covering gigs for them and later also for the music sites ‘Gig Junkies’, ‘Drowned in Sound’ and ‘AltSounds.’
Her work has been featured in many magazines, including Rolling Stone, SPIN, Kerrang, Metal Hammer, Prog Rock, Classic Rock and many more. Her images have also graced the front cover… Her work has also appeared in most of the UK’s national newspapers such as The Guardian, The Times and The Telegraph.
In addition to music, Katja also shoots dance and theatre with breathtaking results and excellent access…. and various types of events. Most of her clients are in the arts sector. She is official photographer for Bloodstock metal and rock festival in Derbyshire.
Her latest shoots include an eight-hour underwater project with a band for their forthcoming new album, and the dress rehearsal of Sleeping Beauty by Birmingham Royal Ballet in Southampton, for Getty Images.
Katja has chosen images of: Twenty One Pilots, Depeche Mode, Ghost, Crowd-surfing Jesus @ a Skindred festival set, Parkway Drive and Metallica’s fireworks.
Twenty One Pilots – This is probably the most atmospheric photo I’ve ever taken. The band headlined Reading & Leeds festivals a few years back, but in 2016 it was only the second time they visited the UK, and I guess they weren’t as popular in Europe as they were in the USA. So they played Academy size venues.
After I finished shooting in the pit, I went on to the balcony, partly because I wanted to watch the show and partly because I knew they had ‘pyros’ during the last song; and both Tyler and Josh go into the crowd, so I thought I might be able to get a few shots.
Ghost – It’s very rare that I look at a photo I’ve taken and think ‘nailed it’. But this one definitely falls into that category. I love everything about it: the composition, the lighting and the action captured. It’s also a great example of right place, right time mixed in with a bit of luck.
I always felt that no matter how skilled and experienced a person is, when it comes to live music (or any other type of documentary photography, where the photographer doesn’t control the environment), there’s always an element of luck. Sometimes you get rewarded and sometimes you find yourself standing in a totally wrong spot in the pit, and sigh loudly while watching another photographer take ‘that’ shot.
Skindred – Download ‘Pilot’ in June 2021 at Donington Park, was a 10,000 capacity festival as part of a UK government test event to examine how Covid-19 transmission takes place in crowds.
It was the first time I returned to shooting live music after the Covid pandemic shut down all events. It was incredibly emotional. I know I teared up more than once during that weekend and I wasn’t the only one.
Metallica – As much as I love getting up close and personal with bands, I also love a good wide shot, especially if it includes fireworks. Since I started covering Download Festival, I always looked at the Ferris wheel with a bit of resentment, because I felt it wasn’t in the right spot; so imagine my surprise when I entered the site in 2023 to see it exactly where I always thought it should have been: on top of the hill directly opposite the main stage.
The moment I saw it, I knew that at some point over the next four days I’ll be up there performing some kind of acrobatics with my camera in one of the pods, to find the best shooting position (they put plastic screens all around which makes taking photos a tad more challenging than it used to be). I decided the best day to do it was Saturday, the second night Metallica headlined.
Half way through their set, I slowly made my way through the crowd to the wheel, spoke to the guys running it and and explained what I was after so that they would let me skip the queue and jump in the pod as soon as I thought the time was right. Unfortunately I didn’t quite know what time was the right time. It wasn’t crucial to get these shots, I was doing it for myself more than anything else, but if I waited around all this time and risked getting stuck in the masses of traffic leaving the festival in the evening, I definitely didn’t want it to be for nothing.
Luckily I timed it just right. I got on the wheel half way through the band’s last song and was half way up with a nice view of the entire arena when the fireworks went off. It felt like winning the lottery for me!
More “Big Shots” coming very soon…
Festival crowd from the ‘big wheel’ photo [top of page] credit: Katja Ogrin