Big Shots

Big Shots: Tony Woolliscroft…



Welcome to “Big Shots” – which we 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 Tony Woolliscroft…





Bitten by the ‘Punk Rock’ bug in 1978, at 13, much to his parents’ horror. The second band Tony saw live was the Clash – but he didn’t pick up a camera until 10 years later in 1988.

Stoke-based Tony built a portfolio of his gig pictures, helped by a promoter friend,. and in 1989 he toured the UK music publications showing picture editors his shots of Run DMC, New Model Army, The Stay Cats and a few others. Sounds, NME and Metal Hammer weren’t interested in a photographer based in the Midlands, but the new RAW magazine had no photographers based north of Watford. He was in!

Tony’s first job for the magazine was to shoot the bands Keator and Raven in the Mayfair in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. No photo pits in those days, so Tony queued up waiting for the doors to open, then a mad dash to the front by the stage, where for the next three hours he was at the mercy of the crowd who were stage diving all over the place; Tony getting kicked in the head while trying to take pictures.

He was asked to shoot more and more for RAW mag’ and turned professional in 1990. He left that magazine in 1995 to shoot for Kerrang, where he worked for 11 years until 2006, yearning to shoot other genres of music than Kerrang’s metal and rock fare. He went freelance and signed with the photo agency WireImage, for them to market his images [Before Getty bought it out.]


Most photographers these days may not remember the days before digital [35mm SLR film cameras], but it dramatically changed everything, especially financially to the photographer. “Gone are 99% of the magazines to shoot for, the market today is saturated with ‘photographers’ trying to outbid and undercut what few paying jobs there are out there.”

For Tony, even the days of shooting for a photo agency have gone. He left WireImage/Getty because he felt it was not financially viable any more after costs and agency commission, and the sometimes low fees some images were licensed for by the agencies.

He has travelled the globe to photograph such bands on tour as Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The 1975, Foo Fighters, Bush, Gorillaz,  Jimmy Eat World, Gerry Cinnamon and many, many more. Tony has had various exhibitions of his work across the years.

Tony is still behind a camera and in demand direct from bands and artists, some 33 years after entry into the music photography world. His most recent clients include Gerry Cinnamon, Killing Joke, Siouxsie Sue and Hundred Reasons. Tony shoots many book covers in his studio too, including sport’s stars such as Sergio Agureo, Steven Gerrard, Kelly Holmes, Kenny Dalglish and comedian/actress Helen Lederer.

“I still love my job, and I still feel that rush of adrenalin when the artist walks onto the stage or into my studio – but I am glad I got to see the world, starting my career when I did.”




Tony has chosen images of: Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Damon Albarn, 100 Reasons and New Model Army



The Foo Fighters- Leeds Festival 2011

This band is probably one of the longest relationships I’ve ever had with any artist. I met them in Japan in 1997 and have shot thousands of pictures of them, including magazine covers, posters, album artwork, and my picture was used to advertise their collaboration with Vans footwear.

This shot was a bit mad, of course its all changed now with Dave falling off stage and breaking his leg, so he doesn’t go into the crowd anymore. At Leeds festival Dave not only came off the stage, all the band did, which I’d never seen before, and I don’t think has happened since.

I was actually screaming because the band had played half a song in the pit by the barrier and the fans, but there was no light in there; the lighting designer had not lit the pit while they all played there [bar the drummer Taylor who stayed on the stage].

Finally in the last seconds of the song, he switched the flood lights on and I managed to get about eight usable shots before the moment had gone, despite the pouring rain which you can see in the picture.It is still one of my favourite shots I’ve taken of them.



Blur, Gorillaz and Damon Albarn

Craig Duffy, RIP, was one of my best friends and he was Damon Albarn’s tour manager for more than 20 years. I’ll admit, I wasn’t one of Blur’s biggest fan’s, and wasn’t that into the whole ‘Brit Pop’ thing. In 2009 Blur got back together and played a very low key show at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. I asked Craig if there was anyone shooting the show for management. I’ll get back to you was the reply, and I heard no confirmation of a pass.

I packed my gear and drove to Wolverhampton from Stoke, where I was told I had been confirmed for the show, but do not do anything with the pictures and to let management see them. I still had flip flops on as I was that convinced I wouldn’t get a pass, and it was a very hot summer’s night. Needless to say, even though I fell on my arse a few times it was that slippy with water as it was so hot, and me in flip flops, I got some amazing pictures that management loved.

I was then asked to shoot both nights at the massive Hyde Park shows and to come up with a cover picture for the the bands “All The People” Live CD from the show. A year later I was asked to shoot some pictures of the Gorillaz “Plastic Beach” rehearsals in Damon’s studio in London. That then led on to the “Plastic Beach” tour ,even spending 12 days in the Middle East in Beirut and Syria among the highlights on that tour.

Not long after the tour ended, Damon changed management and those new guys had photographers they preferred to work with. This happens in the music industry, its nothing personal, you just have to dust yourself down and get on with things. I will say, Damon is perhaps the most talented musician I have ever had the pleasure of working for and photographing.

If you’re a musician, you are lucky if you have one strike of lightning and achieve big success. Damon keeps getting success in everything he touches. There is no luck involved, just a genuine hard work ethic and an amazing talent. I’m so glad I got to work with him in that couple of years, and I can never thank my late friend Craig Duffy enough.

This picture was taken at Latitude Festival a few years ago, were Damon played a secret show on the ‘Waterfront Stage’. I happened to be in the right place at the right time as he arrived by gondola to the stage with a smile on his face as I took the shot.



Hundred Reasons

Old Friends and New Work – Hundred Reasons

“Just occasionally in my line of work you get to rekindle old friendships and work with bands you have shot a long time ago, and last year (2023) was one of those years. I did the first shoot with Hundred Reasons that was used in Kerrang magazine, and then for the next six or seven years I shot many a live show and for features on them for the magazine, and we got to know each other well.

“The band then took a 15 year hiatus and finally got back together a couple of years ago to record their brilliant new album ‘Glorious Sunset’, and I got to reconnect with the band last year and jump on tour with them. I shot the pictures for the band’s brilliant live gig at London’s Eventim Apollo they used on the album artwork. I loved the new album and enjoyed every date I shot on the tour.

“The two shots of them I chose for this feature are a ‘Then and Now’ angle; the black and white image above, Hundred Reasons in Edinburgh (in 2002), for a feature for Kerrang, and (colour shot below) the band 22 years later in Birmingham before a show there last year.”


Hundred Reasons




In the beginning – New Model Army

One of the reasons Tony picked up a camera was following New Model Army up and down the country. Tony loved the band’s relationship with their fans: “There was no ‘them and us’. Access to the band was an open door, the band openly mixing with us, we went everywhere to watch them play. Rob Heaton (RIP) NMA’s then drummer became one of my best friends and was a major supporter in my early photography career.

“My first ever published pictures were of NMA on their ‘Stupid Questions’ single, and I took a lot of great pictures over the years I knocked around with them. This shot of Justin swinging his guitar was taken at the Pink Pop festival in Holland. Justin had jumped off stage and climbed the barrier at the front. A Dutch TV crew were filming the festival and a camera man pursued Justin as he climbed up on the barrier. Justin swung his guitar over the cameraman’s head. It was an early portfolio shot.”



“The Huddle” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

“I’m often asked, ‘What’s your most famous picture’ or what is  ‘Your favourite shot’. Well, probably my most famous picture is in around 17 million homes! That’s pretty crazy when you think about it. The shot itsself is on the back sleeve of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘Californication’ album. It nearly didn’t happen. In 1998 I got the call that the band were playing their first gigs with John Frusciante back on guitar, in Washington DC, and would I like to come?

“I quickly arranged a flight as the band were playing a very secret show at the famous 9:30 Club on the Friday night, and were then to play the ‘Free Tibetan’ massive show at RFK stadium on the Saturday, with Pearl Jam and REM to name a few. The Friday night’s gig sent the phone lines to the club in meltdown, it was such a scramble to get tickets after the local radio announced the gig.

“It was John’s first show back and it was a complete success. On to Saturday’s gig at RFK stadium. The Peppers were a last minute addition for a mid-afternoon slot, or so we thought. The weather had other ideas and a massive electric storm hit the festival that afternoon, forcing the gig to be stopped due to safety fears. Lightning struck the stadium and a young girl holding a hand rail was electrocuted and badly hurt.

“The gig for the rest of that day was abandoned. All bands who didn’t play would get a slot on Sunday. We arrived on Sunday to be told there was no room for the Peppers to play as they were a last minute addition. Even though the band pleaded with the organisers, they were told no.

“Pearl Jam were watching the events unfold and seeing that it was the Peppers who took Pearl Jam out on their first tour of the US, they came to the rescue and offered the band the last 20 minutes of their 45 minute set – without the organisers’ permission. No one knew this was going to happen, so when the band walked out, plugged in and played, the crowed went mad.

“The ‘Huddle’ shot was taken seconds before the band walked on stage. There were no dressing rooms, and this was just a moment in time where the band connected, caught econds before they walked onto the stage. Flea saw the shot in Kerrang, loved it and I got the call asking if the band could use it on the album sleeve.”




  • More “Big Shots” coming very soon…




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




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