Punk photography, like punk music, was always challenging. Even the offshoots of Goth/EMO/Industrial can, and have been, an exciting,…and sometimes dangerous, photographic experience to pursue. Regular music, whether club shoots or music concerts, (if you have the credentials), is not that bad. While sometimes posing is called for and preferred, the most exciting shots are gotten in the middle of the action.
Punk Photography – Keep Your Head
But when the flash goes off, while most people are cool with that, some are not. So be prepared for the worst. That said, it’s music photography,…you’re not a war correspondent. Nobody’s going to chop your head off. Probably.
Yes, You Can ‘Move Fast’ with Film
In the old days, and nowadays for us weirdos still shooting film, a demand of “erasing” an image is not uncommon. (everyone will assume you are digital) Before there was digital, I’ve actually had people ‘demand’ the film. This is not an assignment without risk. Luckily, I’ve never had to give up a roll yet, and never gotten beaten up yet. But there’s been the occasional threats. I’m sure the other photographers shown here have had similar dicey situations. Oh, well, goes with the territory.
Between Prince and Spring
I lived on Mott St., about 4 blocks from CBGB’s,…but it was a bit after the hey day of punk. But people like David Godlis, (East Coast) and Edward Colver (West Coast), got to really experience something unique. And that will never (probably) be repeated again. Yes, music morphed, and in the purest sense we missed the boat. But youth cannot be held down or muffled. They will always find a “Fuck You” outlet. (See my images,…© Federico Mastrianni)
The punk photography part of this varied. It was ALWAYS film back then, and even the newer guys, like Mark Murrmann, (who’s also the editor of Mother Jones), still uses film. He once said that his Leica M6 felt like a part of his arm, and saw no reason to change. Edward Colver and others were working at a time when there was no choice, other than camera and brand of film.
Art and Music
Minimalism in art furnished punk with its stripped-down, straightforward style. And of course the pop art movement with its’ titular head, Andy Warhol and his new magazine, Interview. Besides the obvious film influences of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and ‘Pink Flamingos’. There were also writers of the time that heavily influenced the punk subculture. Arthur Rimbaud, Malcolm McLaren, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. Enough intellectual bullshit for ya? Good, I’m done.
In Your Face
The point of the punk photography is,…it was all film, and it was all immediate and in your face. Like the music itself. Anything less was for poseurs. But I don’t think there were many of those at the time. One thing that is for sure,…whether Leica, Nikon, Canon or…it’s the image that counts. Get in the fray and do what you gotta do. When doing documentary or street, it’s the sign of a real photographer for me to overcome my fears,…and yours.