Ruby Gill at The Evelyn

What camera did you use to take this photograph?
Fujifilm XS-10 with a Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 lens.

How was the editing process?
People rave about the Fujifilm colours, and they’re not wrong, but I enjoy the editing process almost more than the photographing sometimes, and so I’m often working with the RAW photos from the camera to apply my own treatments. I like to push and pull aspects of the photos that might make it feel unnatural or rough, and give my photographs more of an organic feel. Currently I’ve stripped back to just shooting with my small Fujifilm camera and editing on an iPad. It’s a fun experiment, but I’ll probably return to the full computer experience soon.

“Having a blank slate, and seeing it transform is amazing.”

What do you remember from the day you took it?
I was heading to the Ruby Gill gig regardless, as the line up was fantastic and Ruby always puts on a great show. I asked Ruby ahead of time if it was okay if I took some photos. I think it’s always good to try and message the artist ahead of schedule in case they’ve booked a photographer for the night. It was your usual gig environment in Melbourne. Folk gigs often lead to people sitting, so this limits my movement around, so I only really had a couple of angles to work with. Because I as there in a hobby capacity I try to be as non-disruptive as possible. I’ll switch to electronic shutter during the quieter moments, or I’ll try and frame my shots before the artist is on stage while everyone’s talking. I’m 6’3″ so being inconspicuous is a little impossible for me, but whatever I can do to limit myself imposing on people who paid to see the performer I’ll try. It does mean I might miss out on a great shot, but I’m not being paid to be there, and these punters paid to be there – so who am I to affect their experience?

What feelings come to you when you look at it?
I can feel the emotion that Ruby puts into her songwriting through this image. Her expressive face mirroring the moments her music manifests. As I’m often shootings gigs from a less than ideal position, I like to use negative space a lot, and have artists barely filling half the frame. This gives a sense of isolation, as the artist sits solitary in the frame. It limits the distractions of tech and wires around her and helps the viewer draw straight to the face.

What do you like most about this photograph and why?
I love that I was able to catch some reflection of her guitar, and how it litters light across her arm and blurs the edge of the guitar. I also love how her face is the brightest thing in the scene. Sometimes I’ll need to lighten a face in post, but for this one I didn’t need to.

“I can feel the emotion that Ruby puts into her songwriting through this image. Her expressive face mirroring the moments her music manifests.”

What were your references, influences or inspirations during your creative process?
I might look at what other, more successful gig photographers are doing and try not to do that. Self-sabotage maybe? Haha! It was a very low-light gig, and working with the APS-C sensor Fujifilm means you have to be okay with big dark patches or you’re working with a really noisy image.

What did you enjoy the most about the process?
Having a blank slate, and seeing it transform is amazing. Usually you can look at the RAWs and see the best photos, but sometimes that might change during the edit as you uncover different aspects of the photos or push something further than it should be pushed.

What was the hardest thing for you and how did you solve it?
Getting shots in focus has always been the struggle. In the moment, something might look fine on a tiny screen but you get it back to your computer, blow it up and it’s a mess. Shooting at a faster shutter speed, and sacrificing ISO has been key. I can work with a noisier, in focus shot more than an out of focus crisp shot. I often use a little noise reduction (although, not a lot as it can really make the image look plastic) and then apply a grain on top. The grain helps to sharpen the image as well.

In what format and where would you like to see it exhibited?
I’d love to exhibit some of my photos, but I don’t think I’m quite ready yet. My process is still developing – having shifted from Canon to Fujifilm before the pandemic – and so I’m still learning my way around that and building my lens collection. I’d love to exhibit at a small bar with friends and family in attendance.