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Capturing live music magic with Jonny Nolan | #MemberSpotlight

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Jonny Nolan is a music and portrait photographer based in Bristol and Chester. As a music photographer, he as been lucky enough to shoot the likes of Arlo Parks, Royal Blood, Idles, beabadoobee, The Kaiser Chiefs and The Streets among many others.

Inspired by documentary photographers such as Don McCullin, Tish Murtha, Bruce Gilden and Lee Miller, his work primarily focuses on documenting live music events, editorials and portraiture. It was his recent work for Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien that caught our eye this month though and inspired us to put him under our member spotlight.


How did you get into the industry?

I got into photography subconsciously due to my mum being a fanatical family photo album maker. I eventually started playing around with cameras around 14/15 years old before starting to study photography from the age of 16 then properly getting into the industry once I began university at the age of 19

Where are you based now and who do you work for?

I’m currently freelance working from home in Chester, UK

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I would’ve likely followed my passion for history and tried to work for a museum of some sort. But before I was lucky enough to find photography I was absolutely clueless about where I wanted my life to go.

Can you explain your creative process? What makes it unique?


My process draws from listening empathetically to my clients and sitters in order to give them the space to tell their story and to express themselves how they want. Making sure that I’ve properly researched their influences and trying to find a way to adapt it into my own style.

How would you describe your style?

My style is heavily influenced by the work of incredible documentary photographers such as Sir Don McCullin, Tish Murtha, Gordon Parks and Robert Frank as well as humanistic portrait photographers such as Eve Arnold and Dorothea Lange.

Which individuals do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?


As mentioned above, Sir Don McCullin, Tish Murtha, Eve Arnold and Dorothea Lange for the classics, for contemporary individuals, I love the work of Jamie MacMillan, Corinne Cumming and Jenny McCord for music photography. For portraits, you can’t beat Danny North, Albert Watson, Mark Seliger and Autumn de Wilde

What tips would you give to aspiring creatives looking for work?

Photograph what you’re truly passionate about, be kind and never underestimate the importance of personal projects.

What kind of tools/kit/software could you not do without?

My Canon 5d, it’s barely left my side in the 4 years I’ve had it. From the calm of portrait studios to the madness and chaos of festival moshpits, easily the best money I’ve ever spent.

What’s your secret to staying inspired and motivated?


Always research and be open to all artforms and to things in your everyday life. You never know what will spark the next project, be it a song lyric, a painting or a throwaway sentence from a loved one.

What’s the work achievement you’re most proud of?

My first magazine cover with the Liverpool based metal band, Loathe. The band, their management and record label were a joy to work with. I genuinely didn’t think that I’d have a magazine cover under my belt at the age of 23.

What is the one thing that you would change about the industry?

For the practice of “paid with exposure” to end. You wouldn’t expect a doctor, a lawyer or a construction worker to do something for free, why expect someone in the arts to do the same?

Any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

The Association of Photographers union (AKA, the AOP) and Andy Adams’ FlakPhoto community on either Twitter or Facebook.



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