Street children, beggars, old man, people with disabilities, smiling faces, busy streets, clouds, flowers, sunsets, sea, birds, bees…you chose these subjects, he chose to just listen and stand in a vantage point where music and photography collides. In this rare interview with (probably one of the best photographers you haven’t encountered here on tumblr) Mr. Noel Tanjeco (@noeltanjeco), you will realize how he earned not just the respect, the day he sold those amazing photo prints for the benefit of his mom, but also the love for the masterpiece in his every shot.
What is it with live music photography that you chose it to be your subject of interest in photography?
I think it was really the music that drove me to photography. Well, I started listening to music since I was a kid. As my late older brother was the one that introduced me to the OPM bands in the 90s, he provided me with the foundations for my taste in music. I really was into Karl Roy’s Music (That was about 5 years ago I think). I had read this interview in Rogue magazine about him and about Sammy Asuncion of Spy and Pinikpikan/kalayo. Which inspired me to find them listen to their music live.
You must be a huge fan of OPM bands then.
I reallly am. I have been a fan of OPM from the 90’s pa. I had been listening to Razorback, Wolfgang, POT ( super Karl Roy Fan), Kapatid, Peryodiko, 3 headed dog, Peso Movement, Kjwan, Queso, Kastigo, Powertones, Black Wolf Gypsies, Jcab, Magdalena, Gumby dies today, the Strangeness, Up dharma down, Kalayo, pedicab,the youth, Gaijin, faintlight, Turbogoth, the people I met sa pinoyjazzfest; (did you know na there’s a ton of Pinoy jazz artist that are so good?) sobrang dame pa its blowing my mind! With the boom of self producing musicians right now, its not hard to look for good quality music and not just the ones that you just see on sunday noon time shows. Its becomes an adventure finding new music.
At what age did you realized that you have the knack for photography?
I started out late in photography. I think it was about 4-5 years ago (my very late 20’s). I was on a trip to Dumaguete and I only had this point and shoot. And I just kept on taking photos. Then the bug bit me(like everyone else). From then on I started again going to bars listening, watching and taking photos from my phone. Then the dawn of social media came, I uploaded my photos then lo and behold I had musicians that I listen to, use my phone photos as their profile pictures. It was such an extreme high. Then it dawned at me that “Hey, I might have something good here….” from then on the obsession never ended.
Recall your first time taking photos on a live concert.
Sure… lets see… I was drunk… no dslr… had a Sony Ericsson mobile phone, I was watching Paramita for the first time and… couldn’t remember anything more.
To take those great photographs of live acts, in such angle that we can hear them singing just by looking at your photos…you must be in the front row. Do you get these sponsored gigs? free passes? VIP access or you pay for it? Enlighten us with how things are working on here.
Can I curse here? Kase that’s the best effing compliment I ever had! Salamat! I try to be on the front row if I can. It was Robert Capa who said it best. “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” I haven’t gotten sponsored gigs (not even close) nor VIP access. It was only last year that I had been given the greatest opportunity. It was taking photos for P.I.Jazzfest. But almost all of the time I still pay to get into gigs. Here is what I do; If I see a gig on the net or on facebook that I want to take photos of. I email them asking if I can take photos. 99% will say no, but there’s a 1% chance that you’ll get a yes. And once you get the opportunity, make sure that your images back it up.
How often do you go to these live concerts?
The most that I had done was 3 times a week before. But because of work, I try to get to gigs at least once a week or once every 2 weeks.
Best act you’ve seen. (What band/artist?)
Toe. Man… that band is so tight…
Dream live music experience. (what band/artist | local or foreign)
For the foreign act - I’d love to catch Led Zeppellin (if ever they’d do a reunion again). Have you seen their photos from the 70s? I wish I was there! It was the start of concert photography. Have you seen the photo of Jimmy page drinking Jack Daniels (by Neal Preston) or the one with Robert Plant has a dove on his hand and a beer and cigarettes on the other(by James Fortune)? Those shots are the ones that I strive for every waking day of my photographic life.
For Local - I wish I was with Kalayo when they toured Europe or the Eraserheads when they toured America. It would have been a great honor to create photos from those tours.
What camera are you using?
It’s a nikon d7000 and an Iphone sometimes
Do you have any self rules when it comes to photography? Probably some techniques that only you know?
Self rules, well, I think of the musician first. As with any photographer, its always the subject that is important. Without them your photos are worthless. Its like the photo of the Afghan Girl (by Steve McCurry) without her eyes that images would be worth shit. So think of your subject first before thinking of those free entrance, free beers, free access and all that you think comes with being a concert photographer.
With regards to techniques. Everything I learned is on the web. And practice. Still trying to earn my 10,000 hours. Its how you apply what you learned that will create unique images.
Photographers you look up to and why?
This is gonna be a long one. So please bear with me…
Jim Marshall, Neal Preston, James Fortune and all those photogs in the 60’s and 70’s. They paved the way for us young fry to create stunning images and document the present. I am eternally grateful.
-Nina Sandejas, Mark Terrence Sy, Roxanne Nebres, Cris Pangan, Isi Laureano,Brutal Grace Guino, Eddie Boy Escudero, Kalle Björklid, Yoshiharu Ota, Todd and Chris Owyoung, Chase Jarvis, Zack Arias(He answered one of my Tumblr asks) Adam Elmakias. They are the photographers I strive to be 10 years from now.
Can I just mention Vin Dancel, he’s not a photog, but he is one of the people I look up and I am always grateful for all the opportunities he has given me. And have you seen the photographers in Tumblr? Grabe, ang gagaling!
(following images are photographs of Sungha Jung, Riley Strong of Desecrator, Julian Savard of Save Me Hollywood, Vin Dancel of Peryodiko, and Biboy Garcia of Queso)
Basti Artadi of Wolfgang
photographed by Noel Tanjeco