Talking post-covid gigs, current playlists and advice for getting started with music photography, get to know Barnaby Fairley

I’ll tell you this for free: absolutely no one cares to watch the 10 videos of the gig you’re at on your insta story. It’s a truth universally known that no one gives a shit. Worlds away from that is the work of music photographers who have a knack for capturing energy, something which your iPhone 100% cannot do. With a job that depends on the talent to understand and portray an atmosphere, understand a band’s vision and vibe, and translate one art form into another, a music photographers skill set goes far beyond the ability to stand and snap a picture. Someone showing that perfectly is Barnaby Fairley, a Manchester-based photographer and videographer working with artists around the north and beyond.

Talking pre and post covid gigs, current playlists and sharing advice for getting started with music photography, its time you got to know Barnaby.

#1 Tell us a bit about you? How did you come to pick up a camera?

I’m a 20-year-old music photographer and videographer impelled by energy. I’m driven by my love of the city, the great outdoors, and capturing life’s great experiences. Proper Yorkshire upbringing with several hints of European thrown in the mix.

#2 When you were first starting out with photography/videography, was music always the subject? Or is music photography something you’ve gradually found your way into?

Music wasn’t always the subject. I started my journey at the ripe age of fifteen via the skatepark at the where all the best things happen right? I started filming me and my mates skating and used to just film video parts and upload them onto YouTube. I still use all the rules for shooting skating for gigs. I got into music photography as people from the skatepark were in bands and one band asked me to shoot their gig at Fibbers in York. Fibbers liked my shots and got me the class job as the inhouse photographer. This venue was the making of so many people. bands, sound engineers, TM’s and most importantly photographers. I’m forever grateful for this as it gave me a real insight on how the music scene really worked. Thanks to Tim Hornsby for getting me in to do the snaps.

#3 What was the biggest lesson you learnt as you were getting started?

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you’ve got to stand your ground being young in any industry. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you for your age when you offer a product that’s better than the older gen. Don’t do anything for free, cameras are a rip off.

#4 While the memory of live gigs might be getting hazy at this point, your work has a way of capturing the atmosphere of a show perfectly. How do you do it? What’s going through your head when you’re on the job?

Thanks for the nice words. I portray live well because I understand people and energy. Energy is everything. Einstein said “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to the other.” And that’s my mission, I guess. Cheers Einstein mate.

I’m so invested when it comes to being on the road and being connected to the band. I just get bands and they get me. Trust and love. I just do what it takes to get the picture. If that means jumping on monitors, getting in the crowd or being on stage I’ll do what it takes. I’ve learned that being shy and success don’t go hand in hand.

#5 You’ve worked with some amazing artists capturing them both onstage and off, what’s it like getting to be there to capture some of their best candid moments backstage? And do you think working with a band/artist off-stage helps you capture them better when they’re performing?

You’re either a fly on the wall or you’re all in. I’d say I’m usually involved so it feels more natural. Shooting bands you haven’t connected with for me is pretty crazy as you don’t know what they’re all about.

#6 What was a big career highlight for you?

I’d say my biggest career highlight is where I’m at now and what I’m currently working on.

#7 What are you most nervous about when it comes to the return of live gigs? And what are you most excited about? Do you think there will be new challenges to try and capture the atmosphere?

Haha, forgot gigs even existed. I’m not really one to be nervous, to be honest, but I think proper gigs are a long way off yet. I’d say I’m more excited to see everyone again as you get used to being around seeing everyone and getting familiar with people and bands even if they’re not from the same party. miss the familiar faces. I just capture a true atmosphere, I don’t sugar-coat things as it would be a false representation of what it is. if the atmospheres shit when gigs return I’ll capture it and look back on it when gigs go back to normal.

barnaby fairley

#8 Who are some of your inspirations that you look to? Any other artists you love?

So many, here’s a few inspirations:

David Bailey, Warhol, Dudley Edwards, Annie Leibovitz & Ian Tilton to name a few. Nirvana, Stone Roses, Guns N Roses and the list goes on and on.

Good music artists right now: The Pale White, Fontaines D.C, Stone, Glass Caves

#9 And for people you may look to you for inspo, what are 3 pieces of advice you’d give to someone who really want to get into music photography/videography?

  1. Don’t take shit from people who think they’re superior, more powerful. Don’t let them drive your prices down.
  2. Get out as much as you can and snap and build magical relationships with artists.
  3. Treat others how you’d want to be treated. Karmas real.

#10 What in your must-have kit when you’re heading off on the road with a band?

Before lockdown, it was a skateboard as I’d like to skate off for a few mins and really feel what the city and the cultures like to give it full representation when shooting the day, especially fun in Europe. Even if it’s just hopping on the skateboard at the service station to have a laugh and stretch your legs.

#11 What’s your favourite music video of all time?

It has to be Heart-Shaped Box as I really think its ace that Kurt edited his own video. Art on art, the way it should be. I think it’s a shame when artists stop the art at the music stage because I feel like that’s telling half the story.


#12 And finally, what’s your favourite new release of 2020 so far?

The new Fontaines album; a brilliant album holding back no shit.