Frank Turner The Road Beneath My Feet by Gregory Nolan

My first tour with Frank Turner in 2011 was a turning point in my photography career. It was the first time I was part of an extended tour as the photographer, and my first real experience on the road in music. Beyond that, his music has been a backdrop to a large part of my life and is tied up in a good bit of who I am both professionally and as a human being.

So I don’t really know how to say just how excited I am that Frank has written a book, The Road Beneath My Feet, and how honoured I am that one of my photos is on the cover (and two inside the book as well).

Having experienced life on the road with the man (as well as having witnessed his trajectory as a musician since 2004), I know this memoir is something to look forward to in a very real way. I’ll be interested to see what stories he’s reported and just how much of the realities of that kind of intensive touring he’ll choose to share.

As all of you who are fans of his music know, he’s got a story well worth the telling. And I can’t help a couple of cheesy quotes, “It doesn’t matter where you come from/ it matters where you go,” as well as “burst at the seams, be what you dream, and take to the road.”

(You can buy the book on pre-order here, and I highly recommend you do so)

Unmade in Ireland’s Otherkin Band Photoshoot by Gregory Nolan

It’s been a while since my last Unmade in Ireland update. As you might recall from earlier posts, Unmade is a project with Irish musicians who haven’t “made it” yet. They’re unsigned bands in a wide variety of genres and backgrounds all living and creating music in Ireland. I shoot them in their rehearsal spaces and performing live, but also photograph them in their homes and at their “day jobs,” while writer Katie Dwyer interviews them about their lives and what their dreams are for their musical careers.

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An absolute highlight of the project for me has been getting to know these Irish bands. So I was happy when Otherkin, one of the bands involved, asked me to do an additional shoot with them for press.

As you can see, we had a great time and getting both formal band profile shots as well as more rowdy individual and group shots. It was also a bit of a different experience for me as I used a flash during the shoot, which isn’t my norm but did allow for greater flexibility in post.

I’m particularly happy with the look and feel I was able to give the photos in editing, focusing on a grungier look to match their sound. Some of these black and whites came out particularly “filthy” and in this case it’s a darn good thing.

I’m proud to have the chance to work with all the Unmade in Ireland bands, and am excited to see what they do moving forward. In the meantime, I’m happy to have this kind of opportunity to move from a single-project relationship to a chance to go for longer shoots with a band.

Grizfolk in the USA by Gregory Nolan

I first met these guys while on the Bastille European tour early this year. I was truly impressed by the way they connected with those crowds—taking their Americana sound and getting the Bastille fans of Italy, Germany, etc. on their feet and dancing.

It was something totally different to see them in their own home turf.

These guys know how to put on a live show. They’re a delight to tour with—we had some fabulous backstage times and the dynamic between Grizfolk and Bastille is really something good. I love getting to photograph the moments of interaction between bands, and it was particularly fun to watch as, night after night, Grizfolk came onstage to sing along with Pompeii. 

In addition to my usual work capturing the live shows and the backstage shenanigans, I also took a couple of opportunities to do more formal shoots with the guys. My favorite work is (and probably always will be) candid and unstaged photography. Despite this, I’m pretty pleased with the shots I got asking the guys to pose, especially in the Masonic Temple in Detroit, which is possibly the craziest building I have ever seen. It’s massive, with a full cathedral on the upper floors, and all these elaborately decorated rooms next to completely falling apart or unfinished sections of the building. As soon as I started walking around the place, I knew I wanted to try for a couple of formal shots, since a chance in a setting like that doesn’t happen every day. 

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It was a pleasure sharing the road with them, and I look forward to seeing what these next months have in store! 

A Moroccan Interlude by Gregory Nolan

One of the reasons I love my job is that it gives me the chance to travel. I love being in the middle of a scene that’s new to me, or a place I’ve never been before. I like being on the move and in between one thing and another. It’s a crazy lifestyle, but one that gets my heart pumping and brings out some of the work I’m most proud of in my many years as a photographer.

But I rarely get out and around in the world in pure vacation mode. (Hence the 'vacation' photos above)

After the craziness of this past year—particularly the Bastille photobook but also all the other crazy projects, from South Africa to the US and with Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and Unmade in Ireland in between—I felt I needed a holiday.

So I booked a flight to Morocco and, because this is how I am, I took my camera along with me (I also took along Bastille Photobook writer/editor/project manager Katie Dwyer).

Landscapes, Cityscapes

Morocco is beautiful, and is like stepping into an alternate reality/time warp. Katie informs me she witnessed a man texting while driving a donkey cart in heavy traffic. That about sums up the nature of the place: cultures, contexts, and life experiences all piled next to each other in a kind of jumble. 

We also saw everything from Marrakech to abandoned kasbahs, from the Moroccan Sahara to the High Atlas Mountains. I am really, really happy with some of the shots I got along the way.

Portraits and People

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As a rule, I usually don’t take pictures of people’s faces without their permission. This is particularly true in places like Morocco, where it is so common for foreigners with nice cameras to wander around, snapping photos of the locals with little regard to their comfort or wishes (it was clear that most people I encountered did not want to be photographed).

So the portraits I took were of people I explicitly asked. And if I caught a few sneaky people photos out the windows of a car or from a restaurant vantage-point… I hope I will be forgiven.

I found the whole of the experience overwhelming, inspiring, and almost numbing in the variety and emotional responses to the place. Even after a few days, I’m still trying to process seeing snake charmers in the streets, standing in the ancient city that was used as the set of Gladiator, and waking up in deafening silence in a nomad tent with the Milky Way clearly visible overhead. The only live music I photographed was Berber drumming/singing around the campfire. It was wonderful to be on a road that included camels. It was nice to take photos that caught my eye, answering to no one’s interest but my own. And I am now back in Dublin, feeling inspired to get back to work on all the various projects that bring so much to my life…including the chance to have such an incredible adventure.