The best Scottish music photo of 2009

When we launched The Pop Cop’s competition to find the Best Scottish live music photo of 2009, what we didn’t tell you was that we had lined up a very special guest to judge the entries – the world-renowned Glasgow-born photographer HARRY BENSON.

The man is a legend. He got his first break when he travelled with The Beatles to America in 1964, taking some of the band’s most iconic shots. Since then, Mr Benson has photographed every US president from Eisenhower to Obama, as well as the likes of Michael Jackson, Judy Garland, Mick Jagger, James Brown and Amy Winehouse. He was awarded the CBE last year for his services to photography and is currently contracted to Vanity Fair.

After carefully studying every single entry to our humble competition, Mr Benson picked out Su Anderson’s image of Dananananaykroyd as the winner. Su’s prize is a pair of weekend camping tickets to this year’s Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival and her picture will be displayed down the side of this website for the next 12 months. Well done, Su!


Photographer: Su Anderson, Edinburgh (website)
Subject: Calum Gunn,
Location: T in the Park, Balado; July 12, 2009

Su Anderson: “I was photographing Scottish bands at T in the Park for Under the Radar, focusing on the BBC Introducing stage. It was my first time seeing Dananananaykroyd live. I knew they were an an enthusiastic band, to put it mildly, but I didn’t realise it would be quite so energetic. The two singers really played up to the crowd, taking turns flinging themselves around the stage and jumping into the pit area – one almost landing on my camera gear. The barricade between the stage and the throng of sunburned festival-goers had a ledge around it wide enough for someone to stand on. The singer climbed onto it and so did I, and I shot several frames, but this was the only one where his face was visible. They really were one of the funnest bands I’ve ever shot, giving me a wealth of options, but this one is my favourite.”
Harry Benson: “The photograph is real and not altered in Photoshop, and I like that straightforward approach. The photographer is right in the middle of the action, which is where the photographer should be.”


Photographer: Jessica Newell, Edinburgh (website)
Subject: Iain Stewart,
Bronto Skylift
Location: Bloc, Glasgow; November 11, 2009

Jessica Newell: “I went along to Bloc to photograph Rod Jones’ (Idlewild) solo set. I was unaware until I got there that Bronto Skylift were playing. It was a nice surprise as their live show is extremely energetic and a lot of fun to photograph. This shot is near the end. All of the drum kit was lifted up onto a table – with various people holding up various bits of kit – where it was played for the remainder of the song. This image captures the excitement of their live show.”
Harry Benson: “The photographer got right to the centre of what was happening and, to me, that is what makes a good photograph – not standing back, but going for the centre of the action.”


Photographer: Martin Senyszak, Edinburgh (website)
Subject: Robert Stevenson,
A Silent Film
Location: Moshulu (now Warehouse), Aberdeen; May 2, 2009

Martin Senyszak: “My mates’ band, Indian Red Lopez, were playing and I was working for them. A Silent Film were headlining and I saw the shot appear so I ducked to the side of the stage to grab it. It was very much in the heat of the moment.”
Harry Benson: “Very moody, a bit of a film noir approach, done very well.”

Honourable mentions

Andy Thorn – Simple Minds (AECC, Aberdeen; December 12, 2009)

Bartosz Madejski – The Twilight Sad (ABC 1, Glasgow; May 23, 2009)

Sinéad Grainger – Twin Atlantic (Studio 24, Edinburgh; October 2, 2009)

Otto Koota – The Red Hot Chilli Pipers (Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Pitlochry; March 10, 2009)

Harry Benson: “I had to add an Honourable Mentions category. It was very hard to choose just three. There are many excellent photographs in the competition, many of which could have been number one and I would say to all those who entered to keep working and not let anyone discourage you. The photographs are all very well taken and each has a presence of its own.”

Bonus photo (chosen by The Pop Cop)

Stephen Hughes – Gossip (The Arches, Glasgow; May 30, 2009)

The Pop Cop: We just loved this image of Beth Ditto so forgive us for indulging you with another photograph – that’s what happens when the standard is so high. We’d like to express our gratitude to Mr Benson for taking time out of his busy schedule to judge this competition and we’d also like to say a massive thank-you to everyone who submitted entries.

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