The best Scottish music photo of 2011

Thanks to everyone who showed an interest in The Pop Cop’s fourth annual competition to find the Best Scottish live music photograph of the past year.

There were 72 entries and these are the ones judge Harry Benson picked out as his favourites, with the winner bagging a pair of tickets to three different music festivals – Belladrum, Loopallu and Insider – plus two Golden Tickets to all the King Tut’s Summer Nights gigs, not to mention their photograph displayed on this website’s sidebar for 12 months.

(Click on the individual photos to enlarge them)


Photographer: Bob Mather (Broxburn) (website)
Joe Elliott, Def Leppard
Location: SECC, Glasgow; December 9, 2011

Bob Mather: “I was shooting freelance for Universal News & Sport and was a last-minute stand-in for this gig (I only usually shoot in Edinburgh). I was looking forward to it as I’m a secret Def Leppard fan and bit of a rocker myself. There was a runway coming out into the middle of the crowd and I already had the bread and butter press shots so decided to try and get a bit of atmosphere into the shot. I ran round the side of the runway as Joe Elliott walked down it and put his arms straight out, so I shot backwards towards the crowd. This was taken with my back-up Nikon D7000 and Sigma 18-50mm manually exposed f2.8 at iso500 f3.2 1/320. I’ve never seen this amount of light at a gig before and found it difficult for that reason.”
Harry Benson: “There is energy and yet there is a calmness about the photograph as well. Of course, there’s the ruler/subject or preacher/flock that can be read into the photograph. I like the fact that the audience is in the photograph as I like to see as much of the environment of a photo as possible. It gives a sense of place and time.”


Photographer: Euan Robertson (Glasgow) (website)
Flavor Flav, Public Enemy
Location: ABC1, Glasgow; September 6, 2011

Euan Robertson: “I had been asked to go along to the Public Enemy gig for a magazine I sometimes shoot for. At that point I wasn’t typically a big hip-hop fan, but knowing what a massive band they are, and that they would inevitably have a great show to photograph, going along was a bit of a no-brainer. Straight from the off it was difficult to know where to point the lens with so much happening on stage, those guys definitely know how to work the crowd. They were great to all of the many, many photographers in the pit as well with Flavor Flav getting right down to the front of the stage and playing to the cameras. He got right into my camera for a couple of seconds – I managed to fire a couple of shots, missed focus on the first, and nailed the second. I’m pretty delighted with how it came out. It’s one of my personal favourites from 2011, and probably the shot that has had the most attention over the year as well.”
Harry Benson: “Despite what I said earlier about showing the environment in a photograph, I chose this one because even though it is a close-up, so much information about the subject is included in the photograph. It is a striking portrait.”


Photographer: Jessica Newell (Oldham) (website)
Murray, Macleod, The Xcerts
Location: Cafe Drummond, Aberdeen; April 6, 2011

Jessica Newell: “I love to see bands play hometown gigs and I’m a huge Xcerts fan so I decided to travel the 300 or so miles up to Aberdeen to see them at Cafe Drummond. As it’s a smaller venue I chanced taking my camera along for fun. The venue was heaving and in between getting crushed and falling onto the stage I got some photos I was proud of. I chose to enter this shot as I really like it (I rarely really like my own photos) and it brings back memories of a fantastic gig.”
Harry Benson: “The photographer did not hold back, but got in a good position to take a dramatic photograph without letting the crowd interfere with her work.”


Photographer: George Mackie (Aberdeenshire) (website)
Tinie Tempah
Location: AECC, Aberdeen; November 13, 2011

George Mackie: “I’ve been photographing live music for over a year and a half now so it’s good to make progress to get to shoot the ‘big gigs’ but I still enjoy the smaller venue stuff just as much. The bigger shows do (usually) have better lighting and so on which makes the photographer’s mission that little easier, however I’d like to think I’d have entered this pic even if it was a local, unknown band. I enjoy trying to capture jump shots but managing to do so whilst the singer is still singing is a little unusual. I think so anyway. The lighting going on behind Tinie also did me a favour.”
Harry Benson: “Good clear shot of the singer suspended in air like he was floating down from the sky. You stop to look at this photograph.”

Honourable mentions

Jade Esson – Twin Atlantic (The Forum, Aberdeen; December 11, 2011)

Thomas Slack – Ghostface Killah (The Liquid Room, Edinburgh; November 9, 2011)

Al Donnelly – Texas (Belladrum Festival, Inverness; August 5, 2011)

Emily WyldeThe Seventeenth Century (Bloc, Glasgow; November 25, 2011)

George Mackie – Les Savy Fav (The Tunnels, Aberdeen; March 1, 2011)

Chelsea Cochrane – Twin Atlantic (HMV, Glasgow; May 6, 2011)

Thanks to the following competition sponsors, who supplied the prizes for the winner:

Check out the previous winning photographs from John Lewis (2008), Su Anderson (2009) and Steve Perks (2010).

About our judge: Glasgow-born Harry Benson has photographed every US president from Eisenhower to Obama, as well as musicians such as The Beatles, Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, James Brown and Amy Winehouse. He was awarded the CBE in 2009 for his services to photography. Now living in New York, Harry has had 40 gallery and museum solo exhibitions, while 16 books of his photographs have been published. His photographs are in the permanent collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.

6 Responses to “The best Scottish music photo of 2011”

  1. Euan Says:

    January 23rd, 2012 at 13:56

    Thank you very much and congrats to everyone in there, some awesome shots!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    January 23rd, 2012 at 23:28

    some fantastic work here, really tough to pick a favourite. congrats, good work and “keep on!” to the photographers!

  3. dod Says:

    October 8th, 2012 at 21:45

    is there a comp for 2012

  4. The Pop Cop Says:

    October 8th, 2012 at 22:34

    Sure will be, dod. We’ll probably open the competition in November 2012 and publish the winners in January 2013, keep an eye on the blog

  5. dod Says:

    December 21st, 2012 at 19:03

    is there a 2012 comp yet?

  6. The Pop Cop Says:

    December 21st, 2012 at 19:06

    Yes, it’s here: http://thepopcop.co.uk/2012/11/best-scottish-music-photo-of-2012-competition/ – deadline for entries is January 7, 2013.

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