Live music photography runs the risk of feeling a little bit stale, don’t you think? Man sings into microphone, man writhes around on ground with said microphone, guitarist bends string and makes scrunchy, effort-implying face, and the camera clicks. Repeat for about 50 years. But London-based photographer Andreia Lemos sees a different way.
“I like the in-between moments,” she says, regarding her tendency to photograph singers mid-stanza. “It feels like they have a lot going on in their heads, and it’s interesting to shoot them and capture that moment, when they’re kind of lost in their heads on stage.”
Moving to London from Rio de Janeiro in 2013, Lemos says she quickly fell into a routine of going to gigs almost every night. “Where I’m from, it was quite rare that your favorite artists would come all the way to Brazil, obviously,” she says. “So there would be maybe two or three concerts a year that I was really excited for.”
A photographer since childhood, she began shooting shows around London, and within a few years she was a fixture at clubs like the Shacklewell Arms, the 100 Club, and the Moth Club. “As you start shooting bigger bands with bigger venues, it gets harder and harder to get an actually good, authentic photo of the night, because there’s so many rules and restrictions,” she says. “So those beginning days were very exciting because of that, too.”
A feeling of physicality is also key to Lemos’ style. Along with capturing those “in-between” moments, her photos employ a gritty, newsprint aesthetic mixed with a portraiture mentality—reminiscent of ’70s rock rags like yours truly and photographer Richard Bernstein (best known as the original cover artist for Interview magazine). Although she shoots both digitally and on film, her process involves printing out her photos over and over again on different kinds of paper until she’s satisfied they have just the right amount of grain and feel. “I just like to actually bring them out in the real world, touch them, scan them, print them to make them feel real,” she says.
So what kind of artists make for the best spontaneous portraits? And whose face does she want to print out and touch? “I love a good pout. I can be a bit pouty too, to be honest,” she says. “I kind of like a more melancholic, introverted, but secretly extroverted band. Almost like poets being forced to perform.”