*you may find a couple of words you don’t like, but we like to keep it as real as possible for you, sorry*
As a music photographer, I’m inspired by various photographs and I’m amazed by some of the associated stories that go along with these images. I had just been asked to shoot a solo artist for his cover and I started thinking about how an image was created for an album cover. What was the relation between the music the musicians and the photograph on the front cover… The image the dropped into my head was that shot of Spencer Elden taken by Kirk Weddle, the front cover of the 1991 album Nevermind by Nirvana.
…If you read all of the various reports about why they chose the cover they did, the one I like the most is that Kurt and Dave had been watching a video on water births – as simple as that. Reading more about the image, I found myself inspired to get in touch with the guy that shot it and ask a few question… The following is what Kirk had to say in relation to photography, record labels, whiskey and iPhone apps! –Sime
- When did you first know that photography was something special or important to you and how did you fall into the type of photography that you do?
S**t.. I just kinda fell into photography, I was in my late teens when I was in the military and got hurt. The government paid for my schooling. I thought photography
had to be an easy way to make a buck, there was ample opportunity to meet pretty women, what could be better. I’ve done all types of photography, Cars, Products , Catalog, Underwater, mostly now I do Environment Portraits.
- My guess is you started with Film cameras, have you made the shift to digital? When did you change and what gear do you use these days?
I switched about 10 years ago. I didn’t want to, I had to. It was a drag. I used to be able to pick up any camera and shoot an Image, any kind of camera from 35mm to an 8X10. Now there is a learning curve with all digital cameras, and the software is constantly updating. I shoot Canon, and Nikon for 35mm, and when there is a budget PhaseOne with Hassy. I specifically got into photography so I wouldn’t have to deal with computer, now I spend all my time staring at a monitor.
- Do you have a memorable photo shoot that you can share with us and why?
There have been few, mostly I enjoy the crew and the location, it’s all about the people you work with. I suppose it’s nice to have a good budget and great concept.
- You shot a certain photograph of a young bloke named Spencer Elden back in 1991, Do you think that experience has shaped you as a photographer, it getting so much exposure? (Top Image)
I’m proud of that image, but I’ve moved past it. I’m more interested in tomorrows shoot.
- On that same photograph, It’s said that you were paid a flat fee of $200.00 If you had known that the album was going to sell, worldwide, over 26 Million copies, would you have asked for something more? The band / label originally turned down a stock image that was going to cost them $7500 a year.
The label didn’t f**k me, they couldn’t get the rights to the stock image and I don’t think they would have paid anybody $7500. I got a grand for the shoot and had good ride. The labels always make the money, photographers don’t get royalties. The band hadn’t exploded yet, they were below my radar when I did the shoot.
- Leading on from the last question, with digital photography being so accessible these days, and with agencies paying less and less, do you think it’s becoming oversaturated with non-professionals taking work that otherwise would have fallen to pros previously and do you think it’s an issue?
Yep, there is no middle ground now, it’s top tier and bottom of the barrel, we are probably a dying breed.
- If you were forced to quit professional photography tomorrow, what would you do next?
Well I developed a nice iphone travel app. It’s called Austin Like a Local. If I completely walked away from shooting, think I might make whiskey!
- Who were your photographic heros when you were growing up and getting into photography?
I admire the guys that are cool under pressure. The shooters that live a full life. F**k the bean counters! it’s all about the picture. I never admired the big shooter that treated to crew like s**t.
- What advice would you give someone that was seriously considering becoming a professional photographer today?
Keep your over-head low, share a studio, you can learn a lot thru collaboration, Photography is a tough way to make a buck, ya gotta really want it.
- And a word for our members that have just started out, what would you tell them…
I think the best thing an up and comer could do, would be to specialize. Target one area and go after it. Shoot something that you love. Don’t struggle
away shooting things that you think you ought to shoot. Shoot what’s important to you.