13th Annual Concert Photography Nominee
13th Annual Publicity Photography Nominee
12th Annual Publicity Photography Winner
12th Annual Publicity Photography Vox Pop Winner
12th Annual Concert Photography Nominee
11th Annual Concert Photography Nominee
10th Annual Concert Photography Winner
10th Annual Concert Photography Vox Pop Winner
13th Annual Nominated Concert Photo:
Peter Murphy – Bauhaus 35th Anniversary Tour
13th Annual Nominated Publicity Photo:
Luscious Jackson – New Album Magic Hour
12th Annual Winning Publicity Photo: City Rain
12th Annual Nominated Concert Photo:
Hoots & Hellmouth – Salt CD Release Party
11th Annual Nominated Piece: Kuf Knotz Concert
Photo See It & More At The 11th Vox Pop
10th Annual Winning Piece: Hoots And Hellmouth -
Live Photo (See It & More At The 10th Vox Pop)
Doug Seymour – Concert Photograph – Hoots & Hellmouth
Touring constantly to bring their unique blend of roots-based rock to fans across the country, Philadelphia-based Hoots & Hellmouth are perfect subjects for a concert photographer. Each of their live shows provide the band with “an opportunity to help strengthen a sense of local community among their audiences”, whether they’re playing on the main stage of a festival or in the slightly-cramped confines of the many clubs and bars they headline as well.
Beginning their careers as an acoustic duo on the Northeast US folk/roots music scene, Sean Hoots and Andrew “Hellmouth” Gray, the group added some additional players to their touring entourage and then were signed to the Mad Dragon Records label (distributed by Ryko/WEA), where they’ve since released 2 albums, the latest being 2009′s The Holy Open Secret. Their debut release, 2007′s Hoots & Hellmouth, was the winner of that year’s IMA Award for Best College Record Label Album (MAD Dragon is the only student-run record label with a national distribution deal). MAD Dragon’s staff photographer when the band launched – Doug Seymour – has since continued to cover the band and caught them in fine form for his IMA-nominated photograph.
How and when were you introduced to Hoots & Hellmouth or MAD Dragon Records / Drexel University for this assignment, or did they do the research and then contact you? Had you worked with the act or label before (if so, please provide some of the details)?
I worked as the staff photographer for MAD Dragon Records from 2006 through 2008 and was on hand when Hoots & Hellmouth joined the label. MAD Dragon is a part of the Music Industry Business program at Drexel University in Philadelphia and has released records by a number of notable artists, including Jules Shear, Andrew Lipke and The Redwalls, who won a 2009 IMA as well. The label still hires me on an as-needed basis for specific assignments. For example, I did the publicity photos for Hoots & Hellmouth’s first and second releases in 2007 & 2009 and just completed a photo shoot for Paste Magazine of the band in the studio recording their third full-length disc.
What was the inspiration for the particular image(s) chosen for your submission? Did the artist’s/band’s music, reputation or performing/visual styles provide you with some inspiration as to how to develop the basis for the composition? Did they let you hear any of the music or see any of the stage show that was going to be presented (for inspiration)? How important is it for you to like – or, somehow, connect to – the act you’re photographing?
Hoots & Hellmouth are such dynamic live performers, photographing their concerts is always an amazing experience. This particular image is one the band now uses for a variety of publicity purposes. I am a big fan of their music, and hopefully my love for their music comes through in the photos I take of them. My goal is to capture the spirit of their live performance.
How involved was the artist/artist management/the record label in the process of deciding what you should shoot, and did they provide you with any direction? Did they give you the budget and/or time to do what you wanted to do? Were they happy with the results? How did they express that to you?
Working with Hoots & Hellmouth and MAD Dragon records has always been an enjoyable experience. Both the band and their label allow me to be the creative director of my own photography. We have a great working relationship, which continues to this day.
I can’t say enough great things about Hoots & Hellmouth. They are truly brilliant musicians and we have become close friends over the past five years. They are the nicest guys you would ever want to meet. If you haven’t seen their live show yet, I highly recommend going. You will not be disappointed.
How long did it take you to produce the finished image (from concept to final product)? Were there any special processes (special films, lenses, filters, paints, paper or other materials), or other aids (e.g., mirrors, make-up, computer graphics, etc.) used?
While I can’t tell you exactly how long the entire process took, I can give you some additional details. I shoot with a Nikon D700 and have a collection of lenses. I do not use Photoshop or alter the images in any way other than balancing the brightness level if needed. I shoot in manual settings and adjust accordingly given the light available.
Was the imagery you created as part of this job also used in related promotional efforts, such as on gig posters, in music videos, stage props, merch, etc.? Do you consider these alternate uses for your photos (and the different audiences they must appeal to) as you begin to think about your project?
I also am a photographer for two national music publications – Paste Magazine & Pollstar Magazine. I was shooting this particular show for Pollstar Magazine. I am always open to the idea of the photos being used in different ways (i.e. Posters, publicity, etc). Many photos of my Hoots & Hellmouth have been used for various promotional platforms.
Tell us why you submitted this particular work for consideration for an IMA Award.
MAD Dragon Records, Hoots & Hellmouth, and their manager all felt that this photo was strong enough to submit for IMA Award consideration.
Tell us a little about yourself and your career. Can you give me some details of some of the other work you’ve done, particularly if there are other music industry-related images that folks will be aware of?
I am a freelance music photographer and have worked with many labels and artists directly, in addition to shooting for the two national publications. I have had thirteen of my photos used for Pollstar Magazine covers in the past two and a half years. I have also done photography for over a dozen CD covers, a couple of concert t-shirts, several official tour posters and Thomas Dolby’s Live in Chicago DVD cover. One of my photos has been selected for the cover of David Ford’s limited edition touring book, which will be available later this spring.
One recent project I am very proud of was working with Lloyd Cole on his Broken Record CD. It was released in September 2010 on Tapete Records in Germany. My photography was used for the CD, LP, Limited Edition box set, tour poster and publicity photos. According to Rolling Stone Magazine, the record hit the Top 10 in Germany this past October. This is the fourth CD I have done with Lloyd Cole.
Here is a link to my Doug Seymour Music Photography page on Facebook:
Lastly – what are your views regarding the future of graphic/visual design in the music industry as it moves on to the many new distribution platforms? Are you seeing new opportunities for your talents?
There are always new opportunities, which is very exciting. The music industry keeps redefining itself as we continue to move forward in this digital age. On a personal level, when I started my music photography career, I put together a list of the top 25 artists I wanted to photograph at some point. I have checked 24 artists off that list. I have one more artist left and he holds the number one spot, so I’d like to use this interview to make an appeal – “Dear Mr. Tom Waits, I would really like to do a photo shoot with you. Give me a call, ok?”
Interviewed in April, 2011, by Mike Goldstein of RockPoP Gallery, Portland, OR – www.rockpopgallery.com