Musicians…. I try as much as I can, not to interfere with them while photographing them, because my job is to be a silent observer manoeuvring in stealth mode. The challenge begins at sound check, the musicians and technical team I work with are often men so being the single woman in the room makes me stand out a little. Especially when I am working with a 600 type Polaroid camera which is well recognised. The sound of the instant film ejecting is the clear give away that my presence is close.
Music has been there from my very beginning and continues to be my inspiration through thick and thin. As a teenager, music was the only safe place where I could come to for guidance and understanding. Regardless of what I was going through, from heartbreak, figuring out the right thing to do in various situations or if I felt enraged with the world. I would find music to be the self soothing instrument one can rely on. It has also been the most constant entity of my life, it has shaped me to be who I am today both at a professional and personal level. The memories of our neighbours aggressively ringing the door bell to complain about the loud music are among the most vivid memories of my early childhood. I’m sure it wasn’t just the volume that would bother the neighbors, but also the music as it would vary from The Sex Pistols to Pink Floyd, Beethoven, Johann Strauss, Willie Nelson or Peter Gabriel.
I had a lot of unexpressed and unresolved feelings and was quite an angry child, which is why I tried so many kinds of creative pursuits. However, writing and photography are the two key creative elements that I found the drive to continue which lead me to study journalism.
Years later photography was the only creative pursuit left standing. Together with some colleagues from the university, we built a platform where we would gather and advertise all upcoming concerts in town. We would then attend as many of these concerts as we could and the post a concert review and a photo gallery from the concert. That’s when and where I started realizing that music photography would be just about the only profession I wanted to pursue.
I realized that expressing myself through photography made me feel much more authentic, compared to how I was feeling when writing. With only seven years of experience in music photography, I’ve been able to collect so many fond memories of wonderful musicians. This alone brings me great joy.
When I think back at some of these interactions I always find a beautiful memory which often leaves a smile on my face.
The one experience that comes to mind right now is when Ravi Coltrane agreed to take a photo with me after the concert because he liked that I was shooting with Polaroid cameras. Or when I started discussing photography with Mats Eilertsen or with Helge Lien, both wonderful Norwegian jazz musicians and both quite passionate about photography.
The Cuban-born jazz pianist Omar Sosa, had an absolutely amazing reaction when I showed him the instant photograph I took of him. He was blown away!
But what I like focusing on while being around musicians is seeing the deeper personalities behind the music. Over time these pictures shows me that musicians are people like any one of us yet unique in so many different ways. Some musicians would be very friendly and open from the very beginning. Others would be somewhat reserved at first, due to the unknown factor but would eventually come around after getting more familiar with the venue and the people involved.
Then, there are some musicians, who have more of a practical approach and are not very interested in socialising – they just want to get the job done. I sometimes even had the feeling, that some artists would hire very tough managers that get rough and very direct with people, I guess they see this as a protection and to not needing to deal with this themselves. They would rely on their managers to do the “dirty job” of clearing the air, shushing unnecessary people away, just so that the musicians can focus on their music. I once managed to get past such a manager and as it turned out, the musician himself had a very soothing presence and was such a pleasant person to meet. It might not always feel nice to face tough managers, but I always try to see things from their point of view as well as I am sure they have a job to do too.
I like observing things and through observation I learn more about the musician’s behaviour in the wild so to speak, in the environment of a musician.
Not long after I started using instant cameras as a medium for music photography, I noticed how different musicians would interact with the me as the photographer compared to using my rather big, heavy, obvious digital camera. The social interaction initiated by the musician often would be the ice breaker that you wanted with little effort on my part. All of a sudden the space we both worked in became less threatening and calm prevails.
Most of them would get very chatty about it, would approach me with a big surprised smile on their faces. The nature of the interaction changed completely and they wanted to look at it, touch it and hold it in their own hands the image that I had taken just a few minutes ago. Perhaps the popularity of the Polaroids back in the 70’s, 80’s and the 90’s brought back some of that lost nostalgia and this made interactions easier.
I could imagine them perceiving the Polaroid camera as a tool to have fun with and not a money making tool with the intent to profit. They would always be surprised that there’s still film being made for it.
Where to from here?
I see the “Instant Stage” series as an ongoing body of work. The plans of a photo book and an exhibition are in the pipeline. I really do love what I do and I hope to share my experience as a music photographer and the stories of the musicians more as I continue to grow.
Kickstarter Campaign: Ioana’s Kickstarter campaign link below, feel free to get on board and support the project.
About Ioana Tăut
Ioana Tăut was born in Arad, a small city in Romania in 1989. Starting as a concert photographer focusing mainly on rock and alternative music, adding later on, jazz concerts and festivals, she has photographed significant artists and bands. These include Suede, Placebo, Nick Cave, Jethro Tull, Rufus Wainwright, The Crimson Projekct, Ravi Coltrane, Jack DeJohnette, Tigran Hamasyan, Stanley Clarke, Tom Harrell, Dave Holland, John Scofield a.o.
Ms Tăut has collaborated with a number of online magazines in Romania, Czech Republic and the USA. Since 2014 she has worked as the official live concert photographer of the Gărâna Jazz Festival in Romania – a festival considered to be among the most important jazz festivals in Europe.
In the past years, Ms. Tăut developed a passion for instant photography, which has become her main photographic focus in addition to her music photography. Through her exploration of the use of instant film, Ms Tăut is documenting various subjects in a unique series of fine art work. Her work using instant film is based on a free artistic approach. Instant film supports this approach because its very nature allows for the creation of a specific, beautiful yet almost from another time period. It is this element that is of most interest to Ms Tăut.
Follow Ioana Tăut via the following links;
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