You’ve seen him at shows. He sticks out because, well he’s 20+ years older than your average metal show goer, but you know he’s really helping out the scene. Dan Berry is a photographer that I have seen at tons of shows in and around London. This is Dan from Berry Photography.
1-Who are you, and what do you do in the London music scene?
2-What inspired you to begin taking photos of bands and concerts?
3-The obvious bigger question, is, how does a guy, who’s age is significantly older than the average concert goer end up at shows?
4-What is it about metal and heavier music that you connect with?
-I am gonna answer 1-4 All at once
2 word answer = Music Freak
Long answer…I have been a music nut since I was 12 when I bought my first stereo…and upgraded it a year later. I graduated college for Radio but didn’t like the egos or the fact it wasn’t freeform musically so I started working at record stores and managed all kinds in Toronto. Free tickets for 8 years and I saw a ton of bands. In college (1978) I was in the pit for the Clash, The Jam, The Pistols, U2, Iggy Pop, The Police and many more. I then graduated to larger venues for The Stones, The Who, Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Neil Young etc. Free Tickets don’t pay the bills so I moved to the electronics industry and have been there ever since. (I am 53 if you aren’t good with math). Got married, kid (Jamison…Music freak too), house yadda yadda. Jamison was about 13 when he wanted to go to an all ages show so I piled a bunch of kids in and hit the pit. The feeling of leaning on a bin and having sound radiate your body was the same. I felt at home again…and young! Since that night I have been to hundreds of shows and have taken 1000’s of pictures. The only way I could stay in the pit without looking like an idiot was to get a camera. It turns out I am pretty good at it and it is my way of supporting the scene. I love shooting local bands and having them use my shots in their marketing. Just ask and I will be happy to do it for them. It is a great rush to see locals get better every time I see them.
Now is probably a good time to throw in that I don’t really listen to Metal…I just love it live. My son Jamison is my source for metal and new music genres. I like all music… I have seen Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Pat Metheny, Al Dimeola, Arti Shaw and on and on. I go through phases, Jazz, Big Band, Bluegrass, you name it, I like it (country and classical not so much…but I highly respect it )
5-In your time as a photographer, what has been some of the wildest concerts you’ve had the chance to take pictures at?
-The Chariot are always a treat…Letlive/Enter Shikari would probably be my favorite show, Devil Wears Prada/Enter Shikari/ Whitechapel was probably my best shooting night (pit pass in TO) Dillinger Escape and Parkway Drive should be mentioned as well.
Not being a photographer?…Springsteen playing for 4 1/2 hours, U2 at the El Macombo (they were 17), Whitney Houston in a bar, Stevie Ray Vaughn at the Elmo would be up there.
6-Being perched side stage, or to the side of a pit, you often get a better view of what’s going on. What are some of the crazier things you’ve seen happen at shows?
-GWAR won that award hands down the other night. Face plants, stage dives, idiot bouncers, crowd surfing are all pretty normal now. Probably the best thing is watching fans faces as they are “rockin out” is the best. You would see that too.
7-Have you injured yourself, or any gear at shows?
-Pretty un eventful in that way.. a few elbows to the ribs and the like but not much. I must say I respect the respect I do get. (Plus I look like a cop)
8-How do bands react, usually, when they see you at shows? I remember the first time I saw you taking photos at a show, and I just assumed it was someones dad, and then I saw your catalogue of bands you’ve photographed and was blown away, and thought this is obviously not just a dad at a show.
-It’s interesting. Many times they are more curious of me than I am of them. They think I am from a label or sponsor. I do use my age to an advantage though, I can walk into dressing rooms or past huge lines and nobody says a word. I am not a threat I guess. I also find I can meet many bands and have a different level of conversation with them. They give me their real emails and facebook pages. That is probably the biggest difference from the old school days and today…bands are nice and embrace you now.
9-But backing up, you obviously have kids in bands, how do your kids feel when you are at hanging out at venues with a ton of kids taking photos?
-Jamison takes graphic design Humber and wants to go at that end of the music business or management. He roadies/merch’s and helps out Partycat. When we first went to shows I never even said hello for the first year or 2…just do my own thing. But when I started getting better access, good shots and recognition it started to change. (Plus I was paying and driving so that helped). Now that he is older it’s all cool. I have never been a big “rules” guy. It freaks a lot of people out!
10-London has seen some wicked shows lately. (I see that you took photos at GWAR, one of my favourite bands!) What are some of the best shows you’ve been at in 2012?
–With Jamison being in Toronto we have been going to a lot of shows there…top 5 in the last year…Enter Shikari / Letlive, Devil wears Prada, GWAR, The Contortionist, The Chariot.
11-And, what shows are you looking forward to in latter of 2012?
-Warped Tour is fun, I am working on pit pass for Metalfest, I hear Letlive will be through, really whatever shows my son says I have to see.
12-So, for the gear heads, what are you using to shoot?
-I shoot with a Nikon D60 with a 18 – 105 zoom lens. Depending on the venue, I like to shoot full manual with no flash. I will take 500 + shots in a night of which 50 make the cut.
13-Have you had any gear mishaps at shows? I’ve accidently hit a photographer who popped up on stage, and I’ve seen photographers get lost in a pit.
-Not really, I have camera armor if it will be rough.
14-Where would be the coolest place for you to see one of your photos published?
-On the cover of Rolling Stone!
15-What band, in your opinion would be the coolest for you to take pictures of?
-One of the The Beatles or the Rolling Stones
16-I know a lot of pretty boy bands, all very photogenic hahaha. What band, do you think, takes some of the best pictures?
-I was wandering through Warped Tour last year and The Black Veil Brides came out. They looked interesting so I took some quick shots and moved on. At editing, they were awesome. I posted them and the next morning I have hundreds of likes and requests from teen girls from all over the world. I started answering them but then I thought “a guy my age shouldn’t be friends with this many girls their age..just asking for trouble.” Blood on the Dance Floor were cute too.
17-This is one I ask to all bands/ interviews. Best place to grab a bite to eat after a show?
-Nope, I have a paying job that I have to get up for.
18-Have you ever considered doing anything wild like creating a coffee table book of all the photos you’ve taken, or publishing a ‘zine, or exhibiting them downtown London?
-Sure but it all costs money. I have had talks with online zines etc but like everything else in the metal world…nobody makes any real money. I would trade them for credit and press passes if they asked.
19-Aside from bands and concerts what things inspire you to photograph?
-Just different things that you don’t see every day or things from a different angle. I like to capture the ambiance of a show as much as the artists.
20-Finally, the nonsensical question! You have the unique opportunity to take backstage photos of your favourite band for an entire tour, the downside is all you can eat/drink the entire tour (let’s say it’s 2 months) is unsalted crackers and warm water. Do you do it?
-If I was 30 years younger…in a heartbeat.
Question you didn’t ask…What do you think of the state of the music industry today?
I think it is a crying shame that I can spend $15. and see 4 awesome bands that have traveled 1000’s of miles with all their gear and 50 people show up. Yet a guy can show up with a laptop and a playlist and start at midnight DJing and 500 people will pay $50 each to “be there”. I appreciate their studio talent and their stage show but the masses are asses. That scene is reminiscent of Disco in the late 70’s. Eventually they will get tired of the scene and come back to live music. The most encouraging thing is “the sceeny weenies” showing up for an Abandon All Ships show or the like. At least they are a younger generation being exposed to live music.
That last answer is so true. That’s no bullshit.