It takes a special something to be able to photograph at gigs and festivals, you have to really not mind being covered in the bodily fluids of swerving waves of people, or potentially having your ankles and your camera shattered into a thousand pieces. Lord knows what things Greg Neate has seen in his last decade of photographing the much-loved and notoriously raucous ATP festival. His photos are often taken in prime crowd spots that even rubber-boned teenagers can’t reach – so how does he do it? We asked him some questions about his memories of ATP and what he loves most about photographing crowds. You can also see Greg’s photos on show at Neate at ATP at the ATP Terminal on Dray Walk until 13 July 2014.
What do you love most about the ATP crowd?
In the last five years I’ve only been to two holiday camp ATPs and the last one, End of an Era Part 2, was a last hurrah for a lot of folk – particularly me. Like all things over time, the novelty wears off and the dynamics change, so the exuberance of the first years – when some people went for the atmosphere over the bands – couldn’t continue. With most people having invested time and effort to get to ATP, it ensures there’s going to be a knowledgeable crowd determined to get something from their weekend which is a good place to start.
What camera do you use?
I settled on using a Nikon FE2. It gets some appreciative looks from people who seem to know more about cameras than I do. It’s got enough options for me without being overcomplicated and there is now a consistency to my photography though I don’t know if it could have been better.
What is it about live music and crowds that you enjoy photographing?
I like noticing something that looks good and that I can represent with photography. Live photography is somewhat easy in that for the most part the subject can’t leave and is going through a range of situations that everyone else is observing. In hindsight I could have done more portrait work which calls for more personal and organisational skills, though within the domain of live photography I think I’m good for being patient and persistent.
What’s your best ATP memory?
Acid Mothers Temple at Camber Sands in 2005. Total intensity discharged in the comedy demolition of a guitar.
If you could photograph one person or band who would it be?
I’m pretty committed to my career in psychiatry which I’ve done photography alongside. Thus I’ve been content with taking photographs of people and events who I feel may be well served by the photograph without being stressed over photography as a business. I’d prefer to shoot something that’s worthwhile and deserves recognition rather than shoot something that gets enough coverage anwyay.
The musicians I know personally who I admire most are Mary Hampton, a folk singer who plays solo and with her own supporting band, the Cotillion; and Thomas House, formerly of under-appreciated Charlottefield and plays in at least five different bands, including Sweet Williams. Both are Brighton-based and are individually expressive in different fields of music. They both deserve wide recognition and I’ve taken photos along the way of both. I hope that they progress in their committed fields and that along the way, I can make a contribution towards that.