This week we chat with Berlin creative, Concert Photographer Charlotte aka CHUX ON TOUR. Charlotte is not only a formidable photographer amongst the Berlin concert photography scene, making a name for herself quickly (like many of the photographers I’ve featured). As she has gathered a coterie of other female photographers to get them through the male-dominated scene, Charlotte has also started the music industry and creative-based online network, SHOWGRAPHERS, and volunteers with the underground musical womxn collective, GRRRL- NOISY. Read about CHUX ON TOUR below.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Hi, Charlotte! Thanks for connecting with me! My first question is how have you been dealing with quarantine? Have you had to adjust creatively?
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER:This is a question I have been asking most of the creatives in the series. Why do you love music?
CHUX ON TOUR: I can’t really grasp it, it’s something that always was in me. As long as I can think, I was surrounded by music. My earliest memory is watching The Rolling Stones documentaries on VHS with my mom. And if I can be more precise, I love live music. Especially gigs in smaller venues. It’s the energy, intimacy and community that simply warms my heart. Watching people doing what they love on stage just captivates me. And for me, there is no better feeling than discovering a new band through live music.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What was it that made you first pick up a camera? What drew you to concert photography specifically?
CHUX ON TOUR: To be honest, nothing of what I’m doing right now was planned. It came naturally and in hindsight it all makes so much sense. I always went to more concerts than the average person and some day my boss said I should write about them, but as I never enjoyed writing, I started to document the gigs with my old iPhone SE (and later with a small compact camera) on Instagram. And even with these crappy pictures, bands kept asking me for the images and wanted to share them. The more shows I photographed the more fun it was and when the German music blog hoers.de asked me to join the team, I took the chance and bought a Fuji XT-30 and Chux On Tour Photography was born. So now I get invited to shows I would have gone to anyway and get to work with so many inspiring artists.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER:
Hailing from Berlin, Germany what is the music scene like there? What’s it like being a concert photographer there? Are there many female photogs?
CHUX ON TOUR: It’s both a dream and a nightmare here, haha. I mean, you have everything. From small underground gigs to huge mainstream shows and that every day (aside from COVID times of course). But it also means that sometimes I had to choose between two or even up to 6 shows a night. And because there is so much going on, some shows were quite empty and tickets for small gigs were often very cheap, so it’s hard for bands to make money by selling tickets. But a lot of musicians are drawn to Berlin and move here (even if it’s just temporary), because it’s a very vibrant, diverse and creative city and I love it.
(cont.) The scene in general is still quite male-dominated I would say, but I was lucky enough to surround myself with amazing female photographers. One thing that always surprises me, is that the venues usually don’t have house photographers here in Germany. Which is a shame. Most of the photographers are press or hired by the band.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can talk about the female collective that you’re a part of, GRRRL- NOISY?
CHUX ON TOUR: Of course! GRRRL-NOISY is a collective of female musicians and creatives from the music industry and was founded by members of 24/7 Diva Heaven, Isoscope, Aptera and Riot Spears. Our goal is to build a supportive network and showcase talents from the genres of noise, grunge, punk, doom, metal or other extraordinary styles in the underground music scene in Berlin. With our monthly jam sessions in Berlin we want to create a safe space for womxn to experiment on stage and to connect off stage.
(cont.) I got asked to shoot their 3rd jam session in March 2020 and tbh, I wasn’t really sure if I fit in. I don’t play an instrument and I’m not a metal head, but the moment I arrived, I felt so comfortable and instantly became a part of the supportive and empowering sisterhood. Everyone was so passionate and surrounded by such an energy. I knew from the very first second I had to support this project. So during summer we were able to do two socially distanced events (an outdoor networking + dj night and a Q&A) and some online events, but we are now impatiently waiting for the moment our jam sessions can return!
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER:
Let’s talk gear! What gear do you use?
CHUX ON TOUR: I’m shooting with a Sony Alpha 7iii but deep down my heart still beats for Fuji (the XT-30 was the first proper camera I bought). My favorite lens is the Sony 55mm f/1.8 and for portraits (and when I have more space at shows) the 85mm f/1,8. I also have the 35mm f/1,8 lens but I rarely use it. And recently I bought the Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 Di III VXD and loved the results from the livestream gig I shot with it. Another new addition is the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD which I also only used once so far.
(cont.) Other than that I use a Lowepro hip bag at concerts because it’s small (and still fits up to three lenses plus the camera) and doesn’t wobble around at gigs. As I’m doing more and more portrait and band shoots now, my next investment will be a proper backpack that fits a couple of lenses, a laptop, lights and a flash. So if anyone has recommendations, send them over!
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Is there an artist or band that you want to capture but haven’t yet?
CHUX ON TOUR: Well, it’s not like I have a bucket list, because I find more joy in discovering small artists at festivals than in shooting a famous artist in an arena. So there a million acts I wanna see that you’ve probably never heard of and even more that I don’t know yet either, haha. But if we’re talking well-known bands that I would want to photograph, I would go for The Rolling Stones, 30 Seconds To Mars, The Staves, St. Vincent, LP and Madonna.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What inspired you to start you website Showgraphers?
CHUX ON TOUR: What always drives me, is the urge to help people. And creating something that makes the life of others easier, is such a satisfying thing. When I started working with a band in 2018 and helped out with artist and tour management, I realized how much independent musicians have to do which is not linked to actually making music. So during that time a lot of ideas of how to solve problems with technology popped up. But back then I was working a full time job plus the things I did for the band and literally had no time for anything else. But with the pandemic I suddenly had the time on my hands and at first I just wanted to get these ideas out of my head and on paper. Then I reached a point where I did not only want to think about it, but actually do it. So I did. And the response was overwhelming (as well as the workload, haha).
(cont.) And for everyone that doesn’t know what SHOWGRAPHERS is about, here is a summary: it’s a platform to connect musicians and music photographers/videographers. Photographers sign up for free and musicians can search and browse these profiles (so far over 450 already signed up). We also showcase both musicians and photographers on our socials and recently started a blog where we not only interview musicians and photographers, but also people who founded blogs, run a podcast, are part of a festival or a music industry network. And currently, we are working on finding partners so we can drive more traffic to our community.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER:
What does the future of the music photography look to you post COVID-19?
CHUX ON TOUR: I really struggle with questions and thoughts about the “post COVID time”. I constantly switch between being optimistic and pessimistic. I want to believe live music and music photography will be more important than ever and hope it’s coming back as quickly as it disappeared. The artists are dying to get back on stage and for sure want to capture these emotional moments forever. But I also see the other side: bands splitting up or ticket prices that will increase and maybe lead to smaller crowds. So yeah, I’m a bit unsure about it, but I just can’t imagine it won’t recover. In the end, it will hopefully change for the better.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER:
What’s one album that‘s gotten through this entire lockdown?
CHUX ON TOUR: Oh, that’s tough. I don’t really listen to a lot of music at home. But one album that came to my mind, and one that fits quite perfectly, is “Freier Geist” from Sofia Portanet. She is a Berlin-based artist who sings in German, English and French. And tbh, I usually don’t like German or French music. But when I saw her live on stage (at the first socially distanced gig I shot) I fell in love with the songs and had them stuck in my head every now and then. Well, to be fair, I worked on five of her shows in the past months, so her music was definitely very present, haha. But this album not only reminds me of the good times in this pandemic, it also represents how diverse & complex this year was and shows me that we can grow when we engage in new things.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER:
What is the one photo that you are most proud of?
CHUX ON TOUR: Wow, that is a hard question! It’s one thing to name your favorite picture, but one I’m proud of? That implies that I created something I either thought I wouldn’t be capable of or something that I consider is worthy of recognition. Hm, ok, then I’m gonna go with this black & white version of Alicia from Minimal Schlager I took in September 2020. It’s the first image that was used for a single cover (together with one I took of Fran the same night) and it still feels unreal to see my pictures on all the streaming platforms.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: And… the last question, Is there anything else you would like to add?
CHUX ON TOUR: I am fully aware that sounds suuuper cheesy, but I would love to thank everyone that encouraged me to do what I love and that trusted me and gave me the opportunity to work with them. A special shoutout goes to Wolf & Moon. For sure I would not be where I am without these two and wouldn’t even met half of the incredible people along the way! Looking forward to all the adventures ahead!
The last interview for the first part of the series (I need more people so contact me!) is next Friday. We ‘Get to Know’ jill of all trades music industry creative & blogger Abena Adu of “Without Further Adu”.