david bowen – derry

Marty getting the drinks in, 2005

Marty getting the drinks in, 2005


Sandinos Bar during the 'Celtronic' festival, 2004

Sandinos Bar during the ‘Celtronic’ festival, 2004


“Derry” by David Bowen

Over the past 12 years, since the Good Friday Agreement was signed in Belfast, Northern Ireland by British and Irish governments, a thriving electronic music scene has flourished in the city of Derry, due to the extraordinary efforts of the ‘Deep Fried Funk’ Promotion Team. Their inclusive attitude and passionate love for music and people, has helped to regenerate the music scene, and bring some of the freshest sounds from around the world to the city for the ‘Celtronic’ festival.


Jamie drags on a cigarette past dawn leaving an after-party, 2006

Jamie drags on a cigarette past dawn leaving an after-party, 2006


And so, as president Barack Obama, following the most recent anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” on January 30th, hails the latest steps in the ongoing Northern Ireland Peace Deal, it is well worth mentioning that young people have been ahead of the politicians in uniting both sides of the river Foyle. Intimate and compelling events, where an open attitude and a fierce desire to get along regardless of the past, are paving the way for greater understanding across the generations to come.



Since 1998 my main project has been to document the worldwide electronic music scene as it has evolved from free-parties and illegal raves in the U.K. to one of the highest selling genres of music. Today young people are united around the world by a music which transcends language barriers and borders.

I’ve been visiting Northern Ireland since 2004 to document the revitalization of the music scene there, and this is a continuing project.


Related links:

David Bowen


Editor’s note:

Comments are open for these photographs as per requested  by David Bowen… thanks, dah

115 Responses to “david bowen – derry”

  • where is jim when you need him.

  • Im sure he is here dude. Itching to tell you how much he loves it :)
    great to see it finally coming together. Big fan of the carlsberg shot.


  • Nice one, the unreported side of Northern Ireland. looking pretty strong.



  • definitely an under-reported side..
    peace n reconciliation, unless by politicians, doesn´t sell papers..

  • john – if i make it over this year you´ll have to join..

  • Happy to see your work, David!! I love it… but why no essay :( I know that you have many photos :)

  • Vibrant colour, bursting with energy, lots to see, and wrapped up in a positive, hopeful,life affirming human forecast.
    I like.

  • I guess to the relief of some viewers/posters burn is back on a more traditional platform with these images …….

  • intriguing set of images. looks like the start of something good!

  • Ah, David B, FINALLY we see a taste — albeit small — of your book-in-the making. Love it in color. It reflects the vibrancy and unrestrained joy of the EM world, which, as you know, I know from the inside and adore.

    Your words are as important as your images here. And yes, my lived experience of the electronic music scene validates your views that the young people have known the secrets of peace for a long time. They could have taught their governments’ leaders a thing or two if only they had asked.

    Can’t wait to own an autographed copy of your book. It’s going to be a smash hit!


    Grandma Techno
    from Detroit, home of House music

  • imants
    it bemuses me when there is a divide between styles, especially when it involves some kind of territorial struggle.
    a bit like the ¨who´s your favorite band¨ question..
    good music is good music whatever the genre.

    audrey – there will be an essay i´m sure in the near future..
    patricia – music and the arts seem to be one of the first casualties of conflict and the people who rebuild the culture are among the best there are.. derry is without question the warmest place, overflowing with talent and positivity.
    they keep you up well after bedtime.

  • can’t answer one comment only………. so no comment

  • no one comment thing.. needs changing
    tuck in ..

  • I am sure that it is about territorial struggle for some, just as the PJs are struggling to stay relevant and employed by the local rag and guard their craft zealously. It is a lot easier for many to operate and produce great work within the traditional boundaries set by society’s need to create a continuum of the photographic tradition. Then again some have no problems just using the photographic media as a incidental tool and disrespect all traditions that went before them. These roads that travel their own path rarely strive to meet similar ends to the journey
    Despite that it’s great to see your work here ……..after three images I am saying to myself well where is the next one.

  • Early start for me so I will leave it as that for now…….. sheep counting for now

  • David :)))

    happy happy to funny see some of your light-shift swing here….how long it’s been? ;)))….like john g, i really dig the Calrsberg shot…and for only 3 images, it alreadys sets up an ‘essay’ for me, about youth (my own too), the topsyturvy calypso swag of music and being young, god damn, i remember those days of being happy as a puppy after a piss and carring more-than-i-could-carry number of pints back to the table and think: yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, this is life! :))))….damn, how those days swept away…..

    dig the drooling beer drops in the 1st pic and his chestire, holy-fuck-can-i-make-it-back grin/expression …and the control of the long-exposure in the #2…

    and the last pic is like, oh, u name it, a memory for me from irish cinema or literature: Cal, sundaybloodysunday, reames of light, the back of me truck, derryordust, all of that….

    and remember, that shot of the kids on the grass and the boat in the distances: that has to be the cover of yur book! :))))

    electric woopie…

    gotta fly….



  • p.s. i LOVE the idea of a presentation that strides the middle ground between essay (say more than 10 pics) and SINGLES….and i think it’s a great idea that Burn should pursue: a few pics that flesh out a context without having to be along essay….great job Dad-vid bowen and Burn team :)))

    even if i had not context, i’d think:” these pics are bumping my bump! :))))

  • Maybe something critical should be said .. hm, difficult if one always try to be positive.
    Just 3 pictures, is just a glimpse into what the whole thing may be. It is a good contrast however, between the “normal” b/w fighting everywhere North-Ireland pictures and these party-orientated in vibrant colours impressing pictures. One could ask, is there a life in between? I am curious to see more – maybe not only of people drinking beer and having parties, but maybe also of their day-to-day life between events, or if this is not subject matter – how do they prepare, what are the surroundings. In short words: Context.

    Looking forward to see more.

    Ah, that 3rd picture – I am asking myself, was it neccessary to use a wide-angle lens here? Would not stepping back a few steps and using a more normal lens give a better, less distorted picture? Or, if distortion was intention – the use of a fisheye a better choice?

  • YES!

    at long last… i’ve been waiting a good while to see some of your work here db.

    Love it, and when will we see more? this is the sort of material that begs to continue…
    electric colour and the smell of beer… hmmm i think i’m in need of a weekender : )

    Marty for president!

  • as per requested by David Bowen, comments are wide open….i have changed the notation under his bio…please also forgive our tech glitches this morning…Anton is shooting in Tokyo and i the same in Rio…we will do the best we can under these circumstances…we know you all understand..don’t you? please please…smiling…..many thanks…

    cheers, david

  • nice…off to the local pub..
    big hug

  • I kind of like going back to the traditional idea of still shots as the essay for a change.

  • I like :) Good.. Can`t wait for the essay..

  • David… I do like your work, but could you please elaborate a bit on your intentions on creating these pictures? What do they mean to you? Just kidding… having followed most of your comments and links for the past year now, I feel like I’m the front seat watching the development of your project… thanks for sharing, and good luck with the rest of the edit for the book dude…

  • imants
    ¨These roads that travel their own path rarely strive to meet similar ends to the journey¨
    so true.. yet it´s not so difficult for us all to understand the ends which we produce.. i think it is from traditional photographers towards art applications where the understanding lacks.
    in the moment and viewing work, people have the chance to open their eyes to alternative applications of photography, and also have the chance to understand what they do themselves from another angle.. i´ve tried to exhibit a classic use of editorial photography, which will be easier understood than ballens work, yet as photographers i think there is a responsibility on us to connect with it all.
    a rock band struggling with the ´idea´ of pop would be bemusing.. and paul mcartneys new music may be rubbish because he only ever listens to himself.

    the beer drops get me too.. was a real snap no-time-to-think photo..
    anton really pushed the idea of what singles could be with his posts updates on japan, and audrey carried it through.. thinking on that along with the spot news idea of panos´s geece enabled the use of burn as an editorial platform for me.. the derry work, although there are binders full of film, would be incomplete as an essay right now – yet editorially this seemed a good time to submit something.

    you have named what i need to shoot more of really. i have covered probably 6 or 6 venues between derry and belfast over the years – celtronic and derry being the main ones. if i get the chance to go over this year i am thinking on shedding more light to the city itself. the work i have done has always been heavily pitched for publication and has always made it to print.. next trip will be for me alone.
    on the lens choice – i only use one lens.. a short zoom.. i set up manually and always pre-focus to given distance to same time in the moment. no big fan of distortion myself.. yet often standing next to or very near whoever i am shooting (given cramped conditions in venues), wide is the only way.

    i really want to do something good for an essay for burn which is why it is taking a while.. want to blend something with music which will lend an idea of the way it works shooting.. flashing.. random.. occasionally jarring.. occasionally smooth.. am on to it :ø)

    thanks very much. humbled to be up here and very grateful to yourself and anton for finding a way across three time zones to communicate this morning.

    make mine a white russian.

    me too

    good to see you on monday – visit bergen again soon.


  • Oh, and Imants… indeed… thank Dog we’re back to regular programming… the last essay was so deep I almost drowned :))


    What are the point of these, crudely made images of drunks and druggies? Why when there are so many suffering with AIDS in africa, and with the devestation in Haiti, do we have to see people blatantly enjoying themselves in some mindless way?
    And why are they in colour? Whats wrong with traditional grainy black and white?
    I think you are exploiting these people and thats just low.


  • David B,

    great to see your work published on Burn…these are powerful shots, full of fun and energy (and the lack of it in the aftermath): only three, but enough to delineate a story… waiting for next updatings of your editing work here on Burn… and for the final essay (with music, of course ;)

  • Nothing deep to say, just that I really like the photos.

  • music
    a universal language….

    **can’t wait to see more… I love your use of COLOR and the feel of your images… **


  • Congratulations David B!

    Your work is wonderful. I am in difficulty in choosing my favourite out of these 3, all are fabulous – having three different themes. Looking forward to your final essay.

    best regards,


  • Neither art, nor documentary… I would even say, not for family album either… What is this? Why is this? If these pictures were a part of essay, then it might make sense, but even then… While now… It’s fine to take pictures if you like the process of doing it… but if you publish them…

  • david – what is it like for you to shoot this over such a long period? if this is an extension of your own taste and way of being, how does that affect your experience and is it a challenge to ‘see’ sometimes, (forest thru trees, not because of drink :))

  • david, I hope to see what you describe in your essay/book, here I cannot, so far. love the first one!

  • Looks like both art and documentary to me. Why shouldn’t the good times of young people be documented? Why would that be considered less valuable as a historic or cultural artifact than kids starving in the Sahel? And why shouldn’t whatever we choose to document be approached with artistic intentions?

    Okay, okay, I know that last one causes a lot of debate in art crit circles, but my answer is “no reason.”

    Nice work David, and I’m talking about much more than these three. Though to do more than fawn, I’ll say that I, like Thomas, would like to see more of their lives, at least as it relates to the club scene. Unless club going youth has changed radically in the past several years, that music and partying ethos will show throughout their environment and there will be interesting off-shoots as well. Funny how I speak of “them” as subjects in an experiment. Them is me for many a year (I used to lead a quiet… life.). But of course if you are only interested in the public lives, that’s certainly as valid as you want it to be.

    And to get back to what really matters, I hope you’re at least exploiting them for a beer or two–that, at least that, on top of this moral travesty that is photography.

  • David,

    Fun to see you on here after our discussion on “face” the last couple of days.

    Cool photographs, though I think Thomas was right when he mentions context. Party pictures are party pictures – what exactly speaks to these being in Derry? Could be London, Manchester, Aberystwyth, or wherever. That’s why I love the ravers and cruise ship shot so much (of course that’s part of your bigger piece).

    And we’ve already gone over your aversion to “celebrity” but I think it would be important to see and hear about some of the movers and shakers of the Derry scene – how is it a few individuals (DFF?) can affect the lifestyle of many rather than just anonymous party people. What does it take to put on these nights? Lets see the bedroom offices, living room (dj) practice spaces, the sleeping on floors, etc etc.

    I love your style and I look forward to more. Congrats on getting on Burn. I like the three image format as well.

    And lets not forget Derry’s most famous :) band, The Undertones (a couple of whom I got to know – long story).




  • The Undertones…….ahhhh the Undertones…gotta love them..!!!!!!

  • Is he drinking Budweiser!!?? Good topic. Would like to see more.

  • David, here’s three “damnits” for you:

    Damnit, why only three photos? I wanted to see more.

    Damnit, you make me wonder why can’t I be young again, and this time come of age in a psychologically repressive society than the one that raised me?

    Count your blessings, son. Keep shooting.

    Damnit. When do I get to see more?

  • that should read “less pyschologially repressive…”

  • Quirky, odd, interesting moments. It’s seems like a lot of us want
    to see more. That’s great David. These images speak to me, but that
    may say more about me than the images themselves, nahhhh, I want to
    see more.

  • Hi David.

    I remember you saying, during the debate we had here on PJ’s in the field in such places as disaster zones, that the subject matter your choosing to photograph may seem frivalous. I don’t think anything is particularly frivolous, but rather, what you bring to it and, what you express through and out of it. I personally think it is as important to document this part of our culture as any other part. Actually, I would say its very important, as music, and the culture that goes with it, is a huge part of who many of us are, in which a whole different aspect can be expressed through visual imagery.
    I’ve been trying to document Indian festivals for also many years now, and a huge part of it for me is the way it makes me feel. The fascination I have with it, which I hope will be expressed through the images I am photographing.

    We all should know its not easy getting these sorts of photographs when people are extremely rowdy and your being bumpt and pushed and pull this way and that, through, often, heavy crowds.

    Well done David. Look forward in seeing more.


  • David,

    Love it. I can smell the beer and feel it spilling on my shoes. Love the color and energy. Awesome dude. Looking forward to more.


  • “We all should know its not easy getting these sorts of photographs when people are extremely rowdy and your being bumpt and pushed and pull this way and that”

    But it is great fun! :-)

  • Honest and involved pictures. Usually the wide-angle lens interferes with the subject (for me personally) but I really like these photographs. There is something I can’t quite put my finger on that makes them compelling and I think that is a strong attribute to any image/series of images. The less you can use to say something strong, the better. So for this little selection a big thumbs Up!

  • Erica.
    Shooting over a long period is something I have always respected in other photographers and so it is something I have always done. There are many strands to my music work, (many countries and cities), all of which are their own little stories. In fact every commission required an edit of 30 photos submitted to magazines, and these narratives would be as biographical as they were outward looking. Shooting over time gives the benefit of hindsight to earlier work – it enables me to ´get over´ the unseen clichés as my relationship to the people and place changes, along with my perception as I grow older. 2 of the photos above are captioned with the names of the people in them. I have done this as some shoots – derry, the balkens, Barcelona.. and more – have resulted in life long friendships.. With derry in particular there is an emotional investment – real friendships – and much more than ´subjects´ and ´access´ I think of a visit in terms of friends and how I am able, beyond taking photographs, to encourage what they are doing. That´s the way I like it.. I have never been a hit-and-run type photographically, despite the appearance of many photographs being quickly snatched. With my way of seeing – it has been pretty consistent across the music work.. I do not separate life, friendships and photography because they have been one.. every weekend new faces n new places for more than 10 years – it became easy quite soon to tell the unusual from the commonplace, photographically.. and the good people from the nasty.. Ethical events from commercial.. so on. The longer the project and the more visits to a place, the more layers are peeled back.. it´s only over time that i´m aware of just how many layers there are, and the more rare photographs present themselves.
    i like rare photos.. uncommon exposures of common moments which all can relate to.. :ø)

    Eva :ø)
    The book I am working on is in a sense unrelated to the derry work – which is a continuing splinter project from the whole… for you from derry – http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_D7BO-iIFIl0/Scj7ymZml3I/AAAAAAAAAwk/CbjIFJ9Z9xg/s1600-h/035.jpg
    With this burn post I did not want to lend an artists statement to the photos and so used them in an illustrative editorial manor.. the linked photo above perhaps fits the idea more and the linked text below from 2008 says a little about the book have been working on..

    ¨ Why would that be considered less valuable as a historic or cultural artifact than kids starving in the Sahel?¨
    I utterly agree with you.. I wonder though if it is our intentions as photographers which let down the side of positive editorial photography? I wanted to take tough subjects when I was a teen because I thought it would be treated with more sincerity… in the end I have tried to use a similar approach and aesthetic as I did then in a different area, remaining a photographer rather than a music photographer – since prefixes are rather a ball and chain…
    With my book, the current title of which is ´wasted´, it is the public life.. venue life, that I am immediately concerned with.. was inspired by in the mid 90´s.. now.. with derry perhaps I need a broader vision for the smaller geographical circumstance, whereas I have had a tight focus on a wider geographical circumstance for the book.. I guess I will see how it works out.
    Interestingly a friend in derry has written to me today saying that yours and charles and thomas´ perspective needs to be considered.. he has written, ¨ One of the comments in Burn was really inspiring, about capturing the what happens behind the obvious, the bedrooms offices, the greater context. Really thought provoking.
    Would be incredible to see your interpretation of this if you do head over.¨ (cheers to emmett)
    You know.. i have stacks of photos from behind the scenes.. after parties good n bad.. wherever i have been i have always photographed excessively and beyond my means, (using film}, so there are definitely photos in the archive waiting for their moment.. perhaps even a navel gazing essay about life on the road for a mid 20´s addict who sleeps rough in a disused factory during the week and has drivers and 5 star living at the weekend.. but no real friends :ø) there are certainly snaps in mind for derry and other places which are already heading down the road you guys suggest and i think that is where my work in derry and croatia will head towards.

    hi charles.
    always respect your perspective as one from the inside.. even if were are in different rooms, it´s the same party.
    ¨Could be London, Manchester, Aberystwyth, or wherever.¨ or canada, argentina, india or bulgaria :ø) thats the point with the ¨wasted¨ book i am making.. apologies for any confusion between the greater project i am doing – have finished shooting – which is the week in week out trawl around to photograph the wider electronic music scene, and the projects spinning off that organically which will now continue – in derry, the blakens, and places like that.
    the two are related yet different and will appear very different on publication or in exhibition.. and you guys are absolutely right.
    to photograph one small place i need to go deeper than while illustrating a world-wide phenomenon.. what you have said is nail-on-the-head really. i have some background photos, yet as mentioned – my previous trips to derry have been part of a different project altogether… moving forward will no doubt change the focus of the subject matter..
    and that´s why only 3 photos rather than an essay for derry right now :ø)
    on celebrity and fame… i know i have issues .. it´s 2 years since a couple of friends committed suicide.. a dj and a photographer colleague.. and of course i have seen, lived and waded into situations which still make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.. drugs + sex + rock n abuse.
    there are good reasons why i threw myself away from the thrashing floor of weekly editorial commissions which i cannot go into here.. having seen the best n worst of the music industry, and having been on occation physically and mentally jarred by it, it´s going to be a long comedown of thought before perspective returns.. 2 years gone and counting.
    one promoter who still uses me has said it is because the photos are good and because i tumble into the affray when i see something wonky going on.. a party policeman.

    it´s also worth noting that none of the photos in the book, nor the photos above, have ever been published to the best of my knowledge… the work for magazines which took an hour or two.. snapping the artists and the like.. was just a way of getting an income to continue.. magazines as grant givers facilitating what i really wanted to record.

    ahh – tell me about it..
    i´ve never had a ¨job¨ and earn´t my living for much of my life from photographing parties..
    last year, pulling myself out of that runaway train, produced quite a clunking comedown.. still.. i did not want to be 40 and still doing it the way i did… would feel too distant from the center of things and too tough on my health, which is already screwed…
    37 now.. there is still time.. :ø) yes there is.
    there are a few more derry photos, and a bit more context, in the blog post here http://bophoto.co.uk/wpwastedbook/?p=8
    and if you click the ¨so far….¨ banor the whole blog will load and show the process i´ve been going through to make my book, along with maybe 4 or 500 photos.. (bnw not colour as i found the editing easier that way)

    It´s refreshing for someone to pick up on just how challenging the conditions to photograph are.. being punched, bitten, elbowed, pushed, kicked.. i´ve gone through more broken equipment than most. there are the tough towns and events.. slipping in blood on the dancefloor in buenas aires.. having Israeli army deserters threatening me in goa.. bottled in the back in Birmingham.. generally though these are the minority .. the majority hold a special kind of atmosphere of tolerance.. I have never wanted to hang round looking for the worst of the worst, just as I have not wanted to work for magazines who demand the ¨tits n teeth¨ shots of beautiful people.. balance and all that.

    the first 2 years were a wonder.. the next 5 were excess.. the last three were work.. utterly work.. and addiction to photography and the substances which kept me going.
    and now – the 2 years since i lept off the train and had a family.. now.. that is fun fun fun.

    how to find satisfaction photographicly having been so heavily spoit?
    hmm :ø)


    many thanks for the probing .. apart from being extremely strange (no right of reply in magazine publication) it has been very helpful.

  • sean

    the way i work is instinctive.. in mind i have the mantra of ¨shapes, layers and moments¨ and in editing i try to find photos which demand a second look.. a double take.. the drips of beer or the hair strangly backed up over the cars boner.
    has to be wide in such claustrophobic settings.. wide, pre-focused, guessed background exposure due to flashing lights and under-rated hand held flash to add depth.. all brings about a tight in-focus circle around the subjects.. knowing the lens coverage means if i cannot get my face behind the camera, (which is most of the time indoors in the dark) i can at least get the camera where it needs to be quickly.

    cheers all

  • briefly – i had asked one of the DFF promotion team in derry to wade into the comments here with their perspective..
    and as humble as they are, the response was
    ¨Re: making comment. You know us Dave – we like to keep a low profile.¨
    have to love em.

    regardless of names – DFF – you know that at the time i first visited derry my cynicism and dull eyed view of the music industry was gaining pace – and you n J broke that trend in 2004 with THE after-party of after-parties.. took a london boy to your hearts in a lounge which had a swing hanging from the ceiling.. as tom sat crossed legged on the floor with decks .. i wish i had missed that plane home..

    he also noted that i missed out the name of the chap in the center photograph .. so gary.. ta for the snap :ø)

  • …will there be a ‘gonzo’ leaning or will it be a more classic documentation?
    could i get away with sticking in the occasional ‘journo’ photo, showing the insane plane journeys.. hotel parties.. or would that be narcissistic?


    DavidB…. hmm..interesting…thinking…

  • it´s difficult panos..
    as with yourself i just cannot resist photographing.. the rule is, see a photo and take it.

    for the book though, as it is my first, i think the leaning has to be more outward.. then, if that flies, i can think about placing myself more in there..

    i am thinking of a second book – concerning only the u.k. scene, and then a third book – which would be more biographical and soak in much more of me.. random hotels.. fucked up plane journeys.. the joyous messes we got into testing reality like toddlers

    this work was shot with the intention of illustrating an ´outside´ thing, despite it being an organic development of where i was as a person.. my focus was always on the greater picture, and in a sense my own struggles with drugs, poverty and furious travel was incidental.. peripheral vision..
    i have not found a way of marrying the two.. must be two books.. i think..

    hunter s. t. was a lightweight :ø)

  • Hey David, just to be clear, I’m not some kind of advocate for positive photography. The idea of that as an ideal kinda makes me cringe. It’s more that I like honest photography, and honestly; fun, parties, music, all kinds of happy, even (maybe especially) if it’s only superficially happy, stuff goes on in the world and it’s just as valid a subject as any other, imo.

    Regarding, the “behind the scene” stuff, I’m kinda sorry I mentioned it. I’m really not the kind of person one should be taking advice from. You’re doing quite well with your own vision.

  • “am thinking of a second book – concerning only the u.k. scene, and then a third book – which would be more biographical and soak in much more of me.. random hotels.. fucked up plane journeys.. the joyous messes we got into testing reality like toddlers”

    love this idea!

  • erica – a twisted take on chris steele-perkins excellent ¨echos¨ book

    michael – quite right.. too clean is nauseating in itself..

  • David, I see.. probably misread the text, was thinking it was more about the people, what music can achieve even outside the scene.. anyway, curious to see the result!

  • DAVID,

    I know what you mean. Here is the afterword to Touch Me I’m Sick. I think it touches (no pun intended) on a lot of what we have been talking about.



    Rock and roll reaches deep down inside you and re-arranges things subconciously. It’s been my dysfunctional therapist all these years. I absolutely love it, even crave it. I’m sometimes scared (thrillingly so) of it – of the juvenile, yet strangely profound power it’s had over me. It has soundtracked my life, possibly a conspirator in my ending up in some complex and messy places – and getting back out again. My friend Steve and I call it “volume cleansing”. And It’s not just rock an roll that moves me that way – it’s passionate, gut rippling, heart fluttering music of any kind. I always start madly dancing, air guitaring, buffeting that near nervous breadown – in my living room, in the darkroom, at the show. I am the DJ. I am what I play.

    I’m also the photographer. And I find it hard to talk about what this all means. I never purport having set out to photograph the history of this thing. That’s not my style. I didn’t need to. I was there. I lived it. As it is, being human, there were a great deal of other influences shaping my life at the same time. This is what passed in front of my lens, a reflection of how my brain communicated with eye and finger, inside a rock and roll club. I always had an higher agenda with photography; fine art aspirations. For me, it’s most important the photographs stand on their own as purely great photographs, in the traditional sense of what that means. Try temporarily divorcing the images from our cult of celebrity and that insistent need to categorize. Relish in the detail. Shoes. Duct tape. Hands. Big Muffs. Blurs. Budweiser cans. Torn knees. Ballet. The elements fill the frame – lines converging, textures and patterns re-emerging, negative spaces balancing, scenarios opening; everything perfect – but then not quite.

    An artist can’t ask for more than having people feel something, anything, (especially if it’s good) about their work. I sometimes question certain people’s relationship to this subject matter. I question my own part in it as well. I’d like to think that I championed the story of a supercharged lifestyle of expression, a familial community made up of “stray dogs from every village” who all had the same achy need for something to do (preferably loud and diverting). This story, like any, is deserving of profoundity, albeit I prefer mine steeped in a dose of heavy irreverence. A slight return of innocence. But I can’t, and won’t, forget that it was also a time fraught with selfish abandon, substance abuse, suicide, failed ambitions or, conversely, hyper-realised paths to stardom and ultimate depression. All those things touched my career, and my personal life, in some way, too close to the skin.

    What kept me coming back for more was the fun – the high, divine release that comes from jumping up and down madly for an hour courtesy of your pals, roommates, heroes, beer – whatever – on voice, guitar, drums, bass. It’s about that afterwards sound of your ears ringing and the feel of sweat hitting the cold night air as you reel out of the club. It felt like you were really alive, if only just for a moment. It felt like you were a part of something. I knew that it would end someday and I would need to move on. I had a great time. This is what I did. And I really love these photographs.

  • Hey David,

    Haven’t followed any of the conversation… just wanted to pop in to say how much I love these photos! Looking forward to the evolution of the project.


  • You know, Marty doesn’t look all that sure of his grip there. I trust that the brews survived the trip from the bar to the table.

  • David, congratulations and wonderful to see this here.

    I’ve noted the “Marty getting the drinks” on your site before and adore it. What a fun project, especially if you are a beer drinker. I like the other two as well. The last shot is one of those almost there but not quite shots. I did not notice the head resting on the car bonnet until the second time viewing it. I agree with Thomas that the choice of lens is unfortunate here and has the effect of minimising that peice of the photo. The shot still conveys the message clearly.

    Good fun. Good luck with this and your other projects.

  • hey david, i once went to the derry jazz festival, i didn’t hear any jazz, but pretty much had 4 wild nights out in a row….

    good stuff!

  • David Bowen – you definitely had more fun in the 90’s than I did :), waaaay to much fun! I’ll be looking for the book , love how you caught the moment of Marty’s shout amidst the chaos.

    Charles Peterson – Was in hotel last night watching a documentary on the early 90’s Seattle scene and was thinking of you and looking for your photos, then realised that while I was younger I was looking at your photo’s all the time in various Mag’s ,I’m sure your work has embedded it’s self somewhere in my psyche.
    Thanks for being there and Glad you are here!

  • Thoughts about working on a long-term project: You’re holding a big balloon. You can either continue holding it or you can let it go up in the air. When it goes up in the air it’s like when a movie director goes to his own movie premiere to look at what he has done, knowing that he can’t do anything with what’s happening to the movie now that it’s been released. He can only start something new.

    With photography it’s perhaps more complicated than that. I guess it’s similar to a book release, but although you’ve got the book published that might not be a good enough reason to stop working on the project and start focusing on the next.

    You must have thought a lot about these things when working on your project. So when is it best to let it go? When you can’t push it any further? Or is it impossible to stop finding new things within a project? And is there sometimes a certain amount of frustration when/if you realise that there is in fact new things you should cover in your project, even after “all these years”?

    I know you already wrote some about this in your answer to Erica, which I enjoyed reading, but more thoughts would be nice.

    Congrats on being published here, by the way. My favourite must be the second one. Most energy. It almost looks like he’s crying.

    Did you find anything in those undeveloped rolls?

  • DAVID B…

    i do hope that one day you and i will be able to continue to edit this work…you have some positive response here which is good…however, maybe i am one of the few who have seen the whole body of work, or at least a good part of it…so, if most like this, just imagine how the whole body, distilled and tweaked and presented in its final form will be….it is always a pleasure to work with you David…and many thanks for your patience with my sometimes crazy schedule…

    cheers, david


    i hope someday we meet….i think this every time i read you

  • DAVID B.

    Oh man I would love to see a Harvey edit. One more piece of advice (and I think DAH is alluding to this above) why don’t you just edit for one killer book (for now)? I would consider EVERYTHING, leave no slide or proof sheet unturned, put together your best images, personal, commercial, reportage, etc, 80’s. 90’s 2000’s, and then see if you can find the thread. Then start rejecting and find what truly sticks. You might be really surprised how your various photographic personas merge and find intersections that are a lot more fulfilling than trying to cleanly divvy up the work. You know you got the goods, it’s just getting it sorted is often the hardest (overwhelming) part.

    Just my two cents of course (and I could be totally wrong), but I’m going through the process now, for a portrait (very loosely) book, working title “Negative Creeps.” I’m considering old punk days pics, party pics, family pics, lots of exes, and famous people from Johnny Cash to Public Enemy to Cobain and beyond. Even audience pics as portraiture. The glue is faces, of course, and lifestyle. but most important a sense of intimacy. No idea if it’ll fly, but I figure i got one more book shot with my archives so I gotta make it a good one and at least give it a try.


    I hope so too. Maybe I’ll make a trek sometime to the dunes. They look splendid.


  • AKAKY,

    I have a feeling Marty is a pro and hasn’t lost a drink yet! :)

  • charles :ø)
    to love too much that which would kill us at the slightest wrong turn..
    paraphrasing gibran, i can now laugh, but not all my laughter, and cry, but not all my tears.. a certain numbness.. and of course the deeply altered perspective you wrote so eloquently about.

    there was one ¨on the road¨ piece i photographed – one of the last i photographed on the weekly circuit – which went way beyond anything i had experienced.. the crime was more horrible and my ´punishment´ for wading in n doing my best was frankly obscene.. ghb.. weed.. coke.. pills.. alcohol.. all familiar friends were present.. matchsticks holding open eyelids, unable to shut it out.
    and then..
    to have my magazine client refuse to pull the piece, since the artists involved had bought advertising space.. in fact alterting text to give the article a possitive spin.
    my writer and i did our best to screw things up for them after that, and up to a point it worked.. but it was truly over for me.

    magazines had changed, with the dawn of the internet, and it was increasingly difficult to get good press for the people who mattered – the derry crew and more, who could really use editorial praise to gain sponsorship and the like.
    i used to love ¨breaking¨ little events and artists.. a specialty of mine i guess.. and that time had gone, as magazines paniced and positive editorial went to the highest ¨bidder¨, in a manor of speaking, who ever they were..

    i miss it as you do and always will.. like the photographs produced.. just cannot climb into them.. impossible to express really.. jimis manic-depression at not being able to caress his music..
    as close as the memory of the sweetest dream upon waking in the morning. :ø)

    marty has an astonishing talent as a beer tray.. a calling..
    jamie is now a rock star.. from the dole que to a flight to new york to sign a very tasty deal..
    the derry crew were over in croatia last year and marty was there.. first time i had seen him since the photo, which he did not know had been taken until he saw it a while after.
    i do wish one of them would wade in here – emmett.. gareth.. i know you´re watching :ø)

    it is a shame when a photos pops up in front of us and the wrong len´s or film is in.. i must try harder :ø)

    charles was probably in the pit with a grin and a gin.. any idea of the documentaries name?

    along with alex ¨chesham¨, one of the most promising and interesting photographers i´ve had the pleasure of teaching.. keeping an eye on you.. see your ¨moments¨ project on BURN sometime.

    you said..
    ¨Thoughts about working on a long-term project: You’re holding a big balloon. You can either continue holding it or you can let it go up in the air. When it goes up in the air it’s like when a movie director goes to his own movie premiere to look at what he has done, knowing that he can’t do anything with what’s happening to the movie now that it’s been released. He can only start something new.¨

    .. not much more to add – well said.
    we photograph in part to try and find something tangible to sooth the pain in us..
    ¨i need to find some sounds that recognize the pain in me…. YEAH¨

    i lost control while i was shooting.. lost control again now it is over :ø)

    you say..
    ¨You must have thought a lot about these things when working on your project¨
    not really – i spent most of my time working hard to get to the next job.. i constantly accepted work when i had no money to cover costs.. working with promoters, tourist boards and magazines covered it all, just about.. i could not see an end.. never thought about it and my living budget, emotionally and physically, was very much day to day.

    ¨So when is it best to let it go?¨
    see my answer to charles above :ø)
    when it does not satisfy anymore?.. when it has become so much like work?..
    for me – when i could not bear to go inside another nightclub or invest away another 15 minuets off the end of my life.. most of the work i shot within music was during a strange kind of abandonment from the realities of life.. i really did not care to reach 35.. and now i want to live to 100..
    i just knew i was done with working the way i was.. entered a new life here in norway and although i still get work doing it, i am not pushing nearly hard enough within the music industry to carry on the way i did.

    it is impossible to not find new things and working through a lifetime has to be an organic thing i think.. one thing leads to another.. always start at home.. be aware that there are very few big breaks.. but lots of oportunity.. refine your vision to a point when you can SEE an oportunity for what it is and TAKE IT.. work as hard as you need to in order to deserve it.. win it.. and of course need it.

    there are always new angles and choosing the point to say ¨no more¨ is difficult.. it came about with my music work when i moved on from making myself available, and working towards, weekly commissions anywhere i could get them. (again see charles above)
    at first in 97 i thought a year or two photographing free parties.. then i gained a residency for record label and nightclub ¨renaissance¨ which lasted 2 years.. i thought that would be the book, but while working there i gained international work.. and so a new opportunity presented itself.. on and on..
    as david AH has mentioned many times – we know when we are done with something, and it changes shape and becomes a different animal entirely..
    this project will never end – although i am sure it will become marginalized as it is today, while it shifts into another form – which it already has.. i´m mumbling now.. mumble..

    now i only want to photograph small ethical parties which are on-the-edge.. geographically, musically..
    you know.. i know about a small illegal party scene in iran, where people are risking their lives in isolated pockets of joy to listen to the sounds they adore.. there is a great festival in the most geographically rare place – a tiny island in the north of norway – this year which i have not seen.. 24 hour sunshine.. wonder what that does to a vibe?

    i think that documentary work needs to be a reflection of our lives in order to be interesting – and within one life time we might live 5 lives.. i think i am now into my 3rd or 4th life, and that will produce something different to the last one.

    i have only ever expected to photograph 2 or 3 bodies of work

    .. and i have not the money to develop any of the undeveloped odd rolls as yet – http://www.bophoto.co.uk/wpblog/?p=48

    charles – NEGATIVE CREEPS is a great title and sounds like an excellent idea..
    perhaps you are right.. there is still scope to think on what the book might become..
    the esteemable STUPID PHOTOGRAPHER, who i do wish was here still, turned me on to mikhalovs work – http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/artpages/boris_mikhailov_195.htm
    case history is an astonishly powerful and large volume.. i really dig it.. gets me thinking..

    last n not least DAVID AH
    very kind..
    in music i found that those at the top deserved their place through kindness, as well as excellent work.. there is something about those who reach high success without the spirit of kindness to feel they deserve it.. it kind of screws them up i think.. it most definately has not screwed you up :ø)
    much respect and thanks for the publication here.

    i would love to hook up at some point this year – 500 6×4´s n a bottle of oak aged scotch.. before finally throwing my cards on the table with regards the book-edit n publishers it would be fantastic to have just one face to face edit.. flesh it out and nail it ..
    if there may be the chance to have a meaningful period of time to do so, please let me know and i´ll do my best to get on that plane..
    in europe or the u.s. at some point this year?

    impossible to express how your perspective has lent me hope for my body of work.. humble thanks to you and looking forward as always.


    you´ve been really patient as i witter on here to myself and thankyou..
    i know my words may seem self gratifying – it´s been a joy to talk about myself to be frank – and so, thank you all for your perspective.

    i really wanted jim on board too..
    colour photos..
    sharp, mostly..
    positive bias..
    tangible results from the work..
    was looking forward to seeing where you would find fault..
    ah well.

  • good grief..
    talk the hind legs off a donkey, or what?
    s´only a few snaps, for the love of jesu.

  • hmmn my computer is on mute ………. mute

    (RP): myo�ot, /mju�t/, /mju:t/
    audio|en-us-mute.ogg|Audio (US)
    Rhymes: Rhymes:English:-u�t|-u�t

    Via ME. and OF. from L. mutus.

    moot (in some dialects)


    1. silent|Silent; not making a sound.
    2. (of a person) Not having the power of speech.


    trans-top|silent, not making a sound
    Dutch: stil, gedempt
    Finnish: äänetön, mykkä
    French: muet m, muette f
    Kurdish: mit, kirr, bêdeng, bêpêjn
    Portuguese: mudo
    Russian: немой (nemój) m
    Swedish: tyst
    Spanish: mudo,silencio

    trans-top|not having the power of speech
    Bulgarian: н�м m, н�мa f, н�мo n
    Dutch: stom
    Finnish: mykkä
    German: stumm
    Kurdish: lal
    Russian: немой (nemój) m
    Scottish Gaelic: balbh
    Slovene: nem m, nema f, nemo n
    Spanish: mudo m
    Swedish: stum

    wikipedia|Mute (music)

    1. A person who does not have the power of speech.
    2. An acting part where no speaking (and in opera, no singing) is required.
    3. music An object for dulling the sound of an instrument, especially a brass instrument, or damper for pianoforte; a sordine.
    4. One refusing to speak.
    5. An undertaker’s assistant.
    6. The deadening of an appliance’s or musical instrument’s volume.
    7. In falconry, a mute is a hawk’s or falcon’s droppings.
    8. In wine making, mute, from the French, is the grape juice from pressed grapes kept aside in chilled stainless steel tanks and used at later stages of wine making by adding to the dry wine base to achieve the desired residual sugar level in the final product. (Usually spelled “muté ” in this case and pronounced “mju:te”.)

    trans-top|person unable to speak
    Bulgarian: гл��он�м
    Dutch: stomme m|f
    Finnish: mykkä
    German: Stumme m
    Korean: ��리 (beongEori)
    Kurdish: lal f / m
    Scottish Gaelic: balbhan m, balbhag f
    Spanish: silencio
    Swedish: stum c

    trans-top|silent acting part

    French: sourdine f
    Italian: sordino m, sordina f
    Swedish: sordin c

    trans-top|one refusing to speak

    trans-top|undertaker’s assistant


    trans-top|bird droppings

    trans-top|grape juice


    LATVIAN …………. meaning mouth

  • bu…


  • David, you can certainly witter on, but it’s been fun and insightful. I certainly appreciate the time and thought you have put into everyone who commented or asked a question.



  • David

    “i know about a small illegal party scene in iran, where people are risking their lives in isolated pockets of joy to listen to the sounds they adore.. there is a great festival in the most geographically rare place – a tiny island in the north of norway – this year which i have not seen.. 24 hour sunshine.. wonder what that does to a vibe?”

    Well, you obviously can’t let the balloon go, you’re missing out on some pictures :) What’s the name of that island?

    I’m coming up to “Bergenfest”, a music festival, at the end of april. Haven’t decided how many days yet, but it would be nice to meet you and your family again and do more editing if you’re up for it. Maybe “Daydream station” this time.

    I think you might like some of the music as well, Jaga Jazzist is coming. 270 kroner for a daypass, quite cheap.

  • David, long time ago, threadwise, but you mentioned living on a mountain in Norway and the difference in how people accept the winter. I envy you the opportunity to be there. Knut Hamsun (famous Norwegian author) is one of my favorite writers and I’ve always wanted to go there and walk those same streets, coastlines and forests. If you read fiction, and haven’t read Hamsun, you should consider picking up copies of Hunger, Mysteries and Pan. Especially Pan. I’d love to spend a year there and try to show my feelings for Hamsun’s work with photography.

    Actually, I’m enjoying the winter here very much. Have been out before dawn many days. It’s all a matter of how you dress. Though yes, New York is claustrophobic. You’re in a canyon pretty much everywhere you go. Very challenging light, which may explain why so many photographers live here and so few photograph the city. Is that true? I don’t know, seems like it. But kinda funny, on one hand I talk about honest photography and on the other I tip the scale to make the city seem more claustrophobic, or at least to emphasize that aspect of it. The ethics, the ethics (he whispers, channeling Colonel Kurtz).

  • ooo jagga jazzist.. yes yes..
    here you go bjarte – check this out.

    i do need to read some hamsun – i believe beate has read a number of his books and other friends have pointed me that way.

    it is great – winter here does go so quickly.. still snow..couple of months of snow.. i keep falling over but that´s okay.
    i remember new york being very tigh.. not being able to see more than 500 meters at street level can be a killer over a long time..
    norway has such a modest population that even the cities have more of the feel of a town. oslo is the size of nottingham, where i lived in the u.k… and nottingham is not even considered a town in the uk.
    bergen is half the size..

    anywhere with a pub is considered a town i think :ø)

  • David Bowen

    i wish i could write so freely, as you do here (and Charles and John for that matter) about my own experiences in the music industry. I’ve enjoyed and appreciated reading the dialogue.

    thanks… your perspectives have been a timely reminder of why i’m here and not over there, as i deal
    with the current changes to the Aussie migration system…



  • hi sam.

    as you know.. your portraits are great, to me.
    beth especially is fantastic to me.

    just flicked through a few with beate and she said
    ¨he makes them look like real people rather than celebrities¨
    and i think that´s high praise when most of them are photographed so heavily that getting into the ¨who¨ they are is challenge.


  • DAVID,

    Age and children do mellow one, don’t they? :)

    I had a gig a couple months back doing a feature for a guitar mag (an old old client) on a heavy metal band (Five Finger Death Punch!). It had been a long while since I had been around the rock scene (esp metal – not really my thing). It was all so seedy and extremely unhealthy. The guys in the band were great, really co-operative and got some great pics. And the show itself was a lot of fun. But…. really hard to go there anymore. I did like the check though. :)

    Anyway, I too have read about the underground scene in Iran and would love to explore that. I always thought a great book idea would be a world music book but with a twist – how Western popular music is taken on in cultures where it is so alien.



  • thats the thing charles – electronic music is so cheap and easy to use.. no lyrics means anyone can get the vibe.. it´s great truely.. even if people cannot afford to buy it they download it .. or record it straght to old reel to reel players to base parties around (as in estonia 10 years ago)

    tried to email you – do you have an alternative address, since your website one will not accept from my server.. don´t know why

    i have a story to tell you :ø)

  • iran is closed to music.. yet people cannot resist..

  • DAVID,

    RE: electronic music. That’s exactly what I wrote about b-boying in Cypher. All one needs is some beats and a floor and you are good to go.

    Email via website works fine for me and others..

    Anyway, it’s charlesphoto@speakeasy.net

    For Tor Capa:


    This shit is the bomb. Practically sends Felix into a trance every time I put it on. Plus it’s fun to listen to as an adult.



  • Sam. Always loved that peter o’toole shot of yours.

  • hmm – it´s because i do not live in the same country as the server my site n email is on..
    okay.. will try through hotmail or sommit..
    cheers for music :ø)
    tor capa gets all cuddly over aphex twin.. very odd.
    loves his reggie.. hip hop.. deep house.. so long as not too experimental he digs it..
    will test run tomorrow – thanks.

    felix is dancin ? superb stuff, isn´t it .. so funny

  • David & Beate…


    that’s a great compliment, indeed…

    i think it helped that i came from a music background, bands always seemed to recognise that.
    i was one of them and didn’t treat them as just another product. so i’m happy that comes across…

    Charles – have you ever read ‘where fools rush in’ by Bill Cater ? great book.
    he writes about his time in Sarajevo… mentioning Iran reminded of something he wrote about…

    in order to supply power to a bar/nightclub, one dude took apart his car and rebuilt it in the tiny cellar
    of his club, without the wheels, on bricks. connected the exhaust to an outside pipe and viola! power for
    his illegal night club. people used to risk their lives just to get there.

    music is a universal connector, no doubt, it can bring communities together and empower them.
    the corporate accountants don’t really understand or care about that…

    John – cheers… how someone can remain vertical, almost about to topple forward, defying gravity,
    is an art and O’Toole is a master.

  • I haven’t seen anything else just these three pictures. I don’t know David.
    I don’t understand why these three pictures are on show. Derry is not a war-zone, it’s like most places in the UK, kids getting wasted on the weekends dancing to repetitive electro beats and alleviating the mundane with whatever drugs they can. two photo’s of Irish people with gurning faces and a guy having a cigarette. It seems like an edit made for a somewhat ignorant American audience (using the Irish brand). Who is this marketed for? I’m 29 have been part of the electro scene, but really the scene died long ago before my time even, now it is just a carcass of its former glory, it represents very little, it’s a new generations musak [sic].

    But David you seem to be trying to tell me otherwise, and I look at these images and I don’t believe you because these are the same images that the scene produces, for time out snippets and personal flikr albums, and personal ‘look at Dave being an idiot’ type shots. You don’t seem to be standing back from this work but trying to embrace it and as a result been unable to evaluate it impartially.

    I would like some response from people and a discussion but I think its unlikely, I woulds like people to defend this work so that maybe i can see it differently, but no-one has seriously commented on it I believe.

  • hi nathaniel.

    of course derry is not a war zone – has not been for many years.
    i´m not certain what you see as the irish brand – part of the point of my work is to avoid such cliches..
    it will be a fine day when derry only has problems as common as the problems in other u.k. cities..

    sure – people around the world enjoy the same kind of music – and far from being a carcass electronic music continues to expand, develop, and although it has obviously filtered into the mainstream it is hardly consigned to the past.. that´s like saying heavy metal died with led zep .. rock has represented nothing since the 70´s.

    regardless – my point is that after years of covering electronic music, the scene which is thriving in derry has been one of the most inspiring.. whether you ´believe´ me or not is irrelevant – take what you will from it.
    sorry you find my work commonplace :ø)

    thanks for commenting.

  • nathaniel.

    it has been a couple of hours – a trip into town and some time playing with my son – and i am still a little bemused your post..

    namely – what is it specifically that you ¨do not believe¨ ..

    i no idea of your relationship to the north of ireland, electronic music or places recovering from upheaval – although i assure you there was a great deal of thought on my part before making this contribution to burn.

    please – feel free to engage with me and i´ll do my best to explain further..

  • ¨i have no idea of your relationship¨, i mean to say…

  • David. I think I get what nathaniel is trying to say. I have seen a much larger body of the work, and so understand it more. You created the work and so have a strong connection to the individual shots that resonate for you. Were I looking at this for the first time, and not knowing anything about you or the body it comes from, I too would be saying WTF?
    This line from nathaniel “You don’t seem to be standing back from this work but trying to embrace it and as a result been unable to evaluate it impartially.” I have to say i kind of agree with.
    Its a snippet from a work in progress, but to someone cold to this that may not be obvious. The first two DO look like standard ‘club night out’ snaps, because their place within the bigger narrative of the book edit is NOT KNOWN to most people. I think that may be the issue.


  • hey john.

    in the context here they are standard nightclub shots and are not intended to approach the issue politically.. only to illustrate my perspective of being there in conjunction with some currrent positive news about the place.
    i´m sure in publications they would be swapped out for much more average nightclub shots, if the text were expanded upon..
    with distance.. i have a great deal of distance form the work i shot these days – it´s been a couple of years since the week in week out slog.. this distance has allowed me to consider work like this – much more than having a lack of distance has made me choose these three first.
    in choosing these three i simply saw them as interesting photographs, and have for a long while been able to remove my personal experience, enjoyment and so on from the editing process.

    in a sense i have tried to show photographs which do not look different from anywhere else – i am not trying to contrive a ¨tough¨ story – more i am trying to illustrate in an inclusive manor…

    my main concern is with not being ¨believed¨, and that still bemuses me..

    in any case – will see what nathaniel comes back with..

  • David, I initially shared Nathaniel’s puzzlement with the three posted images. It was only after seeing the essay in toto that I found myself yearning for more. The series is great, and I think the reason you are having difficulty releasing yourself from the project is due to the “releasing” of your style here. The images are raw, free-wheeling and gripping; I’d certainly be interested in knowing what occurred that led to the change in your technique…

    And, from a guy who did his raving in a white suit under a revolving ball of mirrors, I’d like to think your book will be a profound anthropological study for others, thirty years from now.

    A small meat issue – why were only three images posted here on BURN, and why wasn’t the essay posted in its entirety?

  • hi jeff..

    derry is a splinter project which has developed in importance as my own cynicism with the commercial electronic scene, and it´s associated media, has grown.
    i´m also continuing working with promoters in the balkans..

    for context – there is a great, huge, festival in serbia called EXIT.. so named to mark an ¨exit¨ from war.. intentioned to bring young people together and begin to build new levels of understanding across the youth of the region..
    this fascinates me..
    the idea that in derry and serbia music is used as a backdrop to peace.. quite aside from the politicians posturing.. it IS bringing together the children of parents who fought wars to get over over their differences… and i can be much more use publicizing this than going to a trouble zone because of my history and temperament… i am not a music photographer, as such, and never hoped to be..

    this ¨coming together¨ is something i have witnessed first hand.. been a part of in direct ways in both the north of ireland and the balkans.

    as my cynicism with the music press has grown, and as it becomes ever more difficult to gain press for more ethical events who cannot afford substantial advertising in the mags, i have felt much more enabled to show the work i actually care about.. less glossy.. more real. the photos i intend to show more and more are the shots which were never published – would not be – and which would not have won me commissions.. in this sense i now feel free of the shackles of clients..

    rather than show just the dancing ravers, i fully intend to do just as you say and leave a no-shine anthropological statement which also addresses much more than simply the commercial wing of the electronic movement.. try to fit in the whole-hog, from my perspective as a deranged addict of music and people.

    in 1998 the celtronic festival came about because some friends, students at a music collage in derry, spoke to a tutor about what was needed to get the music scene there buzzing.. and he told them to organize a music festival and he told me he was shocked when they actually did it..

    the north of ireland, even in 2004 on my first visit, still had gaping wounds in the music industry following the war – positions to fill in production, distribution and press.

    that´s is worth shouting about.. and also sets it apart from the escapist drug fulled nonesense happening in the u.k.. which i repeatedly had to see.
    derry came into my career as an antidote.

    it is only since leaving the thrashing floor of the music industry to settle back into the gentle familiar folds of the photographic one that i have felt secure enough to begin showing the true nature of what i shot and lived – which was always 15 mins ¨fluff¨ for the magazine / tourist board who funded the trip, and then 3 days ¨RAW¨ for myself.
    in that sense my technique has not change – it´s just i do not have to hide the raw shots anymore :ø)

  • jeff – there is not yet a derry essay in entirety.. the slideshow on my site concerning music is not really a narrative as yet, and is shot around the world..

    in fact – my website is a hangover.. a semi-gloss marketing tool which desperately needs bringing up to date :ø)

  • I’m 29 have been part of the electro scene, but really the scene died long ago before my time even, now it is just a carcass of its former glory, it represents very little, it’s a new generations musak [sic].
    That is probably the most important point made here and highlights the danger in doing a long term project and relying on the initial intent. It becomes a thing ahh great stuff that’s what my uncle used to do unless on changes the goal posts

  • well, that would be the case were it true imants – yet i think the statement is more subjective opinion that objective truth – and the parties and record sales testify to something quite different,.

    there is no danger with long term projects – i would have happily documented the demise of the music, had that been the case.. as it is it became overtly commercial in the u.k., but to believe that is the whole story is somewhat narrow..
    i don’t think nathaniels statement is from a perspective of any real knowledge about the scene or the development of popular music, period, over time.

    regardless.. in a long term project is it up to me to decide how the subject is progressing, or does the subject dictate to a degree it’s own path?
    no fear.. no problem..

  • besides which – my initial intent was quite fluid, and had developed along with the music.. it’s not like i am trying to say that punk is still alive and well as a world-wide force, because it is not.

    it is not for me to convince anyone – minimal research and reading about popular music will bear fruit and i’m not really concerned with discussing whether the scene is dead or not – because i know better.
    it’s a non-starter… if the scene had died i would have been able to photograph it dieing
    again – no problem for me..

  • IMANTS@”probably the most important point made here and highlights the danger in doing a long term project and relying on the initial intent.”———–which is why The Pictures themselves have to be strong enough to stand alone, without reference to the events they document if need be. When pictures can do this they become ‘independent’ of the events they contain. A strong image of the horrors of war is universal in its message, and the power within its frame. It is not relevent only to the theatre in which it was taken.
    I believe all categories of picture can fulfill this. A great music shot will always be a great shot, long after the trend has passed, or the musician has died, because it speaks of bigger things than just ‘so and so on stage at the forum in feb 1972’.

  • it’s a good point john.. well put..
    i’d add that war did not die out with the birth of mechanized killing.. machine guns..
    it evolved and the photographing of it evolved..
    mathew brady, and his first ever capture of actual combat, is just as relevant as mcullen during tet

  • David I wasn’t referring specifically to any work here, there or anywhere in particular. Just pointing out that some subjects are closely aligned to trends/fashion etc music photography being one of them and exposes itself to be dated by a pretty fickle audience.

    Of course good stuff transcends time.

  • that’s very true.. hope to sell the book to fans of photography much more than fans of the scene..
    or rather – i hope to sell the book.. full stop.

    photographically one of the things i love is details which become dated..
    the outmoded milk carton from the 1980’s in the kitchen of nick wapplingtons ‘living room’..

  • now it is just a carcass of its former glory, it represents very little, it’s a new generations musak [sic].

    That is probably the most important point made here and highlights the danger in doing a long term project… It becomes a thing ahh great stuff that’s what my uncle used to do unless on changes the goal posts

    To my mind, a work depicting the carcass of a scene holds just as much artistic possibility as images of a scene at the height of it’s “glory.” Just as photographs of anonymous people can be just as interesting, or more so, than those of Hollywood stars. I agree with John about the necessity of great images standing outside the context of their time, but would add that I think they are much more likely to achieve that if there is a significant artistic vision involved at the time of capture.

  • nathaniel did start a discussion, which is lacking without his input now..

  • Good Job. Looking forward to seeing more. A collection of photographs of people from an era or period can only grow in cultural value as time goes on… if you know what i mean.

  • Hi Dave,

    Hopefully this is one of many posts in the future.

    Being someone from Derry that was very much a part of the scene since 1996 when oldschool techno was at the forefront, I’ve seen some dramatic changes, not just musically, but atmospherically.
    The techno venue in question was burnt out by paramilitaries 20ft in front of a police station, they felt that by destroying the only release for young people they would serve justice for the community.

    In the midst of all this DeepFriedFunk began, crazy!
    But the city needed it, it’s loyalty to staying well underground and commercially hidden was initially/probably the effect of the overall feeling being felt at the time. This ambiguity helped it maintain it’s lastibility, even now as we enter a new era of dissident paramilitaries playing good cop bad cop again.

    The story needed to be told, not through the lens of a local, but someone with a fresh perspective.

    Nathaniel wrote “Derry is not a war-zone, it’s like most places in the UK, kids getting wasted on the weekends dancing to repetitive electro beats and alleviating the mundane with whatever drugs they can.”

    Does there need to be a certain level of violence before it amounts to a war-zone?
    It’s true people are getting wasted, but the beats are as diverse as the ages, the “kids” are starting their own events, keeping up the momentum, giving birth to new electronic playgrounds for the drum & bassers and the dubsteppers of now.

    It’s not like most places in the UK, I’m now living in Liverpool photographing for Chibuku, inspired by what Dave has done for Derry, I find it impossible to see a remotely similar party.
    It’s a different world.

    The image of the guy smoking is one of my favourites, the part of the night no one seems to document, and for me, the core of the reason I loved my nights in Derry.


  • hey emmett

    thanks for your perspective..
    you know – i don´t think people will understand how different derry is as a place to enjoy music until they actually go there..

    utterly inspiring.

    hope to see you there later in the year..




    FANTASTIC stuff.. well deserved and congratulations to DFF and the other cultural champions who have turned the place round.. european money on it’s way :ø)

  • I think this body of work is finished.. Pending an edit from my visit there this month..
    I missed the plane away from beautiful Doire.. It went well..
    There will be another visit soon..

  • good job David B!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    anxiously waiting to see edit ;)


    hey dude, nice to see you here again….i am so far behind i have no idea how we got here, but assuming you are DONE….great…anxious to talk to you…skype??

    cheers, david

  • Always count on harvey and panos to be watching..
    Yes – i think it’s done ..
    Next year Derry has been awarded ‘city of culture’ status, which is an accolade that comes with some much needed funding for redevelopment and the arts.. For a city with up to 85% unemployment in parts it is well needed.. Politics aside.

    Hopefully I’ll be able to contribute to the celebration of culture with a wee edit of the derryweens of Doire blending as all good folk surely do.. A bipartisan effort.. Full stop.

    That’s the point, anyway.
    Not photojournalism – photography.
    I have time for one more visit this year, if needs be.


    I still love burn – look at the photos and all.. Time is tight again though.. And I’ve sunk into my happy reclusive habit as I needed to. S’all I really care about – peace of mind and practise..
    So.. Skype would be wonderful with Mr. H or Mr. P. – if it’s On I’m here :)

    I’m in the glorious position again of having too much editing backed up .. And having clients excited..
    Dockers. Derryweens. My wasted 10 years. A proposed trip north to show that the Sami people only where traditional clothes I national geographic.. :)

  • This is really rotten news
    Shite news.
    Fears for friends working to let time work it’s magic rather than violence..

Leave a Reply

You must login to post a comment.