For those familiar with concert photography, '3 songs, no flash' is the standard rule for all photographers at gigs. It might seem like such a short time, but it is within that stipulated time that we have seen some of the best concert photography around. In this series, we put the 'flash' on these ladies and gentlemen behind the lenses.
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A familiar face at gigs, you'll either see Nor Asyraf in a black t-shirt behind his camera, or attending the gig as an avid music fan. Juggling his studies with photography, Asyraf has contributed greatly to Bandwagon photo galleries. He has also contributed greatly to our growing appetites with the cupcakes, tarts, and assorted bakes he makes quite regularly...
Tell us more about yourself.
Hey friends, my name is Nor Asyraf. I’m majoring in Information Technology at Republic Polytechnic. I shoot mostly live concerts and gigs, and sometimes portraiture.
How did you start out in photography?
My interest in photography started back when I was 19. I had a school project about “Saving The Environment” back in ITE and I had to take photos as part of the assignment. I was issued a Sony camera and that was my first time holding a DSLR. Oh yeah, I still remember that my ITE teacher criticized my photos and said that they were really bad. At that point of time, I thought photography wasn’t my forte.
I’m a huge music fan and I was always attending gigs back then. From then on, I began to take photos of live music shows and kept on snapping any chance I could. My biggest break was when I was given the first offer to shoot for Singapore Idol back in 2009 after a MediaCorp staff saw photos I took of the TV show, “Live ‘n’ Loaded”. I never really had a moment where I was like "I am going to become a photographer." I just wanted to have fun.
Has your style progressed from when you first started?
I believe that my style definitely had progressed over the years. I feel that there is always room for improvement, if you keep on practicing what you love to do.
What do you look for when you are taking pictures, and how do you keep your focus in high energy environments?
I love when musicians or bands interact with the audience! Those are the crucial moments where you can really capture the energy of the crowd.
What kind of gigs do you prefer to shoot for and why?
I don’t have any preference! I shoot any gig as long as I’m given the opportunity.
What are some pet peeves you have about shooting?
1. People using my photographs without permission.
2. The lack of credit to the photographer who took the picture.
3. Claiming that their images are theirs.
Most exciting gig up to date?
CHIODOS! The music and the band’s stage presence were amazing. They put on a spectacle during their show. After 13 years of playing shows, the band really knows how to keep a crowd entertained.
Most toughest gig?
August Burns Red back in 2012. I remember that there’s someone’s leg resting on my shoulder as I was shooting. The photo pit was really small and I was really concerned about my camera not hitting someone by accident. It was pretty hectic!
What haven’t you ventured into that you’d like to try out?
I would love to do sports photography. I’m a soccer fan myself so I would love to give it a try!
What do you do to keep yourself inspired?
I always look at other photographers’ work by browsing images on Flickr or 500px. There are tons of talented photographers on Instagram so I do follow them to keep myself inspired.
Do you have a lot of down time - and what do you do in your free time?
I usually play soccer with my friends on the weekends, since that is the only collective free time we have together. Plus, that is my only time I can try to maintain my fitness. Sometimes if I happen to not have anything to do, I’d be hanging out at some random café, sipping coffee. Gotta have my caffeine!
Ahh yes! I like to bake too, mostly fruit tarts or profiteroles! My family has a catering business and I learnt a lot from my aunty especially. If you guys want some bakes, just hit me up!
Go to Gear
Canon 5D2, 24-70mm, 16-35mm and 70-200mm
3 Useful Traits To Have As A Photographer
1. Don’t stop learning, you always learn something new every day.
2. Be humble, remember your roots. If you think that you’re really good, someone is even better then you.
3. Lastly for me personally, being genuine and doing it for the right reasons has worked for me
There’s one point in time when I wasn’t inspired to do photography anymore. Sometimes what isn’t intended turns out to be the best stuff, which can be both awesome, yet sometimes, awfully frustrating. When you have a duration of only three songs to capture the best images you can for a concert, you only have what you’re working with. Sometimes my inhibitions, and also my fear to not get in the way of somebody’s performance, has made me miss some potential great shots.
1.Start local, shoot manual, and don’t give up. You’re your own worst critic.
2. Enjoy yourself. Take every opportunity you can and don’t be afraid to ask.
3. Share something small every day. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if it’s on your Facebook page or Twitter. Share your story and tell people about the photograph you’ve taken. Getting noticed will not happen overnight, it’ll take time but if you stick to this daily routine, you will be on your way.
Advice for the industry
Yeah I guess you need to be very hard working, ambitious, consistent, and good at what you do. I got lots of advice in the beginning but deep down I had to figure it out as I went along. Experience is the best way to learn. Talk to other photographers though, shoot tons of stuff and network! I feel like I’m not qualified enough to be offering advice though. I feel I’m still at the beginning of what I love to do, but anyone else wanting to get into music photography – go for it!
Currently no side projects but I’m currently learning how to shoot portraits.
3 Pictures You Are Proud Of
Ellie Goulding: Feb 26, 2013
I’ve always been a fan of Ellie and this was her very first show in Singapore. There have been several significant moments for me personally but I guess the biggest and my most known to others is when I watch one of my favourite female artist. It’s very surreal.
Ferry Corsten: December 13, 2013
I’ve never been exposed to night photography and it’s absolutely beyond my comfort zone. I was given the opportunity to shoot my first Zoukout in 2013 under the mentorship of Afiq Omar & Ungku Ibrahim. This is one of my personal favourite.
Taking Back Sunday: March 2, 2014
This one of the hardest gigs to shoot because the lighting was a real challenge but it’s rewarding to shoot one of favourite bands you’ve been listening for years.