James Marcus Haney
There’s too many different things to list here that are painfully missed due the cultural abstinence forced on us by the pandemic - but one thing we probably can all agree on is that being able to go out and experience music is ranking fairly high on particular agenda.
Being with people to celebrate this tactile experience set within this consciously created alternate reality, the transformative power, immersion and sensory overload of it all. It might take a lot longer than anyone could’ve ever predicted until kindred spirits are allowed to come together again, but luckily James Marcus Haney’s “Fanatics“ arrived to offer some much-needed solace. Shot between 2010 and 2020, the first book of the LA-based filmmaker and photographer is a tribute to live music, not necessarily to the bands and DJs, but to the fans and human exchange he captured while he was joining tours, shows and festivals around the globe - a visual love letter to the spirit and euphoria of witnessing live music. Lodown reached out to JMH in late Feb to learn more about this project.
“ I got into shooting live music in a very backwards way. I made fake press passes and used a camera as a prop as a means of getting into shows to see my favorite bands play. Since I was there and had a camera and loved shooting, I ended up shooting my favorite bands, too.
I eventually put together a little short film that included footage of sneaking into shows alongside the performances themselves, and handed a DVD of that film to a roadie of one of the bands I loved. They ended up inviting me on tour on a vintage train across the country and I dropped out of film school to go. Many tours and a living of filming and photographing music ensued.
The approach obviously is closely connected to the subject matter. If it’s documentary photography, it can be naturally very exploratory. For produced shoots, like portraiture or commercial work, there are concrete ideas on what we are aiming to achieve, yet I love to leave extra room in the shoot schedule to explore spontaneity.
Oftentimes it’s those unscripted, side moments that end up making the hero shot. There are photos that turned out completely not how I intended, and for the better. We can call them happy accidents... or we can chalk it up to being in the right place, pointing the lens in the right direction, and squeezing the shutter at the right time. While, yes, it is indeed luck, it is you that put yourself in that position to be lucky enough to capture that moment. Hell, if I think about it that way - all my photos are happy accidents, I guess. "
"I’m still a massive music fan myself. Even though there aren’t any photos of me in the book, it feels slightly autobiographical in a way. That’s one of the most beautiful parts of live music - we are all experiencing the same communal thing, yet in our own personal ways. Since I love live music so damn much, this was a very easy subject to photograph.
I usually try to capture the unbroken moment before engaging the subject(s). After I have the photograph, I’ll linger a little, maybe take another few shots, and let the subjects become aware I am shooting."
"I had the great pleasure of touring and documenting Elton John for a year and a half. It was an incredible experience, I learned so much from it and from him - in music, in photography... he has one of the biggest collections of photography in the world, so naturally I was in heaven when rummaging through his archives.
Well, as far as silver linings go, the pandemic did open up enough time to finish this book, so that was a blessing! 2021 is definitely feeling more exciting than 2020, although not fast enough. One thing I’m very excited about is a band that I started managing. They’re called Le Shiv and they’re so damn good. Keep your ears tuned for their first EP coming out this summer. You shall not regret.“
Fanatics / 224 pages / forward by Sir Elton John / stories by Beck, The Strokes, Metallica and others