Brian Stewart Photographs at The Gods in Canberra

Brian Stewart is exhibiting prints of his extempore Issue 5 featured photos in Canberra until 15 December.

I turned up at my first concert at The Gods in late 2007 fresh back from shooting jazz in Paris, and was knocked over by the quality of lighting, compared to what I had been used to. I was annoyed at leaving my camera at home—not a mistake that I repeated.

Both the photography at The Gods and the friendship with Geoff Page simply developed from there. I enjoy combining two of my loves—jazz and photography—and have been encouraged as I learned how to get the best results out of the venue’s lighting in my photographs.

The best thing about the room is the audience. It’s a listening audience that understands and appreciates jazz. The downside is that some of the best images appear in my viewfinder during the quietest passages of music. The audience is so quiet that you could hear the proverbial pin drop, and big, black cameras have big, loud shutters. I shoot very little at such times—and forgo some of the better images.

This sort of photography requires me to be almost deaf to the music as I try and anticipate just the right moment for an action shot that captures the mood. I try to shoot for only part of the gig, so that I can also enjoy the music and so that the band doesn’t feel like they’re in the firing line all the time.

I use black and white more or less exclusively for jazz. It just looks right.