Melody J. Myers
Making Noise 010: Marieke Macklon
Hi Marieke! Thank you so much for taking the time out to answer my questions, how are you?
Hi Melody! Thanks for interviewing me!
I’m doing great! Despite the situation, I try to keep as positive as I can be and keep my creative mind afloat as much as possible!
How did you know you wanted to work in music? How did you start?
Ever since I was a wee lass, I was influenced heavily by music in my family.
My dad introduced me to the likes of Queen, Bee Gees, Eagles, The Beatles, Dire Straits, Led Zeppelin, the lot! When I was about 10-11 I dove into more of the music visuals such as music videos and photos. We had 3 video tapes of Queen’s music videos of their Greatest Hits and once I viewed that and watched the Live Aid show, I knew I wanted to work in the music industry. I was completely emerged with the visuals, the story telling, alas of course the music!
Within that same timeline, I fell in love with music photography from the 60’s and 70s and fell in love with photographer’s work such as Mick Rock, Linda McCartney, Alec Byrne, David Bailey and Danny Clifford. I loved their how-they-started story and how they captured their subjects so candidly, with the use of natural light and their studio work, plus their subjects were usually the music legends, such as the likes of David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and The Who!
Not a bad clientele!
By the age of 12, I started by using cameras we had lying around in the house and my dad kindly gifted me his Olympus om-10, which he got gifted from my nan in the late 70s.
I started shooting on that as well a little digital camera and photographed anything and everything that I came across daily, such as friends, family, the cityscape, nature etc. I learned the ropes and getting a good grip on how lighting and all of that jazz worked and became confident with my compositions and lighting knowledge and skills.
When and how did you first start getting into music photography?
By the age of 14, I purchased my first DSLR camera which was a Sony a300. I started photographing local bands promo photos and I captured my first paid photo gig and other local gigs around the city I grew up in as a teenager. There were a few local bands, where I grew up, so I made sure that when they had a gig, I was there with my camera, ready to shoot.
I’m incredibly grateful to my parents, who always dropped me off and picked me up after every gig I went too, until I was at an age that was safe for me to travel alone and legally allowed to be at a gig by myself.
From the age of 15-16, I upgraded my camera and lens to a Nikon D300s, a couple of lenses and a flashgun and started photographing bigger shows, local festivals etc.
When I turned 17 and finished school, which is a decade ago now, I moved to Brighton to pursue my love for music photography and to emerge myself directly in the music scene, by living with music students, attending gigs upon gigs upon gigs, showcasing and networking till the cows come home!
What is your current go to equipment?
My current go-to cameras are my Canon 5D Mark III and IV, my go-to medium format camera, Bronica SQ-B, and my go-to lens at the moment and has been for many years, is my 24-70mm f/2.8 L II USM lens.
Who was one of the first bands or artists you photographed?
My first official paid photo gig was of the band All Time Low at the Melkweg in Amsterdam in 2009.
What drives your determination and ambition when it comes to your creativity when taking photos?
What keeps me determined and ambitious when creating images, is to see how excited my clients are when they see the results and hearing how they enjoyed working with me and keep hiring me. That makes me love my job even more.
What also keeps me even more determined is that I want to do my best every time for my clients. I really appreciate and I am so thankful to my clientele for wanting to work with me and trust in me to capture their visual and idea. It’s so important to me to listen to each other suggestions and ideas, understanding each-others visions and plans and to be working together on creating amazing visuals. That shows to me that I’ve worked hard to get where I am now and I’ve grown a lot in my work and as an independent self-taught freelance photographer.
What do you think makes a good music photographer?
I personally think, what makes a good music photographer, is firstly, you gotta dig music! Haha! But on a more serious note, love what you do and enjoy meeting new bands and clients! Specially to understand and work with your client’s visions and to aim for the outcome be even better than they had in mind! Show your enthusiasm and confidence in your ideas. Also in order to have great photos is to know and understand how to work with all types of lighting situations such as on stage, indoors, outdoors, in a photo studio etc. What also makes a good music photographer, and just a good photographer in general, is also to be open to face difficulties, to make mistakes and learn from them and not to be afraid to ask questions and advice, handle criticism and take feedback on board, no matter how long you’ve been photographing for. Be proud of your work and never stop learning and growing. That makes a good music photographer.
Is there a particular moment in that you are especially proud of when it comes to music photography?
Certainly, there a couple actually, but one of my proudest moments is when Green Man Festival asked me to lead their photo team. I felt so ecstatic, still till this day. I am so grateful for Fiona, Adam and the Green Man Team for trusting in me. For a, then 24-year-old, especially a young woman, to lead a team of incredibly talented photographers, I felt incredibly proud.
What do you hope to portray in your photographs?
I personally like to shoot in a style that is influenced by the 60s and 70s, so I aim to portray my photos as if they were taken in a different decade. I like to use household items, that were used a lot in the 70s, to create texture and different lighting effects such as using different UV coloured filters, skin coloured tights and or Vaseline placed around or on the lens, coloured gel sheets, etc. to create a more authentic look and not over processed in lightroom or photoshop. I prefer to manually create effects, like they did before editing programs were created, and all the post editing was done in a dark room.
Do you feel like as time goes on there’s a bigger female music photographer presences?
Slowly, but surely, yes! When I Started in ’09 in The Netherlands, I was the only female, well technically a girl, back then, photographing a in pit filled with male photographers. I’ve definitely noticed the change and I absolutely LOVE it! More female photographers the better!
I look forward to the day to see a pit filled with a majority of female photographers!
Besides photography you also do videography, direct and edit videos! How did you get into working with video and creating music videos?
I do yes! Ive always loved the thought of growing my skills, beyond photography and editing, so I started filming live shows and then my dear friend and just beyond this world talented artist Litany, told me she was looking to film her music video for her song ‘Single Player Mode’ and was looking for music directors! I told her I was interested and we discussed her and my idea for the song and she took me on! Which was in 2019. Since then I have directed 2 more music videos and more to come this year!
You’ve been working with the Green Man Photo Team since 2018, how did that come into fruition?
I was asked to be part of the photo team in 2015 by the then photo team leader, after that year, I was invited back as a guest and was allowed to photograph the festival on my own terms!
Within those two years I build a closer work relationship with the Green Man Team and becoming good friends with them! I then was asked by Adam (Marketing Manager) to pitch for the Green Man Photo team leader roll and so I did, and then got offered the roll! Since then Adam and I have been teaming up every year to discuss and organize the photo brief, team and schedule! Besides my main job as a photographer/videographer, working with Green Man is certainly a dream job!
You’re directing your very first film called “Cairngorms," can you tell us a little bit more about it?
Yes, I am! I’m so excited for this new project! I am brand new to scrip writing and film making, however I am incredibly passionate for this short film and the story behind it and I can’t wait to get into the nitty and gritty of film making!
So “Cairngorms” is about how people cope with loss in various ways and that each way of coping with grief is nothing to be ashamed for. The film is about two friends who lost a mutual friend, and both are grieving in two completely different ways. And basically, the story follows those two, who come together after many years of being apart to discover and find out answers about each other. This all will be taking place in the Cairngorms National Park, in Scotland.
The reason why I chose this location and named the film after it, is because I spent most of summers and winter holidays there and technically grew up there.
We have a family home there and I always feel peaceful and relaxed, when I’m there.
It’s a place where you can fully be at peace and put your mind at rest and it this place has something magical about it. The quietness, yet the grand exterior of the mountains, it’s utterly beautiful over there. Visually this would also be so suitable and perfect to capture the short film and the emotions behind it.
Which photographers, and directors inspire you the most?
Photographers, mainly Linda McCartney, and my friends Danny Clifford and Tom Leishman.
Especially Tom, besides being an incredibly talented photographer, he directs stunning visual music videos and photoshoots. His portfolio of clients is absolutely wonderful and I highly recommend looking into his work. I have been following his work since I started and to see his talent grow and grow is rather fantastic. Also, he’s the nicest guy! A great friend to have!
I love Elaine Constantine’s work! She is a BAFTA nominated writer/director and photographer and I especially love her movie ‘Northern Soul’ – the script is beautifully written, plus the visuals and the cast are just sublime! Elaine is also globally known for her colourful and upbeat fashion imagery of confident young women, which I think is amazing. I love seeing women successfully thrive into a male dominated industry.
How did you find your style when it comes to taking photos?
By looking at how photos were taken in the 60s and 70s and apply with what I’ve seen, into my own line of work, but all whilst learning and adapting new ways to make my work stand out and become better and better each time.
What do you think is the most difficult thing about being a music photographer?
Not sure when you’re not job is and it’s a highly competitive industry, so to constantly bring your A-game and to come up with innovative and unique ideas can be tough!
Since becoming a photographer has your appreciation for music changed at all?
I have always appreciated music and understood what it takes and costs to create music and to keep a band going creatively and financially, but my appreciation has certainly grown more than ever! Especially independent artists. It’s not an easy business to be in, so I appreciate everyone who works in the industry, from independent or signed artists, songwriters to producers, sound tech to stage managers, to hair and make-up artists to tour bus drivers etc. They all deserve to be appreciated for their hard work!
At what point did you know that you wanted to make a career out of music photography?
From the moment, I saw Queen (the band) on TV and when I went to see Bruce Springsteen for my 14th birthday and that was an extra confirmation, that being part of the music industry and to capture stage performances is what I wanted to do!
Since music is a male dominated industry, do you believe that it was harder for you to break into the music industry?
In a way, yes, I did notice I was sometimes treated somewhat different, in the way they spoke to me or expecting I wouldn’t know a thing about photography, but that only made me work harder and I used their negative mindset in a positive way to push myself forward to beat those stereotypical opinions and to show girls and women, that we can make it in this industry as much as the other person! Just put your best foot forward and work towards your goals.
If you could give advice to someone who wants to be a music photographer, what would it be?
Try and not compare yourself to other photographers, who might have been in this industry longer than you. You don’t need to spend so much $$$/£££ on camera equipment immediately. You can still take fab photos with less expensive gear. It’s how you shoot is what makes you a good photographer. And also keep on photographing. The more you photograph, the sooner and the better you get a grasp on the skill, become a better photographer and you can start offering your services! Also, it’s important to know that you’re always learning. Don’t expect to know everything about this craft at once! I’ve been doing it for over 10+ years and I am still learning till this day. Keep building your portfolio, discover your style and stay connected with people within the same business.
If you could give me a recommendation on who to interview next for Making Noise, who would it be?
Oh I have so many! But I would highly recommend either my darling Kirsty McLachlan @kirstymclachlan (hired her to be part of my Green Man team), she’s an incredibly talented music and portrait photographer from Scotland and is now based in London, her style is so eclectic and dreamy; and I would recommend Em, (@emilymarcovecchio) who is a music and portrait photographer based in Cornwall, founder of ‘Noisy Women’ Podcast and is a brand new presenter for @old.bakery.studios and a fab content maker!
The biggest thank you to Marieke for taking part in Making Noise! She can be found on Instagram and Twitter at @mariekemacklon and on her website. She's head photographer for Green Man, and she also owns Creative Street Studio - check them out!