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Through the Lens: Benji Wilson

This month, we caught up with one of Exposed’s most reliable live music snappers, Benji Wilson (@jamburrito1)


First of all, could you introduce yourself to the Exposed readership?

Hi! My real name is Benji Wilson, but I go by Jamburrito for my photography (don’t ask!).

I’ve lived in Sheffield for around eight years now and have been documenting the local music scene here since we were allowed gigs again after the pandemic. 

I primarily shoot live music, but I also do promo shoots and music videos. I’m a musician as well, currently playing in Drastic/Automatic, and have played in the past with Saintes and Django Jones and the Mystery Men.

Juliana Day by Benji Wilson

Juliana Day by @Jamburrito1

How did you develop an interest in photography? 

I was given a Pentax Super ME, 35mm film camera for Christmas during the pandemic and quite quickly fell in love with shooting in analogue format. I think it’s a good introduction to photography for a beginner because there is no ‘auto’ mode to lean on. It forces you to learn the fundamentals of exposure and because you only have 36 shots on a roll that you’re paying for, you end up thinking a lot more about composition. 

When I first started shooting gigs on film, I realised how difficult the low light conditions are and had to rely on a bunch of experimental techniques to increase the amount of light I could get onto the film, primarily multiple exposures, which is somewhat a staple in my photography. I tend to shoot on digital mostly now due to the cost of film, but I emulate the style of film where I can and jump at the chance to use analogue formats if the budget is there.

I try my best to capture a feeling and an aesthetic for a show rather than the traditional band photo style. I like to incorporate long exposures, motion blur, light trails and, of course, multiple exposures. I’m in no way the first person or the only person to use these techniques, but it does create unexpected and unique images which are different to the majority of music photography you see.

You cover a lot of local music events and artists. What do you enjoy most about live photography? 

First and foremost, I love live music and enjoy being in that environment regardless of if I’m taking photos or not.

Live music photography is quite a free art form in my view. There isn’t really an expectation and most musicians appreciate the more weird and wacky photos I create, especially in the social media age where standing out from the crowd is the only way to get noticed.

The lighting conditions also give you endless opportunities to play with and each venue is different, which can be challenging, but I find the most conventionally difficult conditions often produce the best photos because you are forced to be creative to get something cool.

Mickey Nominono

Mickey Nominono by @Jamburrito1

Who on the Sheffield music scene do you particularly enjoy shooting? 

Difficult to choose! The first band I took photos of were Femur at a socially distanced show in 2021 and I’ve done a bunch of their gigs since, as well as a promo shoot and a music video which is out now. Their aesthetic matches mine well and they move around a lot, so there’s a lot to work with.

Another artist I’ve worked with several times who is always a joy is Mickey Nomimono. We’ve done a couple of music videos and a bunch of live and promo shoots together and he has a confidence in front of the camera that not many people can match.

Do you have a favourite shot to date?

My favourite shot is usually the last thing I’ve done. I’m not sure I could pick one specific shot and if I did it’d be different tomorrow.

Duvet by Benji Wilson

Duvet by @Jamburrito1

Do you have a dream artist or gig to shoot? 

I don’t really care much for big shows; I like the intimate nature of grassroots venues and local musicians. That being said, I’d love to shoot King Gizzard.

Do you think they’d ever play in the basement at Sidney and Matilda?

What advice would you give to aspiring photographers who are looking to refine their craft and find their own style?

Don’t worry about gear too much. Learn to use what you have, then work upwards from that. Buying a £1,000 camera won’t make you a good photographer. I used a £70 camera for the first year after getting into photography and I still use it on a regular basis.

Also, challenge yourself as much as possible. You’ll learn so much faster and also probably create something much more interesting if you put yourself in difficult conditions. Don’t be afraid to fail and give yourself space to be creative.

Femur

Photography: Benji Wilson @jamburrito1

Finally, don’t be precious about your work or jealous of other creatives. Make what you want to make and be consistent. Not everybody has to like what you do – just you.

See more of Benji’s work at @jamburrito1




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