I think I’ve always had a real interest in photography. I remember the first time I tried it out I burnt a 24 exposure roll in half an hour at a local event in Italy. Since then I’ve always taken photos of family and friends, but it’s only in the last four or five years I’ve started taking it more seriously, and now I never leave the flat without a camera. It’s just something that’s always with me and I take photos every day - not because I have to, but because it’s just what I do.
I came to OTO in late 2008, but the first photo I can find that I took here was taken in March 2009. It was my first time seeing Otomo Yoshihide and he played guitar and some turntable. When Otomo plays guitar it's more intense than the records, but on the records I prefer him on the turntables or as a leader of projects. Except the guitar solo records, those are great. That night there was a relatively small crowd - the average back then was about 40, 30 people - and I remember there being a leak on the right hand side under the column. By late 2009 I had started taking photos a bit more seriously. When I started getting new equipment I decided to switch to just black and white - partly because of my aesthetic preferences, and partly because of the venue’s idiosyncrasies. You would get much better results in black and white as there is so little light... but actually having said that, even outside of the venue 98% of my photos are black and white.
In general my favourite photographer is Lee Friedlander, an art photographer who started taking photos of the New Orleans jazz scene and went on to be the Atlantic Records house photographer. He took all those important (and now iconic) photos of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman. ‘American Musicians’ is maybe 300 pages of all his musician photos. He took lots of photos of soul and gospel which are really good technically as well as artistically. They were shot for album artwork so they were in a studio setting - and in colour so were quite different - but he's still a favourite. Other than that there aren't any specific names, but I look at a lot of images online and on record covers. In some ways there isn’t much of a difference between live event photography and my other 'street' work - compositionally they're still the same and you're still choosing the right moment - but then the look of the final image is very different if you look at my photos of Cafe OTO versus the photos that I see in photobooks or exhibitions.
I take photos at gigs mostly for the music: as a documentation for the future and to communicate what kind of music I like. I also do it to remember the concert in my own way - in 10 years time, in 50 years time - to be able to remember the feeling of that moment. That’s a very personal reason. There’s also a technical aspect: it's challenging and fun to work with the constraints of live music.
Mostly I take photographs because they’re important for me. As a person music is one of the main activities that I like to spend my time on. If you ask me who I am music is not the full answer but it’s a good start. It’s a way of talking about what I’ve seen and what kind of thoughts and ideas are triggered when I’m watching it. You know, why did I take a photo of John Edwards smiling at Steve Noble? Because I thought that was an important photo. And it's similar with editing and choosing which ones to keep. Whats important for me is to present how it felt to be there as part of the audience at that gig, while at the same time only showing photos that are worth showing. They don't have to be technically perfect, but I try not to duplicate something that is already conveyed by another photo. I’m happy to publish a technically bad photo if it helps tell the story.
View Fabio's favourites from his collection below, and his website here.