Lately we've spotted Kurt at a number of shows clutching a camera and taking shots of everyone from Nun to Beaches, to Constant Mongrel and Orion. It turns out that his shots are good too. Kurt moves beyond shoving a camera in front of a band and clicking 40 times. He is instead able to capture both the energy and minutiae of a live show. That space between a song ending and a slow clap, or the glance of band mates just before counting off a new song.
Check some of his work and below read a short interview we recently did with him.
Noisey: What came first; guitar or camera?
Kurt Eckardt: Guitar for sure, I picked that up when I was about 12, learning a slew of Gunners and Nirvana songs because early 90s. I got my first camera in about 98 and broke it within six-months. I didn't pick up another film camera until the end of last year and now can't seem to put it down.
Are there any Melbourne bands you prefer shooting?
Nun are not only one of my favourite bands music wise, but they're definitely my favourite to shoot. Jenny Branagan is probably the greatest singer or performer that I've had a chance to shoot. Seriously one of the best bands ever. The way that Jenny moves about the stage makes it enjoyable for me and kind of easy, and with heaps of stationary members too there's always something to snap and someone to frame a photo with.
Are there any of the photos that you like in particular?
There are a few photos here of Synthetics that I really like, largely because of the memories associated with them. A friend was moving overseas and put a house show on as a farewell. Heat Wave made it our first show but my wrist was busted by a car running into me on my bike, so I couldn't play bass - we just kind of did Heat Wave karaoke and it was fun.
It was freezing cold and in the shed of a share house in Preston - the line up was amazing, and was full of bands that I should've seen before but for whatever reason hadn't including Hi Tec Emotions, Tangrams and Synthetics.
There were cool dogs, a BBQ, a hills hoist and some of the coolest sounds I'd ever heard. It was near impossible to take a decent photo but I gave it a shot. I particularly like the one of Ema singing. Good times.
Do you try and chat or introduce yourself to people you are shooting?
I'll sometimes let people know beforehand, or after, but a lot of the time it's not super easy. Also with film and waiting for processing I never know if the shots have worked out or not for up to a week afterward (they usually do but things can go wrong), so I don't like to promise anything just in case!
I'll usually get in touch with bands after I get the shots back with a link to download the photos for themselves, but I don't always get around to it unless there are a lot of good ones. I'll often upload them to Facebook and tag them at least.
I have made a friend or two through being more up front though, so I should make more of a habit of it. To be honest I can be a bit shy til I have a beer or two.
Have you shot larger festivals? Do you prefer the intimacy of small shows?
I haven't really done many big events or festivals (I did shoot lots at Sonic Masala Fest in Brisbane in August, but it's pretty low key). The first live band shoot that I did was only at the end of January this year so I haven't really gotten there yet but I'd like to. I do like the intimacy though - I'll often wait for what feels like the right time and actually almost approach the subject really quickly, take a snap and scurry away - I don't want to interfere with the performance or get in anyone's way, but my favourite photos are usually from super close and capture the movement. That's going to be harder at bigger festivals.
Do you have a favourite music photographer?
Definitely Jack Mannix. Not all of the photos are music related, but are all beautiful. The ones of bands, like all of the portraits, seem to say so much more than you'd expect. The framing, lighting, exposure - everything is always spot on.