Part 5: Mia Mala McDonald

Mia Mala McDonald is one of our favourite music/portrait photographers in Australia. She's had work in the New York Times, Dazed & Confused, Dumbo Feather and VICE (duh) as well as a bunch of really great solo exhibitions. Mia works with a clear-eyed...

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Oct 10 2012, 1:07am

Mia Mala McDonald is one of our favourite music/portrait photographers in Australia. She's had work in the New York Times, Dazed & Confused, Dumbo Feather and VICE (duh) as well as a bunch of really great solo exhibitions. Mia works with a clear-eyed calmness that seems to promise beautiful results. We were excited when she sent us this shot of Boomgates drummer Shauny. Here's what she had to say about it.

VICE: Hey Mia, what's the story behind this image?
Mia Mala McDonald: I visited a house/art studio/recording studio in North Melbourne on a hot summer's day to take some snaps of Boomgates recording their new album Double Natural. The space was filled with amazing art and the Boomgates sounded just as brilliant. Ironically this photo only shows you a blank wall behind the angel that is Shauny. 

And what's so legendary about this Shauny?
Shauny, among other things, is passionate about Carlton Football Club. We go to games together. What a legend. Here he is playing the drums... passionately. This was the first time I had worked with Boomgates and just yesterday we finished a music video which I was DOP on, so I guess this photo session was just the beginning of what is already a really fulfilling collaboration.

You've shot a lot of musicians,  who have been some of your favourites?
I enjoy shooting people who want to be there and enjoy and understand the idea of a portrait collaboration. Andrew W.K. has been a huge highlight who I photograph every time he comes to town. We have fun; he is happy to look like he cares and he really does. Live performance highlights include Cobra Killer, Wilson Pickett, Gossip. 

Do you ever get star struck?

When I'm shooting? I don't have the time. I learnt really quickly that people who are always photographed don't particularly want to be your best friend, they just want to get it done quickly and professionally. So I just focus on getting the gig done and making a nice picture.

Having said that, last week I saw author Chloe Hooper (author of The Tall Man) in the coffee shop - I went a bit red and shy.

OK, last question: what are three rules of music photography?

1. Don't get in my way with your iPhone camera.

2. You should be able to get the shots you need in the first song.

3. Remember it's a performance so respect the audience.

Bonus rule: Delete any photo you wouldn't want people seeing if it was a photo of you.

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