Arthur captured my attention two years ago when I spotted a nightlife photo of his in an online Facebook community. His photograph was dark, raw and uniquely interesting—it captured everything electronic music stands for through the eye of a lens. At the time, Arthur was beginning his career as a photographer by shooting events in the Montreal dance music scene. Within the first year, his hobby quickly turned into a job with various promotion companies and brands across Quebec.
During my visit to Quebec's Metropolis, I met up with Arthur where he showed me the differences between Toronto's nightlife photography and Montreal's. We had an in depth conversion about capturing authentic moments at the events we attend. For this month's installment of CLUBSCAPE, we get candid with Arthur Rad.
THUMP: How did it all start?
Arthur: I was at a party and one of my friends asked me to take a picture of them with his phone. When I took the photo, I ended up keeping the phone for the next three hours. The day after I decided to purchase a camera and everyone thought I was crazy and told me not to do it, because I bought a 60D, which, you know, cost me over a thousand dollars. But since then things have changed a lot. People are a lot more encouraging. It's funny thinking back to that.
How did you get involved with I Love Neon?
I shot at one of their events a year and a half ago and they told me "we really like this one photo, do you think we could use it for a printout for our newsletter?" I agreed and in exchange they offered me to go to any of their shows and shoot for myself. Then their photographer at the time had quit because he had a different engagement with someone else, so they were looking for someone new. I sent them an email asking if I could become their new photographer, to which they told me to come try out at the Datsik show. That was my first event with Neon and it was a great experience. They have some of the best people I've met in the industry, very professional and down to earth. I'm really happy to be working for them, and it opened more opportunities with Neon and Samurai Des Jungles.
When I first saw your photos I was so amused by them because it's such a different take on nightclub photography. It's candid, raw and intimate. It's not your regular, 'here's your flashy bright edited photo.'
I completely agree. When I first started shooting I was not really interested in shooting a regular club environment, I did that once and I really hated it. Since then, I try to not be seen by the person I'm taking a picture of. Why? Because I think the moment is a much better reminder of what happened instead of standing and posing in a picture with your two friends. Rather, it's a photo of a person dancing and it's a much better memory in my opinion. It's something you can enjoy much more. Especially when you're older you can show it to your kids or whoever. That's how I feel about it. Something meaningful down the line—that kind of picture. My objective is for the person I'm photographing to save that picture and keep it, long term, as a memory. It doesn't always work, but c'est la vie.
Where did your unique take on club photography come from?
To be honest it was through another photographer in Montreal. Karel Chladek, he's created his own style and I really fell in love with it. The photography in Montreal in comparison to Toronto is so different because now we have a plethora of great photographers taking photos in this unique way. It's much more interesting to see and it's a friendlier environment as well. People are not looking to take the most photos, but trying to make smaller albums with higher quality. Quality over quantity, I think it sticks around here in Montreal.
Promoters are always pushing for at least 100 photos from the event, causing photographers to make a quota, but in the Montreal scene, it's about the quality.
Yeah, the first time I started working for promoters they only wanted 15 to 20 quality photos. I've made bigger albums of 50 photos, but 50 is a lot. On a busy night I take at least 1000 to 1500 pictures, out of those I will edit about 50, one by one. I don't use presets. It's all manual, it comes down to that. Each picture is unique in a way, that's what I try to transpire.
While getting into photography, your focus was for the love of art rather than the genre of music. Is that your basis? A lot of photographers get into the music first and then decide they want to take photos.
I mainly did it as something that I like to do, but when I first started going out in 2009-10 it was when dubstep started to get popular. I really liked those parties but eventually got bored of them and got away from the scene.
So it was the photography that drew you back.
Yes and now photography is my main lead, in the sense that I would not go out to a show for the music but I'd go out to take photos. It's not something I feel really obliged to though, it gives me so much pleasure and I love to do it constantly.
Besides electronic music events, do you take photos of anything else?
I do have a side project that I recently started, it's actually something I wanted to do for quite some time but never had the courage to. It's basically pictures of homeless people, people that don't have anywhere to go. I do this to show a different perspective of this world. I try to capture a more positive vibe with them and try to get them smiling. In exchange for my picture, I will never offer them money, but I do offer them let's say something like, the last two times I bought a 14" peperoni pizza. Small things like that. When they realize that people want to help, it's very heart warming. It's a tough project, but it's for myself.