TFP.AU - The Substitutes

“It’s sad, actually, because my anxiety keeps me from enjoying things as much as I should at this age”

- Amanda Seyfried

I’ll get to above quote shortly, but in the meantime I’ll start by letting you know that I was hired by a Who tribute band known as The Substitutes.

It was in a venue in Glasgow known as Audio. For the first time in our gig photography history, I was alone for this one, but I was completely buzzing, as a massive Who fan. Photographically I wanted to really make this one something special.

Now, as a photographer, you start thinking about how to apply your style, the techniques you’re going to use, and really, feel out the room.

So there’s me, with the normal pre-job excitement/nervousness.

But there was something else. Like I said, I was excited for this one but then the dark anxiety kicks in. The mind starts racing, and all of a sudden getting on that bus to Glasgow becomes the most terrifying thing in the world. You feel like you’re on a boat heading to Omaha Beach on D-Day.

That’s why I used the above quote. I had previously been buzzing, with a nice type of nervousness; replaced with horror. Mmmm lovely mental health.

It didn’t help that the driver was a complete dick, shouting at me with, “hurry up, we were supposed to leave 15 minutes ago if my engine hadn’t cut out”. Yeah mate, that was me, I remotely cut off your engine from a quarter a mile down the road. Arsehole.

But, I’ve done it, I’m on the bus. It’s the weirdest thing, I’m totally fine until we hit the motorway. Then I know there aren’t anymore stops for quite some time. Trapped.

Before photoshoots I either write down plans I have or I relentlessly think about how I can do something different and original. Sometimes I’ve already thought about that beforehand.

So I swan into Glasgow, prepared yet shaking.

Instantly I knew the venue was ideal for what I had planned and I began practice on the support band. Luckily I was granted access to the dressing room so I knew I had a safe place if I needed it. And I used it A LOT.

I planned to shoot some in black and white. I had rearched some old photos of the Who performing live and wanted to replicate that style. So I set about my work:

While attempting to maintain my own Tenth Floor style, I aimed for a retro feel, moving around the front of the stage and even onto it at times, being careful not to distract the crowd’s attention from the band themselves.

The next part was the hardest. I wanted to capture psychedelic photos to mirror the style of the Who. This involved some seriously low shutter speeds, low ISO and reduced flash. It was frustrating and highly complex, but capturing light trails in this darkness without taking away from the moment IS possible:

With this complete, it was time to dance to The Seeker and try to relax and fill in the gaps:

Then realising it was time to bolt for the bus, I made my exit. Sadly I couldn’t say goodnight to the band. I left when they still had a few songs to go. Thing is, I wasn’t anxious anymore. The adrenaline of the shoot had cured me once again.

Then you get to reflect. You realise that at the time you think you’re going insane with fear and horror, but in fact you actually had a fantastic time. Memories are the arch enemy of what anxiety is trying to achieve. Plus I had that awesome feeling of, I’ve done my best gig photography yet, and I’m always improving.

Their performance was outstanding, and for any Who fans out there, I would strongly recommend them. Find them on Facebook:


They also raise money for charity with your work, so, do your bit!

Oh, and to anxiety, here’s one for you:


TFP - David Gulliver