• Photo Diary: Mallory Turner

    At its peak, MySpace (when the "S" was still capitalized) was the epicenter for music culture and exploration. Bands would post their latest tracks, interact with fans and even hook young photographers up with photo passes to their shows. Mallory Turner was one of those photographers. 

    After gaining experience on staff at her high school’s newspaper and yearbook clubs, Mallory began shooting concerts. Her first big festival was the EDM spectacular EDC in 2009. Following a few year hiatus, she hit the ground running after photographing Warped Tour in Pomona, California in 2012. 

    “Once I learned the process of requesting photo passes through publicists and shooting for blogs it opened up a whole new world for me,” Mallory tells us. 

    Since then, her work has appeared on Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, Spin and Myspace — the website that helped her get her start. Her live photographs not only encapsulate the energy of the performers onstage but highlight a vulnerability and vibrancy that allow her images to remain unique from all of the other photographers in the pit. She'll explore festival grounds for the perfect portrait location, a visual oasis from the chaos that surrounds. Lighting and color play a huge role in her work, often melding the two for a multidimensional surprise. 

    We sent Mallory out into this summer’s festival circuit with a Fujifilm Instax Mini to survey the sights of some of our favorite musical acts. Check out both her instant and digital captures from on and offstage below. 
    Photos by Mallory Turner 

    How do you scout for locations for portraits? What catches your eye?
    Outside of festivals I'll usually just make a mental note when I'm driving around and see somewhere I think would make a cool shoot. I'm drawn to abandoned and urban spots, and bright colors. A lot of the portrait work I've done is at festivals or shows where you usually have five to ten minutes with an artist and are confined to a press area or the venues' greenroom. For those situations, I'll try to walk around ahead of time and see what's around. I've gotten so used to shooting on the fly like that, that I think it's become easier for me to shoot that way.

    How do you define your visual aesthetic?
    As I would imagine it is for most photographers and artists, developing a personal style is a gradual process and the culmination of many things. Just being aware of the importance of having your own style is really significant and something I wasn't attune to in my early days of shooting. I think some of the recent stylistic things that people might associate my work with like the light trails and color gels were just me experimenting and liking the results. Once I got a better editing workflow nailed down that helped as well.

    What’s the best bit of advice you’ve gotten when it comes to photography?
    Make sure the eyes are in focus!

    What are your favorite techniques to use in terms of lighting, color and composition?
    Composition wise I'm definitely a fan of symmetry and negative space. My go to lighting techniques are always changing around but I love playing around with long exposure, light trails and color gels.

    Who’s your favorite artist to shoot?
    Bands that I'm personally really into I tend to see and shoot them so many times that the excitement of shooting them starts to wear off, being on the festival circuit gives me a lot of opportunity to catch the same act multiple times. I've noticed with a lot of newer bands it can take them a while to change up their set. That said, twenty one pilots, Cage the Elephant, Rubblebucket, Grouplove and Plague Vendor I've all shot several times and would probably be the highest on my recommend to shoot list. Lighting is a big factor too though. I've been at shows of bands I love and left in a horrible mood because the lighting was awful for photos [laughs]. 

    Tell us about some your most memorable photographs.
    I have a photo I took of my friend Vee in a bathtub. I was shooting other bath photos with another friend beforehand and wanted to try to make the water milky blue, but with natural ingredients, so I used a bunch of almond milk and juice but the water just ended up a murky grey color. It still worked out though and I got the most amazing photo of her that inspired a series of similarly done photos that I'm currently working on.

    Another one would be the first time I shot Morgan Joyce for my friend's clothing company. I had heard of these abandoned bungalows in the middle of Hollywood from a friend that lived nearby and since we were in the area I convinced them we should go shoot there. When we arrived they ended up being all pastel colored and perfect for the aesthetic we wanted.

    You shoot a lot of live music and festivals — how do you keep each image unique?
    In those type of situations it's really the artists and the environment that's helping keep the images unique. The lighting on stage is a huge factor too. If lighting is stagnant or the band is on the mellow side I'll try to play around with multiple exposures, long exposures and prisms to mix things up. I also make a point to try and get shots of everyone in the band (especially the drummer, I love shooting drummers) even if it's a solo artist playing with a touring band, instead of just focusing on the front person.

    When you’re shooting with instant film, how does that change your process?
    As is with most situations shooting with film, it's definitely more deliberate since your shots are limited. I love my Instax Mini 90, but unfortunately, the viewfinder can be off so I try to keep that in mind and shoot wider. I love the double exposure feature and use it a lot, but for it to come out well you usually have to have a dark and not busy background. Most of my Instax shots were taken at the end of a portrait shoot so I already have the shot planned.

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