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Helen Cryer: What led you into concert and music-based portrait photography?

Julia M. Free: It began at an early age as my family has strong connections to music on lots of levels. Close family friends are also internationally recognized artists, and my own family are musical. It’s a big influence on my life and I have been involved with it, and dance, for my entire life. So, it was a natural progression for me to marry up this interest with my love of photography. Of course, over time I have developed deeper connections with my work. My camera is almost like a ticket to a world which isn’t often experienced by the musicians’ followers. I want to share this part of their existence as a musician, in a way, to try and show the whole picture of that artist. It is fascinating to observe and communicate the journey to the end product on the stage - the part that most people witness.

HC: When looking at your photographs of these musicians performing there is often quite an intensity to their facial expressions suggesting a deep connection between them and their instruments, is this something you are attempting to portray in your portraits?

JF: The expressions of the musicians in my photographs reflect their emotions at that instant, and are my interpretation of that particular moment. It is not always immediately obvious what that emotion or feeling is, because sometimes it is the small details hidden on their face that relay that subtle message. This is exactly what I am most interested in capturing. This also brings an asthetic element to my photos

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HC: Do you feel your portraits of musicians performing portray a sort of colloborative relationship between them as the performer and you as the photographer?

JM: The relationship between the subject and the photographer is a delicate one. A photographer has most of the power in the relationship as they choose how they wish to depict the subject, irregardless of reality, if they want. My own method is to attempt to be a passive presence and simply capture what is taking place in the moment, without influencing the subject.

HC: When you go to these concerts, do you have a particular working method?

JF: I initially, and still haven’t, developed a working method because I felt that it would be a barrier to capturing the moment in its natural and pure form. My aim is to observe the moment and capture it. Of course, this could be considered a working method, I suppose!

HC: Your photographs are mainly shot using black and white, is there any particular reason for this?

JF: The simplicity of black and white photography gives a better clarity of the atmosphere and feeling that I want to achieve in my photographs, which colour could never do. In fact, colour can do the opposite - it can distract attention away from the essence of the moment. Colours often bring added meaning, in different ways for each person.

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HC: How far has your mentor Bob Bronshoff inspired your work? Who are your other influences?

JF: Bob has played an important role in developing my abilities as a photographer, both by the great work which he does himself, and the inspiring discussions which we have. But, influences can come in so many ways: art, people, situations, it doesn’t matter - it all brings experiences and consequently an evolving style and method.

HC: You're currently doing a photo-column for the Olympics, could you tell us how you got involved with this, and what your role is as a photographer?

JF: My reason for the trip to London revolves around capturing the Olympics from a totally different perspective to the norm. Instead of gaining accreditation for the Olympics’ sporting events, I have been walking the streets of London and capturing the current and lasting impact of the games on London and its inhabitants. It has been fantastic to see how London’s usual cynical poise has been replaced by celebrations and jubilation at the feats performed the worlds athletes. However, while the world celebrates the prowess of it’s athletes, it is evident to see that months of government security warnings have made London’s residents nervous. Harmless incidents, such as a car engine overheating, are seen as potential terrorist threats simply due to the vicinity of the nearby Olympic Park.

HC: What are your future plans for your photography?

JF: A selection of my work will be exhibited on BHART#1 Contemporary Arts Festival which is taking place from September 8th until September 16th in Antwerp, Belgium. Over the coming year I will be continuing to document the tour of award-winning saxophonist Yuri Honing as he travels to Asia, Europe, and America. These photos will be published in a photobook soon after I return. After that, who knows!

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Born in the Netherlands in 1991 and having worked in England, she is currently based in Antwerp, Belgium.

In Amsterdam Julia met photographer Bob Bronshoff, a mentor and inspirator. She subsequently built up experience in capturing musicians in their environment as the photographer of the Dutch blues band Barrelhouse. She further extended her expertise as a music photographer at Jazz magazine Jazzenzo and art- and culture website 8WEEKLY. Julia covered the “Trafalgar Arches” studio recordings and tour through Spain by Belgian band leader Michael Magalon, after which she documented the recording of the latest album by the Franz von Chozzy Quintet “When the World comes home” in Osnabrück, Germany.

Twitter: @JuliaMFree