[Un]titled hardcore photography book - an interview with Roman Laris

Here's the interview with Roman Laris and Patrycja Gagan who are one of the photographers behind the upcoming [Un]titled book. The album focuses on diy hardcore/punk photography and will be limited to 500 copies only. It should be available this winter. I really like the idea so I thought it's only right to ask the author few questions to give us some more info about the project and the basics of photographing hardcore shows in general.

Could you please tell us something about the Untitled project and how did it come about? What do you hope this book achieves?

Roman Laris: [un]titled european hardcore/punk photographers is a book of 6 diy photographers who are sharing same passion for hardcore photography. The idea came from me a year ago after I released my first paper photo book Black Sheep. I know Jan, Patrycja and Sheep from London hardcore shows, Marian is a friend of my Slovakian friends and Monika is a friend of Patrycja, and I know all of them are talking wicked pictures so I asked them if they would be happy to work together in one project, completely DIY it means that the book is paid by us, put together by us and its gonna be promoted and sell by us. There are no other parties involved apart of Shaun Ponton who helped us to designed the book and Adam Bobro who arranged the printing and professional advise.
I dont know what I want to achieve? Probably self promotion, promoting DIY ideas and letting people know that they dont need to have big names and labels behind them to achieve something. I love to keep things in my own hands and I love sharing it with others and I believe that whatever you do, you should share it with others, thats the only way to progress and go forward. On the end of the day I hope more young and diy amateur photographers will be inspired and start releasing their work or start to cooperate and talk.

Could you tell us who is involved in the making of the book and how do you think their style of photography differs? What type of themes should we expect from the book – is it focusing on gigs and bands pictures or did you also tried to portray other areas of the scene?

Roman Laris: You have to buy the book and see on your own eyes how different we are. Some of us are using digital cameras some of us analog, some of us are focusing on sing alongs, potraits or moshing parts, some on details or emotions...its all there and I love it! We are all different persons with different techniques of shooting. Jan is more into analog and old fashion cameras, Patrycja and Monika are more rockumentary orientated in this book, Sheep is a crazy man, in a good meaning of that word, and his photos are full of energy and driving force, Marian likes using fisheye lense capturing the sing alongs, and I love capturing energy of the gig, faces and emotions. This book is going to have it all under one roof! Promise!

Patrycja Gagan: Each of us have created a space for a so called short-photo-project, which I believe, defines individual style and presents the field of ones interests. “The scene” is a complex theme, so is capturing it. Therefore, [un]titled presents not only live shoots but everything which emerges from it. Each photographer’s section differs though. Roman Laris photography is all about being a part of the entire experience and his images are emotion orientated. I’ve seen him moshing and shooting at the same time, believe me. Monika’s section is a photodocumentary material presenting a Polish band called The Black Tapes. You’ll find images from shows, studio and backstage in her section. Marian Magdolen is a fish-eye-action man capturing gigs in, let me use this term here, “modern live shooting”. Sheep. When it comes to Sheep I’d love to mention that he’s been working on his individual photobook and I said to him “Look man, save your work for the book and try to came up with a short-photo-project which you could do for [un]titled without borrowing images from your main project”. We sat down in his room, started to browse images and I’ve noticed that he has got a massive collection of moshing people’s portraits. And I went like: “This is it”. Let’s look at it from the opposite perspective. Shows are not only what we see but also what bands see, how the crowd responds to their music and how the energy transforms. I’m calling Sheep’s section “Faces Of Mosh” and you better check it out, maybe you’ll find yourself on one of those images. My section is a tribute to a band called Sunrise. I’ve always wanted to give them something back since they gave so much to me. I own tons of Sunrise photos from shows, tours, studios, practice room, promo shoots, hang-outs etc. I have never managed to compile it into a separate project and I thought that [un]titled gives me enough space to finally present Sunrise’ images and let them know they were my family. Jan Urant is a photographic dino working with analogue cameras, which I adore in photographic context. He created a portrait vs. live shoot project with Down To Nothing and Have Heart in my opinion being his highlights. Jan is the last photographer, closing [un]titled with the sublime Dead Swans image, which I personally consider as the strongest hc photo of this decade.

What was the key to choose the right pics which would make it to the book?

Roman Laris: I can only talk for myself, because I have choosen mine and everybody else theirs. I did not have any key, I was simply selecting pictures I thought will represent my style and work. Because all of us are paying equal share of the book, we have chosen our own pictures, its our work and nobody else should not be telling us what to put in or not, thats the way we wanted it - total freedom of expression.

For the kids out there interested to know something more about being a hardcore photographer could you give a brief walk through your work flow? What they should keep in mind when taking pics at the show?

Roman Laris: See the term hardcore photographer is not really for me, because I am always saying I am not a photographer, I dont know shit about photography, I just set it up on the spot and then focus on shooting the right angles and scenes. Maybe its all about luck and timing, being on the right place in the right time. An a good show is a good show, if the bands and crowd is shit you probably would not capture the right energy and you will have only boring faces and bands in it...I love bands who are acting crazy, driving people nuts, where people are "losing control", but still care for each other.
You have to keep in mind moshing kids, cause you dont want your camera to be fucked up by some asshole who lost it completely. Hey kids, watch for shooters and take care of each other on the shows! Dont act like wild monkies, you can mosh and still have fun not hurting others!

Patrycja Gagan: We all have different backgrounds and different approaches to photography. Jan is studying photography at the London College of Communication, Monika studied photography in Poland and recently she came back to an art school again. Sheep studied at London College of Communication but drop it off at some stage. I'm studying portrait photography at Central Saint Martins in London. Roman and Marian are just extremely talented shooters. So, through such a reference you can easily tell [un]titled is multidimensional. In my experience of capturing live shows, I have come to realize how important it is for all, bands as well as the crowd, to be correctly attuned. Good image (when based on photographic skills) will be, therefore, the spark that emerged from such a collective experience. Personally, I love to think about photography as a process. So, it’s not only the moment you're trying to capture but also what is before and after. Before refers to photographer’s equipment and how he/she would select format of camera, lens, ISO sensitivity, camera settings to suit particular situation and by “after” I mean the whole process of editing and developing.

In general, during a session, how many pics would you say you take to find the right one?

Roman Laris: I normaly take 20 to 30 pictures for a bands set like a one film for a band, not usually more, depends on a band and their show. If there is nothing to shoot I usually take only portraits of the band members during the set. From a show I normally get from 5 to 10 worth shoots I am happy about.

What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing hardcore shows?

Roman Laris: Shitty color light effects fucking the white balance and stupid moshers who dont care for anybody else in the pit apart of themself.

Patrycja Gagan: Haha I love Roman’s answer to this question, especially that he’s shooter-mosher himself. I only want to mention that the hardest thing for me is compromising between being a show’s participant and show’s photographer. I’ve always found those two extremely hard to combine. Of course one can sing along and shoot at the same time, I saw that more than once and sometimes I’m doing this myself, but the question of someone's skills versus fortune is unavoidable in such situations. Hc/punk shows were and are a collective experience for me so being selective, or at least trying to be, is quite challenging.

Is there any band you would love to photograph but never had a chance to?

Roman Laris: There are bands from my hometown Bratislava or bands from Slovakia especially bands from the mid 90s, the era when I became part of our hard core scene and the energy of the mid and late 90s hard core in Slovakia were not captured properly. I was too young and broken not having enough money to buy camera, and even I had the money I was always in the pit going nuts hehe.

Patrycja Gagan: Swedish hc scene 1992-1995 era. Sunny Day Real Estate (not
that hardcore tho).

So when the book should be available for orders?

Roman Laris: If everything goes as it should, we are going to print it in mid November and I believe in the begining of December you can buy the book through us.
The book is limited to 500 copies divided between 6 of us which give us around 80 books each. People from Poland can order it via Monika or Patrycja, folks from UK can deal with Sheep, Jan and me and folks from Austria or Slovakia can ask Marian. I belive all of us can send and sell the copies via paypal worldwide. Just drop and get in touch with us, some distributions and small diy distros will be selling it too, but at the moment I cant tell you more. Check our myspace for more coming details.

Thank you for your time. Is there anything you would like to add?

Roman Laris: Thank you for your interest and help to promote our book. Its great people are starting talking about it and getting inspired by our work! Stay true!

Check out the myspace profile of [un]titled.

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