Getintothis’ Martin Waters tries to take photographer Warren Millar’s mind off stolen kit by sitting down and finding out what makes him tick.
Although he’s a fairly new member of the Getintothis photography crew, Warren Millar is a familiar face especially at the likes of Africa Oye, LIMF and the other big local festivals.
He’s also one of the more experienced members of the team having put in over 20 years as a police photographer shooting all manner of crimes scenes.
Like many of us, it was a passion for photography that led him down the inevitable route of shooting gigs.
We sat down with him to find out more about how he got started, making sure we steered clear of any discussion of the gory side of his former career and found out why his camera bag is currently empty…
Getintothis: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into photography.
WM: I first picked up a camera in my teens which is many years ago now and I’ve been hooked ever since. Back in the days of film I just loved the darkroom side of photography and made my own darkroom at home, taking over a cupboard space much to the annoyance of my mum. Most of my family at one time or another had a wait to get into the bath due to 10×8 black and white prints being washed in there! I then started working as a Police Photographer with Cheshire Constabulary which I did for well over 20 years working with four different Police forces. Yes, I’ve photographed many scenes that most people would never see in a lifetime!
Music has always been my second love after photography so it was just natural for me to start shooting live music. I’m in heaven at a gig with my cameras.
Getintothis: What was the first gig you shot?
WM: It was back in 2011 at my local music venue in Widnes, The Studio. My son was attending the local secondary schools in Widnes and one of his mates from school sadly and very tragically died so The Studio put on a gig with local musicians and the band that my son’s mate was in at the time and I was asked to go along and photograph the gig. I loved it that much that I got involved with The Studio and now photograph most of the gigs they hold there when I can. I really do love the place and the people who run it.
Getintothis: Which is your favourite shot?
WM: I don’t really have one, but if I was to pick it would be the image of Bruce Foxton doing his “Foxton Jump”. I waited all night to get that shot with a few misses on the way! I’m always waiting for that one image where I see it on my screen and go ‘Wow WTF’
Getintothis: Any terrible or fun shoots you’d like to share?
WM: No terrible shoots as such and as for fun shoots I always look forward to Africa Oye not just because it’s such a friendly fun festival with some great music. It’s the one festival where I get together with some really good photographer friends of mine and we end up just taking the piss out of each other all day. All good banter.
Getintothis: So what’s your favourite bit of kit?
WM: Bit of a sore question at the moment this one as just over two weeks ago I had all my gear nicked when my house got broken into! It’s still in the hands of the insurance as I write this although I do have some loan gear so as not to miss any gigs. I recently (2 years ago) moved over to mirrorless and love (or should I say loved) the Fujifilm X gear I had. Takes time to get used to but it really makes you start thinking and shooting like a photographer again and is so much lighter than my Nikon full frame gear I used to use. Three days at a festival with that Nikon gear really did punish my back! So if I was to answer this it would be all my Fujifilm X gear I USED TO HAVE!
Getintothis: Any particularly difficult musicians?
WM: None if I’m honest up to now
Getintothis: Who are your favourite Liverpool bands to shoot?
WM: I really do like The Tea Street Band and Space. Tommy Scott is a real nice guy
Getintothis: Where’s your favourite place to shoot?
WM: I have to say The Studio my local music venue, but the few times I’ve been there, Leaf on Bold Street has been good. I also like Zanzibar quite a bit.
Getintothis: What one tip would you give anyone starting out?
WM: Shoot what you enjoy and try and develop your own style. Always pay as much as you can on glass (lenses), buy the best glass you can afford.
Getintothis: What’s the worst advice you’ve been given?
WM: You need Full Frame DSLR’s to shoot gigs
Getintothis: Any favourite photographers?
WM: You know I don’t think I have, but I do really admire is Don McCullin.
Getintothis: What would be your ideal gig to shoot?
WM: Tough one. I’d love to cover Festival No 6, any gigs by The Stone Roses and hopefully Kraftwerk this year in Liverpool, a band that has influenced my music taste since my late teens, I’m a massive fan.