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This article was published 25/10/2016 (1818 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
These days all you need is a cell phone or a DSLR to call yourself a photographer. But as West End’s Dwayne Larson will tell you, there’s more to professional photography than meets the eye.
"The number one thing is, the camera doesn’t take good photos," Larson said. "That’s one thing I get, like… ‘I bet that camera takes really nice photos,’ and it’s like, I tell it what to do.
"And what people don’t realize is we go out there… we shoot weekly if not a few times a week and we don’t get paid a lot, and sometimes don’t get paid at all and we put thousands of dollars of gear out there every time."
Larson has been shooting for approximately 16 years. Growing up in Saskatchewan, he would go to band practices and shows with a disposable film camera and eventually upgraded to a regular film camera, then digital.
"I realized I really like taking pictures of people, and people in love," he said.
As a day job, Larson shoots portraits and weddings, but concerts and shows remain a favourite subject, even when the return isn’t great. He says music photography is an area he’s seen change throughout his career.
"For music it’s tough because there’s always someone who will do it for free, I do it for free sometimes," he said. "I see more of a disconnect when people are sitting there staring at their phones rather than enjoying the music and I’m definitely guilty of it when I don’t have my camera on me… why would you want to spend… let’s say $60 to $100 to get into a show… to sit there and stare at your phone the whole time?"
He says Winnipeg remains a great city to hone one’s photography skills, as places like the Park Theatre and the Pyramid will let you bring a camera in. Other venues are more strict about their rules. Larson said lighting is the biggest challenge when shooting live shows.
"The light just isn’t really your friend," he said. "It’s really hit and miss."
Although he isn’t always paid in cash, Larson finds the process rewarding in other ways. He said being able to capture a new band in its early years is an act of posterity and something the group and fans can look back on later, when the band has hopefully moved on to a bigger stage.
He had the opportunity to shoot No Use for a Name’s Tony Sly’s portrait a year before he died. Now that image is one of the band’s album covers.
"I didn’t get paid a dime for it because all of the money raised was going to his family, so of course, I’m completely down with that," he said.
Larson recently took part in a live recording of a Witchpolice Radio podcast at the Handsome Daughter along with photographers Joey Senft, Jenny Ramone and Travis Ross to discuss their work.
Community journalist — The Metro
Alana Trachenko was the community journalist for The Metro