A young photographer hopes his work can help the growing local music scene in Blackpool – as he builds his portfolio and dreams of a full time career as a photographer.
Harry Long first got into photography during his GCSE studies at Kirkham Grammar School, and now four years later is training at Blackpool and The Fylde College, while getting gigs to shoot scenes at one of Manchester’s top venues - as well as following the local music scene in Blackpool.
After doing a friend a favour, by taking pictures at a college night, he started contacting local bands and asking to attend their gigs.
And after just six months, his work has seen him secure a place on the rota at the Manchester Ritz, shooting the likes of Slaves, Three Days Grace and The Winery Dogs.
“I’m a huge music fan,” Harry, 18, from Poulton, said. “It’s the excitement you get from shooting a gig, of being so close to the band. It’s exciting anyway, but even better when you’re into the music.
“I didn’t think much of it to start with, just that it was something fun, then it was nice to start getting really good comments.
“I’d been building up a decent portfolio with bands locally, then sent emails to some major venues and magazines, and the Ritz said I could join their team of in-house photographers.
“I was really chuffed.”
Harry now gets the pick of their many gigs, and tries to get there three or four times a month by train, on top of attending local gigs and running photoshoots for bands too.
“The photoshoots are where I can make money at the moment,” he added. “But if you work hard enough, the money comes eventually.
“Some bands are now asking me to come to their gigs; that’s when you know you’re doing well, when they come to you.
“It was me, first of all, sending messages out on Facebook, saying ‘Can I come?’, now it’s the other way round.”
One of his favourite bands to work with on the Fylde is Dirty Work, with their experience on the music scene helping to bring out their personalities on stage - and through the lens.
“They stopped performing about 18 years ago, but got together again last year,” Harry explained. “They’re great guys and have become great friends too.
“Their front man is amazing to watch on stage, which really helps me out.
“You need to have people running around and getting the crowd going; that’s how you can tell the difference between some of the older and younger bands, who still have to work on that.”
And despite the usual complaint that Blackpool’s live music scene has all but faded away, Harry’s sure some of the ‘fantastic’ developing bands - such as Jekyll and The Atmospherics - will ‘go on and achieve great things’.
“I never realised what a fantastic music scene Blackpool has until I started working with these bands,” he said. “Blackpool is producing some fantastic young bands.
“Along with the older bands like Dirty Work and Touch The Pearl, Blackpool should be extremely proud of it’s music scene.
“With the brilliant venues like The Old Town Hall and The Waterloo Pub, this music scene can stand up against any other and is only going to get stronger.
“It’s inspirational seeing how some of the bands are succeeding and makes me want to do the same.”