Dick Barnatt, photographer, for H2ACDC.COM (june 2010)
My career in photography started at an Ad Agency in London called TRP where I was a messenger training to become an illustrator, I was earning £5.00 a week and was offered a job in the photographic department for £7.50 a week, so I sold my soul to photography for £2.50
When I was at TRP I met the man who would become my mentor,he even sold me my first camera,about three years later we had both left TRP and gone our seperate ways,however one night at a Rory Gallagher concert in Croydon our paths crossed and I was offered a job to manage his studio,which I did for one year before he went to live in the USA.
His name was Fin Costello and Fin became known as one of the world's top Rock photographers, it gives me great pleasure to say we still are in touch with each other all these years later.
Rock photography differs in technique from other types, you must use fast film set ups as you are relying on stage lighting to get your pics, in fact the first AC/DC pics I took have afill in flash because there was no real stage lights at the venue, the other trick with it is to wait for the shot, for example if someone jumps or leaps during the stage act, wait till they are in mid air and you can freeze the action. Otherwise its all luck and what you see through the lens.
I was the first photographer in England to work with AC/DC because I worked for Atlantic Records in London,at the press office was a girl called Coral Browning and her brother was Michael Browning who was AC/DCs manager,when they first came over I was asked to work with them and we did live shows and PR shoots around London. In fact my studio was in Lancaster Gate and Michael did approach me about sharing the premesis with him and the band as they were looking for a London office, this would not have worked for me as we had various artists coming in and out of my studio at the time, one of my fondest memories is of Alice Cooper going across the road to get himself a sandwich, in full make up, luckily he didn't take the snake with him. Michael found an office for the band in Shepherds Market London, not long after this his wife gave birth and I went up to the hospital and took some baby shots for them.nt.
Angus and the milk was not so much an idea, more a reality, no matter where I went with Angus he was always drinking milk, it features in a lot of my pics of him, he must have very strong bones, thats why he can still run around the stage today.
No I had never heard of the band before and my first impressions of them was as a nice bunch of aussies, they were really nice guys who always seemed to get on with everyone, especially Mark who was the bass player at the time.
There was no ego's to deal with and we always had a laugh whenever we did a shoot.
It was more a visual shock than anything, they were full off energy and no-one was baring there bum to audiences in 1976, sometimes they were so energetic it was hard to capture on film because the venues were small and so was the lighting, it must be much easier now with the big stadium's.
I was using Nikon 35mm gear at the time, I went over to Olympus some years later after losing a case of cameras at a Sid Vicious concert
No I did not know they would become so huge so quickly, I had spent some time earlier working with the Heavy Metal Kids who were also a great band and stage show and they had unfortunately not made it, although Gary Holton the singer became a well known actor ion british TV.
AC/DC were hard and raw and more than anything they were very hard working, they made it happen.
Bon Scott to me was just a very very nice guy, no ego, always smiling and joking. I do have a memory of him backstage after a show asking someones boyfriend what he thought of the show. The boyfriend was not over complimentary and a lot of rock's pre madonnas would have thrown a tantrum or stormed off, but not Bon he just said ' each to there own mate' and offered the chap a beer. Bon could drink and party but he was nobody's fool.
I don't really have any souveniers except signed albums and promo material but I do have treasured moments, the best one I remember was going up the steps a Earls Court with Led Zeppelin, I was going to the photographers pit at the front of the stage, they were going onstage, as we reached the top of the stairs they walked onto the stage and I could feel the applause coming straight at me, as for the bad ones I remember getting stranded abroad a few times but nothing too bad.
I don't have a signature as such I just try to make them interesting and in focus.
In those days it was more black and white for the music papers, nowadays its more colour as the music papers use more colour than Black and White, plus with the digital age you can easily convert colour to black and white.
There are a million times when you wish you had a camera, but thats the same for everyone.
Obviously I was very upset when Bon died, it such a shame he missed the real big time, plus Bon was more than just a guy who had a few drinks and ended up dying in that way, as I said earlier, he was a really nice genuine guy.
I didn't really think of Brian Johnson, I always thought Bon sounded like Dan McCafferty from Nazareth,but as it turned out Brian was the right choice.
I don't really have three favourites, I always liked the albums they first gave me, Australian copies of High Voltage and I always liked the song 'The Jack' which they informed me was a Australian term for 'the clap'. I know that some of my photos have ended up on the CD releases but I don't have any copies of there CDs only the original australian records
My current projects are now in travel, I have just finished a book on the Trans- Siberian Express.
I will organize an unseen photo for you.
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