Flash backs of my past flock to my mind in this interview, my husband has taken me to MANY a metal gig, Metallica, Machine Head, Mudvayne, Amen, Slayer, many of which I really enjoy, in fact metal music like Frankenbok, Cannibal Corpse, Manson, Black Sabbath, the list goes on, it all reminds me of Steve and the start of our relationship. But also not too long ago I was shooting a few gigs and bands, the gritty streets and the ugly side of photography (to some). It’s that side of photography that I still love and I have explained before “I’d prefer to shoot a beautiful dress in a back street with a homeless man vomiting in the corner”…no pretentiousness, all about the moment, and so much emotion – it’s art!
I was so excited when I found John Raptis, a Melbourne based photographer, who has been shooting the streets of the city for about 10 years, as well as live music for 5. He explains “I don’t like photographing pretty things but tend to concentrate more on finding beauty in what most perceive as ugliness. And that goes for both my street and music photography. If it is not gritty, dirty or visceral, then I tend to not be interested.”
When John is not shooting he’s working in web design, where he started in it’s very early stages…he says “I literally found myself in the right place at the right time and for a decade or so, I worked as a professional web designer for a variety of companies. I even had my own studio which I co-directed for a few years. I grew tired of working to create for others and web design became a bit of a chore so I began to explore other creative realms and it was here that the photography bug bit down real hard!”
Features in a wide variety of magazines, publications and books over the years is a normality for John but he explains that it’s always flattering and a little pat on the back when he sees his work published. “I did have one of my street photos appear on the cover of a novel and that really was a great moment.”
When asked about how many gigs he has shot John says “I’ve lost track of the number of gigs I have photographed. It is over 500 at this point, some shoots kinda meld into each other and are pretty forgettable.” However, a stand out was shooting Les Claypool from Primus a few years ago, he explains it as amazing to hear the array of sounds he could produce, and the wardrobe (or mask) changes made for some awesome shots and a surreal evening. But he can’t go past the fact that being a huge Black Sabbath fan since he was a child and then to stand before them, so close, shooting their entire set, it was a full-circle moment for him.
Being given the opportunity to tour Ace Frehley of KISS is a strong highlight in John’s shooting life, “I did an entire tour of Australia as photographer for Ace Frehley of KISS in 2010, so for the duration of that tour we were all pretty much in each others pockets! If you have ever seen the movie “Almost Famous” being on that tour was very much akin to that and if I really wanted to, I could probably pen a book about that entire experience.”
“Music photography is a challenge in itself because you just do not know what sort of conditions will befall you for each show you do. Every venue is different. Every lighting situation is different and you have to adapt and adjust for each shoot you do.”
Gigs are an incredibly exhilarating, high energy, frenetic mix of chaos, mayhem and an infectious force that stays with you long after you’ve put the lens cap back on the camera.”
John is so in tune with the metal scene, he oozes your typical metal bloke that I would regularly see at gigs. These guys are so down to earth and are there for the show, for the stage, the rock stars! Not the way they dress or what dance moves they booty pump on stage. “The stage is sacred ground” and it’s something that he well and truly loves to the core. A thoughtful, creative and passionate guy who is so incredibly talented behind the lens.