Jennifer McCord’s Passion For Live Music Photography

My name’s Jennifer McCord and I am a 19 year old London based photographer. I ultimately began taking photos because of my love for life; I wanted to photograph everything because I didn’t want to let go of moments.

As a child my mum refused to buy me disposable cameras for school trips because I’d use up all the photos within the first hour. Photography was a way for me to immortalise moments. For the most part, this is still a big reason for why I take photos but it’s developed into wanting to share these moments with other people, to capture something in a way that will allow someone else to engage with the moment on a more emotional level.

I want my viewers to feel something when they look at my photos. It’s a matter of preference but I’ve always been attracted to black and white photography, I feel it’s more raw than colour. In my opinion, colour can often distract the viewer from the emotional depths that the image is capable of displaying. Which is why a majority of my work is shot in black and white.


Being a music photographer never really occurred to me. I tried fashion, sport and street photography as well as photojournalism. I spent some time researching and trying out different types of photography until I was finally lucky enough to stumble upon a fantastic charitable project called Wembley To Soweto; through which I met some incredible people, had the chance to teach photography to others while assisting renowned photojournalist John Cole and had my work exhibited. Music has always been a huge part of my life, so it was great to be able to merge my two passions.

Last year I tweeted an American band who had followed me and had just announced their first UK tour. On a whim I asked if they were looking for a photographer for their UK dates and they asked me to send over some of my work. I sent them a link to a photo diary I’d started on tumblr and that was that. For 9 days I travelled with them in a van around the UK taking both live shots and some more personal backstage ones, documenting their tour – I was hooked.


My portraits are largely candid. I like to take photographs of people when they’re at their most natural. When people are aware that they’re being photographed they’re able to present a persona, but when you catch them off guard that’s when I think you really see a person. When I photograph someone I either want to capture their mood/the moment or I want to capture something I find beautiful about them. Usually the smaller things, like the way they move, the way their lips purse and they turn their head just before they’re about to say something, the quiet things.


I tend to work mainly with hardcore/metal bands and people often express that it must be difficult taking photos of a genre of music that exudes such anger, almost suggesting that the genre is an ugly form. However, I’ve found that the culture surrounding heavier music, particularly in hardcore, is that of community and a sense of belonging. For those 40 minutes or so that a band plays, the audience are able to express themselves in a way that they can’t do outside of that environment. Sometimes this expression takes the form of moshing or sometimes it’s battling your way through to try and get as close to the vocalist as possible, just so you can scream out the lyrics with them until your lungs hurt because those lyrics have spoken to you in a way that nothing else has been able to. When you have 200 kids in a boiling hot, tiny basement room screaming out every lyric in unison, regardless of their race, age or any problems that they might currently be facing outside of the venue doors, you realise that all of these people have found some common understanding in song, you can’t tell me that’s not beautiful. That’s something worth photographing.


I feel more at home on the side of a stage, crouched in an awkward position than I do in my own bed. Photography is my life; maybe that’s soppy or lame but I don’t care, it’s honest. When I’ve got a camera in my hands everything seems to make sense, even when a shot isn’t going right and I want to throw my camera against a wall, I’d still rather be taking photos than doing anything else. It’s like any great love, even when the object of your affection causes you great frustration, you know you’d rather be angry at them than feel happy with anyone else.


Currently, I plan to  continue trying to progress as a photographer. I’ll probably still hate the majority of the photos that I take but it’s part of what drives me as an artist, never being truly satisfied, understanding that there is always room for improvement. John Cole told me to ‘stay hungry’ and I think I always will. I want to travel more, and to photograph everything I see. I want to continue to evoke human emotions through my work and maybe reach my viewers in new ways that I’m yet to discover. If I can do that, then I know I’m doing something right.


For more of Jennifer McCord’s work visit her Website, Photo Diary and hit the like button on her Facebook Page!