May 21, 2024

The best music photographs from 2017 on Vanguard Online

VO Best of

2017 was a great year for music photography on Vanguard Online. Not least because our team of music photographers was bolstered by new additions throughout the year!

Paulina Leyton‘s photography was an endless source of fascination for me. Her work, often done in black and white, focuses on bands which exude raw energy. She opens up a world of music that doesn’t normally get covered in Vanguard Online.

What is striking about some of the acts Paulina covers is that they really put on a performance, sometimes macabre. For example in December Paulina covered Oathbreakers at the Scala (see full set of photos here).


Paulina is also brilliant in capturing the power of a person’s physical and emotional presence. Take this photo of Laurent from the band Igorr (see the full set here).


Here is another one, from the beginning of the year, of Amaral, Spanish singer songwriter, when she played Shepherd’s Bush Empire in February. Relatively unkown in the UK, but a long-time star in Spain, this photo is a beautiful metaphor for the way in which Amaral has spent most of her life exposing her soul in her music, often in dramatic style (see full set here).



Often Paulina’s portraits capture the subject with the face hidden, and instead what we see and feel is the corporeal energy about the figure. In this way I can spend a good few minutes studying the body shapes and lines of a Paulina Leyton photography.


This photography of fans at an Igorr concert at the Islington Academy (see full set here) is one of the greatest photographs ever taken. What I like especially is the girl who appears to be jumping higher than everyone else. This idea of the corporeal energy seems to be taken to the extreme here – the body is so important to the photo – because she appears to have no head!


Sometimes Paulina’s photographs are able to freeze time and allow us to look into the soul of the subject. Take for example this still of the drummer of ‘Thy Art is Murder’ (see full set here). In this photograph the drummer appears to be having an out of body experience, so involved is his body and soul in the music and drumming, that it seems to have drained out of his body.

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There is always something extra, something to look out for in Paulina’s photography, or something that leaves a big question mark, like in this behind the scenes photo of ‘Eater of Man’ at Camden Underworld in October (see full set here).



Danny Peart is one of Vanguard Online’s longest serving contributors, probably the first and the longest serving photographer. Whilst Danny photos a huge range of bands you’re less likely to find him at the Underworld in Camden and more likely to find him photographing alt-pop sensations like Dua Lipa (see the full set here).


You couldn’t get more of a contrast between his photography and that of Paula Leyton. The colours on Danny’s shots are so vivid, they are beautiful to behold, and the lines are so crisp you could eat them. See for example this great shot of Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo when his band played Leeds Academy in October (see full set here).


There’s another very colourful shot of Paramore which you can see here (for contractual reasons we cannot reproduce the photo on this page) from when she played Manchester Apollo in July.

There’s often a straight-forwardness to the bands that Danny photos. They just want to go out there, sing their hearts out, sweat it out, rock it out and have fun. This is encapsulated in Danny’s opening shot of Blink 182’s gig at the Leeds arena in July (see full set here).

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Having said that Danny clearly has an eye for the more complex moments. I really like his shot of Paramore, eyes and mouth wide open behind her stringy peroxide hair (which you can see here). Its the kind of photo you’d expect in Paulina’s portfolio! Danny also captured a very dynamic and in the moment shot of a guitarist from Kings of Leon when they played the Leeds Arena in February (see photo here).

I love the way Danny utilises the lines and shapes of the instruments and the set to describe a wider back story. You could see this in his photograph of the guitarist for Weezer, when they played Leeds Academy in October (see full set here).


Danny finished off the year photographing Liam Gallagher on tour (see full set here). Despite all his success and millions Gallagher still cuts an uncertain figure, his aggressive posturing and arrogance barely masking the terrified child, perfectly captured in this portrait from Danny.



Tom Holley joined the team in 2017, and has made a fantastic contribution to our site. His capture of Mevins lead singer, Buzz Osborne, playing Institute 2 in Birmingham, beautifully captured the glory of the singer at one with the microphone, the audience, in full bluster (see full set here). In some ways it captures the same thing as Paulina Leyton’s photograph of the drummer from ‘Thy Art is Murder’.


Most recently Tom caught Pearl Jam UK, a cover band, in Leicester (see full set here). Two photos stuck out in particular for me. Both were of the would be Eddie Vedder. The first had Eddie deeply focused on singing. For me the photo says so much about the singer’s dedication. The second showed a basic vulnerability, a streak of juvenile aggression, something that you would imagine a rock God would have evolved beyond.



Another new photographer on our books is Martin Jones. Martin’s first offering for the magazine was a photo set of Blondie, now 72, playing in Cardiff. In some ways, like Tom Holley’s set on Pearl Jam, Martin was able to beautifully capture the passing of time, but in the case of Blondie, allowed us to catch up with her and to see the extent to which Blondie was willing to recreate herself visually, rather than rest on her laurels. When I saw Martin’s set (see it here) I felt visually arrested, I thought Martin had done Blondie a great favor in helping her communicate why she has something to offer to the 21st Century.


Angela Smith is another new photographer who made a big contribution to Vanguard Online in the first half of the year. I really loved this atmospheric shot of Mikey Chapman, lead singer of Mallory Knox when they played the Corn Exchange in Cambridge in March (see full set here).


Angela was the only photographer this year who was able to take a photograph which captured the sexual energy of the audience for the band in question. Nothing really needs to be said about how some of the women felt about All Time Low when they played the Corn Exchange in Cambridge, in March (see here for full set).


Angela also managed to get some good shots of Kaiser Chiefs front man Ricky Wilson, when they played the Leeds Direct Arena in March (see here for full set).



Not everyone who takes great photographs for Vanguard Online would necessarily describe themselves as a photographer. Ross McGibbon started off writing for Vanguard Online almost twenty years ago. He has since developed a neat line of photographs. I love this one from the lead singer of Cabbage, when they played the Live Art Bistro in Leeds in September (see full set here) showing singer and fans in a moment of glorious unison.

Ross has a knack for capturing the synergy amongst band members, I love this capture of the guitarists from Charly Bliss playing Headrow House in Leeds in September (see full set here).

Here’s another example from the Stone Foundation when they played The Wardrobe in Leeds in May (see full set here).

Ross often covers singer songwriter types, often at their peak of wisdom, and his photos often capture them in these zen like moments, where it feels like they are at one with their soul and mind, with the crowd looking on. This kind of feeling is something I got from this rather neat photography of Michael Nau (see full set here) who played Leeds Brudenell in September. In fact Ross chose the phrase ‘Easy like Sunday Evening’ to describe the gig.

Ross is quite fond of the black and white, like many of our writers, but he’s equally home with the colour shots too, and has a knack for capturing musicians lost in their own world. Here is a really great shot of Micah P Hanson (see full set here) again at Leeds Brudenell in September.

The Micah P Hanson shot shows that Ross has the eye for a great portrait. Another one of my favourites from Ross is that taken of Hawkwind front man when the band played  Leeds University Union in March (see full set here).


And here’s another great one of the lead man from Chuck Prophet (see full set here) when they played the Brudenell in Leeds in February.

Sam Addley made a single contribution in 2017, capturing Vaults playing the Deaf Institute in Manchester in February. I was struck by the photographs that Sam took.  I especially liked this one (see full set here).



Sometimes our writers go armed with nothing more than a camera phone, and for one reason or another, don’t get to make it very close to the stage at all. And yet nevertheless sometimes they can get a blurry shot that somehow does it, and encapsulates the spirit of a gig really nicely, like an impressionist painting. Here for example is a photo from Henry Colquhoun‘s review of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds playing Manchester Arena in September.


So there you go, a great year of music photography on Vanguard Online, thanks to our contributors. All of them do this for free, for nothing, for the love of it. They also, for the most part, organise their own gigs, and have their own networks to draw on to do that. So thanks to each and everyone, the mag wouldn’t be what it is without you. You’ve done yourself proud with some of the shots you’ve taken!

If you yourself are a budding photographer, maybe you’re taking shots for local press but are looking for a platform to do more national stuff on, then don’t hesitate to get in touch at There is no obligation taking photos for Vanguard Online, you do it when you can, and you do what you want. This is our approach and these are our results!

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