GREG INTERVIEWS ALISON RICHARDS (2016)
A self-taught photographer with a background in marketing, Alison Richards found an new outlet for her passion as a long-time metal fan when she became an official Bloodstock photographer in 2014. A selection of her work was subsequently featured in the RAM gallery in 2015 and now, as well as taking part in 2016's exhibition, she has become a key member of the RAM team, with responsibility for Strategic Creative Development and, of course, photography.
Q. Last year you said that you were still learning your craft. How have your skills developed during the last twelve months?
“Number one would be my confidence, in a number of areas; confidence in believing in my own work. Last year I was very nervous actually, about putting my work out in such a way as to be positioned as a professional photographer when there were going to be other professional photographers at the festival. Whereas twelve months on, without sounding disrespectful, I couldn't give a shit if other photographers critiqued my work or were quite negative because there are obviously people out there that like it. Showing in the gallery was like, OK, it's going in there and I need to deal with it, and it really helped me with the confidence to believe in what I do. I've also got more confident in understanding photography. I was very loose and unrestrained from the point of view that I didn't have an academic learning in photography, but at the same time, knowing about that stuff and learning about that side of photography is enabling me to have a more defined approach to what I'm doing, and understand better how I can create what I'm trying to create.”
Q. How was the reaction to your work in the gallery in 2015?
“Some really nice things were said and with people approaching me at the festival, in particular the shot of Tom Warrior of Triptykon went down really well. I had people finding me and coming up to me throughout the festival because they wanted to share with me that they thought it was an 'awesome picture', and I was asked a couple of days after the festival where they could buy it, which is great. And I was told by one of the Bloodstock compères that Tom Warrior himself posted it on one of his personal social media pages and said it was his favourite shot. So, yes, that's brilliant.”
Q. Tell us about some of the images that you will be showing this year.
“There are some I won't put out because I want it to be a surprise, but there's an image of Helmuth Lehner from Belphegor surrounded with dry ice and smoke – I love smoke and fire. Anything like that in an image I just find really atmospheric. There's Sharon den Adel from Within Temptation where she to me looks like Lilith, wearing a headdress, that's quite dramatic. I've got a big canvas of Ron Reinhart of Dark Angel which to me really represents the energy of Bloodstock, and the spontaneity. I'm actually side of stage at the moment Ron decides to jump offstage. So I've actually got him in action and you can see the crowd. The focus means you can see the expressions on their faces, and it's a really lovely shot of what's happening. Then there's Derrick Green of Sepultura which I picked because he just looks so powerful, like it's his kingdom. I also picked it because I wanted to represent people of colour in metal. Likewise, I was also drawn to the image of Sharon den Adel because I wanted to represent women in metal.”
Q. You've since come on board as part of the RAM team – how did that come about?
“After I was invited to do photography at Bloodstock, I was invited into the gallery which meant I was able to spend more time with Paul [Gregory] and he became aware through conversation that I had a very strong marketing background. After more and more conversations we started to talk about the vision for an actual bricks and mortar RAM museum. I would never have thought that my varied career path – art, fashion and textiles, footwear, retail, marketing – would ever come into play here, but I'm using all those skills. The reason I came out of the corporate world – as well as ethical issues – is that it was stifling my creativity. Now, I get to satisfy all my creativity, use my marketing experience, and work for an organisation that is not corporate. So, it doesn't feel forced and I find it all so exciting. It's just a great opportunity and I've met some great friends along the way.”