Provide Records - Interview with Sam Frank Wood

Sam Frank Wood

Portrait by Andy Oliveri

When we decided to shoot the Provide Records collection in the middle of a daytime DJ set, Sam Wood was an obvious choice of photographer. With extensive experience of photographing musicians, Sam's documentary style is honest, personal and often humorous - much like the man himself. We sat down with Sam to find out a bit more about his work and inspirations.

What do you like about photographing musicians?

It’s a constant source of creativity; you can shoot in a style that reflects the band while adding your own perspective to enhance the overall image. It’s also a great way to meet people - when I moved to Birmingham about 4 years ago, I shot show after show for music promotors “THIS IS TMRW” which in turn led to more creative jobs.

There are obvious parallels to be drawn between the recent revivals of music on vinyl, and analogue photography. As a photographer who shoots regularly on film, why do you think people are looking back to older methods of making art and music?

I don't think the instant gratification of things like Instagram will last - more and more people are moving towards something physical, that they own and isn’t forgotten about in the depths of the internet. With a manual film camera, you create the image using the mechanics of the camera itself. It adds excitement, and an air of uncertainty.

Show us a couple of your favourite images that you've made.

Mac Demarco Birmingham

This is Mac Demarco at the O2 Institute in 2015. Its pretty ridiculous - the “World War Z” style swarm to touch him is what makes this photo.

Sunshine Frisbee Laser Beam

Here's Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam at their album release show at the Sunflower Lounge in 2014. I like to capture a whole scene in an image so you can move your eyes around and really read it. I'm still unsure how Pete didn’t fall off that sketchy box he’s stood on.

Who is your favourite music photographer?

Pennie Smith will always remain an influence on me.  Her style is so raw. It gave me a fresh take on how shows could be shot, giving the viewer something that they may not have necessarily seen or noticed at the show, or behind the scenes with the musicians she followed. 

If you could shoot an album cover for any artist, who would it be and why?

Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam. Lloyd Bowen has been doing their last few releases and they’re a great mosaic of photocopying and pattern - I’ve been a fan of it since I first saw their first EP. I would love to try and replicate this effect with film one day.

Finally - seeing as the Provide Records collection you shot is all about album art, share with us 3 of your favourite LP covers...

The Cure - Three Imaginary Boys.
I met Martyn Goddard who took this photo when I was at university, and kept my fan-boy on cool. It’s just so simple, I don't know if it represents the heights or shapes of the band members... it’s subtle, yet so interesting and iconic.

Black Sabbath - Greatest Hits.
The painting is Peter Brueghel’s “Triumph of Death” from 1562. My dad had this album when I was a kid and I remember reading it like a book on the carpet, pushing my dog's nose away from me fearing he’d slobber all over it. It's brutal and a perfect piece to accompany Sabbath's music.

Pup - The dream is over
“The dream is over” is what a doctor told Pup's lead singer after shredding his vocal chords, and I like how that relates to the image. Casually getting on with your daily grind while just around the corner it's all about to get pretty bad. It’s the crossed legs that gets me in this, its just like “meh” to the fire, or the doctors advice.

Check out the Provide Records collection and see the images Sam shot for it here.

Provide Records Lookbook

See more of Sam's work on his website and Instagram.



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