Life of Riley


An easy and pleasant life.


The phrase originated with the Irish/American soldiers in the US Army during WWI. The first known citation is in a letter from a Private Walter J. Kennedy, stationed at Camp Dix, New Jersey, which was published in The Syracuse Herald on 29th June 1918. The piece was headed “Great Life, Writes Soldier at Camp”:

“This is surely one great life.” writes Kennedy. “We call it the life of Riley. We are having fine eats, are in a great detachment and the experience one gets is fine.”

I was at a gig once, and I got chatting with a fan. During the course of the conversation, she said innocently, “You guys seem to have an easy job!”, to which I promptly replied, “‘Easy’ being the delusional word!”. Maybe it’s the smoking mirrors of the ‘glitz & glamour, but being a live music photographer is a hustle and half! One myth that seems to be perpetuated by forces that I can’t fathom, is that humble Live Music photographers have it easy and that we get to meet the ‘celebrities’. If I had a pound coin for every time I hear that, I’d be able to get a “Wow! You’ve met ‘so-&-so! anti-celebrity device. Let me break it down for you readers: The big majority of us don’t and will never meet these celebrities. As a matter of fact, we are despised in most instances. We’re even called ‘paps!’ What cheek!  We’re only put up with by ‘celebrity performers’  for the time being, because we are only as important to them for live review images that end up being published. Don’t get me wrong: not all musicians & performers have the same backward attitude. A few welcome us and actually have a chat with us. Only a few photographers have a real access to the ‘stars’, but even then, they’ve had to work hard to get there.

To be honest, Live Music Photographers go through a lot of palaver. If it’s not hassle of getting a photo-pass, then it’ll be the PR agencies giving you the most ridiculous Rights Grabbing Forms and asking you to literally sign your copyright away. Or, in other instances, it can be moronic chaperoning that includes you being dictated as to where and how you take pictures. Ask any photographer who covered the recent Stevie Wonder gig, and you’ll know what I’m on about.

Or how dealing with Neandrathalic jobsworth known as security? With the way how they deal with live music photographers, I reckon they just need someone to bully over. Or how about low lighting conditions? Or when we are placed at the back next to the mixing desk without prior warning and we end up shooting specks on stage?

Or the “Oh, could we have pictures, please? We don’t have budgets, but we can give you a credit!” Hah! I laugh in your face!!  What’s more hilarious is that I get these calls at times from the same PR companies that give me so stress in the first place in getting a photopass!

Yet, despite all this, and other trials, most of us still enjoy taking pictures at gigs. Besides, I’m on my soapbox, so here are some shots from Friday taken at the Royal Festival Hall of Cherry Ghost, Manic Street Preachers & Doves:

Manic Street Preachers:

Cherry Ghost:



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