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Behind the lens: Kate Vice

Benjamin Zephaniah performs in EartH Theatre, by Kate Vice

Our new Behind the Lens series sheds a light on the incredibly talented photographers EartH works with in-house. 

All of those brilliant show images you see on our Instagram come from somewhere, and we’ve decided it’s high time we all get to know our house photographers a little better. We’ll be interspersing their answers with our favourite photos from their work with us to date.

Look out for their Instagram takeovers too, where they’ll be sharing their favourite photos from EartH and telling us some stories behind the shots. 

The Pharcyde perform in EartH Hall by Kate Vice

First up is relative newcomer Kate Vice, who’s been working with us for a little over a year – we love Kate’s knack for getting right in the centre of the action. Below, she explains what’s most challenging about live photography and how she found a path into her practice – let’s get to it!

EartH: When did you start your photography practice?

Kate Vice: I started about 5 years ago shooting artists at jungle raves, mostly vocalist David Boomah who was kind enough to take me along. I would stick around as long as possible to shoot as many artists as I could. My favourite photos from that time are of David and MC Det.

BaianaSystem play EartH Hall, by Kate Vice

E: Which photographers or styles of photography do you most admire?

KV: For capturing raw humanity it has to be the conflict photographer Don McCullin. It takes complete humility to be able to capture, in a respectful way, the deepest human suffering.

Phil Sharp takes beautiful, contemporary portraits. His use of lighting and colour – often muted tones – have a certain quality that makes them almost addictive to look at.

Richard I’Anson is sickeningly talented. Whether portraits, wildlife or landscapes seemingly every picture he takes is a showstopper. He presents one of the episodes of ‘Tales By Light’ on Netflix, it’s well worth a watch.

Ashley Henry performing at EartH Theatre by Kate Vice

Doan Ly pretty much exclusively takes pictures of flowers. That might sound dull to some but before judging just check out the Instagram page. I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it. There’s a reason she has 113k followers.

E: What originally drew you to photography?

KV: I realised that since giving up DJing and producing there was a big creative gap in my life. My family are all artists so, although I have never had a talent for drawing or painting, I have always been exposed to art and beauty and I think that gave me a head start when picking up a camera for the first time. Due to my musical background I had loads of contacts so I jumped straight into music photography which naturally lead to portraiture as well.

The Pharcyde by Kate Vice

E: What do you find to be a challenging element to it?

KV: With events photography it’s all about being one step ahead, learning the artists’ movements and predicting when to take the perfect snap and hope that it coincides with favourable lighting, not to mention that your focus point is perfect because you have to keep the depth of field really large because of the low lighting. You need all the elements to come together in the first three songs (which is the normal allowance) so it keeps you on your toes!

Great street photography eludes me. People make the mistake of thinking it’s easy because everyone has access to a street and a camera (even just on your phone) but that couldn’t be further from the truth. For all sorts of reasons, it’s a highly specialised skill. 

E: What kind of photography projects do you work on outside of the work you do at EartH?

KV: I hire a studio in Brick Lane (Studio 23) and do portrait and fashion photography. I love capturing personality; the twinkle in peoples’ eyes. So many people come to me with stories of grumpy or unhelpful photographers which I can’t understand because my shoots are full of belly laughs (often at me) and shrieks of excitement (often from me because I get really over excited when I think we’ve nailed it). I’m thinking about putting together a collection of photos of my clients cracking up. Those shots make me so happy; that human connection is the reason I do it.

E; Are there any skills you’re honing at the moment regarding your photography?

KV: I want to get better at approaching people in the street to ask them to model for me. I often see stunning people and I’m too shy to ask!

Benjamin Zephaniah by Kate Vice

E: Can you tell us three artists (photographers or otherwise) you’ve been inspired by recently?

KV: Benjamin Zephaniah is a constant source of inspiration for me, it would be my dream to take his portrait. His poetry is funny and angry and accessible. His music is a furious attack on injustice. He is all heart.

I’m late to the party but I just listened to George The Poet’s podcast. If you only listen to one, listen to the one about Grenfell. He’s a true storyteller and paired with the soundscapes it’s a podcast experience like no other.

It’s not an artist, but an artistry: black dandyism. If you’re not familiar with it Shantrelle P Lewis defines a black dandy as “a self-fashioned gentleman who intentionally appropriates classical European fashion, with an African Disaporan aesthetic and sensibilities. He is a rebel” The subversiveness and beauty of it lights me up. Stylish, bombastic, rebellious – what’s not to love?!

E: Thank you so much Kate for your time and such brilliant answers! 

Make sure you’re following EartH on Instagram for Kate’s favourite shots later this week.

And find more of Kate’s work on Instagram here, and her website here.