Not only does she have an awesome name but Tash Bandicoot has a natural talent for being able to capture the emotion of the best moments of a band on stage.
So first question, how did you get into photography?
It’s the cliché story of ‘I’ve always been around a camera since I was a child’ etc. My parents both always had a camera, it was only a basic film camera for just snapping family holidays, but I was always taking it and running off with it taking photos of everything. I got given a small camera when I was about 7 and I constantly had films in it, took it everywhere I went and got into snapping things I thought needed to be remembered. Fast forward to about 2010 & I got a basic bridge camera to get me started, I just love the idea of once you take a photo the subject is immortal, it’s frozen in that moment. Couple years later (when I was about 16/17, I’m 19 now) I spent my driving lesson fund on a DSLR and a 50mm lens. I haven’t put it down since! And I still can’t drive.
With my love of music I really wanted to combine the two – I used to go to a gig every week and I was there wishing I could catch the energy, the feelings and massive atmosphere that you feel at a gig and share it with other people. I started looking into other photographers, how to get into music photography & the first gig I shot was a small band called Follow You Home. I had no clue how to use my camera, I kept switching between auto and sport mode to catch things, just pressing buttons to see if it made it better. September 2013 I moved out from my parents in Nottinghamshire to Newcastle to study photography at college & actually learn how to use my camera, how to get into the industry and learn what it is to be a photographer. Studying at college has really helped, looking back at my old work and comparing it to how I shoot now is hilarious – there’s such a stark contrast. I think now I’m wanting to veer more towards live music videos as well as photographing them, and shooting the bands backstage/off stage. Hopefully studying Media Production at university will help me out with that. How rad would it be to film a live tour video?! But that’s dreaming big. For now I’m emailing bands and their managers left, right and centre to try and get photo passes for gigs – it’s much harder when you don’t have the right contacts/a magazine to shoot for. Hopefully Kerrang! or Rock Sound will pick me up one day.
How did you decide to work under the name Tash Bandicoot?
I decided it was time I established my presence on the internet as a photographer and I don’t think my real name ‘Tasha Peto’ has such of a ring to it as Tash Bandicoot [Photography] does. Which one are you most likely to remember? I loved playing Crash Bandicoot on my Play Station as a kid and it was already a nickname I had. I was already going by that name (aside from official documents) so, why not? Plus it separates my personal life from my photography and I like that. For now Tash Bandicoot Photography is sticking – even if it does bring a few laughs when I’m collecting my photo pass at the box office.
What was your first camera / photo you took?
My first camera was a Barbie film camera for my 7th birthday. Later upgraded to a Nikon Coolpix P500-something-or-other and to my current camera, Canon EOS 1100D.
The first photo I took, I can’t even remember! I like to think that my first photo is from the first gig I ever shot and was actually my first published photo. It was of Tom Bradshaw, Follow You Home’s drummer and the photo was featured in the band’s debut album. It was my best shot of the gig and I was so proud to have a photo in one of my favourite band’s first album!
How would you describe your photography style to someone who hasn’t seen your work?
I like my work to be fun, bright, and eye-catching and I try capture something different. It’s much focused on live music and capturing energy, atmosphere and creating an emotion between the viewer and my work. I like people to look at my work and be reminded of the last time they saw a live band and be able to feel something when they see it. With non-gig shots, I like it to just scream personality and really bring out a part of the subject.
What have been your highest highs and lowest lows whilst working as a photographer?
Highest high was definitely getting my first photo pass and being able to photograph in a venue where I’ve seen countless bands. As well as photographing Frank Iero and the Cellabration, being a few feet in front of someone I’ve idolised in my younger teenage years and being able to photograph him in a small capacity venue was insane.
My lowest low was when I wanted to completely give up on photography. It’s happened a couple of times but the worst was not too long ago when I’d had some massive issues with both copyright and people taking my work, reposting it, manipulating it etc. Some of my work got really popular on the internet but of course my watermark was cropped out and I was getting no credit. I took a couple weeks out, left my editing for when I felt motivated and ended up getting a new watermark that couldn’t be removed to help prevent this happening again.
Are there any particular social issues you like to address, explore, or challenge in your work? Why?
I’d love to challenge people’s perceptions of beauty and what is considered beautiful or not. That’s something I feel is important as a photographer to home in on. With the media these days being heavily reliant on Photoshop and using the same type of models it would be great to do a portrait series challenging it. I’ve started to plan that a little but I can see it taking time.
How do you think photography affects our mental health? Can it heal?
Definitely, it can. I think if anyone finds photography stressful and a chore, they’re doing something wrong. Whenever I feel that way in the slightest I take a break, and come back to it with a fresh attitude. It can be calming, it can be a release, and it can provoke feelings and emotions. Whether you’re shooting a stranger, a gig, a sunset, a flower or even your family, it can (or in my mind it should) make you feel something, make you connect. I find whenever I’m doing a shoot I go into a completely different mindset, I detach myself from everything and focus solely on my camera and the subject. Since starting photography I’ve had something to focus on and whenever I’m having personal problems I either pick up my camera and go explore or I dig through my hard drive and edit some photos.
Do you think women in the photography industry are treated any differently to guys? How are they viewed? Has this changed/is this changing?
I think often women can be looked down on in the industry, particularly with music photography. For me, especially being only 19, whenever I’m shooting a gig people just assume I’m some fangirl with a camera and this is definitely not the case. And I know that happens a lot with others too. I remember hearing a story of a woman who was doing a shoot and had a male assistant. The model instantly went to the man and introduced themselves, assuming he was the photographer and she was the assistant! I think it’s changing, slowly. I’m seeing more women working their way up and being on a par with the men. I mean have you seen Annie Liebovitz? She’s a wonderful photographer.
Do you feel any particular pressures as a female photographer?
Somewhat, yes. As I previously said people often see me as some fangirl with a camera. I think a lot of people are getting into photography these days and getting DSLR cameras, which can instantly cause judgement and that’s something that shouldn’t happen. No one can really judge someone’s photography skills while they’re taking the photo, they have to see the end result. Some people see my work online and when they realise I’m the one who took it they can be quite surprised! I had someone think I was a guy not long ago. But on the other hand with portraits and fashion shoots I think sometimes people can feel more at ease when a female is photographing, I have no idea why but it can happen. When it does this can be both a blessing and a curse, it can heighten expectations of my work but also give a relaxed atmosphere at the shoot.
Who are your hero’s / influences?
Adam Elmakias. I always go on about him, anyone who knows me probably gets sick of me mentioning him! He’s one of the first music photographers I actually paid attention to, and when I realised that most of the posters that were once plastered all over my room were actually taken by him I got really excited and really dug into his work, watched all his videos and I still keep up to date with him. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times and he’s so lovely. Ashley Osborn, Sammy Roenfeldt, Kirsty Mitchell and Joel Robison are also some of my main influences. I just love their work for all different reasons.
As well as Paul Harries, Matthias Hombaeur, Justine Trickett, Larry Alan, Annie Leibovitz, Brendan Donahue, Beethy Photography, and Leigh Drinkwater are all some of my favourites who I like to regularly keep up with what they’ve been shooting. I couldn’t not give them a mention. Ah there are just so many photographers whose work I really admire.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
By that time I’d love to have photographed Paramore or something like Download festival. Hopefully I’ll be working with a band and shooting them on tour or for a venue, magazine, some kind of outlet that would publish my work and let me shoot gigs regularly. I’m also going to be looking into more videography/cinematography at university so that could take me in so many directions!