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Sandy Brown Jazz


Hayley Madden

Mission: To Shoot People

Hayley Madden


Photographer Hayley Madden is based in Gidea Park, Essex and for over 20 years now she has been capturing music events, including the Yamaha, PPL, Jazz Services events at Westminster hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG).

What is it like to see these events from the other side of the camera lens? As someone who is at home with taking photographs of political, celebrity and music occasions, Hayley seemed a good person to ask.

As far as political activities are concerned, Hayley works for the London Assembly and the Mayor of London. ‘I have been fortunate to keep my contract there, even with the change of leadership,’ she says. ‘I remember one occasion when I was asked to photograph the Royal Opening of City Hall. The lifts all had to be kept free for the Queen and her entourage, so the webcam team and I had to run up and down eight floors via the spiral staircase. Aargh!’

When it comes to politics, Hayley has attended private functions for all the major parties, including an impromptu celebration of Tony Blair’s birthday party on Ken Livingstone’s election campaign and a private party held for Baroness Margaret Thatcher by the Young Conservatives, so she is careful to keep her political views very private although she assures me her approach to politics is the same a her approach to religion in that she is philosophical and looks at issues rather than people. 'As photographing people is my main occupation, politicians are just as interesting as the next person in terms of character Boris Johnstonand appearance, whatever their views,' she says.


Boris Johnston
Photograph © Hayley Madden


Being of Chinese descent, one job that Hayley was particularly apprehensive about was taking the portraits for the London Assembly when a member of the British Nationalist Party was elected, but he turned out to be one of the politest and most agreeable subjects to work with: ‘I treated him the same as all the others and offered him free use of my pictures for his own publicity, which may seem strange, as I disagree with the BNP manifesto, but I believe in free speech and how can controversial views ever be discussed properly if they are suppressed? I also have a perverse satisfaction in seeing my images on BNP literature. I have become very friendly with some politicians of very extreme views and had some good discussions with them. I was a bit naïve about politics before working for the Mayor, but it has helped me in all areas of my photography including music. Many musicians are highly political so it helps to not come over as a complete political dunce when shooting them. A couple I particularly enjoyed shooting were Billy Bragg and Chumbawamba and of course the biggest Jazz Awards are held at The Houses of Parliament where the cream of the jazz world mixes with top politicians. I also work for PPL and The Musician Unions, and political events are always on the agenda for these guys’

Hayley studied for her photography qualifications at the City of Westminster College whilst working nights as a croupier to raise money for her training. ‘Sometimes I only got two hours sleep a night,’ she recalls. ‘There were times when I slept on my partner’s office floor to save travel time. It is an interesting experience to fall asleep standing up whilst dealing blackjack!’

She went on to take apprenticeships at the Independent newspaper and in the Mirror Group imaging rooms. Her first full-time professional work however was with the NME (New Musical Express). ‘I have been commissioned to photograph every Glastonbury Festival since 1995,’ she says. ‘Rain or shine – and of course mud!’

She works for Universal Records and took pictures for BMG Records, continuing with the Angie Stonecompany when it was bought out by SONY. Her photographs have appeared in all the major broadsheets and the specialist music press.

So what is it like trying to take photographs at music events, dealing with the crowds and musicians? What does Hayley aim for when taking a photo of a musician? Like politics, Hayley shoots music all across the spectrum from celebrity superstars like JayZ to publicity shunning reclusives like Patty Smith.


Angie Stone
Photograph © Hayley Madden


'I am surprised at the rivalry between the genres,' she says. 'Just as all religions are the same in wanting peace and harmony, and all politicans are the same in wanting social justice, so musicians want to provide food for the soul. I think it is sad that some musicians feel their genre is more important than other types of music and look down on other types; ask anyone what sort of stuff they are into and you will always get the same answer ‘Everything!’ so what’s with the cultural snobbery?'

'I do find that each genre tends to have a personality, which pervades its events, gigs and fans, and it helps to be aware of this to make photographing easier. For example Heavy Metal crowds are always friendly and helpful, Indie crowds love being asked for their advice, Pop crowds are the hardest to deal with physically (they never give up their spot!). The Jazz audience is the most laid back, and I find with both Jazz events and Jazz musicians that it is the only genre where it is all about the music – even though other genres insist they believe this too.'Hugh Masekela



Hugh Masekela
Photograph © Hayley Madden


'Jazz audiences in general do not mind you crawling around in front of them, and you can be almost on the end of a jazz musician’s saxophone and they will not notice your presence. In general, they are the easiest to shoot when performing as they totally ignore you so you can get great documentary shots. When I shoot a gig or any occasion in fact, I aim to give a feeling of the event to people who could not attend, but while I’m shooting I live very much in the moment and respond to what I see.'

'At most events there is a photographic pit where you get a prime spot to shoot, which can greatly irritate a crowd of fans who have queued for ages to get to the front and paid dearly for it. I am always aware that these are the people who pay all our wages in the music business and treat them with respect. I always wear black and if possible try to keep out of the way. If I am getting particularly resentful looks, I get into conversation with them, usually asking if they have seen the artist before (if they are at the front they usually have) and if they can give me any tips on a good angle or what the act might do. An ardent fan of any age, sex and viewpoint is always keen to share their knowledge and I usually finish the conversation by giving them a card and offering to send them a shot from the gig for their help. This really breaks the ice, even with fans I have not chatted to, and if there is no pit, very often the front row will then actively help you to get a good spot. Funnily enough, I very rarely get taken up on my offer of a free image. Either people don't believe it is free or they are happy to just be acknowledged and appreciated.'

'When it comes to portraits, again each genre is stereotyped and most musicians, despite being very unique individually, do tend to conform to their genre stereotype in clothing and hairstyles. I do school photography and we have on average ten seconds to get a smile in one shot. Teenagers are acknowledged to be the hardest, but I can tell by the way an adolescent walks, talks and does their hair what music they will be into and can usually relate to them straight away.'

'With musicians I actually try not to think about their music when shooting them and look at them as a person – just as I do for politicians and celebrities. It is of course hard to do this if the person or act is very well known, but I don’t read the celebrity newspapers or gossip mags and everyone comes with as clean a sheet as possible.'

Gilbert O Gil

'One person I found it difficult to do this with was Kyle Eastwood, the son of Clint Eastwood. I was asked to do a portrait of him for his record company when he came to perform at Ronnie Scott's. It was very hard to think of him as a person in his own right, but he was a true jazz musician, totally unaware of anything going on around him once he had his bass in his hands so I did the portrait with him holding the bass. I find this works best for most jazz musicians, who always seem a little lost in front of the camera without their instrument – it is so much a part of who they are and that is what a good portrait is all about.'


Gilberto Gil
Photograph © Hayley Madden


'Most other genres have clothes and attitudes and other style influences to fall back on when having a portrait taken, but jazz is the exception. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, and I’m sure not all jazz musicians are placid and ego free but I have yet to meet one.'

'I have worked with some notoriously hard acts and found them to be absolutely fine. When Oasis were trying to break into America, I was sent with a journalist to go out and find them and come back with a cover story. The trouble was the PR had promised an exclusive cover to a rival magazine, knew we had been sent on this mission and was actively trying to stop us getting anything. We were armed with a couple of plane tickets, a loaded open company credit card and instructions to get the article in two days whatever the cost. With no force or money changing hands we got two press passes to the gig, a two minute photoshoot with Liam Gallagher, who was a complete gent, and a five minute interview with his brother Noel, within 24 hours. The secret – treating everyone we met with honesty and respect. Okay we lucked out by happening to book into the same hotel as the band, but that’s about it. We woke up the Editor in the middle of the night to tell him the good news and that we had had to bribe a lot of people with champagne (which we actually celebrated with all night!)'

'Talking of egos, having a group photograph taken seems to bring out the worst in people, and at many corporate events bringing together a group of key people always requires a big amount of diplomacy and effort. It’s a team effort between the photographer and the press person,' says Hayley. 'At most events I generally start shooting once the room is reasonably full and I shoot everyone who is willing, as it makes anyone who does not want to be photographed aware that that is what’s happening (sometimes the personalities have not been told and that can be awkward). They can then go and arrange themselves if they need to, or stay out of the way. I never go and flush people out or follow them and I always ask permission. I have missed out on some classic shots because of this. I remember doing a presentation shot of one artist who shall remain nameless backstage at a festival once and the head of the PR was with me. It was to be a straightforward shot, but the person was in high spirits and grabbed the award, ran to the toilet and posed with it on the loo encouraging me to take the shot. I didn’t. The PR person was extremely grateful. I knew even taking it would have given her uneasiness knowing it was on record, and the Courtney Pinejob is stressful enough as it is. I think that is why I have kept a foothold with the major record labels shooting their most private functions. I never tell anyone who I am shooting or give tip offs.'


Courtney Pine
Photograph © Hayley Madden


'It’s not only treating your subjects and the people around them with respect. Quite a few times I have been stranded – either missed a train or plane – with no money or food. Again, it is the fans that come to the rescue. I once did a shoot of the cast of Coronation Street, we were interviewing them about their favourite types of music and shooting them in the style of their choice, and we missed our train home. We were bemoaning our fate in the station café and contemplating a night on the station benches, when a young couple nearby overheard us saying we worked for NME, heard our plight and immediately offered us a bed for the night. More than that, they took us out for dinner and a beer and we had a such a great time talking rubbish into the night we nearly missed our train in the morning as well. '

Hayley started at NME shooting black and white film which she rolled herself to save money. With the takeover of digital, she has seen lots of changes in the industry many of which parallel the music industry, with copyright issues and the ability for good quality work to be produced at home with modest equipment. Lots of would-be part time photographers have invaded all areas of the photography business that Hayley specialises in – wedding, news, music, under cutting full time professionals, but |Hayley does not feel threatened by this.

'It’s not photography that this job is about. Anyone with half a brain can take a photo. It’s as easy as driving a car and a lot less dangerous if you get it wrong. It’s about people. I have total respect for the people I work with, something that is lacking with lots of would-be photographers and is present in anyone successful in the business. Giving respect gets you respect and people are always surprised when they meet me. Lots of them do not even realise I am the photographer until I get out my cameras, and even then they do not always take me seriously. When I first started, my partner used to assist me, and the bands always thought he was the photographer and I was the assistant. It annoyed me at first, but then I realised it was very useful for getting the upper hand once they realised their mistake and I still try to be as unassuming as possible at an event, so when I start ordering people around (which you do have to do in order to get anything done), they are more compliant. Most of the job, whatever you shoot, is dealing with people, be it a particularly hefty security guard or a subject who is convinced they look awful or just trying to get a group of people together. If you respect them, the job becomes so much easier. I never take it as a given right that I am allowed to take photos.'

Jill Scott

“Last week I was discussing this with a PR person on a job. He admitted to me that they had been using someone in the office, who was a very good and keen photographer to do their PR shots for the web as quality was not an issue for publication. The shots had been disappointing. There is a conception that photography is a glamorous, creative, exciting career, but for the most part you are photographing other people’s ideas, lugging around heavy equipment, dealing with stressful situations, and fighting against time and light to get a half decent shot. However, if you are willing to put up with the hard stuff, the rewards are great.'


Jill Scott
Photograph © Hayley Madden


'The reward is not money but life experience. It is glamorous. I’ve travelled to Paris on a private train with Take That; cared for baby birds in the Nevada Desert with Dick Dale; drunk coconut milk on the Rio beach front with Incognito; flown in a private plane with Blur; played football with Alan Shearer at Wembley Stadium; snogged Bono of U2, and had dinner with countless artists from Marilyn Manson to Will-I-am. It is creative. You get to work in all sorts of situations so you have to think on your feet all the time to squeeze a good shot out of a job. It is exciting. I never know what is happening tomorrow.'

'Most of the best jobs are last minute and I could get a call to go and shoot anyone in the world from the President of the USA to a prisoner of war; from Justin Beiber to Ozzy Osbourne.'

'I’ve met the most wonderful people and had my eyes opened to the strangest, funniest, saddest, weirdest and most touching situations. I’ve taken a girl who was kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery by her own father; Boris Johnson dancing the tango with Arlene Philips; a wedding for a couple when the bride was dying of cancer; Paul O’Grady wolf-whistling Burlesque Strippers; a mother who has spent seven years obsessed with looking for the stolen body of her dead daughter; Shakira wading though knee-deep mud at Glastonbury with attending security holding up the black bags that her feet were in; a woman who was raped by her uncle and who had not left the house for twenty years, and the strangest of all – the moment we won the Olympic Games…..'

Hayley is, of course, also much in demand as a wedding photographer. ‘Some are real challenges,’ she says. ‘I remember I had to photograph a wedding at St. John’s College, Cambridge. They wouldn’t close the chapel to the public – University policy – so I had to get all the intimate shots and show the gorgeous setting whilst avoiding the gaping general public.’

‘My style is discrete and unobtrusive,’ she says. ‘My camera keeps me calm. Clients look for a relaxed photographer and I aim to capture those fleeting moments and important details for pictures that reflect the true meaning of an event.’

‘Hayley once asked her young son whether he would like to be a photographer when he grows up. ‘No mummy,’ he replied with disdain. ‘That’s a girl’s job!’

Click here for Hayley’s website where you can read more about her and see her gallery of pictures.

You can contact Hayley at: hayley@hayleymadden.com

© Sandy Brown Jazz and Hayley Madden 2012 - 2015

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