Photographer spotlight: An Interview With Jérôme Brunet

Photographer spotlight: An Interview With Jérôme Brunet

17th November 2022

Earlier this year, we launched the inaugural Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards, the first ever awards to celebrate the art of music photography and the talent behind the lens.

The competition ran across a series of distinct categories, with winners selected by a panel of photographers, music artists and creatives. The awards recognised 2021’s most unforgettable, unique and unsung music moments and the varied and talented photographers who captured them.

Shortlisted emerging & professional photographers were unveiled and celebrated at an exclusive awards ceremony, hosted here at Abbey Road.

We recently started profiling some of the talented photographers who participated and had their work shortlisted by our judges, including Rankin, Shygirl, Jill Furmanovsky, Moses Sumney, Sacha Lecca, Dana Scruggs and Simon Wheatley.

You can read some of the previous pieces in the series below:

- Anthony Harrison

- AboveGround

- Chris Suspect (winner of the Zeitgeist Award)

- John Lyons (winner of the Live Music Photography Award)

- DeShaun Craddock

- Riccardo Piccirillo

- Neelam Khan Vela

- Hana Kovacs

- Jason Sheldon (Junction10)

- Nat Michele

- Joe Puxley (winner of the Undiscovered Award)

- Thomas Weidenhaupt

- Megan Doherty

- Jada & David

This week we spoke to French-born, Ontario-raised photographer Jérôme Brunet, who was shortlisted for our Live Music Photography Award, dedicated to the image that defined live music in 2021.

Check back every Thursday as we continue to profile some of the talented photographers who participated.

Shortlisted Photo

Cage The Elephant by Jérôme Brunet


Photographer Spotlight: Jérôme Brunet

Jérôme Brunet was born in southern France and raised in Ontario, Canada. His passion for music began at the age of four, when he started studying as a classical cellist for ten years before moving on to the guitar. He continues to play guitar to this day. Jérôme displayed an early talent in the visual arts, studying the discipline in high school before completing a formal education in photography at the prestigious E.F.E.T. School of Photography in Paris, France.

Jérôme’s award-winning photography has been published internationally in such publications as Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Time, Billboard, Popular Photography, American Photo, Guitar World, Smithsonian and The New York Times. His client list includes Leica, Nikon, Fender, Gibson, John Varvatos, AEG, Warner Bros. Records and he has collaborated with the non-profit organizations Unicef, Rock for MS, T.J. Martell Foundation, John Varvatos Stuart House Benefit and the Recording Academy's MusiCares.

Jérôme is based in West Hollywood, California, and his work is represented by fine-art galleries around the world.

How did you fall into music photography specifically?

I started out in music way before I became a photographer. My mother was a music teacher and got me playing the cello by the age of four, which I played for ten years, until I heard Led Zeppelin and immediately switched over to the electric guitar.

It wasn’t until high school where I randomly took a photography class that my two passions collided, music and photography.

And was there a particular image or body of work that was a major inspiration when starting out?

One of the very first photographs of a musician I can remember admiring was by famed Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh of cellist Pablo Casals. I was struck by the angle of the photograph, which was taken from behind, and the power of the image that could be achieved from an unusual perspective.

Years later, after moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, in early 2001, I had the life changing experience of taking a masterclass with Jim Marshall, the godfather of rock photography. Afterwards we drank bourbon at his place, and I was transfixed as he regaled me with his incredible stories of shooting the legendary Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock.

He later invited me to showcase my work alongside his at one of his last benefit shows on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. A memory I will never forget.

What makes a good subject in music photography and what makes a good music photographer? What advice would you give to someone getting started?

My only rule is I only shoot musicians that I love. By doing so, I believe it bring you closer to capturing the essence and soul of the musician. Being passionate about what you’re shooting is the first step in creating something compelling and unique.

How does your approach differ when working with upcoming talent versus established artists?

You usually have more freedom working with lesser-known acts that are looking for exposure. The more established they get the more restrictions there are, and it becomes harder to move around freely to capture what you want. With time, you get to know more people in the business, from talent buyers to promoters and artist management, which hopefully leads you to the coveted “all access pass.”

Do you have a preference of working on location/on tour vs in a studio?

I come from a photojournalistic background and rarely ever use studios for my work. The less preparation there is, the more creative I usually am. I prefer using the natural backdrop of the stage or backstage environments to capture portraits. They always seem more authentic to me, and I think the artists feel more comfortable there as well.

Have you ever been starstruck when photographing someone? How do you overcome that?

I seldomly get starstruck, but I was once assigned to shoot an interview at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Los Angeles with drummer Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whom I’m a moderate fan of, and an undisclosed special guest. When suddenly Alex Lifeson, guitarist for the band Rush, whom I’m a BIG fan of, comes through the door. I kept my cool, did the shoot and shook his hand.

Although I’ve photographed and rubbed elbows with some of the biggest names in the industry, I’ve always tried to stay as professional and low key as possible, you can’t start asking for autographs or selfies when you’re backstage as you’ll quickly be shown the door.

How has social media shaped music photography, both as a craft more generally, as well as your personal work?

I think it’s a great way to get your work out there and I’ve also sold many fine-art prints to people I generally would have never been in contact with from around the world. But I also believe it doesn’t replace having your work physically on the walls of a gallery and interacting with people face to face.

Who is someone, alive or dead, you’d love to photograph?

Led Zeppelin.

In one word, how would you describe your photography?


How did it feel to be nominated in the Abbey Road Studios Music Photography Awards 2022?

It was a truly humbling experience being nominated by my peers and showcased by such an iconic musical institution.

Why do you think it is important to create a platform like the MPAs to showcase music photography?

I think music photography is finally getting its rightful due and I think the MPAs is a great way to put a spotlight on it and to share it with as many people as possible.

What have you been doing since the awards? And what do you hope is next?

I continue shooting live music and preparing to be a dad.
Don't forget to head to the official MPAs website to get a comprehensive overview of all the participants, nominations and winners. Also, follow us on Instagram at @abbeyroadmpa for more MPAs related content.

To keep up with Jérôme, follow him on Instagram at @jeromebrunet and his website.

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