Photographer spotlight: An Interview With Megan Doherty

Photographer spotlight: An Interview With Megan Doherty

3rd 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

This week was the turn of Northen-Ireland based photographer, Megan Doherty, who was also the winner of our Championing Scenes Award. This category shone a spotlight on the importance of grassroots movements.

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

Photographer Spotlight: Megan Doherty

Megan Doherty is a photographer based in Derry, Northern Ireland. Doherty has exhibited both locally and internationally and continues to build upon her current body of work, embodying themes of youth, subculture, freedom and escape.

Winner of the Championing Scenes category in our Music Photography Awards, we spoke to Megan about her creative approaches, why genres shouldn’t impact your work and more below.

How did you fall into music photography specifically?

A lot of my close friends are musicians so I naturally began shooting music photography alongside my own projects. I feel my aesthetic lends itself quite well to music photography, so I’ve had a range of artists get in touch over the years looking to collaborate and produce artwork with that same aesthetic.

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

Nan Goldin was my biggest inspiration when I was starting out — her ability to capture raw emotion and authenticity in her scenes inspired me to do the same with my own subjects.

What makes a good subject in music photography and what makes a good music photographer?

Personally, I’ve found the best subjects in music photography to be the ones who are open to collaboration and willing to perform in front of the camera. It doesn’t always come naturally to some people, so I feel the mark of a good photographer is one who is willing to direct and encourage their subjects enough that they can create the moment in order to get the shot.

What advice would you give to someone getting started?

Keep shooting every chance you get, you can only get better with practice. Look at what other photographers, filmmakers and artists are creating.

Attend gigs, exhibitions, events and meet people, network, reach out to people you want to work with.

Make work for you always, not what you think other people want to see.

Do you think there’s a genre of music that naturally lends itself to powerful portrait photography?

I don’t think genre should have an effect on how impactful a portrait can be. As long as there is a willing subject, there’s no real limit on how creative you can make a portrait using the setting you have.

How does the photographic process differ between working with introverts and extroverts?

There’s more direction involved when working with introverts, which isn’t a problem for me as I’m more of an extrovert myself. I’m able to fill in the gaps in that sense and push the shot to be where it needs to be.

Working with extroverts is quite the opposite, there’s minimal direction, a lot of ideas being bounced back and forth, and it becomes more of a case of documenting their performance.

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

It’s definitely helpful in a lot of ways — you can connect to an array of artists, you can stay inspired by having an unlimited catalog of images at your fingertips. That said, it can hinder the images people are creating. Instead of creating work for themselves, some people may feel the need to tend to the masses in order to get likes, so I think it’s important to stay mindful of that and not fall into that trap.

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

I could honestly go on forever, so I’ll just narrow it down to few artists I’m listening to — Warpaint, Fontaines D.C., R. Missing, Sonic Youth.

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?

Amazing. To have my work recognised by judges of that scale is so rewarding.

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

Music photography is often viewed as the “lesser”, despite the amount of skill, work and collaboration that’s involved, so it’s important that there are platforms that recognise and celebrate that.

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

I’ve been in close contact with Hennessy who’ve connected me to a variety of publications to discuss winning the Championing Scenes Award, we’ve also started discussing a commission which will be taking place next year.

I’ve also been commissioned to create work for a exhibition alongside Martin Parr later this year in Paris. Outside of that, I’ve begun working on a new series which I hope to eventually publish and exhibit, so exciting things are happening right now!
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 Megan, follow her on Instagram at and her website.

Related News