Interview: Freelance Photographer Jamie Macmillan

21 Apr 2020

Jamie Macmillan is a freelance event and portrait photographer based in Brighton. We caught up with him to find out more about his work and to take a look back at some of his favourite moments at Brighton Dome.

What do you love about your job?

I love capturing the energy and the atmosphere of the night. The happy faces in the crowd, those little buzzy moments that when people look back on the night the next day, it brings a smile to their face. That’s the kind of thing people love and that in turn is what I love about my job. I think with Brighton Dome, in particular, it’s the history and the heritage. You are very conscious of that as you look around, it’s really special. It is definitely my favourite venue to work at in the country. 

What advice would you give to an aspiring event photographer?

Get out there. Start going to those tiny gigs where you don’t need a specific photo pass and just get in there with the camera. From there it’s practice, there’s no shortcut. Share the photos with the artists and the venues. You’re not always going to be able to go to the gigs you want but you do have to get used to hearing no as an answer sometimes, you just go back and try again.

What do you love about working in Brighton?

It’s got everything. There’s always something to see and always something to get stuck in to. From all the different venues, the pubs you can go and see live music, the corners you get people busking on, and the places that do proper theatre work. Just look at what Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe bring every year. It’s endlessly fascinating and as a creative place, I can’t think of anywhere else like it in the UK.

How are you coping being a freelancer right now?

When the crunch first came, I instantly lost every single commission I had coming in for probably three or four months over the space of a week. From a freelance point of view, it is really challenging because you know there is no work coming in. That’s the story across music generally. So many bands, so many photographers, so many creatives lost at that point.

How are you staying creative?

I’m digging through my archives and finding fun things that I had shot but had forgotten about. Sometimes are from old shows or old portrait shoots. Taking a fresh look at them and bringing them back to life really. Everybody in my field lives and works on social media and people are so hungry for content it’s almost expected they’re looking at old stuff. It’s like a throwback to the good times.

What bands are you excited about in 2020?

The big one for me is Sports Team, their album comes out in June. Then there’s some really exciting bands like Easy Life, Girl Band, Dry Cleaning and Do Nothing. Quite a few are coming to Brighton to play live, which thankfully have only been postponed.

Then there are some livestream festivals popping up at the moment. That kind of thing is great. For a short little while, you can pretend like all this isn’t happening and you’re just watching live music to some degree. I think it’s great, there’s so much. There are almost gig clashes now you don’t know who to watch!

What can we do support artists, bands and creatives at the moment?

There are lots of ways to offer support, from buying prints from photographers that you like or online merchandise from your favourite bands. I think for venues, it’s a huge challenge for them. I’ve not asked for a refund on any gig that’s been moved I’ve just accepted that change of date. I think it’s really important that they don’t get hit with a load of refunds as well. It’s hard because everybody’s juggling so many different needs but it’s just supporting the areas you can. Choose how best to do it and which ones to really support and buy from. 

Jamie’s photographic prints are available to buy online here
Instagram: @jamie_macmillan_photos

Interview by Liberty-Rose Gatcombe, University of Brighton, Multi-media Broadcast Journalism student placement: @liberty3rose