Shaun Neary – Top 10 Moments

We continue our gig photographer’s top 10 with Shaun Neary. In his 5 years of gig photography take a look at his top moments.

1)    Working Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed on the night of my birthday. This was interesting because I was literally warned that if I was going to be late for the birthday meal that I was to attend afterwards, that to not bother turning up at all. No pressure at all there. And yes, I was able to make it to both.

2)    Photographing and reviewing Iron Maiden while really ill. It was the one show I really could have done with going home after the third song, however the PR required a review to go with it, so I was on double duty. The nerves of my skin were badly inflamed, especially around my back, so it was probably the longest 90 minutes I ever stood up. Amazing show though, and I’d do it all again.

3)    Working with MGT at Proud Camden in London. I’d been a fan of Mark’s work since I was a teenager. As a die-hard fan of The Mission, I really wondered if anyone could fill the boots of Simon Hinkler after his departure in 1991. Mark not only filled them, he ran in them for years after. He came to the forefront with his debut ‘Volumes’ last year, and this was one of his first live shows with that band. I don’t think I could be thankful enough just for being a part of that.

4)    Getting my photo pass for Guns N Roses at Slane Castle. I didn’t find out about it until the night before while I was at a venue waiting for The Skids to come on stage. It was game on because I had a fair idea how far back we would be from the stage. There were some shots that I was happy with, but overall, it wasn’t my finest hour. When you’re struggling with a 400mm lens, you know the joke isn’t funny anymore. But it was still great to be a part of that.

5)    Not having to spend any more money on cameras, lenses, or repairs! In the previous years, I was always saving for something, be it a longer zoom, a wider lens, a repair after clumsily dropping my 14-24mm (which is my go-to for smaller venues). I didn’t have to do any of that this year, so It was nice to actually have some money in the bank for a change instead of being on the verge of an overdraft!

6)    Aerosmith! Another band who I’d been a fan of since my teens. It was on the same night as Arcade Fire here in Dublin, but I knew exactly where I wanted to be when that date was announced. For me, there’s no comparison. We were at the sound desk for that one, but it didn’t matter because both Tyler and Perry spent most of the first three songs at the foot of the ramp, so even if you only had a 70-200 with you, you were still going to get gold out of that shoot.

7)    Getting my photo pass for ZZ Top for the second time. The first required a cross country trip at the 11th hour, this time they were in my home town. This shoot blew the previous one out of the water though as they gave us the first two and two more towards the end. ZZ Top always make it easy for everyone though, if you come out of a ZZ Top show with bad photographs, reconsider what you’re doing, because it’s genuinely effortless working their shows.

8)    Working with Trucker Diablo. I’d been waiting for a while to catch them and I could never make it up North of the border on the dates they performed up there, which sounds crazy as I did work a considerable amount of shows in Belfast. it was just one of those things! I spent the whole day tailing them around Vicar Street from sound check to their last song, took about 800 photos and had to narrow them down to a set of about 90. We all had an absolute blast. They made it easy for me, I’d like to think I made it easy for them as well.

9)    Coldplay! What can I say? They’re one of the biggest bands on the planet right about now, and they played Croke Park in Dublin in front of about 82,000 people that night. My third year as a photographer at Croke Park (having worked Bruce Springsteen and Ed Sheeran the previous years), and we were based at the side of the ramp. I think the only thing I got confused about was which lens to use. So I strapped all of them to me. Around my neck, on my cameras, on my hip all while trying to keep up with Chris Martin running up and down a ramp! It’s an experience to say the least.


10) My final show, Muse at Belfast Vital festival. I’d missed out on the last couple of times, so I was determined to catch them this time around. Even more surprisingly, we were actually given the pit for that show (the previous few tours had been from the sound desk, making the shots very one dimensional). It really was one of those ‘better to be lucky than good’ moments. I was so elated working on the shots on the coach back to Dublin. Was a nice way to go out.


Ahh why not throw in another…

11) Making the decision to retire (and actually sticking with it, as that was meant to happen last year and I got talked out of it!). Recently I’ve gone through the last five years of what I’ve achieved, and I’m really proud of it. When you’re in and out of venues night after night, you don’t really get a chance to step back and appreciate what you’ve done. I only have myself to blame for that at the end of the day, but the amount of reflecting I’ve done on some of what has happened has really made me sit back and go “Wow… that was a hell of a five year journey!”

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