Jessica Cerro, better known as Montaigne, has been making waves in the Australian music industry with incredible songs such as I’m a Fantastic Wreck and Clip My Wings.  Her debut album ‘Glorious Heights’ is due for release soon (head to her website to pre-order it!) yet she was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about photography and the music industry. Jessica has been a vocal supporter of crediting when sharing photos on social media, and so when I decided to start this project she was one of the first people I thought to reach out to, so lets find out a little more about her thoughts on the topic. 


Do you personally have a say as to whether or not photographers are provided access to shoot your gigs? If so, why do you chose to allow/disallow them?

It’s not currently an issue but if it did come to a point where my management had to ask for my word on the matter I’d definitely allow photographers at my gigs. Why? Because I don’t really see why not. 

Do you know if there is currently a contract that photographers must sign before shooting your gigs? If so, did you have any say on the terms and conditions of the contract? Do you know what the terms and conditions in your contract are?

I don’t think there is.

What are your thoughts on having photographers at your gigs? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Self conscious? Do you enjoy it? Are you glad when they leave? Do you feel it impacts the performance or the experience of the fans?

Personally, I don’t feel uncomfortable at all. I quite enjoy it! It depends on the venue of course, whether or not it affects a fan’s experience. A venue like Oxford Arts Factory, for example – it’s probably a little bit distracting, especially if they’re in the front row. Not a problem at all if it’s in a venue either with tiered seating/standing or has a partition between crowd & photographers like the Metro or Hordern. As long as the photographer isn’t taking up too much space in those front rows though, there shouldn’t be a huge problem. 

Do you value the end product that is provided by these photographers and the promotion that it provides you/your band when galleries are posted to online publications? Would you rather have no photographers, or just use crowd sourced images? 

Yeah I do! It gives me something to post on Instagram and my socials that isn’t dogs or stills from Kingdom Hearts. I’m not much of a selfie taker either (only sometimes, I have to be in a very particular mood) so it gives me a way to show people my face and my performance. What a professional photographer takes is obviously much better than a shitty iPhone photo (most of the time) and has an enhanced aesthetic so it’s very much preferable. Also, one day, when I can afford a tour photographer, seeing the photos of people who regularly photograph my show let me see if there’s an aesthetic out there that I complements mine, and could regularly employ in the future. Me posting photos and crediting the photographer also allows other performers to gauge the same thing. 

 

“I just think that the community of artists around the world should be working in COMMUNION with each other.”

Do you make an effort to credit photographers when sharing live music photos from your gigs online? Why is this your position?

Yes! Because it’s the least that photographers deserve, given that they aren’t paid. That’s just one reason, too. It’s their work, for god’s sake! So credit them. It’s theirs. Let people know who did the thing that you like enough to share around to thousands (or more) of followers.

Have you paid to have a photographer to shoot a show/tour before? What impacted your decision to pay to have a photographer shoot your show/tour? Did you feel there was a benefit to this arrangement and if so how did this differ to having photographers shooting for free?

I have tried but the photographer has always been unable to attend at the last minute haha. That’s only been the case because I’ve pushed to have her paid. At the moment, the business of Montaigne can’t actually really afford to pay a designated photographer, let alone my MD, but when I can it’ll definitely be a priority. What impacted my decision to try and get that photographer for that show was that I’m a fan of her stuff, and in past she’s been the designated photographer for a band who reached a point where they could probably afford to pay her for shows and still weren’t, which is selfish and unfair in my opinion. She usually shoots for me for free anyway, but I wanted to be able to pay her where possible.

Please share any other thoughts you have about the pro’s and con’s of live music photographers, the ownership of copyright on images, crediting when using/sharing images, contract terms and conditions etc.

I just think that the community of artists around the world should be working in COMMUNION with each other. I’m not interested or impressed by egos. I’m not interested in a world where your accomplishment is only important if you’re the only one achieving. I don’t want to live in a world where I am forgetting about others because I’m too absorbed by myself. It doesn’t really help society progress. And in the end, we are a part of society and what we do inevitably makes an impact. So why would you want to make that impact negative? If we help each other, we help ourselves. Not just socially or materially, but emotionally and spiritually. It’s not as if photography is a dead medium, it’s just more prevalent in digital form now, and that doesn’t make it any less valuable. Artists who care about people illegally downloading their music should be empathetic towards the plights of photographers whose photos are stolen willy nilly, and should make an effort – even if very small – to combat that.

Do you have any feedback for photographers regarding shooting at gigs, posting of images, anything at all that you feel would be beneficial to your experience, as well as that of the photographer and the audience?

Well, I suppose just make sure you’re being respectful of the artist and of the audience, you know? I expect everyone in my audience to be kind and considerate, indiscriminately. I think that’s it.