In Conversation With Kate Lawlor

WRITTEN BY Sáoirse Goes

December 20, 2022

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In Conversation With Kate Lawlor

Sáoirse Goes

20 Dec, 2022

On a cloudy Dublin afternoon, 23 year-old Kate Lawlor joins me in the upstairs of a cosy coffee shop to talk about her photography. The recent Trinity College sociology and Irish graduate has been blowing up in the Dublin arts and culture scene for her dreamy concert photography, rendering artists with a colourful hue. Her Instagram account, @daisychainsphotos, boasts a lively mix of creative shoots, ethereal concert imagery and nostalgic scenery taken on film. While some of her most notable subjects include Lorde, Wolf Alice and Mitski, Lawlor’s photography extends all throughout the Dublin music scene. From her initial wry comment that “my whole personality is photography at this point”, we delve further into her journey and career up to this point.

Lorde (@daisychainsphotos)

Like so many teenagers growing up in the increasingly digital age, Lawlor recalls how she first got
into photography through Tumblr. She notes, “I was a wannabe Tumblr girl when I was a teenager, so
I begged and begged my parents for a DSLR, because I wanted to take Tumblr photos”. Despite not
knowing how to use the camera initially, Lawlor remembers, “I just wanted to take aesthetic photos”.
Having an artistic eye since a young age, she further explains, “I always had burner Instagram
accounts where I would post aesthetic photos, so that’s how I really got into it”.

Reflecting on her career so far, Lawlor comments, “honestly, my photography journey is still a shock
to me”. Despite having the relatively limited creative space of Dublin as her playground, the
photographer notes that “even though it’s difficult, the people that I’ve met have all been really
supportive and really nice”. Having formed a close knit group of photographer friends, Lawlor
stresses that “we all support each other, so the journey has been really positive in that way”.

Brandon Nicholas (@daisychainsphotos)

In terms of her introduction into photography and entrance onto the Dublin concert scene, Lawlor
muses, “I think a lot of it was me having to pretend that I knew what I was doing”. Having first begun
taking pictures for free of her friends and posting them on Instagram, Lawlor first gained traction
through this, as people started messaging her asking for her rates. She remembers this with humour,
noting that “at first I was thinking ‘you want to pay me for this?’”.

While concert photography has morphed into her primary focus, now photographing around five gigs
per week, Lawlor digresses that she only got into it recently, having only shot her first gig a year ago.
Recalling this first gig, where she photographed Cruel Sister, Lawlor explains, “I knew her, I had
done a studio shoot for her, and I texted her begging her, asking if I could come take photos at her
show to practice”. Lawlor stresses the trial and error aspect of her process: “it’s really just been me asking people if I can try things with them, and having the self-belief that I do know what I’m doing”.

Explaining how she goes about getting hired to shoot a concert, the photographer dryly notes that “a
lot of it us just emailing and harassing people”. She continues, asserting that “management are
obviously so busy with musicians, it’s really hard to get a response, so it’s a lot of emailing”. In this
light, Lawlor usually works through publications, shooting for The Thin Air and Backseat Mafia,
although she also writes music reviews for the latter to complement her visuals. She clarifies, “it’s
very nice, they usually have a good relationship with promoters in Ireland, so they know the right
people to go to and email on your behalf”. Lending a valuable piece of advice to those interested in
starting out in photography, she asserts, “if you’re new and stressed about that, definitely contact a
publication”. She continues, elucidating that most publications are “always open for new
photographers, you just have to have a small portfolio of things that you have done yourself, and they
are usually pretty good with bringing you on board”.

Saige (@daisychainsphotos)

Lawlor usually shoots on the Canon 5D Mark II. The question of what equipment she uses brings up a
passionate spark in the young photographer. Indeed, she explains that her Canon camera “really wasn’t expensive” and “people talk about how photography gear is really important”, pushing these
expensive options as indispensable to being a good photographer. Lawlor passionately pushes against
this strain, explaining that “when I first started shooting gigs, I was shooting on the same camera my
parents had gotten me when I was 14”. She extends her point, stressing that “it’s not a good camera,
but I still use it for some gigs because I like how the colours come out”. In this sense, Lawlor
recommends investing in different lenses of concert photography, noting that “you want to have a nice
zoom lens”.

Talking through her process when photographing a live act, Lawlor explains that “it took me a long
time to figure out how to do it correctly and I still have says where I leave a concert panicking
because I’m thinking ‘oh my god, there were so many people, there’s no way I got a single shot’”. An
integral part of her process in finding the right place to stand to get the best angles, which has often
proven to be a challenge in smaller Dublin venues like Workman’s, Wheelan’s and Soundhouse. “It
gets very intense at certain gigs,” explains Lawlor, “I’ve been blocked by mosh pits, I’ve had to dive
and save my camera”. She continues, “I don’t want to be a buzzkill but a lot of it is just standing my
ground and getting really good at being quiet and stealthy”.

Lawlor’s style is very distinctive, with both her shoots and concert photos having a characteristically
dreamy neon hue. Achieving this look is down to the editing for Lawlor, a process which she
describes as “trial and error”. “My style came out of the fact that I will literally spend 8 hours straight
editing and it won’t bother me”, she explains, stressing that “I won’t post until I get it 100% right”.
Aside from her perfectionist streak when editing, she describes her style as “very girly for concert
photography”. Lawlor asserts, “I’ve always been very into that pink bubble gum style and the
ethereal, dreamy vibe, I always dress like that and listen to that kind of music when I edit, and in my
head I kind of match it”.

Luna Li (@daisychainsphotos)

While she touches on many of her experiences so far with fondness, there have been some challenges
to her career so far, namely the facilities in Dublin. Having had to go 4 months without a studio after
her previous one got demolished, Lawlor explains “that’s one negative that I get really anxious about,
I hate the fact that everything is so expensive and having to charge people who just want to get their
art out”. Another compelling challenge is the high prices of film and overrun development labs. As
Lawlor explains, “I used to shoot film for every gig and studio shoot because I love film, but now I
have to save it or have to be told three weeks in advance so I can find it”.

Undeterred by her extensive repertoire and catalogue of impressive pictures, some moments stand out
to Lawlor as most memorable. For instance, “I’m very proud of the Lorde photos I shot at Forbidden
Fruit”, she explains, noting that “Lorde had never been to Ireland, I’d never seen her live and I felt
really honoured to cover it, it was genuinely the most amazing thing”. She remembers the experience,
recalling that “after I shot Lorde, I just burst out crying because I love her and I couldn’t believe that
had happened, I instantly went to the bar and bought myself two drinks”.

Lawlor has a front row seat to many acts in the flourishing Dublin arts and culture scene. When asked
who we should be looking out for, Lawlor had many suggestions. She specifies Trophy Wife, Cruel
Sister and Girlfriend as her current obsessions. While acknowledging that “there are genuinely so
many”, she also mentions New Dad and Just Mustard as up-and-coming acts to pay attention to in the
coming months. According to Lawlor, “the Irish music scene at the moment is so good”, which is a
crucial aspect to her passion for her art, as she notes “this is the best thing, discovering all this Irish
music”.

In addition to adding to growing portfolio of studio shoots and concert photography, Lawlor hopes to
hold an exhibition for her work in early next year. Additionally, she is working towards trying to go
on tour with someone, despite noting that “it’s like any music photographer’s dream”.

Instagram: @daisychainsphotos

Site: https://katelawlor.myportfolio.com/

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