Going Deaf For A Living

Photographer Graham Smith lives life through a lens

Photographer Graham Smith has spent the past four years documenting NI's burgeoning music scene. Questing for authenticity, his work seeks to dismantle record company scene-setting and PR to portray his subjects as they truly are.

More than 40 images from his portfolio are exhibited in Going Deaf For A Living, a new exhibition and book which includes artists captured in the white-hot heat of live performance, intimate session shots and unguarded, behind the façade, scenes.

'Authenticity creates the most powerful images,' Smith believes. 'Music photography is, first and foremost, about the music and therefore my approach is quite simple. Spend time with the artist, get to know them, chat about music and get them to open up. Then it’s simply about documenting.

'In my opinion a successful photograph is one that shows the musician as they truly are. General photography has never really interested me. It is my love of music that drives me on, a wish to document it at all levels.' 

Smith's obsession with music began in 1991 at the age of 11 and has grown with every year since. With most of his friends' love of music fading as they left their teens, Graham seemed to go in the opposite direction. Now at the age of 26 his love of music shows no sign of slowing down. If anything, his love of music and photography grows everyday with every new musician he works with.

Preferring to work in a natural, relaxed way and work around the artist rather than expecting them to work around him means his photographs represent the music in its truest form.

As well as his still photography, Smith also produces music films including short films, full documentaries, live concert footage and promotional videos.

In May 2007 Smith's first book of photographs was published, entitled simply Book One: February 2003 - February 2007, the first batch of which outsold initial expectations, selling out within 2 days. A major exhibition in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast coincided with the book release.

Graham remains committed to working with unsigned acts for as small a fee as possible.