It is not uncommon to find interviews with the most diverse bands and unique artists, but the music world is dependent on so many other people to come alive and be spread out. Accredited reporters, both those on a textual and on a photographic level, have that task of materializing and perpetuating the memories of those who attended the concert. Now living in Viena, her hometown, Caroline Traitler is responsible for a large number of our favorite bands’ brilliant photos that we find on the web. Born on the 14th of June, 1978, and with more than a decade of experience in musical events reporting (a large amount of them being related to the extreme music scene), Caroline has developed a unique photographic post-production, raising her shots to an unmistakable standard of quality. On a rare interview, she gives us her insights on her numerous trips through Europe, her bands of choice and, not forgetting her sole stop in Portugal, ended up leaving a message for the new generation of concert photographers.
Ruído Sonoro: First of all thanks for this opportunity. How and when did your interest in photography start?
Caroline Trailer: Thank you very much for the interest too. I always loved photography and learned a lot from my father when I was younger. When I entered my journalism studies in 2000 I had a course about photography there too and learned everything from scratch, on analogue equipment and that’s where the fire was started.
RS: Although you like photography in general, is it safe to tell you have a special trend to music area? What got you started shooting concerts? How long do you do it?
CT: Yes, music photography is my main focus but I also do a lot of other photography of course. I don’t like to limit myself to just one field as I always need inspiration from other motives too. I had my first experience in the photo pit in 2001 when a friend of mine who worked for a magazine back then asked me to step in for him at a Paradise Lost concert since he was sick. Of course I agreed and I loved it so much that I decided to go on with concert photography. It was a bit harder back then since you did not have all this digital technology of today but then again it was a great way to learn to focus on what is really essential and concentrate on image composition. So this year I will be doing this for 12 years and I am still not tired of it.
RS: Which steps did you take to get your own style? Did you have any references or photographers you followed and learned from back in the day?
CT: I never really followed the post production style of another photographer and always tried to develop my own thing without getting too influenced by others. But of course I had some photographers helping me and inspiring me a lot when I started, they mostly worked for big magazines back in the days (and probably still do). One photographer I admire a lot is Axel Jusseit from Rock Hard Germany who was always helpful and who still does great work.
RS: As far as I know you travel a lot. Still, in which cities do you focus the most?
CT: I love travelling, this is something I did even before I started photography and it is a great way to develop myself and see new things, get new inspirations and just generally find new ways for myself and my work. There is not one city I focus on, I rather try to see as much as possible from the world and I am very happy that I made my dream come true last year and travelled to Australia, where I had the chance to work with awesome bands: The Eternal and Lycanthia.
RS: Is there any country in Europe you’re looking forward to debut?
CT: Last year I had my first shooting on Bulgarian territory when I was at the DVD recording with Anathema in Plovdiv and I got so much awesome feedback from it. There are a few places in Europe I still would love to go for sightseeing and gigs, like Iceland (another big travel dream of mine) or also Romania. And I would love to go to the Polar Circle to shoot northern lights… But to be honest, I have been to most European countries.
RS: This is a bit cliché, but what is your relationship with Portugal? Do you have friends and good memories from here?
CT: Oh I love Portugal! I have been there for the first and unfortunately only time (till now) in 2011 for the Vagos Open Air and I was so amazed by the beauty of this country and the friendliness of everyone there. Also the festival was great and I made many friends there, I really want to go back!
RS: Less travelling, more music. What excites you the most – shooting festivals or regular indoor gigs?
CT: It depends on the bands who are playing really. I mostly love to shoot bands I know for a while and who are friends because then there is a more personal relationship in this, more feeling, more inspiration.
RS: Which genres do you listen? Are there bands you feel really fan of?
CT: I mostly love art rock, doom, dark metal, prog, avant-garde metal and a bit of black metal now and then and of course a lot of not metal stuff as well and classical music. Music and art in general are the essences of my life. Some of my favorite bands are Anathema, Katatonia, The Cure etc… too many to mention here really.
RS: I suppose you have some special bands you’ve worked with. Could you name some of them? Where are the differences between your choices and other bands?
CT: The band I worked with most is Anathema and it was always an awesome experience. But I also did a lot of photo work for Primordial and Dornenreich. As mentioned before, when I take pictures of bands I know for a long time and work with and developed a friendship with, it is of course easier to take pictures since it inspires me a lot and I also know what kind of photos the band likes.
RS: Tell us something about your connection to Anathema. How did it happen?
CT: The first time I got in touch with Anathema was back in the forum days in 2002 I think. I went to many of their gigs in 2003 and 2004 and at the gig in Munich in early 2004, the guys asked me if I could take a picture for their “Were You There?” DVD and so I did. I think this was the start of a year long friendship and cooperation and somehow it all went on from there and I am still very thankful and happy for every moment we do work together.
RS: Favourite live experiences until now?
CT: For sure the Anathema concert in Plovdiv, for many reasons.
RS: Worst live experiences? A horror story or something like that…
CT: Not really, it can always happen that I dislike a band or more on big festivals or festival tours but I usually just go away when this happens or get a drink at the bar and talk to friends, no big deal. I think the only very unpleasant experience was at some festival, when a black metal band was playing (I cannot even remember the name) and the singer threw wine over my new camera from the stage… this was a bit annoying but nothing bad happened and the camera still worked.
RS: Do you feel that people understand what you want to show in your pictures?
CT: I hope so… you never know how people will perceive your art, some may love it, some others hate it and this is what everyone working with art of any kind has to deal with and learn how to live with.
RS: What band (past or present) would you love to photograph, but never got the chance to?
CT: No doubt about that: The Cure. I would die to take pics of them one day!
RS: To end the interview: Would you like to leave some words for future live music photographers?
CT: Follow your own way and focus on your work and not on showing off with big equipment or copying what someone else does.
// Nuno Bernardo