Photographer uses old technique to illustrate new music

Lights dimmed. The volume of the music rose. The audience pressed closer. And Stephanie Mill captured it all.

“It sort of made sense that I shoot live bands, you know, always following the musicians around on stage,” she said.

For the past three years, photographer Stephanie Mill, 22, has been using her camera to document the hard-core punk music scene.

“I also have always wanted to be involved within the scene’s lifestyle and culture,” she said, “but since I do not possess a single ounce of musical talent in my bones, photography is my way of being involved.”

Like Mill, Aaron Hickey, writer for Breakdown Magazine and founder of the Canadian music blog TTSD, sees the importance of capturing these events.

“There’s no separation between fan and band in this type of scene, but I think it’s hard to explain to the people who don’t go to these shows the kind of environment we’re all surrounded by,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to show someone a photo.”

Bands, such as Exalt, perform in the Canadian punk music. Exalt vocalist Tyler Brand said photographers, such as Mill, are hit or miss.

“When good photographs are done, it is a great thing that shows the wildness and sometimes the eccentricity that goes along with these shows,” he said.

But photographer Mill has a style of her own.

“So many photographers are relying on their telephoto lenses and battery grips and post-processing in Photoshop,” she said. “And I’m hanging over here with my two measly SLRs and a couple rolls of film.”

Hickey recently featured a small collection of Mill’s photographs on the TTSD’s site.

“I thought it was cool that someone, at least in my eyes, was breaking from the digital photography pack and actually putting in the extra effort to create a photograph,” Hickey said. “I just wanted to show people that was a better outlet for film photography than just taking Polaroid selfies.”

Exalt front man Brand said Mill is one of the few who can pull it off.

“The fact that she generally shoots film, and doesn’t do any or very much post-editing, lets the pictures alone speak for themselves,” he said. “She has definitely found a way to portray Exalt in a way no one else has.”

Having just completed a tour across the U.S., Mill is working on a 60-page photo publication – called Not All Roads Lead To Home – about her time travelling with several bands. The book, a crowd-sourced project, has already raised $1,600.