“I studied all of their techniques for months; to get to know exactly how I wanted to portray these artists, without losing their personal image.”

Tim Tronckoe is a photographer who specialises in shooting artists on and off stage. His work has appeared in magazines and websites all over the world. He is releasing his first coffee table photography book featuring house hold names in Rock and Metal. Anneke Van Giersbergen, Myles Kennedy, Simone Simmons and Michael Starr are just a few of the artists appearing in this book. Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham had a quick chat with Tim about his work, how he chose the artists and the charity proceedings are going towards.

Hello Tim, thanks for joining us. First off, tell the readers about yourself and your work.

I’m a 29-year-old professional photographer from Belgium. I mainly focus on shooting artists, both on and off stage. I’ve been shooting in the metal scene for over ten years now and I’ve gained a ton of friends in the industry by doing so.

You’re releasing a coffee table photography book titled Portraits featuring musicians, tell us more about that.

Portraits is all about the art for the art. When I was at an art exhibition about three years ago, all of a sudden the idea came to mind: ‘Why don’t I combine my work field with this kind of classical art?’ I did my research, contacted my friends in music; with Myles Kennedy, Michael Starr and Tarja Turunen aboard, we were off to a good start. After three years of hard work, the book and exhibition are finally on their way. 

Did you already have in mind which musicians you wanted featured in Portraits?

I had a broad idea. First of all, I really wanted my friends in there. Tarja, Alissa [White-Gluz] and Simone [Simmons] have been some of the key characters from the beginning. So I was very excited when they agreed to sacrifice an entire day in their busy schedules to spend with me working on this book. Along the way, I met a lot of other interesting people who would be ideal for the book. I had a starting point, but it was pretty interesting to see how it all evolved throughout the process of shooting and planning. 

Given most of the musicians have busy schedules (touring, recording etc.), how did you find fitting photography sessions around these schedules?

There were two kinds of sessions in this project: the ones where we could spend a full day, on location, in full outfit etc. On the other hand, I also shoot some of the images right before stage time at a concert or festival. In case of the latter, I just wanted them in their stage outfit, with a hint of Renaissance or Baroque. The combination of these two different kinds of images turned out to work really well. Finding the right time was pretty challenging indeed, but in the end, it all worked out, because of a couple of elements: trust and professionalism. 

What was the inspiration behind the theme?

I got my main inspiration from the Old Masters, such as Rembrandt, but also from artists such as Caravaggio and Holbein. Of course, some photographic inspirations include Annie Leibovitz and Erwin Olaf. I studied all of their techniques for months, to get to know exactly how I wanted to portray these artists, without losing their personal image.

Where did the photo-shoot take place? It makes a great setting for the photos.

The big shoots (Tarja, Simone, Alissa, Sharon [Den Adel]) took place either for a full day in the studio or on location. Most of the photos were shot in my home town of Ghent, Belgium. It’s a historical city which offers a ton of outstanding locations. They were all open to the idea and we were welcomed to shoot their for a full day. This included a Rococo City Palace, a medieval cathedral.

Proceeds towards this will be going towards PsychoseNet, what was the reason for choosing this charity?

I’m very aware of the fact that there are more and more (young) people who suffer from mental struggles. I really wanted to support a good cause within this field. When about a year ago, Jill Janus of Huntress decided to take her own life. I was determined to find the right cause in mental health awareness. When PsychoseNet came around the corner, it was obvious I had to lend my support to this organisation.

In the UK, mental health awareness is beginning to surface and more people are open to talking about it. In terms of conversation about mental wellbeing, what is it like in Belgium? 

I can say it’s still quite a bit of a taboo. However, I personally feel things are getting a lot better and it’s starting to be taken seriously more often. This is, of course, a very good evolution, but a lot of work is to be done regarding taking away a lot of misconceptions. 

Are there plans for another coffee table book?

Might be, we’ll see what the future holds. I’m always thinking about different ideas. Which one will eventually see the light of day, remains a mystery, even to me. I like it like that. 

What advice would you give to photographers trying to make it into music photography?

Get out! Talk to people! Don’t just stay online! Present your work in many ways and don’t give up. Be passionate and be real.

Thanks very much Tim for taking the time to talk to Rock Out Stand Out and best of luck with Portraits.

Portraits is available to pre-order now, click here to order your copy. Proceeds go towards PsychoseNet, an organisation that helps those struggling with mental illness.

Find Tim Tronckoe on Facebook, Instagram and his official website.

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