Vote for BIMM Student Dani as HMA 2020’s Young Photographer!

Calling all students! BIMM London Music Journalism Year 5 student Dani Willgress has been nominated in the Heavy Music Awards 2020 category, Young Photographer, and we need your help to vote her through!

Launching in London in 2017, the Heavy Music Awards is unique in including photographers in their honours system. And even better, they champion new talent. This year Dani has been put forward by longstanding Kerrang! photographer and lens legend Paul Harries. We caught up with Dani to find out more…

Dani Willgress
Dani Willgress: the Year 5 student in her natural habitat.

Congratulations, you’re a finalist in the Heavy Music Awards Young Photographer category! How does that feel?

Dani: It’s crazy, I really didn’t expect to be nominated at all and I feel so grateful that I have!

You were nominated by legendary UK rock snapper Paul Harries. Have you worked with him/how do you know him or know of him?

Dani: I used to cover my bedroom walls in his photographs cut out from Kerrang! magazine when I was a teenager. It would be so amazing to get to meet him properly rather than just seeing him the photopit and being too nervous to go over and start a conversation because he’s such a legend.

How did you get interested in photography?

Dani: I originally started doing wildlife photography at zoos [a passion for red pandas!] before bringing my camera to gigs to cope with anxiety as a teenager. I then found out I could get passes to shoot from in front of the barrier and the love for music photography grew from there.

What was your first camera?

Dani: It was a Nikon D3300, a little crop sensor camera that I picked up for £350. It did the job and was a great camera to start with.

You do video as well, did that come naturally?

Dani: Not at all, I have had to try really hard to branch into video and still feel I am constantly learning new techniques and ways of editing. I am about to film my first music video though which I am very excited about.

What’s the best bit of kit to get when you are just starting?

Dani: For music photography, definitely a [small but powerful] 50mm f1.8 prime lens. You can pick one up for £100-£200 and they are called ‘the nifty fifty’ for a reason. They are great for most scenarios and are cheap compared to most lenses.

What’s your most indispensable accessory?

Dani: I am currently loving to use Fractals which are a set of prisms. They are great when you have a single artist and want some more variety in your shots.

What was it like when you first started shooting at shows – any mishaps?

Dani: I was awful! My biggest mishap is I took so long to start editing my photos, but to be fair I was only 16 when I was shooting local bands back in Norwich. It was also very difficult getting passes and I learnt that shooting for local bands is an easier way to build up a portfolio in than hoping to get into larger shows to start with.

Who has been the best act to shoot so far?

Dani: That is such a tough question! I think it has to be the Yungblud shoot this was shot came from [below], his energy was unparalleled which was so much fun to capture.

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 01.44.25.png

And what’s been your worst experience?

Dani: There hasn’t really been any bad experiences other than a few times where my photopass hasn’t been on the door [of the venue] and I’ve frantically had to fix it – however, it’s always been sorted in the end. Also being kicked in the head by crowd-surfers a few times wasn’t fun, and almost getting a black eye when shooting a no barrier metal show… but I still wouldn’t want to do anything else.

What’s been your biggest commission?

Dani: So far, probably working with Creeper on their comeback show, taking photos of their fans in front of their new logo before getting to shoot the show AAA was the most fun.

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 01.49.16
Creeper at 229 Club, London. Credit: Dani Willgress

Who do you hope to work with in the future?

Dani: I’m really hoping to work with more major publications in the future as well as more closely with bands. I’d also love to tour, that is a big aim for me.

Support a BIMM sister! Vote for Dani here. Find more of her work here. Voting closes 5pm Jan 31.

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