Super Sharp Shooter is a deluxe “coffee table” book showcasing the work of event photographer Sarah Ginn. It features over 800 photographs of DJs like Andy C, Skream, Shy FX, Carl Cox, Fatboy Slim, Goldie, Chemical Brothers, Jon Hopkins, Sub Focus, DJ Zinc and Ben UFO from events such as Fabric, Ultra Festival, Boomtown, Glastonbury, Outlook, Printworks, Creamfields and Hospitality. In this blog post, Sarah Ginn explains how she got started in photography and what to expect in the book.
Where is the start of this journey? Well, sometime in my early teens, I happened on an AWOL tape. The seminal rave around that time, but as I was a mere 13 years old, raves were out of my reach at that point. In fact, completely out of my reach as I didn’t live in the UK. I was in Germany and shuttling to and from a boarding school in Letchworth, my parents being connected to the army. I had lived in four different countries by that age. Like all army kids, I had a strange and ever-moving life, boarding school being the next step in my journey as all of us went to one during our secondary education.
This meant a life of relying on myself and my family, as the structure of a hometown and local long-term friends was foreign to me. So, music was my constant companion. But what was different about this tape is it sounded like THE FUTURE. My love of electronic music began at that point, and it never ceased. In fact, it only increased and amplified.
Cut to my late teens. Having been back in the UK since I was 16, I could finally experience some of this crazy computer music in real life, in an actual club. I lived near Amersham, just outside of London, and many trips to the Africa Centre, Bar Rhumba, The End, The Scala and the 333 Club started to cement my musical ear and thirst for dancing.
I was outside The Scala one night and someone passed me a flyer (I, later on, found out this was Shaun Roberts, who I worked with for many years further down the line). It said Fabric. It was a die-cut flyer; it looked sooo cool. I was a hardcore graffiti and hip hop/trip hop fan at that point. Those influences colouring my graphic design at college, where my main career aim was to design record covers (in the end, I actually did make some record covers). I saw that James Lavelle was one of the residents and I was sold. At that point, I was delving into jungle and then drum & bass, every single artist on the flyer I was a fan of, so I made a pact with myself. I must go to Fabric. I MUST.
Over the next three or so years, I made a trip to Farringdon regularly, usually tanked up on vodka Red Bulls. I had a brief time where I didn’t go after moving to Brighton post-university, where I frequented clubs such as the Concorde, The Zap, The Ocean Rooms and Audio. When I was 25, I had a bit of a creative crisis, having abandoned my career in graphic design. But I happened upon a photographer called Tom Oldham. He shot for Level Magazine and encouraged me to take photos of an act called The Bays one night (This is your fault, Tom, hahahaha!).
After that, I just decided, well, this is what I want to do FOREVER. I then proceeded to contact four clubs to gain work experience in taking photos at them, with the shots of The Bays being my only work. Only one got back to me, and that was Fabric. It was a lovely lady by the name of Danna Hawley. This is where year zero began.
Fabric was a voluntary position for about four years. This was pre-social media and the only jobs you could get for this kind of work was via being a picture editor for a magazine. Rather like the great Dave Swindells, with his work for Time Out. But I didn’t mind; not only could I get to go to Fabric for free and drink for free. At first, I shot on film, so once that ran out, it was party time! It was also VERY hard to get into Fabric for photos; they were strict. But the great thing about this way of working was the freedom. They never gave me any brief whatsoever; I just got what I got. I used those years to train myself to be a music photographer. I also used those years to experiment wildly with what effects I could use photographically.
In 2011 I decided to branch out and leave my day job as a TA surveyor in Brighton to become a full-time music photographer. Let the games begin, as they say! With all the contacts I had built up, I took deep dives into drum & bass, dubstep and little inroads into house and techno. I have seen this magical thing they call electronic music twist and expand, turn into a full-on rainbow of sound and light. It’s been exciting, educating, enlightening and, at some points, a terrifying experience that has made me who I am today as a photographer and a person.
This book was made during the great pandemic of 2020/21. I always had an idea that I would make a book of all my work from the very start. It’s set out in a rainbow to reflect the spectrum of sound. It’s also a gift to all the people who I’ve met via this industry that inspired me so much and the many friends I made over this time.
Plus, the thousands of fans of this music I had the pleasure of raving with for so long. For this book is a sum of its parts; it wasn’t made by me as such. It was made by everyone in it. I was just lucky enough to observe it all and capture its essence to the best of my abilities. Let’s call it a visual love letter to everyone involved.
This might be the end of this chapter of my career in this form, but I’ll always shoot electronic music, and the projects I have been forming for the next stage excite me so much. What I learned philosophically is also included in this book, The Feedback Loop Theory. This is a tool for all artists to encourage them on their creative journey. Just as I have been encouraged by everything I have witnessed and heard over the last 15 years.
I hope you all enjoy Super Sharp Shooter ☺
Super Sharp Shooter isn’t out until May 2023, but pre-order it now to get your name printed in the book. It’s available as a book only and as a bundle with an exclusive A2 poster.