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A Second With...

Published by Debs Slater · May 16th 2012

We're going to use this blog to promote the talented photographers in our community, any stories they have to share, or any exciting photo projects they may be working on...

Carl Spring’s photography career started out by shooting his friends skateboarding. It wasn’t until his musical hero, Graham Coxon, was playing a live gig nearby that he got his first taste of music photography. After that he was hooked and began shooting any live show he could. Now he works as a music photographer alongside his role as an ICT teacher. Here he is to tell us about his photo project “A Second With...”

The Project

I launched the project officially at the start of 2012. I wanted to do something different to my usual New Year’s photo resolutions and the traditional "must lose weight & get fitter." Instead I decided I would finally launch a personal project that I began working on in 2011.

A Second With We are Lounge Lizards by Carl Spring (carlspringphoto) on
A Second With We are Lounge Lizards by Carl Spring

I had badly injured my back and was on strong painkillers to combat the pain. I was shooting a gig in a dimly lit venue and was unable to get an exposure of the bass player even at ISO 6400. In my painkiller induced haze, I decided to drop the shutter speed to whatever would get a well exposed shot.

The first image had a dream like quality I liked and I experimented more over the rest of the show, dropping the shutter speed to 1 second on more than one occasion. Luckily this was a gig where I was allowed to shoot the whole show, so I had time to experiment and see where this idea could take me. Seeing the images on a large screen when I got home, cemented in my head that I had a personal project in the making. The only problem was how I could fit it in to my usual live music shooting and the 3 song rule.

A Second With Bombay Bicycle Club by Carl Spring (carlspringphoto) on
A Second With Bombay Bicycle Club by Carl Spring

The 3 song rule

Usually, when photographing live music, you only get the first 3 songs to photograph the artist before being escorted out of the photo pit. There are occasions where the amount of time to photograph has been as little as 30 seconds. To try to capture the whole feeling of a live music show in that time is incredibly hard.

With “A Second With...” I have to make sure I have the images for the people I am shooting for before I can think about working on this project. It is always a gamble. I could miss the key photo of the performance by shooting a one second exposure. There have been occasions where this has happened, but that is part of the fun of this project, you never know what you are missing or whether you will end up with a usable image.

A Second With John Agard by Carl Spring (carlspringphoto) on
A Second With John Agard by Carl Spring

A little luck

The unpredictability is the part of the project that really interests me on an artistic level. The fact that in the digital age you can shoot, review, repeat until you get the image is fantastic, but sometimes I miss the feeling of waiting for film to come back, not completely sure if you have anything worthwhile.

With “A Second With...”, every shot is different, there is no normal, no ability to technically adjust and until the photo is in the computer I am unsure if it is usable. I frame the shot, press the shutter and see what happens. Sometimes you get an amazing image, sometimes you get nothing usable. There are small things I adjust, which I have learnt through trial and error, but there is a healthy dose of luck, which I really don’t think is a bad thing. I like the element of luck that this project brings.

A Second With The Lovely Eggs by Carl Spring (carlspringphoto) on
A Second With The Lovely Eggs by Carl Spring

For more of Carl’s work head to his 500px page or his website.

Thanks to Carl for sharing his work and to you for reading. Feel free to leave a comment below, feedback is awesome!

Also, if you have your own photo project you wish to share just send me an email at


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