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James on an assignment during a concert.
James on an assignment during a concert.

Documenting the live music scene on the Costa del Sol

  • James Yeadon

  • The 34-year-old photographer has the ability to tell the story of a musician’s performance through the lens of his camera

The spectacular photographs of James Yeadon will be familiar to many people associated with the music scene of the Costa del Sol. The 34-year-old photographer has established his reputation with his incredible ability to tell the story of a musician's performance with his camera.

Born in West Yorkshire in 1987, James came to live on the Costa del Sol at the age of ten after his family left their home in Harrogate and headed to Mijas in search of a more relaxed way of life. He received his first digital camera from his grandfather in 2003 and began taking photographs of anything that caught his eye.

James had long had an interest in photography, but it would be an invitation to snap Tom Jones at the Puente Romano Tennis Club in 2011 that would ignite a passion for photographing live music concerts. He has since taken photographs of numerous well-known artists, including Brian Adams and Michael Bolton, but he claims that his most enjoyable gigs are those performed by the array of tribute bands that are active on the coast.

"There are many great musicians on the coast and I particularly like the tribute band scene. What I like about the local musicians is that you can form a relationship with them, which is important. It's one thing to take their picture, but it's important to get to know the person behind the music," James tells SUR in English.

His catalogue doesn't only include pop concerts, for James has snapped everything from opera and flamenco to drag queens and Celtic pipe bands.

He now lives in Benalmádena and over the last few years has established himself as the most sought-after live music photographer on the coast. It was at the Michael Bolton concert in 2013 that he would come into contact with local promoter Martyn Wood, and James has now become one of the promoter's official photographers.

"I am fortunate to have worked with Martyn on several occasions. I met him some years ago and we have since struck up a personal and professional relationship," he explains.

Varied musical taste

James' musical taste varies. He is a fan of rock music, but gained a secret passion for opera after working with Steven Lloyd Morgan, a Welsh singer known as 'Marbella's favourite tenor'. James also took part in a photographic course organised by the Cervantes Theatre in Malaga in 2016, which gave him his first (and only to date) exhibition.

"I like a varied mix of music, but my favourite is probably rock. I also have my moments for opera. I went on a course in Malaga and was invited to take photos at an opera in the theatre, which resulted in my first exhibition," he says.

However, it is with the local music scene that James has really made his mark. Concert photography is one of the most challenging fields in photography, because the photographer cannot direct the subject being photographed and does not have control over the lighting. It is all about timing, technique and creativity.

James has demonstrated these skills at events like the Celtic Festival in La Cala de Mijas, and at the annual Punkirola festival in Torremolinos. His dynamic photographs capture raw energy, vibe and emotion.

He is also called upon by organisers of charity concerts, in particular the Millenium event organised by local musician One Wish Steve.

The past twelve months have been particularly difficult for James as there have been virtually no concerts or festivals due to the pandemic. As a result he has had to revert to telemarketing, which he calls his "day job".

Dedicated Scout leader

Aside from his love of photography, James is also a Scout leader. His passion for the Scouts began in Harrogate, and it was something that would continue here on the coast.

"The Scouts is something that has been with me since I was five. When I first came to Spain, I joined the Fuengirola group and went through the sections: now I am one of the leaders, which is something I am truly grateful for," James concludes.