by RS Frost
Based in Germany, acclaimed photographer Void Revelations is responsible for some of the most iconic, confronting and awe-inspiring images of the black metal underground in recent years.
Having worked with black metal titans such as DARVAZA, SINMARA, SVARTIDAUÐI, WHOREDOM RIFE, CHAOS INVOCATION and REBIRTH OF NEFAST, as well as individuals including KING DUDE, Chelsea Wolfe and Dehn Sora, Void Revelations also offers a staggering body of live photography from festivals such as ORATION, A SINISTER PURPOSE and CHAOS DESCENDS to name a few.
I made contact with the anonymous eye behind the lens to gain some insight into how this passion for photography materialised, life on the road as a travelling cameraman, and what goes into creating images that capture a moment in time, and go on to move people for years after.
Given your distinctive and unmistakable style that seems to be present in all of your work, I’m curious as to whether your journey behind the camera started in the live arena or in promotional photography?
- Definitely live photography. It is always my intention to capture a moment as naturally as possible. I'm a big fan of documentary style photography. Design is a huge influence as well, that’s why Void Revelations is so strongly concept-based.
Some of your promotional band shots have been breathtakingly dark, baron and brooding - the Icelandic bands in particular. How much preparatory work goes into these shoots?
- Concerning the band photos, I usually try to bring the music of the band, the lyrics, and the atmosphere I feel together into a visual result. Of course, it’s also a question of the right location, but often you are restricted in that regard so you have to be spontaneous and work with the light and technical possibilities of the camera, such as the blend, for example. Or, in the case of the Sinmara band photo, with double exposure which fits with the cover artwork by Nona Limmen. Of course, it’s also possible to do something in post-production but, for me, the original photo has to be good.
It’s not uncommon these days to see photographers, especially at shows, spending very little time in front of the camera, rather opting for hours of editing in post.
- In my opinion, it is up to each photographer to decide if they use more or less post-production. I think it’s more important to focus on yourself and try to deliver the best result possible – and my intention is to capture the right moment, because you can not create the right moment in post-production.
You have travelled extensively over the past few years, covering a number of festivals all over Europe. Being in a band and touring around has its set of difficulties and tumult, but I’m assuming that doing the same thing whilst having to maintain meticulous and temperature-sensitive equipment comes with a different set of hurdles.
- Well, to be honest, travelling is always exciting but also really exhausting and pricy. I also don't think I will do this for long. Watching four days of bands playing in a row is like visiting a museum with a lot of art inside – at some point you get fed up, so you’re struggling a bit to stay focused. Also, standing in the middle of a crowd with a lot of people who want to enjoy the ritual is difficult since I don't like disturbing the audience but still trying to capture the right moment. So, it’s a balance between hiding and becoming one with the atmosphere.
In more recent years you have also been responsible for conjuring fantastic images of new-release LPs for a handful of labels. These images typically see the record displayed in a ritual-like setting. Is this concept of your own design?
- It’s because I mostly worked for bands with a background that is ritual-like and that simply fits the overall concept the best. In the end, everything should be a visual anchor point for the music and the intention the bands want to transfer.
This ritualisationof things is an ever-present factor in your work - the live photo set of the NYIÞ performance complements this aesthetic to a profound degree.
- Perhaps that’s because NYIÞ is one of the most ritualistic bands I know of and, as a photographer, it is my main intention to reflect this feeling with my pictures. Sure, they don't make it easy for you because they usually only use candles for lighting, just as SORTILEGIA or 13TH MOON do, but that’s a challenge to me.
Wherever there’s light, there’s a chance to take a photo of something hiding in the dark.
You also have the CHANNELING DARKNESS arm of your work, which provides photo sets from various festivals presented in a blog format and captures other artists utilising various mediums of expression in action.
- When I started to document the work of craftsmen like my friends Ben Zodiazepin and Brian of BEYOND ART, I was wondering if Void Revelations was the right place to publish them. So I gave birth to Channeling Darkness. It’s a platform where I can publish whatever I want; videos, artist documentaries or festival reviews. Also, I thought Channeling Darkness was the best title because all those people are dealing with dark themes as well, but they don’t get the same recognition as bands do. So I wanted to give those people a chance to show their process of creating art with occult themes.
Void Revelations is also part of the SAROS COLLECTIVE; a conglomerate of illustrators, photographers, tattooists, graphic designers and other various forms of visual artists existing under a banner founded by Swiss artist C. Saros in 2015.
The collective’s bio reads:
“SAROS Collective is based on the belief in spiritual freedom. Expansion is our axiom, not restriction. SAROS Vision is a growing group of artists from different parts of the world, operating in different projects, each one highly experienced in their fields – together forming a strong & visionary collective offering a wide range of artistic possibilities.”
I have previously discussed this art collective with ADRIAN BAXTER and am interested in how you became involved.
- I know C. Saros and when we met, he asked me if I was interested in joining the ranks of the Collective. It's always my goal to evolve and the possibility to work in one collective together with artists such as Dehn Sora, who is one of my favourite artists, or Adrian Baxter, was a gift I couldn't turn down.
Aside from the work of the above-mentioned artists, what do you look for in those moments when inspiration may be lacking?
- Inspiration is like a flow. I would say that spontaneity is my biggest influence. Nowadays, there are so many pictures surrounding us that it is sometimes better to simply observe, accept and work with the things around you.
The most recent project that you have been involved with is the newly-released music video for Darvaza’s song ‘The Silver Chalice’, which was released in conjunction with TERRATUR POSSESSIONS. How did this project come about?
- Ever since I did the portraits of Whoredom Rife I have had a good connection with Terratur Possessions, so we decided to release the video as a cooperative effort.
Since I saw Darvaza for the first time playing ‘The Silver Chalice’, which is usually the last song of their set, I was browsing through several live videos of the song but I was never satisfied with the result; the video or the sound quality. So I decided to realise my own vision of that opus. I talked to Omega about my idea and he liked it. Brussels seemed to be the perfect place to film the song.
The concept behind the video is to show the pure energy of this final song. I was always fascinated how they are able to sing together with those overlapping choirs at the end of the song. So I kept the material raw as possible, which was not a big deal since I was doing it all on my own and did not have a second camera.
Void Revelations was recently announced as one of the featured artists to appear at Iceland’s ASCENSION MMXIX festival, which will see an exhibition of selected works on display as well as prints available for purchase.
- The project Void Revelations is only two years old so, of course, it’s an honour for me to be able to present my work in these unique surroundings. I went to Oration last year and got to know the organiser who is a great guy. Since I already worked for some Icelandic bands, we were talking about how it would be a good thing to show some of my work there, because it fits pretty well.