A true veteran of the profession, Aloysius Lim has been one of Singapore’s premiere live music photographers for over 15 years now. Few are as adept at capturing the essence of a performance, no matter the scale. Honing his precise timing and instincts as a photographer through hard-earned experience, he’s produced a repertoire distinguished by his cinematic eye and dynamic action shots.
Subjects have included the international concerts of superstars ranging from Elton John to Taylor Swift as well as massive festivals (think Laneway), but the 44-year-old will always have a special place in his heart for the local music scene because it was where he got his start, he says. (Just clock all the images he’s shared with us here, curated specifically to show the work he’s done with Singapore musicians.)
In recent years, this genial lensman has also been sharing his wealth of knowledge with young, aspiring shutterbugs as a mentor in Baybeats Budding Photographers programme, which can be seen as things coming full circle. The annual alternative music festival organised by The Esplanade was one of his earliest introductions – and inspirations – to music photography. (When not engaged as our music industry’s go-to lensman, he’s a sought-after wedding photographer represented by the high-profile studio Lightedpixels.)
How were you trained?
“I was self-taught and went through a lot of trial and error! Back then, I bought lots of photography magazines and also went online to read up on the field. What helped the most was of course practice. I went out and shot a lot in my free time.”
Who or what are your primary influences?
“No one in particular actually. Music itself is a huge influence. I listen to music everyday and especially when I am editing on the computer. Instagram also makes it easy to discover and look at other photographers’ work and that helps to fuel creative ideas.”
Tell us about your creative approach as a music photographer.
“For a live show, I would listen to a lot of the performer’s music beforehand and go to YouTube to check out what their previous and most recent shows have been like, and how the lighting might be.”
What’s been your most meaningful experience as a music photographer?
“One that had the most impactful moments I’ve experienced was Pann (Lim) of Concave Scream telling me that I have ‘the eye’ and that I must continue my passion and not give up. This was probably in 2007 when I was still quite new to all of this. Pann’s a very well respected creative director so him telling me this meant a big deal to me. It’s also nice that I get to do the Budding Photographers Programme for Baybeats with The Esplanade. It’s been going on for some time now and I enjoy working with the younger photographers and learning from them.”
Lim considers drummers, like Vijesh Ghariwala of the Singapore grindcore band Wormrot (pictured above), to be among his favourite musicians to photograph due to the expressive emotions they convey while performing.
Who are your favourite subjects to shoot?
“Musicians who jump around a lot because action shots are always good and it’s more satisfying when I get a good one! Drummers are a next favourite because most of the time, they are not in the limelight and instead usually at the back and forgotten. When observed carefully though, they are full of expressions when they are drumming.”
From your observation as a music photographer, how would you say that the music scene here has evolved?
“I would say the scene has evolved by quite a bit. It’s more exciting now and there is also more support for Singapore music now. There’s also a better support system for everyone involved in the scene. At the same time, musicians are upping their game with the use of technology and social media to engage with their fans, and collabs with musicians overseas are getting pretty common – that’s quite exciting too.”
Has the concert-going crowd changed over the years?
“I think the young generation of music enthusiasts now do listen to and appreciate a wider spectrum of genres. They have more diverse tastes in music probably because music is so readily available now.”
In your opinion, who are the bands or acts to watch out for?
“There are really so many great acts in Singapore! There is definitely more beyond my answer, so please do check everyone out and a great and easy way to start would be through Spotify. For the sake of brevity here, I’ll name just three: (indie rock veterans) The Great Spy Experiment because the group is back after eight years – its new song Sanctuary is really good; Shye, who’s made Singapore proud with her recent achievements in China and has also just dropped her new album 9Lives; and motifs, which describes its music as dream pop/shoegaze and has great tunes and is awesome live – this is definitely one band to be excited about especially since it’s going in an Asian tour really soon.”
According to music photographer Aloysius Lim, rapper Shigga Shay ranks as one of Singapore’s most fashionable musicians.
And which local act would you say is the most stylish?
As a concert photographer, do you have any favourite concert venues?
“Pasir Panjang Power Station is a venue that I have enjoyed shooting at recently. The photos taken there give off a very different vibe – it’s an Insta-worthy venue! The Esplanade is a venue that is really close to my heart. When I first went to the Baybeats Festival years ago, I really envied the photographers who got to shoot the festival and wanted to be like them. I’ve also made many wonderful and close friends through music at The Esplanade. Then there’s the Singapore Indoor Stadium, which is another enjoyable venue to shoot at. Some of the world’s biggest musicians have played there and I’ve taken some of my favourite photos there. It also helps that I now know the venue pretty well.”
Any tips for aspiring photographers?
“It’s okay to make mistakes! Of course you have to learn from them and not repeat them. Photography is all about trial-and-error so enjoy the process of failing – and open both eyes when shooting!”