Interview of Phoebe Le Brocque
How did you get started in photography? What drew you to the medium?Tell us a bit about yourself!
I am a 24-year-old queer woman living in Meanjin (Brisbane, Australia). My pronouns are she/they and in addition to being a film and photography creative, I am a graduate of Bachelor of International Studies with Honours in History. Last year my best friend Tayla Lauren Ralph and I cofounded a not-for-profit group called Here We Queer that focuses on highlighting queer expereinces through media and events!
I studied Film and Television in high school, but for many years after I barely touched a camera. It wasn’t until I began to discover the live music scene in my city two years ago that I started taking photos again—and I wouldn’t have called myself a photographer before this year due to general amateur nervousness. In early days, I was far more comfortable shooting video, and I was part-clueless about half the camera’s mechanisms. But with practice and lots of chatting to other photographers I started to improve.
What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
I was raised on live music and I find so much beauty in performance. I think I’ll always gravitate towards photographing musicians. The stage lights used to be a battle, but now they’re all a part of the fun. A good photo contains interesting light—and the constant variation in colours, spotlight, and darkness can make live music photos pop while still being vastly different to each other! I especially love a complex performer, like Jaguar Jonze who leapt around the BIGSOUND stage, or Fraser Bell who immediately took his shoes off when he started to play.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
A touch of grain, plenty of nostalgia, and a heaping of passion for the subjects I’m engaging with. I’m heavily inspired by film, which I feel is a combination of rich colours and low-contrast. In live music, I tend to like a tight close-up, but I’m experimenting with engaging more empty space.
Do you plan out your shoots ahead of time, or do you prefer to photograph moments organically without plans?
Very few of my shoots have been planned ahead of time, which is something I’m attempting to work on. I also have many shoots ideas, but implementing them with adequate time and engaging models requires planning that I sometimes don’t have time for. The good thing about a gig though, is that I can experiment and move about throughout the show, finding out what works and what doesn’t work. Some venues are definitely more challenging than others.
On the other side, my photoshoot with Tayla Lauren Ralph that featured “glitter” over her face was very much planned. I had a distinct idea and as soon as I told her she was keen. The “glitter” is actually assorted bits of plastic and paper I hand-punched, including a sleeve of alfoil from a cigarette packet—you know you have good friends when they let you stick cigarette alfoil on their face for a photo.
Who are the models in your photograph? How do you choose the people you photograph?
Sometimes I listen to a new local track and I think “I have to see this person live.” Other times I base it on word-of-mouth, which is a great advantage to being heavily invested in your local music. Friends will tell me, “you have to see this band, they’re so dynamic on stage” and I’ll make a mental note to run along to the next event. When I watch a performer, there’s nothing particular about appearance that I look for. It’s more about their movement and the emotion that’s running off them. A good performer is a good photo-subject.
When it comes to models outside of music, I mostly just rely on willingness and a sense of fun. My golden-hour shoot with Harry Marshall began with a couple aperol spritzes, and ended with us running to the Valley because he had to perform ten minutes after the shoot ended. And I love the photos of him hanging off the bench because it was completely improvised in the moment.
What are some of the key influences on your work?
I draw inspiration from both close friends and international artists. My friend Tayla (@taylalaurenralph) does sensational photography. She engages a lot of minimalism and empty space. Then there’s Jess Bethune (@jess.bethune) who shoots only on film and has an incredible colour pallette in her captures.
My love for live music is most definitely a connection to my childhood. I was raised on live music because my parents both played in a Bluegrass band, and from eight years old my dad took myself and my sister to Woodford Folk Festival. I’ve only missed the festival twice since. It’s such a vibrant, unparalleled culture. Woodford feels like real magic. I want my photos to capture that nostalgia but also that love, rush, adrenalin, and comfort—of being in a delightfully busy and fun space, but feeling completely safe.
I have begun to play with poetry and other mediums. I think this path is a learning avenue for me to open up about anxiety, depression, and other struggles I’ve encountered in my life. I really hope I’ll be able to share these projects with the world soon.
When you aren’t taking photographs, how do you spend your time?
Since I recently finished my Honours thesis in history, I’ve been diving into Here We Queer. We’ve created some incredible events in the last few months, including raising $1800 for a local LGBTQI+ Youth Service known as Open Doors. I also released an article on our Here We Queer website which was a slightly daunting introduction into my life experiences with anxiety and self-harm. We’re continuously working on bringing more online content and media to HWQ, like our Youtube interviews with queer fashion designer Phoebe Paradise (@phoebe.paradise) and review of The Beamish Brothers (@thebeamishbrothers) latest EP!
If you could go back and say anything to your 13-year-old self, what would it be?
My 13-year-old self needed to chill out. Stop worrying so much about what other people think about you. You’re intelligent and creative, you don’t need to hate yourself so much. Stay true to yourself. When you realise you’re bisexual, don’t bottle it down like it’s a bad thing. Be authentic.
How can we keep up with your work?
Find me on Instagram at @phoebeefaye and my developing portfolio page @phoebefaye.portfolio. I also have a Facebook page called Phoebe Faye, and you can follow Here We Queer through our website and socials @herewequeer![share]