Ex­pos­ing mu­si­cians

Christophe­r Dea­con shoots the lo­cal scene purely for the love of it


It’s an­other crowded Sun­day af­ter­noon at Erin’s Pub in St. John’s, and the band Gen­er­a­tions is about to hit the stage.

The ta­bles are filled at this pop­u­lar and long-stand­ing down­town wa­ter­ing hole and pa­trons sur­round the bar knock­ing back their favourite pint of ale.

Christophe­r Dea­con sits qui­etly at one of the side ta­bles, his cam­era bag by his side, await­ing the start of the show.

It has be­come a weekly rou­tine for the soon-to-be 60-yearold.

Most week­ends, Dea­con goes from bar to bar, dance club to con­cert hall to theatre in the metro area, spend­ing hours tak­ing pic­tures of lo­cal mu­si­cians and artists as they per­form.

In fact, he’s be­come as rec­og­niz­able on the lo­cal mu­sic scene as the artists them­selves.

“He’s here more than I am,” Erin’s Pub co-owner and Shan­neyganock front­man Chris An­drews said, laugh­ing. “He’s on the go. He sees a lot of mu­sic and shoots a lot of mu­sic.

“It’s great, you know, that some­one is that in­ter­ested in live mu­sic and tak­ing pic­tures of it. It’s cool. Mu­si­cians love it.”

Other than get­ting a waived cover charge into bars, a com­pli­men­tary ticket to shows and a scat­tered pint bought for him, he does it all free of charge.

Over the years, Dea­con has ac­cu­mu­lated quite a col­lec­tion of pho­tos, with many posted on his Face­book page.

From renowned artists to new­com­ers, he tries to in­clude every­one who catches his eye.

His im­ages cap­ture the en­ergy and essence of the artists as they pour their hearts out through their mu­sic.

“He’s one of the few who shoots pho­tos of live per­for­mances, as op­posed to (setup) stu­dio shots,” prom­i­nent St. John’s mu­si­cian Sandy Mor­ris said.

“He’s a great pho­tog­ra­pher and a real nice fel­low. … He does a great ser­vice to the lo­cal en­ter­tain­ment com­mu­nity here.”

Born in Hartle­pool in the north of Eng­land, Dea­con grew up in Shrews­bury in cen­tral Eng­land and came to New­found­land in 1983 af­ter earn­ing a PhD in phys­i­cal met­al­lurgy and science of ma­te­ri­als.

“My wife told me New­found­land was full of rich peo­ple and that we’d have a won­der­ful time liv­ing there,” he said with a chuckle.

There may not have been an abun­dance of rich peo­ple, but Dea­con was hav­ing a won­der­ful time and quickly dis­cov­ered the prov­ince was rich in mu­si­cal tal­ent.

A lover of tra­di­tional, Celtic and folk mu­sic, he would of­ten pop into the Ship Inn and O’Reilly’s to see live acts.

It wasn’t un­til years later that he be­gan tak­ing his cam­era along.

He shot his first live down­town show in 2005, when Dr. Hook took the stage at the Ge­orge Street Fes­ti­val. As every­one

“I do like to sup­port the lo­cal mu­si­cians be­cause I know they’re not rolling in money, es­pe­cially the younger kids who’ve got en­thu­si­asm and de­sire and noth­ing else.” Christophe­r Dea­con

be­gan pil­ing into neigh­bour­ing bars, he fol­lowed to catch more en­ter­tain­ment.

“Back then, what I’d shoot was typ­i­cally crap,” he said, laugh­ing again.

But more than 10 years later, with more ex­pe­ri­ence, a keener eye and bet­ter equip­ment, Dea­con has honed his skills and gained recog­ni­tion in lo­cal mu­sic cir­cles.

For Dea­con, a lab­o­ra­tory co-or­di­na­tor at Memo­rial Uni­ver­sity’s physics depart­ment who has no for­mal train­ing in pho­tog­ra­phy, it’s a beloved hobby.

Dea­con is not the only lo­cal pho­tog­ra­pher who shoots lo­cal mu­si­cians, of course. Oth­ers, such as Erin O’Mara, Alick Tsui, Brian Carey, Chris LeDrew, Paul Kins­man, Ritchie Perez and Sean Jes­some, are also pop­u­lar.

How­ever, Dea­con, who has no per­sonal con­nec­tion to the lo­cal mu­sic scene, likely sees more acts than most.

But he’s quick to say he’s not out to com­pete.

“I’m not look­ing to take work away from pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phers. They work a dif­fer­ent way and pro­vide a valu­able ser­vice,” said the soft-spo­ken Dea­con, adding every­one has their own style.

“Me? I’m just hav­ing fun.” Dea­con en­joys do­ing his own thing when he wants and where he wants.

“The feed­back I get is re­ally phe­nom­e­nal,” he said.

“I do like to sup­port the lo­cal mu­si­cians be­cause I know they’re not rolling in money, es­pe­cially the younger kids who’ve got en­thu­si­asm and de­sire and noth­ing else.”

Karla Pil­grim — a mem­ber of the coun­try-folk trio the Se­crets, who also per­forms as a duo with Jackie Sul­li­van — said in an in­dus­try where dig­i­tal port­fo­lios, grant ap­pli­ca­tions and on­line pro­mo­tion is cru­cial, Dea­con does a great deal to help strug­gling artists.

“Hav­ing such great pho­tos means a lot to us,” she said.

“Any time we have to ap­ply for some­thing or pro­mote our­selves in any way, he has all kinds to pick from. It’s great. It saves us a lot of money.”

And his work gets no­ticed by many.

“In the run of a night, there are so many events go­ing on, but he man­ages to fit them in,” Pil­grim said.

She said in years to come, his pho­tos will prove to be a big part of St. John’s mu­si­cal her­itage.

“With all the pic­tures of lo­cal tal­ent, he’s doc­u­ment­ing lo­cal mu­sic his­tory,” said Pil­grim, whose Se­crets band is re­leas­ing a new sin­gle next month.

“Peo­ple don’t live for­ever, so they’ll be im­por­tant in pre­serv­ing all those great mem­o­ries, too.”


Am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­pher Christophe­r Dea­con.

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