Zar Paulo – Northside Festival 2023 photo essay

I look through this essay with the biggest smile and the best memories of a wonderful summer day with Zar Paulo at Northside festival 2023. This was such a fantastic day, one of my highlights of the Summer.

Zar Paulo is an upcoming Danish band that released their fantastic debut album earlier this year, but they have been playing together for a very long time, and are a super skilled live band, the energy and passion is so contagious. I have had the pleasure of documenting 5 of their concerts so far since May 2021 and it is always such a pleasure and so many laughs to hang out with the band and crew.

All the shows so far I have documented for Zar Paulo has naturally been smaller venues as the band is still starting out, building a crowd but this day was very different. Zar Paulo was playing on the main stage at Northside Festival, one of the larger festivals in Denmark with 30-35,000 guests and the main stage holds about 18-20,000 people when it’s fully packed. Not only are Zar Paulo playing the main stage, they are opening the stage on the final day of the festival at 3pm. Would anyone be awake and alive and present for the show? The fact it’s the first show means you are setting up with a huge empty lawn in front of you, as you can tell by those first shots. How many will show up for the show 1 hour later?

The short answer: Everyone! The fact is when you are standing behind the stage ready to go on, you cannot see the front of the stage at all, you can hear there are people out there but have no idea whether it is 1 thousand or 10 thousand! You don’t know till you walk onto the stage, and I walked behind lead singer Emil experiencing this massive rush and roar from the crowd. Wow that was incredible, something like 12-15,000 people were ready for some Zar Paulo – and the next 75 minutes were the best I have ever heard Zar Paulo play. What a day, I mean I worked for Danish artist Benjamin Hav on the same stage just the day before and that was equally fantastic, but Benjamin is a big established name, you know it will be packed. There is just more at stake for an upcoming band playing a huge main stage, especially opening the stage where you could potentially be facing 100 people, there are so many uncertain factors so the payoff is also incredible when everything just kinda turns to magic. Now let’s dive into the photos.

Zar Paulo – Northside Festival 2023

1 hour before the show
and there is no one here as Zar Paulo is opening the stage
Hyped and ready!
This moment, following Emil on stage and seeing that massive crowd and hearing the roar, what an insane moment, I feel fortunate to document this
Northsiiiiiiiide ! People showed up, as in everyone showed up!
The best concert I have heard ZP play and what a fantastic day, days like these are what I live for as a music photographer
Now that is an ecstatic band! Congratulations Zar Paulo!


Photography notes

Shot using my usual FUJIFILM large stage/festival kit: 2 x X-T5 cameras, 10-24mm, 16-55mm and 50-140mm lenses. As you can tell it is super sunny with the sun blasting straight into the stage at a blinding level. I wanted a vintage film look for this set, because really I would like to shoot daylight shows with this kind of hard light on film, so I used the ‘FUJIFILM Nostalgic Neg’ film simulation as a starting point in Lightroom and of course added a truckload of grain. I meant to get a strong ND filter for these daylight festival gigs, as I love to get motion blur and shoot around 1/50 to 1/125 but of course with this amount of sun they are all shot 1/2000 and faster! Never got around to buying one in time, so will definitely experiment with an ND filter next year.

Ruining my knees! Photo by Laura Ioana V

Thank you to Laura Ioana V for the picture of me on stage on this lovely day. I love that jacket so much and it’s so nice to shoot in, I apparently gladly suffer the Summer heat, and my knees hurt just looking at this picture! There is something psychological about making myself lower on a stage, it feels like I am less visible so by now I just do it by reflex, also to not end up in the sight level of the big broadcast cameras filming super close-ups of the band. I think besides an ND filter, the old photographer also needs kneepads soon. See you again soon on the big festival stages!


4 Comments on “Zar Paulo – Northside Festival 2023 photo essay”

  1. Great photos (as ever) Fleming! Daylight certainly gives a different look to stage lighting but you’ve still captured the atmosphere of the concert. Excellent!

    1. Thank you so much Andy! Yes daylight and a huge festival stage with the sun beaming straight in the eyes of the band is a challenge, but the only way really is to kind of lean into that harsh Summer look. I do much prefer shooting festivals at night, but daylight does have the advantage of being able to see the whole massive crowd, not possible at night.

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