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Steve Best - A special group of weird birds
Reading time: 8 minutes - August 15, 2023 - by Steve Best in an interview with Daniel Krug

A special group of quirky birds

From the current Schnappschuss: "Humor"

Fun is at the heart of Steve Best's work. As a comedian and photographer, he has a great trump card and gains access to otherwise hidden moments. He takes us into the world of entertainment, showing the trappings and making the comedy scene personal. His resulting series COMEDIANS is also available as an illustrated book, the second part of which has now been published.

Steve Best - Jo Brand
Steve Best - Jon Udry

"COMEDIANS is a 10-year journey in which I accompanied my colleagues on and off stage."

What do you want to show with your series COMEDIANS?

COMEDIANS is a 10-year journey in which I accompanied my colleagues on and behind the stage. Many people watch comedians from the audience seats, but hardly anyone has backstage access to experience the moments before and after the performance, as well as everything else that happens in between. I want you to see the laughter, the nervousness and also the friendships that exist between this very special group of quirky birds.

"I want you to see the laughter, the nervousness and also the friendships..."

Are there any reasons why you specifically photograph the British comedy scene?

The British comedy scene is all I've ever known in my career, both as a comedian and as a photographer. I've never worked in any other profession for over 25 years. There is a lot of photographic documentation of the rock'n'roll and theater scene, but to my knowledge no one has ever documented the comedy scene. Maybe it's the lack of access, as it's really hard to get into this group if you're not part of it yourself.

How do you always manage to be in the right place at the right time and take these genuine photos?

In recent years, I've been performing myself and have become friends with a lot of comedians. So they know me more as a comedian than a photographer. When I'm backstage, I'm one of them and can talk and joke with them freely. I enjoy unrestricted access and complete acceptance in this world. A great advantage that not many photographers have.

I have been using the Fujifilm X-series with fixed focal lengths for a long time, which are usually very small and unobtrusive. Lately I've also been using a Leica Q, which is even smaller and almost silent when shooting. This makes me almost invisible as a photographer. On stage, I know when the punchlines come and the laughter starts. So I'm always ready for the right moment. Over the years, I've also learned how to make my photos more dramatic. I don't particularly like taking photos from the audience seats because it can make the photo a bit one-dimensional and could have been taken by someone in the audience. My approach allows me to photograph from viewpoints that are not accessible to the audience. I often shoot sideways directly onto the stage and against the light to create a dramatic effect.

Steve Best - Phil Jeays
Steve Best - Marlon Davis, Matt Welcome, Imran Yusuf and Andrew Bird
Steve Best - Jo Caulfield

Why do you only photograph in black and white?

Black and white photos are timeless. For me, black and white emphasizes the atmosphere backstage. The lighting conditions there in particular are not always ideal and the high ISO number and the accompanying noise emphasize the mood much better in black and white than it would in color. On stage, the bright white spotlight in contrast to the shadows is particularly beautiful.

Is it more fun to work with comedians than non-comedians?

Comedians are what I know and what I am. I photograph other people too, which I really enjoy, but I do have a special affinity and camaraderie with this particular group of exotics. I still enjoy going on stage myself, but behind the camera I feel a spark of more enthusiasm.

more info and more works:

Steve Best

Instagram: @stevebestpics

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