Wanna know what it’s like to be a pro rock ‘n roll photographer? Kanye Lens show us the ropes and some juicy stories along the way

Being a professional music photographer is a pipe dream that has no doubt crossed the mind of every music lover, ever. For Kane Hibberd, this dream is a reality.

Working under the moniker Kanye Lens, Hibberd is one of the most prolific photographers in Australian rock music, shooting everything from Soundwave to entire Violent Soho tours.

If you follow the latter on Instagram, it’s more than likely you’ve seen Hibberd’s photography pop up more than a couple of times – he works closely with the band, as a mate and as their unofficial photographer, allowing him the opportunity to take shots that few photographers could ever snag.

Violent Soho are just one of his subjects, though. Hibberd has been in the photography game for close to a decade, and his catalogue shows a breadth of experience that most photographers would pine over.

Due in part to insane jealousy about his job, and our adoration for his work, we reached out to Hibberd to ask him about some of his favourite photos and the stories behind them. Yes, his job is pretty much as rock ‘n roll as you would think.

Kanye Lens

Kane Hibberd – aka Kanye Lens – has some stories to tell. As one of the most esteemed photographers in Aussie rock, he’s worked with everyone from Peaches to Violent Soho. We asked him to share some of his favourite snaps and the amazing stories behind them.

High Tension 2015

Nothing like 5kg of pasta on a Saturday afternoon. This was for an editorial shoot and HT had the idea of doing something with pasta. They turned up with all the pasta cooked in a huge plastic tub and we got to work setting up the shoot. Shooting started with everyone fully clothed, then slowly it began to get funnier and weirder, with eventually one top coming off, then another. It actually ended with (then) drummer, Damian Coward, in his underwear on the table lathered up in spaghetti and sauce. I’ll leave that one to your imagination.

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In Hearts Wake 2015

This was shot somewhere in Death Valley, California. Due to a hectic touring schedule, the only time to shoot some press photos and a video was 3 days between two US tours. The band were meant to shoot a clip in Death Valley so we decided we would shoot some photos wherever looked good on the way there. Due to circumstances beyond the band’s control the clip ended up being postponed to a later date, but we ended up getting some amazing photos and seeing some amazing country. For this shot we hiked over a few huge sand dunes to get to the highest one. The photo doesn’t really show the scale of everything but it was massive. And we lugged a couple of lights up there as well!

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Violent Soho 2013

This was the first press shoot I did with the band and the first time I had really spent any time with them other than a quick hello at gigs. I had scouted a few different locations close to the studio and while we were walking to one of them, we saw into this backyard which was a typical messy, share house, party house backyard. Someone mentioned that it might be cool to shoot in there, so we went around and knocked on the front door, which was wide open. A shirtless, hazy dude answered the door and was fine with us shooting in the backyard.

We took a few standing around the backyard, whilst random people kept coming out the backyard to use the toilet, pretty oblivious to us. The guys sat down on the couch which was a little wet and we took some shots, like the one you see, then someone yelled out, “that couch is infested with fleas” we look down at the couch and sure enough, we can see the fleas. I don’t think I’ve ever seen people get off a couch that quick.

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Peaches 2009

This was for a magazine cover. The idea was to portray Peaches in a totally different light that would contrast to the music and the image she has. So we decided on a 50’s housewife, but to let her strength and fierceness come through. We were all kind of nervous because, well it’s Peaches and we wanted it to go smoothly.

She was of course amazing and totally owned it, knew exactly how she wanted to come across. The main idea I had, was to have her crushing eggs in her hand and to have the yolks drip down. So we got to the eggs, which had been in the fridge, being very careful to not break them. When it came to the shots, 1,2,3 go. Nothing happened. Again, 1, 2, 3 go. Again they didn’t break. It turns out they had been at the back of the fridge underneath the freezer and they had frozen solid. No breaking eggs for us!

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Letlive 2012

Letlive Adelaide Soundwave 2012. This was the first time I had seen Letlive and their live show blew me away. The stage had been running behind time all day so they had their set cut well short. But even when they turned the lights out, they kept playing. The stage manager tried to get them off stage, but they just ignored him, so next they cut the power. The band, clearly not happy about the decision then started trashing the stage.

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Xavier Rudd 2013

I went up to Northern NSW to Xavier’s house for a cover shoot with him. He lives in a beautiful part of the country near Byron Bay which is also near a river system. We decided that we would go up the river a little bit and take a variety of shots, one he painted his torso with Ochre for.

It started raining pretty hard, so with all my gear, we needed to get back asap before it got too wet. I was sitting with all my gear, holding on to an umbrella, trying to shelter my gear, but also not let the umbrella fly off into Xavier. I was getting totally drenched though and only had the one set of clothes for the day too. My film camera got totally destroyed with water damage but whilst I was sitting there, I managed to fire off a few shots, which ended up being my favourite images from the shoot.

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Andrew WK 2012

This shot is from one of the sideshows from Andrew WK’s Groove In The Moo shows at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne. Towards the end of the set, there was a stage invasion and I thought I might as well join in the fun. It was so rammed up on stage and getting to Andrew was just a matter of going with the crowd movement and hoping it pushed you in the right direction. Once I got within shooting distance it was a matter of ducking, weaving and hoping the shots were working. This shot was me, holding the camera over the head of someone and they just happened to hold their arms up in front of them.

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The National 2011

This was from The Nationals Melbourne show at Harvest Festival in 2012. Matt Berninger has a habit of getting out into the crowd during some songs. I had seen it happen but hadn’t been in a position to get any shots. I was walking from the pit to backstage when I heard a noise from behind the fence and I see Matt’s head pop over the fence and I managed to fire off a couple of shots and at the same time, only just avoid being jumped on. Scared the crap out of me as it all happened so quickly.

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Karnivool 2013

The band had this idea for the shot and I originally tried to shoot it in a bathtub last minute and totally failed. So I did some lighting tests on a small scale setup and figured out all the angles etc and ended up having to shoot in Perth. The guys had organized a friends outdoor spa, so one by one I shot them in the water (which was still pretty cold) in a variety of positions with eyes open and closed for each shot. Whilst we were doing this, they were also listening to mixes from Asymmetry. The image was then put together in post production and ended up running on a few front covers.

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