The pains of being pure of heart meant money, of course, was tight during this time, as it is for most photographers starting out. “Especially in the music industry, as people are willing to do it all for free,” he explained.
Mason briefly set out how a “trade-off” between bands and photographers is fairly common and is a means to an end in terms of promotion for both parties, “ride the wave” as he put it. It does, however, become monotonous and starts to wane on the purse strings when you are busting your balls to shoot shows and aren’t getting anything in return. This can mark the end of the road for some photographers. Mason however, had other ways to render it worth his time.
“I would try and get a bit of money here and there through putting my photos on t-shirts. Bands like Brutality Will Prevail, Last Witness, and More Than Life did one. Code Orange Kids recently did one. I love that band,” he said.
Working for Q Magazine
It was through Creative Commission that Mason was picked up by Q Magazine, this has catapulted his career into the mainstream media and has given him “a real confidence boost,” he explained. His first gig was Run the Jewels at the infamous - firstly jazz/blues and later punk - venue, The 100 Club.
“It was going to be nuts, a tiny club with a big group. It's like shooting a hardcore show. That's what I wanted to do, shoot a Hip Hop show with lots of high energy,” he explained. What was tantamount to his journey was to come after, real piece of music history, a documentation of a rising star. Mason was commissioned to cover soul singer Charles Bradley at the Forum two months ago.
“For him, he is overwhelmed every night that thousands of people turn out to watch him sing his songs. He's probably one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. I got to spend some time with him backstage and he took me through his outfits for the night and his set. We were getting some backstage portraits and it’s in a moment like that you could push an artist to try and squeeze as many photos out of him as possible but really it was about grabbing a few pictures in his natural state and allowing him to be comfortable.”
As Mason was about to leave Charles Bradley grabbed him by the shoulder and said, “look man don't worry about it, you take as many photos as you want, just be yourself.” I'm quite sure that Mason has always been himself, but a great accolade from the ‘The World (Is Going up In Flames)’ singer nonetheless.