We had the good fortune of connecting with Trevor McGoldrick and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Trevor, why did you pursue a creative career?
Freedom. I wanted to travel, I wanted to see the world, I wanted to feel like I had control over my life. Being tied down in one spot, limited on time off and where I can go/what I can do, it makes me miserable. I pursued working in the touring music industry and specifically live music photography because I wanted the ability to feel like I’m actually doing something with my time here on Earth, seeing the things our planet has to offer, seeing the cities humans have built for ourselves and experiencing the cultures of other cities and countries. Documenting the most interesting parts of what makes us human – Our creativity, our languages, our lifestyles, the things we’ve built and created, etc. Capturing the energy of live music and the enjoyment it brings to people. I get to travel the world with my friends, and document others’ creativity and things that make people happy, with a salary: who wouldn’t want to do that, given the opportunity? Ever since Coronavirus started, and the live music industry became non-existent, I’ve been out a job and have had to resort to getting normal jobs here at home to stay afloat, and it’s just reinforced why I picked the path I did. Even if my career is over indefinitely until coronavirus is under control, this weird time period of being out of work will be worth it when it comes back.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think that what sets me apart from other live music photographers, is that I did not start out as a music photographer – I started out as a landscape photographer. Not that either one is better than the other, but the genres are two totally different approaches and I believe the way I see and think about light and color theory and energy coming from a landscape world made my photos instantly stand apart from what some of the other live music photographers were shooting. Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means the best, but I think after that first tour I did as a photographer made people see what we were posting and go “Oh, that guy’s photos look really different”. I didn’t follow any live music photographers, I didn’t have any idea what to shoot really, I just looked for interesting light and went from there. I do not recommend diving head first into a paid gig with no idea of what you’re doing initially, but I suppose it worked out for me, since I got to keep doing it and get to a point where I do know what I’m doing now and am frequently told my photos are really distinguishable from others. It was not easy at all to get to where I am today professionally. I did years of working in the music industry in completely unrelated roles for little or no money at all – I lived in vans, I slept outside in parking lots, I lived out of gas stations off of a shared food stamp card, I missed months and years of time with my family and friends, flying out to go live in a van with total strangers for weeks at a time. It was risky, it was scary, it was incredibly hard physically and mentally. My motivation was just that I would rather be uncomfortable sleeping in a parking lot in British Columbia and rationing a subway sandwich, than see the same building 9-5 every day. Making $100 a week, but having off days in Yosemite and spending mornings walking around Montreal was still more appealing to me, and I knew there was a real career chance, so I kept doing it. Eventually all the work and sacrifice paid off, as it turned into my main source of income after my friends in I See Stars hit me up and were like “Hey, you have a camera too, right? Wanna take photos of us on this tour?”. and it snowballed after that. I suppose I just want the world to know that persistence and building solid connections pays off, and that everything can change in the snap of a finger – good or bad. My career started with a random text message from friends I had made, and it was put on hold indefinitely due to a virus out of my control – But that’s life. Things happen, good or bad, and you have to adapt. Just don’t beat yourself up if things aren’t going great at the moment – you might get a text soon.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I LOVE when my friends and family from other places come visit the valley. Living in Scottsdale, my first spots I take people are the obvious ones – Papago park, Saguaro lake and the bush highway. We’ll go grab coffee from Peixoto in Chandler, Pair Cupworks in Mesa, Regroup in Scottsdale, Kream in Phoenix, or any of the others from our huge list of incredible coffee shops we’re spoiled with here in phoenix. We’ll watch the sunset over the city lights from the top of south mountain, we’ll eat some of my favorite vegan food in the country at places like Green, Verdura, and The Nile. I’m more of an outdoorsy guy than a city guy when it comes to recreation so I can’t say much about city/nightlife, to be totally honest! I usually take people on a tour of the incredible landscapes in our backyards that don’t exist much elsewhere in the country. Everyone always tells me they had an incredible time after they’ve left!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have so many! But, if I had to just pick one, I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to a band called I See Stars – They are the first band that gave me a chance. They could’ve hired any experienced photographer they wanted, but they picked me when I had never shot live music before. They were patient when I had bad nights with photos, encouraging when I got good ones, and always pushed me just far enough out of my comfort zone to progress every night but never pressured me further than what I was capable of doing at the time. I work for a different artist full time now, but the last few years of my life and literally traveling the world wouldn’t have been possible without I See Stars taking a chance on hiring the hobby landscape photographer to come on tour with them instead of bringing an already established music photographer. The rest has been history. I’d also like to shoutout the current artist I’ve worked for the last few years – Fit For A King. They picked me up where I left off with I See Stars and it’s been an absolute treasure growing alongside them and living on the road and in airplanes with them. They take really good care of me, are an excellent group of humans, and I couldn’t imagine myself working for anyone else when live music comes back and we’re allowed to have our jobs back again.
Spencer Peck (Photo of myself, all other photos are mine).