Joey Walter, a saxophonist, graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire in 2009, and began her career as a musician in pit orchestras around the Midlands. Being brought up in a house buzzing with jazz she went on to form the jazz saxophone quartet Me & 3 and has played with the Walsall Jazz Orchestra for many years. After her time at music college Joey studied woodwind repair at Merton College, London. She now works as a woodwind repair specialist from her home the Midlands. With the arrival of her (now 3 year old) daughter Imogen, Joey set up an organisation, Project Create, hosting book clubs for parents and providing a pop up crèche to accompany performances in theatres. In recent months Joey has become involved in acting, taking lead roles with a drama club based in Birmingham. With acting as another string to her bow, Joey intends to try her hand as an actor musician work along with getting her children’s book Jazz In The Jungle published and her new play Raising The Steaks onto the stage.

Picture: Joey repairing an instrument at home, Walsall.

“I also repair woodwind instruments at home, because I can’t do much at the moment with Imogen because she’s only two and a half. So, I repair for a few of the companies around the West Midlands, it’s not too much work, it comes and goes.”

BH: The challenge with getting some of the shots of Joey was that different parts of her living room are the locations for teaching, rehearsing and instrument repair. This reflects how musicians have to be flexible in the things they do to make a living. The place where she does the instrument repair is not well lit and although there is a mirror in front of her work bench the main electric light and window light are behind her. On this occasion the lighting was augmented by an out of shot table lamp. Even so it was at ISO3200 but I was able to use the 24-70 f4 zoom at f5.6 and 1/200th second. This allowed be to frame in a tight place with my back pushed up against a door frame and wall. As it happened my go to 28mm setting gave me the right relationship between Joey and her repair tools with some moderate perspective and a hint of teaching with the piano in the background.

Picture: Joey working on a play at the Impact Hub in Birmingham while her daughter is in the crèche.

“It’s just finding the time and the money…and with me it’s the child care as well. I’ve been working on a project at the moment called Project Create Midlands and that’s trying to look after parents in the Creative Arts industry. The end goal is to have a venue where you can hire a studio if you need to practice or you want to run a rehearsal but it will also have a crèche so you know your child is safe having fun.”

BH: Joey working at the Impact Hub in Birmingham where she regularly goes to develop her writing and other projects. While there Imogen her daughter plays in the crèche. Light was OK so it’s ISO1600 and the 24-70 f4 zoom is set to 24mm and is wide open at f4 to throw the background out of focus and shutter speed 1/160th second. I chose to go to 24mm to get the perspective to accentuate her arm and hand and the link with the work on the paper. The picture on the door in the background and the figure in the right background, together with the increased perspective encourage the eye around the composition and locate Joey in the context of the Hub.

Picture: Joey leading a rehearsal for her band Me&3 in Birmingham, with her partner and their daughter in the mirror.

“Because sometimes it’s a nightmare, sometimes it’s really stressful, especially if your partner is also a musician, because I always joke that Ben gets the real gigs that pay really well. So, if I have got a run of a show, he can get offered one gig that earns more than mine all week. So naturally, I then have to dep my gig out.”

BH: I didn’t plan this shot it just happened while photographing a rehearsal of Joey’s Me&3 saxophone quartet but her comment was in my mind so as soon as I saw it, I made sure I caught it. Her partner Ben Markland a professional bass and sax player is in the shot with Imogen their daughter. The room at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire had good light but was small with a lot of space taken up with a grand piano so ISO was 1600 and I again used the 24-70 f4 zoom to allow plenty of framing options as I manoeuvred around the players. The lens was wide open at f4 shutter speed was 1/160th second and focal length 58mm – near the standard of 50mm.

Read other musician's stories

Chris Young
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