Culture requires presence

Ten years ago, the "listening photographer" Lasse Lagoni burst through the doors of Godset with a dream to capture the strongest moments at the regional venue. Quickly, he became the house's visual mood barometer, and with his lens, the young photographer captured the greatest moments on the stage. Today, the 41-year-old successful photographer has a studio at Volkerts Fabrikker but travels across the country snapping pictures, among others, for X Factor. The local pioneer, who discovered a golden opportunity on Jens Holms Vej 5 a decade ago, tells his story here.

Lasse sits in the goods carriage on the last stretch of track in a restored wagon, which serves as the backstage for the house's artists. On the red shiny compartment walls hang a string of the photographer's works framed in massive silver frames. The motifs constitute a moody gallery of well-known faces ranging from Danish Steen Jørgensen to American Nelly. Giants in their own right, and Lagoni has encountered them in numerous examples. Some are unforgettable:
"My hairs stood on end, and everything stood on edge the first time I photographed Kim Larsen. He had a special aura about him. I learned that 'culture requires presence.' The man was a living legend at that time - it simply couldn't get any bigger, so I really pulled myself together. When you've photographed Kim Larsen, you gain a bit more trigger-hardened skin."

For Lasse, the camera became his armor. With the trigger of his lens in hand, he could gauge the professional distance crucial for a successful photoshoot. He learned to tell himself, "I'm at work now - I have a function." Later, he used the mantra, "The guests must be there - the photographer must be there." Nonetheless, Lasse always worked without pay, on par with Godset's faithful corps of volunteers: "The payment lay in the opportunity, and trust arose through my presence at the concerts. As time went on, more and more doors opened. A confidential relationship developed between me and the staff, which gave me artistic freedom. My time at Godset was very valuable. Later, my experience from Kolding indirectly became the key to my future."

Lasse remembers, among others, Steen Jørgensen approaching him after several years as the house photographer:
"We're out there behind, smoking a cigarette before the show. 'You're the one who's Lagoni, right?' The voice comes from this iconic rock star whom I remember from my childhood. The lead singer of Sort Sol himself praised my portraits. Suddenly, I had become one of those talked about in the industry."

A personal platform provided free access
Most people edit and adjust their Instagram continually, but for Lasse, the posts reflect a timeline he can use as an artistic yardstick. Therefore, he does not delete his pictures. Lasse's Instagram is packed with faces from models in the fashion industry to holiday portraits in scenic surroundings to well-known profiles from the music industry. A particularly successful black and white profile photo of Kim Larsen during Kjukken's concert at Smukfest in 2015 emerges from the gallery. Lagoni won the press photo of the year at Smukfest for this shot - a bygone era shines through the cracks of the photograph's pixels. It is clear that Lasse has undergone a personal and stylistic development over the past decade, but already in 2015, the then 33-year-old photographer decided to settle on his own style:
"I had to find my own preset. I started playing with the settings in the editing phase, and suddenly 'I was just there.' I felt that I hit the right look and saved the settings. I've used that configuration ever since."

In the photo community, Lagoni now got the nickname "The Youth Jersey," and together with his friend, who was a banker, the duo bought the blogging site, which still only consisted of text in 2015. It quickly turned out that the new title as editor of his own online magazine was somewhat of an opener. Before long, Lasse and his affiliated reviewers almost always had free access to concerts and festivals across the country:
"We could freely apply for accreditation and mostly got it. Now I stood there with Thomas Treo. He may seem tough, but behind the mask is an incredibly sweet person. Of course, a reviewer wants to create debate - it ultimately benefits the artists. Without pros and cons - no traffic and exposure."

Lasse's final stamp of approval came at the Heartland Festival, where he saw POPLISH mentioned on the press list. Here, the young entrepreneur realized that the industry took his project seriously, and that a place on the list carried obligations. Although POPLISH was an interest project consisting of volunteer reviewers, Lagoni's mission was to create content of the highest quality. He wanted to maintain the voice that the magazine had gained, but despite everything, being on the inside didn't pay the rent:
"I worked double for a long period. I always had the camera in hand, whether I was at work or off-duty, shooting pictures at concerts. It was very important to me that POPLISH didn't undercut the market and remain a passionate medium. I traveled far and wide, for example, to Copenhagen to take three pictures, edit in the car, and then back home to Kolding. There was so much power in the music that drove me forward. It felt like a calling during that period."

Lagoni sees it as Godset's merit that he "discovered his future":
"At Godset, I found out that I loved being in the room when darkness falls and the red and green spotlights shine on the stage curtain just before it starts. I wanted to document the experience of getting up close to the emotions when the music plays. I was very aware that I had to pull myself together and become skilled to capture that special magic."

Music must be photographed up close
Lasse has always felt that it was something special when he had to photograph living legends and artists from his parents' generation. Therefore, he has also been extra focused when a Kim Larsen performed on the other side of the lens, which he managed to experience three times before the national bard's death in 2018. Occasionally, Danish artists approach him with a demand for a particular photograph or a given reportage series. So, Lagoni sends a package with low-resolution files for free use on social media, but there are limits:
"I don't want the artist to throw one of my photos on a record cover or on a poster without paying for it. The same goes for use in marketing contexts, ads, and websites. It may be difficult to distinguish these things at first, but fortunately, you become more aware of your value over time."

When do you know that you are ready to charge properly for your work?
"When the right people start recommending you to their own network. My clients today pay for the education that I financed myself over a decade. It was the whole journey that started when I burst through the doors of Godset back in 2014. I'm very grateful for that today."


Below, you can see a small handful of all the pictures Lasse Lagoni has taken over the years as a photographer: