A Week in AAP Images

Behind the Photo: Dean Lewins

It was one of the saddest days for Australian music. The death of AC/DC co-founder Malcolm Young touched music fans around the country and the world. Dean Lewins, an experienced and award-winning photographer, covered the funeral for AAP. Here he shares how he experienced that day and what lead to a beautifully poignant image.

The frame

Angus Young waits to place a guitar in the hearse as they load the casket of his brother AC/DC co-founder and guitarist Malcolm Young following his funeral at St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, Tuesday, November 28, 2017. Malcolm along with his brother Angus Young founded the iconic rock group AC/DC. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins) NO ARCHIVING

The scene

The mood was very sombre. A small crowd gathered on the same side of the road on which we were watching the casket being carried from the church. As funeral attendees gathered - including Jimmy Barnes, Angry Anderson, a number of high-profile music promoters and AC/DC past and present band members - there was certainly a lot of sadness, a lot of hugging and tears. It was also very quiet.  

The Young family are known for their privacy. They requested that the funeral service not be broadcast, and no access was given inside the church for cameras. As a sign of respect, most media assembled across the road from the church, affording us a clear view of the doors where Malcolm's casket would be carried to the hearse and from where the mourners would also exit. We weren't sure if any of Malcolm's family would come out as we never saw them enter the church. However, we did have traffic moving between us and the other side of the road, which meant at any moment you could be blocked by a car, bus or truck.

Three seconds, two frames

Malcolm’s brother Angus Young emerged from the church ahead of the casket along with Malcolm's son Ross and other family members. It wasn't until Angus reached the bottom of the stairs that I was able to see he was carrying a guitar case, containing Malcolm's prized guitar.

The picture was always going to be Angus farewelling his brother, bandmate and co-founder of one of Australia's most important and prolific rock bands, AC/DC. When I saw Angus and the family emerge from the church with Malcolm's casket I had a fair indication that they would walk down with the casket and stand at the rear of the hearse as it was loaded. I can't say I anticipated this very moment. It lasted literally three seconds before it was gone. It's what we do as press photographers - a mix of intuition, anticipation, focus and patience.

For a brief moment, long enough to take two frames, there was a break in the traffic, and the footpath where the hearse was parked was completely clear of people. Angus stepped forward, watching his brother’s casket being loaded into the hearse. He waited, holding the guitar, which he then placed next to the casket in the hearse. I knew I had a nice moment.

The aftermath

The reaction to this image has been very humbling. When I looked at it again later, I knew I had an image that told the story and was a very private and sad moment. It was for this reason that I nearly didn't post it to my own social media accounts, but, it was an image I was very proud of and wanted to share.

It has had the most likes on both my Instagram and Facebook page than any other image I have ever posted, and I have received very kind words from my peers, people whose opinions I value greatly, and from people I don't know.

It is a picture I will treasure for a very long time. I am an avid music lover and AC/DC fan and it was an honour to cover such a sad occasion and produce what I think is a beautiful and poignant moment.

View more of the Malcolm Young funeral coverage on AAP Photos

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