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Concert Photography Interviews

Photographer Interview: Dusty Kessler

Crowdsurfer: Tell us how you got into shooting shows, how long you’ve been doing it and why you started.

Dusty Kessler: I’ve been shooting music since 2010 when my best friend was starting to perform as a local DJ. I would help him book shows by sending emails to promoters then bring my cameras with me to the shows, maybe there would be 25-50 people there. I started venturing out on my own and hitting up local promoters and other friends in the music scene and was just shooting for free for a while. Eventually that developed into some good business relationships that I still have today with some artists. I guess I started just because I loved live action and music. I never knew it could be a potential career path starting out but i’m thankful to still be shooting. 

CS: What are some of your favorite shots you’ve taken over the years and why?

DK: One of my first favorite shots in memory was with G-Eazy, who I still collaborate with frequently. We shot it in Kansas City, MO, while I was in college. He was crowd surfing and I had a strobe in the back of the venue for extra light that I popped off while the confetti blast happened. I’ll never forget that one.

G-Eazy by Dusty Kessler

Recently I’ve been working with Miguel and a few months ago we shot at a festival in California. The shot of him with pryro going off in the background ended up being used on his tour merch so that was an amazing moment. To know there are people on the other side of the world wearing clothes with my image on it is amazing. 

CS: What do you think is the hardest part about live concert and portrait photography?

DK: The hardest part for me is also the most fun part which is conveying to the viewer what it was like to be there in person and show the human aspect of the artist. When I’m working with an artist 1 on 1 it’s always a challenge that I break down the barrier between the camera and the subject. 

CS: Your aesthetic includes a lot of film photography. Do you prefer film over digital? How has your style evolved over time to your signature style that you use now?

DK: I love film and digital. Film is the best medium to be creative and challenge yourself to slow down and frame up a shot. Yes I have shot film a few times during live concerts but it’s more often that I’ll shoot digital for the performance and any backstage or BTS stuff I’ll shoot a mix of film and digital. Sometimes with such quick turn around times I have to only shoot digital to deliver fast. I think my style has always been about being honest and not staging my shots. 

CS: Who are some of the people you’ve gotten to photograph, and who is your dream artist to get to photograph one day?

DK: It’s a very extensive list. Recently I’ve still been shooting with G-Eazy and Miguel. Others include Jamie XX, Hitboy, Ava Max, 5 Seconds Of Summer, 070 Shake, Dan and Shay, Maroon 5 and many more. I’ve shot a lot of artists but I think a dream artist who I’d really like to be on tour with is someone who’s not even known yet to the public. I really like working with artists who are small and develop their brand image and creative. But a Billie tour would be fire too (shout out Matty Vogel) 

CS: What do you love about shooting shows and the whole touring experience?

DK: I just love tour and meeting new people all around the world who care about music and come together for that reason. There’s nothing like a live sold out show or festival or tour. 

CS: What would your advice be to young photographers just starting out?

DK: Find new artists and be in A&R. Reach out to people and offer your services for free at first and build with them creatively. The rest will come with time and just keep shooting every day no matter what type of camera you have or subject you shoot.  

CS: Love that. What’s next for you, and what are your plans for this year?

DK: Right now is a scary time for those in my industry. With the touring and music industry on hold we have to stay creative and get through this together. Hopefully in the next 6 months things get back to normal.

CS: Definitely. Anything else you want to add?

DK: I love hearing from new people. Send me a message on IG @dkessler.

You can follow Dusty on Instagram and check out his website here.

Categories
Concert Photography

Alexander 23 at Terminal 5

Alexander 23 opened up for Chelsea Cutler on March 3, 2020. We were all instantly in love with the neon heart sign that he had on stage, and clearly falling in love with him as he played his newest single “I Hate You So Much,” and covering bops such as Miley’s “Party In The U.S.A.” Take a look at all the photos below! And then check out our other coverage from concert if you haven’t already: Chelsea Cutler photos and the X Lovers interview.

Photos by Gaby Deimeke and Lauren Hayes

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Concert Photography

The New Regime at Brooklyn Steel

The New Regime played in NYC on March 5, 2020, the first of a two-night run at Brooklyn Steel. The dark, moody lighting set the tone and we were treated to a longer opening set, which I certainly wasn’t opposed to. The New Regime ended on “Heart Mind Body & Soul,” which is a song I strongly suggest you take a listen to if you’ve never heard it before!

Photos by Lauren Hayes

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Concert Photography

PUBLIC at Webster Hall

PUBLIC opened up the final show on the Band of Brothers tour and certainly kicked it off with energy! Take a look at the pictures below from the show and if you haven’t already, read our interview with the band here.

Photos by Lauren Hayes

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Reviews

Audrey Mika Sells Out Legendary Mercury Lounge

Regardless of the rain pouring and the weather dropping, fans couldn’t stay away when Audrey Mika came to town. That being said, I was one of them. Luckily, a perk of writing for a magazine means you get early access to the show and get to avoid catching a cold. Walking into Mercury Lounge, you immediately pass the long and dark bar area until you reach the light at the end of the tunnel. In this case, it was a small, but beautiful stage, lit up with rays of purple, pink, and a hint of blue, calling to be performed on. Artists like The Strokes, The Killers, Jeff Buckley, and more have made a name for themselves all with their legendary performances there and tonight, Audrey Mika added her name to the roster.

Mika opened with her single, ‘‘Fake Heartbreak’’ in which every person in the room sang word for word. With each transition to each song, Mika performed outstandingly, proving her vocal range to be impressively wide all while showing off her dancing ability (which never missed a beat). Maybe it was the pajama-like ​pink​ heart​ pants she wore or the space-bun hairdo, but Mika marked herself as one of the sweetest performers I’ve ever seen. She even made a point to bring up a fellow Paperclip Club (​her fan-base name)member, Kahliya, onstage and credit her for being a superfan and for her support from the beginning. In all my 22 years of live shows, I’ve never seen someone bring a fan onstage without having them be danced on or sang to, but only to thank them. How sweet is that!

Photos by Lauren Lamboy

Sonically, the show sounded even better in person than in headphones. With the help of her band mates, Cam Lee on drums and Joe Avio on guitars, Mika’s performances were fun and light, and you just wanted to dance all night long. She closed the show with, ‘‘Y U Gotta Be Like That’’, an obvious crowd favorite, but one of the most memorable parts of the show for me was her unreleased track, ‘‘Just Friends’’ in which she engaged with a call and response chorus section between her and the audience. The track had never even been heard and the audience responded as if they’d heard it all their life.

I wanted to wrap up with my favorite song of the night, ‘‘​Following’ that was released on her 2019 Album,​ Level Up.This song made me feel everything at once. With just an acoustic guitar and no-band at this point, she sang her heart out while the audience lit her up with their mobile flashlights as the entire stage appeared dark. While the majority of the show was entertaining and lively, it’s the precious moments like this one that took the cake for me. It was raw and pure which depicted the emotions in the song perfectly.

All in all, there is a reason that this show and many others were sold out. Mercury Lounge was lucky enough to have Mika play her music and I cannot wait until her next live show!

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Concert Photography

American Authors at Webster Hall

American Authors wrapped up their co-headlining tour with Magic Giant at Webster Hall on February 27, 2020. After an intense Plinko game, it was decided that they would be second to perform, though fans didn’t have to wait long because the sets between both bands were mixed. AA kept the energy high and had the whole crowd dancing and singing the whole time! Check out the gallery for some images from the night.

Photos by Lauren Hayes

Categories
Concert Photography Reviews

Chelsea Cutler at Terminal 5

Let’s be honest, I haven’t ​really​ known of Chelsea Cutler’s music besides her features with Quinn XCII, and Jeremy Zucker. But after tonight’s show, I can definitely say that I am a bigger fan than when I walked into Terminal 5. The whole point of a tour for a ​performer​ is to put on a good show, and for the ​fans​, it is to enjoy it. Knowing all the lyrics and songs is up to the audience. Regardless of my lack of prior knowledge in Cutler’s music, I genuinely enjoyed the music and from the looks of it, so did everyone else.

There were already high expectations as it was her second sold-out show in New York City at Terminal 5. Along with her phenomenal openers, X Lovers, and Alexander 23, Cutler definitely did not disappoint. Visually, her use of lights, colors, and visual pieces made it all the better. The backgrounds painted a beautiful picture for her to be captured in and really kept the audience honed in on her performance, whether it be a ballad or dance anthem. Sonically, her vocals were ​so​ perfect live that it didn’t even feel real. Her tone and texture in her voice remained the same all throughout the show. No cracks, no weak points, it was just spot-on which is incredibly impressive for a vocalist to have that strength and control.

From the beginning of her performance to the end, we’d moved several locations to get a decent spot as the place was packed. And each time, fans everywhere were singing and dancing, lyric by lyric, note by note. It was inspiring to be surrounded by people so in awe from the performance that Cutler exhibited, and we couldn’t get enough. Overall, this performance was raw, fun, engaging, and nothing short of magic. Until the next show!

Photos by Lauren Hayes

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Concert Photography

Magic City Hippies at Emo’s Austin

On Friday, February 28th, 2020 Magic City Hippies performed at Emo’s in Austin, TX. Here are some shots from the show!

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Concert Photography

Maye at Emo’s Austin

Maye opened for Magic City Hippies at Emo’s in Austin this weekend, and here are a few shots from the show.

Categories
Concert Photography

Magic Giant at Webster Hall

Magic Giant finished their co-headlining tour with American Authors on February 28, 2020 in New York and we were there to capture all of the antics. Magic Giant won the game of Plinko at the start of the show, so they played their set first, but most of the concert was a combination of both bands which was crazy fun! They kept the energy high all night, only bringing it down for a few minutes to wander into the crowd and sing a couple acoustic songs, which left the whole crowd feeling the feels. After that, it was back to jumping, kicking, bouncing, and spinning around the stage! Check out the gallery below for some photos of the final show.

Photos by Lauren Hayes