Categories
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 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

Categories
Concert Photography

Cold War Kids at Webster Hall

We were extra excited when, at 5pm on a Tuesday, we got approved to photograph Cold War Kids in NYC. They performed at the historic Webster Hall on February 4th to a very hyped crowd (us included). Check out the photo gallery below.

Categories
Concert Photography Uncategorized

Photographer Interview: MsMoonlightArts

She’s taking the EDM photography scene by storm. Based in New York City, Dumarys Espaillat, under her brand name MsMoonlightArts, travels all over the country to shoot shows and music festivals. I had a lot of questions I wanted to dive into, so without further ado, here’s the interview we did with the incredible concert and festival photographer, MsMoonlightArts.

Tell us how long you’ve been shooting and why you started shooting concerts. I have been shooting for around six years. The way I started shooting was maybe a little bit different than most people. I was living in Puerto Rico and I used to work as a Production Assistant Manager for a company that produced events, mostly EDM events. So after a while (since I had no need to worry about getting a press pass) I started bringing my camera into shows, just for fun. As time went by, I got better at it, until one day the band Capital Cities played a show in Puerto Rico. I managed to capture a nice photo of their trumpeter at the time, Spencer Ludwig.

After the show, a friend encouraged me to show him the photo, which I did, and he loved it and posted it on all his socials and that was the moment when it clicked. The thought of “if he liked my photo maybe others will and I can get hired for it and maybe also travel” came to my mind. So from that moment and on I created my brand, Ms Moonlight Arts (after a high school nickname) and started focusing in improving my photos, setting up goals and finding my style.

Photo: elrow NYC at Avant Gardner, February 2019

What are some of your favorite shots you’ve taken at shows and why?

This shot taken at elrow last year opened a lot of doors for me. This photo was featured in Billboard.com in an article of elrow but it also contributed to me getting my current job. While I freelance in photography, I do have a full-time job where we do marketing for festivals and nightlife events. Besides that, I love how colorful it is, the composition and all the confetti. I think it captures what elrow is, something fun, colorful and crazy.

Photo: Galantis at The Brooklyn Mirage, July 2019

Ever since I started taking photos, I always wanted to have a photo of a moment like this, when people light up their cellphones from the crowd. I think it is such a magical moment for the performers, usually a slow song plays, everybody sings, it is just beautiful!

Fireworks! Who doesn’t love them! I am always looking forward to any pyro shots because they impact so much the way a stage and performers are displayed in a photo.

What’s the hardest part about concert photography?

I would say the times you have to work, while festivals mostly end around midnight, a lot of events I have shoot at end around 4am or so, in certain occasions even later and you have to sometimes go home and edit or edit on site. I have worked some crazy hours, overnights, staying up until like 7am editing after a show. When you do this but you also have a full-time job, sometimes it is not so fun the next day. It does requires a lot of energy to be running around with a heavy backpack sometimes 12+ hours and still edit after or during a show.

What do you love about shooting shows?

The energy, the people and the music. There is no way to describe how awesome it feels walking into a stage or a photo pit full of fans screaming and singing their hearts out! There is a magic to it. Also since I’ve worked in the production side, I know how much hard work it takes to put on a good show. This is why I always love when festivals and/or concerts bring onboard new things to amaze the crowd from lasers, Pyro, Drones, different stages, sound quality, new experiences, performers. It’s just awesome when it is all mixed together.

What advice do you have for concert photographers just starting out?

Always follow your dreams even if you don’t feel you made it yet! There is always improvement, re-evaluate your work, plan your next moves, learn from others and improvise. Doesn’t matter what field you are in. I never thought I would be where I am now, even though I still feel like I have tons of things to learn. Photography has taken me to places I never thought I would visit, it sparked even more of my passion for traveling and besides shooting shows, I have had the chance to work with people and brands that I never thought I would work for. From corporate gigs to fashion, food, with brands such as HBO, J.C. Crew and Dunkin’ Donuts among others.

Check out MsMoonlight Arts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and have a look at her portfolio here.