Behind The Lens: Shooting An EDM Show
There's a lot that goes on at shows that attendees don't get to see. From setting up stages to timing pyrotechnics and building water stations, there's a lot of logistical things that festival goers don't usually think about.
Many of us are guilty of reliving shows through photos and videos, and at any given moment during a set, there will be phones in the air recording and taking pictures. But what is it like to get paid to shoot photos at a show itself?
The highly coveted media pass allows professionals to bring in real photography gear to take photos of shows from perspectives that plebian attendees don't usually get to experience.
A lot of us wonder what it must be like to be able to stand behind the DJ and take photos, so we here at iEDM got a chance to interview Reese Moriyama, a professional photographer. Reese had the chance to shoot photos during Gareth Emery's Saving Light Tour when it stopped over in Hawaii.
So I sat down with Reese and got to ask him a few questions about his experience shooting Gareth Emery's show.
iEDM: Gareth Emery is one of your favorite producers of all time. Do you think that affected how you composed your pictures?
Reese: Absolutely. I have a very deep connection to Gareth's music and his music resonates with me in a very special way. I wanted to capture him the way that I see him: an artist who is incredibly passionate and who cares deeply about his work. Gareth is also one of the more dynamic DJs on stage, in every set that he plays, you can tell he's having the time of his life up there. I wanted to capture that emotion and that passion.
iEDM: From personal experience, I know that sometimes when you're working at a show it can be difficult to maintain a balance between enjoying the show and actually working. Was this difficult for you?
Reese: I didn't have any problem balancing work and enjoying the show. For one thing, shooting photos at one of Gareth's shows has been one of my biggest dreams and I was excited to just do that. I told myself that when Gareth plays my favorite songs, I would put my camera down, go into the crowd and just enjoy it from the crowd.
iEDM: Kudos to that. Speaking of being in and out of the crowd, as an official photographer that night, you had access to places where the public usually doesn't get to go- behind the DJ, on the side of the stage, etc. Tell us a bit about that.
Reese: A lot of it has to do with perspective. Shooting from the back of the house gives you a chance to see the show from the crowd's point of view. Shooting from a raised vantage point highlights the venue, but it was really exciting getting to shoot pictures of Gareth from behind. It's a completely different perspective.
Being behind Gareth, you get to see what he sees: the lights on his face and the crowd's reactions. Getting his perspective of the crowd, how they react to songs, drops and special effects was a really special experience.
iEDM: I know when I try to take pictures at a show, they usually never come out right. What are some of the more challenging parts about taking pictures at a show?
Reese: From a technical standpoint, it's a very challenging experience to shoot photos in. It's very dark and the lights are changing every second: sometimes they're bright white, then they flash into subtle purples and blues, then red. And they change fast. You also have to know your equipment because you're shooting in the dark and you have to adapt quickly to situations (changing lenses and settings). You want to capture that one moment- the drop, Gareth's expression, etc. The crowd can be difficult sometimes too, not always sober, sometimes drinks are spilled, and you want to make sure your equipment isn't damaged.
iEDM: Sounds like a tough environment to take photos in! Do you have a favorite photo you took that night?
Reese: (see above) I knew the shot when I got it. His smile says it all. There's so much passion and so much sheer joy in what he does all represented in that photo.
iEDM: I absolutely love that photo. Final question, what advice do you have for any aspiring EDM photographers?
Reese: You have to have a passion and love for the artist and their music. This is how you get the best photographs because you care on a deep level about getting photos that represent the artist. In my opinion, you genuinely have to love the music and the artist otherwise you risk just going through the motions. It’s not about the money but the art. Also, make sure you know your craft. You have to know how to use your camera in total darkness, how to change your controls in a split second, and how to act and react quickly because lights only last for seconds.
Thank you so much to Reese for taking the time out of his schedule to talk with us! He shared some amazing photos of Gareth Emery's recent show in Hawaii and we love them all. We hope you get a chance to shoot more shows!