Written by: Anna Pineapple
These are the people who never stay in one spot at the club and are usually recognized more for their camera than their face. Here’s what they have to say about photographing DC nightlife:
Danilo Lewis, the house photographer for Lima: Mute|Teka|Fujimar and EDM DC and has been in the game for the past 3 years. “What first drew me into it was the music. I have taken photos at almost every major club in DC and for some of the best promotion companies in the area and what I love most is the constant change and diversity this cities nightlife has to offer.” He hopes one day to be director of media for a major label/artist.
As the scene keeps growing, the influx of aspiring nightlife photographers will continue. Many photographers are extremely frustrated with the amount of amateurs looking to shoot in exchange for an event ticket and press pass. “Too many venues in the city put so little value into great photography, that they settle for just a GWAC (guy/gal with a camera) and not a professional photographer. If your putting so much time, effort and money into your business it would only seem logical that you would want to hire a professional to properly showcase and capture your venue with great photos.”
With photography, like many things in life, you get what you pay for.
Producing great photos isn’t the only requirement for a nightlife photographer. A good attitude and patience is key, especially when the shooting conditions consist of large crowds, drunken people, loud music, and unpredictable lighting. Going with the flow will ensure you do your job well and actually enjoy it! David Nguyen is a freelance photographer who got his start by bringing his camera to house parties. “As far as nightlife goes, communication and people skills are a must. Be engaging and respectful. Proper photo etiquette will go a long way. If you don’t like it, delete it. Overall, have fun!” What is his least favorite part of the job? “Not enough drink tickets.”
Shooting for major EDM artists, Echostage, Made Event NYC, and SoundGarden Hall in Philly, has made Doug Van Sant a household name in EDM photography. Go to any Echostage event, and you’ll likely see Doug walking around with two huge cameras strapped to him and fans clamoring to get a photograph. Watch out though, Doug isn’t afraid of the delete button and chooses his photos wisely. “I’m not a fan of obnoxious people who do stupid stuff on camera. If you flip the bird at my camera, I will delete the photo immediately. Sorry, our nightlife scene is about having fun and that’s what I’m trying to capture.”
Being in the right place at the right time is the name of the game when photographing the constantly changing lighting conditions. “Poor lighting conditions are awful. Once you shoot on stage at Ultra and other major festivals that have over-the-top production, a dark club can be incredibly frustrating. [However] Nothing is more satisfying when kryo is blasting and hands are in the air and you look at your camera and see everything is exposed perfectly. That’s priceless.”
For those interested in photographing nightlife or music events, keep shooting. It will help you evolve your craft and also may help you land jobs. “For me, I just did as much shooting for myself as possible before it started to get noticed. Once people saw I knew what I was doing and I took it seriously, the job offers came in.”
Kathy Vitkus has been shooting in the EDM scene for many years and is a testament that you really can do what you love. “My favorite part of the job is being a part of it all, that I still never take it for granted and that I hope I never do. I am often consciously aware of this great party going on while it’s happening and the fact that it’s so open and welcoming and I’m a part of it (participant). I am so grateful for all of these opportunities over the years and it’s still very surreal. To be able to capture the history-in-the-making is a bonus!”
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