Interview with Rukes, a Top DJ Photographer

If you've ever dreamed about living the rock star life, you'll get pretty close to it by being a concert photographer. I wrote about Rukes' incredible Deadmau5 concert photos last week and since then have gotten in touch with him. Here, he shares with us what led him into the nightlife/DJ photography field and then gives us the scoop on what's important in the biz. How long have you been taking professionally taking photos and how did you break into the business? I started using my first SLR in late 2004. My first regular club gig started early 2006. I basically started taking pics of DJs I liked for fun whenever they visited LA, got to know them a bit. A bunch of them actually liked my work, even though it was still very basic, and pushed me towards working on photography a bit. How much of your work is preparing before-hand, understanding the sets or personalities? Very little preparation goes in my work, really. Only if it's a regular venue, the only thing I need to remember is what lenses to use where, and (generally) what settings to use. When touring, every venue is a new experience and brings new challenges, so I have to re-learn everything all over again. What is working with Deadmau5 like? Can you share any stories about him or about your interaction with him? Deadmau5 is great, we are really good friends. If we grew up in the same town and went to the same school, we probably would have been friends there too, since we have a bit in common. We actually met through a bunch of mutual friends (Tommy Lee, Pioneer, etc…) so we both heard of each other before we met. Who is your favorite DJ or what is your favorite event to shoot and why? Hybrid on the rare chance I get to shoot them, they are my favorite music-wise. Insomniac's massives are always fun, since I get to get a bunch of epic pics of the DJs with huge crowds. Deadmau5 of course is great, with all the visuals and LEDs, as well as the fun behind-the-scenes moments, it almost doesn't feel like work. What are some tips you can give to aspiring nightlife or concert photographers? How do you make sure you capture the moment? Practice as much as you can! The more you experience different lighting situations, the better you can get the right settings/equipment for certain situations. Always follow the rules and be nice, nobody likes a club photographer who is there just to get free drinks/meet girls, or concert photographers who get in front of people, ignore song/flash rules, etc… For me, I personally make sure I have a wide array of low-light lenses to choose from if I have never been to the venue before. Then, I usually try some Av or P shots to try and figure out the lighting. When I have it down pat, I find the perfect setting to use in Manual. If you want to learn more, you can read another interview with him on LAist.

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