Exclusive Interview: Photographer Forum – Beyond The Barrier

Exclusive Interview: Photographer Forum – Beyond The Barrier

Welcome to our photographer forum! Here at THP, we might be fans of all your favorite artists, but we’re also huge fans of the people who capture all those moments on tour! From The 1975 to LANY, Justin Bieber to 5SOS, and Waterparks to All Time Low, we’ve quizzed the best in the business to bring you the drip while shows can’t happen. 


Who was your first booking where you thought to yourself, “Wow! I’m really doing this!”

Joey Tortuga: I don’t think it was like that for my personal experience, but I had a similar feeling when I was brought on the road for Scarypoolparty’s US tour. I’ve always been very tough on myself and think of every opportunity as experience and a stepping stone in a way to something that’ll strengthen my career. Having mentally prepared for it for years made it feel so natural that when I was actually doing it, I felt in my element.

Corinne Cumming: I think it has to be the first time I shot Panic! At The Disco. They were playing at Kentish Town Forum and I had seen them play so many times before then, it was surreal to be in the pit when that was all I had wanted.

Dusty Kessler: I think most likely it was back in 2010 when a pretty unknown artist at the time was the first of like 4 acts on the Drake and Tyga tour. I was living in St.Louis, Missouri at the time and my best friend and I had been contacted to come out to the show because one artist needed a DJ for that night. I brought my camera as it turned out that the artist was rapper G-EAZY. It was a defining moment and really made me realize I wanted to pursue Photography.

Jawn Rocha: Good Charlotte! I was touring with Waterparks when they were opening for GC in 2016, and their manager offered me to shoot their VIP Meet and Greets. To be quite honest, it was more of a “what is my life now” kind of moment than a “wow!” moment haha but still a very amazing experience nonetheless.

Image: Dusty Kessler

Who got you into photography?

Joey Tortuga: I was introduced to photography by attending weddings/private events and saying “I can do that” whenever I would see the photographers at work. I wish I had a more exciting Mr. Miyagi type story, but that’s how It all began for me.

Corinne Cumming: My parents. I always enjoyed taking pictures on holiday and with my friends but they really nurtured my passion and bought me my first camera.

Dusty Kessler: I was mentored by Mark Katzman who is a photographer specializing in high-end commercial photography and he really got me into the advertising side of things.

Jawn Rocha: I guess I pretty much got myself into photography?? I was very much the typical make-home-movies-with-the-family-camcorder kid when I was growing up, which turned into me taking videos and photos of bands I was in as a teen. Even if it was off and on before pursuing it full-time, I just always liked creating things! It’s mostly just bizarre to me that home movies turned into band promos, which turned into music videos, which turned into a full time photo/video career.

Image: Joey Tortuga

What’s your funniest tour memory?

Joey Tortuga: There are so many, but one that sticks out is after a show in Cleveland, Ohio. A couple friends and I went across the street from the venue to go kill some time at the casino before bus call. One of our crew members stopped at the roulette table, threw some money on random numbers and won. He ended up going on a win streak and we all lived vicariously through him as he made out like Scrooge McDuck with his pockets filled with cash.

Corinne Cumming: In 2019 I was on the Stop The Clocks tour with Enter Shikari, the last night of that leg of the tour was in Newcastle at the academy, with an afterparty upstairs. After the show, I would usually edit my pics whilst the showers were all occupied, and then jump in the shower once everyone who needed one more than me had finished theirs. That night, because of the party, they all headed up and I stayed behind to shower. I got out to hear the crew laughing outside and it turns out, they had gotten stuck in the lift. They were stuck for almost 2 hours whilst I took pictures of the firefighters trying to save them… The party was obviously cancelled!

Dusty Kessler: It’s so hard to pick just one but I remember being on tour in Europe with The Knocks and Justin Bieber for 2.5 months. Many fun memories on that tour but as it turns out, Justin is an incredible soccer player (like really good). Before shows sometimes we would all play a pick-up game of soccer and if you were on the losing team you would have to do push ups. The good news is I was usually on his team and we NEVER lost.

Image: Corinne Cumming

Do you think your job and the steps you take on tour will be modified as concerts slowly begin to come back?

Joey Tortuga: Yeah, I think so. I’m sure venues and security are going to have new rules and restrictions, but we’re just going to have to adapt to our new normal for now.

Corinne Cumming: I actually don’t really tour, my job is mostly based in London but I think that it will be harder to get accreditation for shows to shoot unless you’re with an artist or with a publication because of distancing/covid safety etc but I’m confident that’ll subside as Covid does.

Dusty Kessler: Yes 100%. I have already talked to some people about new touring protocols that will be in the US and I’m happy to get back on tour when it’s a bit safer. I really miss shows and tours but it’s important we do it in a safe way for the artists and fans.

Image: Jawn Rocha

What’s your advice to young, aspiring photographers?

Joey Tortuga: Be kind, be bold and take calculated risks. Make good impressions when you get any opportunity and be consistent. Don’t get caught up comparing yourself to everyone else around you because that’ll creatively burn you out.

Corinne Cumming: Just stick it out and shoot as much as you can. The more you shoot the more you’ll learn about your style and what you like to do. Try everything, you might surprise yourself in terms of what you thought you wanted to shoot and what you discover you really enjoy.

Dusty Kessler: Always push yourself to try new things and stay creative. Shoot as much as possible and always read contracts before signing any rights away to your work.

Jawn Rocha: I don’t think there’s any finite advice that will help aspiring creatives pursue their craft, but I will say that I’ve learned that the experience is very different for everyone in this field. So, ultimately the only thing that matters is doing what makes you happy. If it’s something you truly care about and have the passion for, people will recognize that and you should allow yourself to let your art make you happy and bring you satisfaction. If you can make a career out of it, then that’s great too!

photographer forum
Image: Dusty Kessler

What’s your most expensive mistake?

Joey Tortuga: Not cashing into Doge sooner! All jokes aside, I don’t think there’s a mistake I have done that cost me more than a couple bucks.

Corinne Cumming: It wasn’t super expensive but I did a shoot for a comedian who wanted the RAW pics to send to a graphic designer and asked for the photos to be put straight on their computer, but their computer completely corrupted my card and removed the whole shoot. We re-shot it but they didn’t pay me. I’m sure it probably is possible, but I always go for the shots where the base is good without too much manipulation.

Dusty Kessler: I was on tour in Brazil and fell while shooting a huge show. To save my camera I took the full impact on my shoulder and ended up needing surgery on it leaving me unable to work for many months while I recovered.

Jawn Rocha: GOING INTO A GUITAR CENTER FOR “A COUPLE OF THINGS” WHILE SCUMBAGS BREAK INTO OUR VAN AND STEAL MY BACKPACK WITH MY LAPTOP, PRESCRIPTION GLASSES, HEADPHONES, AND MULTIPLE HARD DRIVES WITH PHOTOS AND VIDEOS FROM MY LIFE BEFORE TOURING.

Image: Jawn Rocha

If you had to do it all over again, would you still pursue photography?

Joey Tortuga: 1000x yes! I love taking photos and the friends and relationships I’ve made along the way are all worth it. 

Corinne Cumming: Absolutely, I can’t imagine my life doing anything other than this. I would be a geography teacher probably haha.

Dusty Kessler: I would definitely still pursue photography and try to focus more on video and editing from the start.

Jawn Rocha: I think I would. I 1000% love what I do, and wouldn’t change it for anything else at the moment, but there’s always going to be that part of you that goes “if I knew then what I know now” so… I think I’d be okay starting over again to avoid making the same mistakes in the beginning!

Image: Corinne Cumming

Who’s an artist you dream of shooting for but haven’t yet?

Joey Tortuga: I would LOVE to closely work with Taylor Swift someday. I snuck into her show years back *shhh* and can only imagine what it’d be like documenting her at work. 

Corinne Cumming: Paramore, My Chemical Romance, Lizzo, Nao

Dusty Kessler: I’ve been fortunate to create for so many talented artists of the years. I think working directly with up-incoming artists is super important but I’ve always wanted to work with Yung Lean since I’ve been a fan for many years.

Jawn Rocha: Omg, there’s too many. But if I could only name ONE, I would say My Chemical Romance. Or Childish Gambino.

Image: Joey Tortuga

We couldn’t possibly go without a quickfire round. Want to know the real nitty-gritty ‘this or that’ answers from your fav photographers? Well strap on in!

Sony, Nikon or Canon?

Joey Tortuga: I use both Nikon and Sony, but I think Sony is the best in my opinion.

Corinne Cumming: Canon.

Dusty Kessler: Potato.

Jawn Rocha: Canon everytime.

Longer tour with more rest days or shorter tour with no rest days?

Joey Tortuga: Longer tour! More time to explore the city, checkout new food spots and hang with friends.

Corinne Cumming: Longer Tour.

Dusty Kessler: Longer tour with more rest days.

Jawn Rocha: Rest days are needed. I’d rather be comfortable while on the road!

Hard drive or cloud storage?

Joey Tortuga: Both! Very important to keep multiple copies of everything.

Corinne Cumming: I have both!

Dusty Kessler: Both!

Jawn Rocha: Hard drive! Too many cloud options and I don’t have time to be downloading every time I need a file!

Doc Martens or VANS?

Joey Tortuga: Embarrassing to say that I don’t own either of them, but Doc Martens are more my style.

Corinne Cumming: VANS.

Dusty Kessler: VANS.

Jawn Rocha: Doc Martens because I’m manifesting that I’ll eventually one day look good in them.

One camera body and lots of lenses? Or lots of bodies with less lenses?

Joey Tortuga: Whatever you’re comfortable with, do that. I personally use 1 body with 2-3 lenses.

Corinne Cumming: I have two bodies and lots of lenses.

Dusty Kessler: One body, lots of lenses.

Jawn Rocha: No point in more bodies with the same focal point!

Editorial work or live work?

Joey Tortuga: Nothing beats live work for me. Being in that environment brings me so much joy and makes me feel at home.

Corinne Cumming: I love doing both!

Dusty Kessler: Live work all day.

Jawn Rocha: Live work. It feels more like having fun while taking photos, editorial actually feels like you’re working haha!

Lightroom or Photoshop?

Joey Tortuga: I use both. The bulk of my editing is done in Lightroom and I use Photoshop for any touch ups.

Corinne Cumming: Again, both!!

Dusty Kessler: Lightroom but I use both.

Jawn Rocha: You can do Lightroom in Photoshop but you can’t do Photoshop in Lightroom.

Prime lens or zoom lens?

Joey Tortuga: For live, I mainly use zoom because I don’t like being a distraction to the artist or crowd.

Corinne Cumming: Zoom lenses.

Dusty Kessler: Primes are great!

Jawn Rocha: Prime!

Presets or no presets?

Joey Tortuga: Presets can be handy for tour since you’re shooting the same show every night, but I usually don’t use them outside of that.

Corinne Cumming: Presets (I’ve made mine over the years, they’re a great starting point!)

Dusty Kessler: Presets then fine tune in photoshop.

Jawn Rocha: Presets are my friends, and I have a few of them.

Sigma art or brand lenses?

Joey Tortuga: Both! The art series lenses are just as good in some cases and at a more affordable cost.

Corinne Cumming: Canon for sure.

Dusty Kessler: Sigma glass is great!

Jawn Rocha: Canon lenses! THEY DON’T WEIGH 50 LBS ON YOUR BACK.

Find out more in The Honey Zine available here!

Are you feeling inspired by this photographer forum? Do you know someone in the industry who deserves recognition who may like to chat with us? You can email us at press@thpmag.com with the subject “Behind the Band” or send us a tweet @TheHoneyPop

Interested in finding out more about what happens Behind the Band? You can check out our entire segment here!

JOEY TORTUGA:
INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE

CORINNE CUMMING:
INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE

DUSTY KESSLER:
INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE

JAWN ROCHA:
INSTAGRAM | TWITTER | WEBSITE

Featured Image Source: Joey Tortuga

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