Based in New York, Jess Tyler is a photographer, designer, and journalist who works at Business Insider and music publication Mind Equals Blown. Also working on a freelance basis, Jess is a fixture at hardcore shows throughout the NYC area, capturing some of No Echo's favorite bands in action. Welcome her to the Photographer Spotlight series.
Where were you born and raised, and were your parents into the arts?
I was born and raised in Westchester, NY. My parents are big into the arts — they’re both really creative people and music has been a huge part of my life as long as I can remember. I’m lucky to have grown up in such a musical and creative home.
What was your first musical love?
I was super into All Time Low, Mayday Parade, Paramore, that whole sort of era of pop-punk. I think a friend showed me Mayday Parade way back when and I still love them to this day. So, that’s the first style of music I remember really connecting with that wasn’t what my parents showed me.
What is your camera and post set up?
I shoot with a Nikon D750 body and Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, and when I shoot with flash I use a Neewer Speedlight 750II. For post I use Lightroom and Photoshop.
Who are some of your favorite bands to shoot?
Hangman is probably my favorite band to shoot — I must have shot them close to 20 times at this point. Mindforce is another band that I always look forward to shooting. I love shooting any bands that bring that explosive energy, especially when it’s reciprocated by the crowd.
If you could go back in time, who are some bands that you would have loved to shoot?
There are so many! I’ll keep it to hardcore just so I don’t ramble on all day — Mindset, Foundation, and Bane are three of my favorite hardcore bands, and they all broke up right around when I was getting into photography. Their last few shows are some of my favorite memories and I wish I could have captured them.
What are the toughest aspects to shooting live shows?
Troubleshooting when things go wrong is always pretty frustrating. If my flash dies or my camera won’t focus, having to fix that mid-set without missing anything can be a big challenge. I think — especially at smaller venues — lighting and stage setup can also be an obstacle. Figuring out where to go that will let me shoot great angles without putting myself in harms way feels like a game of Tetris sometimes.
Is it getting tougher to carve a space out at venues since there are so many people shooting these days? How do you feel about that?
I think of it as a positive that there are so many photographers out there now. It’s cool seeing the same moment from three or four perspectives. I don’t usually see other people as being in my way — we’re all trying to accomplish the same thing and I think, for the most part, other photographers recognize that and treat each other with mutual respect. Plus I’m shorter than most people, so I usually just find a small corner to shoot from and camp out there.
Tell me about some newer bands that we should all be on the lookout for.
Magnitude, Hangman, Mindforce, Sanction, War By Other Means, Selective Aggression, Jab, No Idea, Out the Front. I just saw Nosebleed in May and they were awesome. I honestly don’t know what qualifies as newer, but you should be paying attention to those bands.
Who are some modern-day photographers that you admire?
Tom Steinberg is someone who inspires me every day. He’s incredibly creative and talented and he always pushes me to do my best work. Other photographers that I think are killing it are Gabe Becerra, Becca Lader, Angela Owens, Spencer Chamberlain, Krissy Marie, Tyler Andrew. This is definitely not a complete list — it’s hard to name everyone! There’s so much talent out there.
If you had to pick one of your photos that best encapsulates why you love shooting bands/artists, which one would it by and why?
This Ecostrike photo is one of my favorites I’ve taken. I love seeing everyone having fun and coming together over this music. It’s amazing being able to capture moments like this one where people are just completely absorbed in the lyrics and in the music without a care of what’s happening outside the venue doors.
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