By day, Kevin Vankeirsbilck works as a school teacher in Belgium, but there's a good chance you'll catch him at a hardcore gig at night with his trusty camera in tow. He's been shooting since 2008 and though he's taken time away from live show coverage before, he's back in the swing of things, capturing both the local scene and international bands when they come rolling through his area.
Meet Kevin in the latest Photographer Spotlight below.
Where were you born and raised, and were your parents into the arts?
I was raised in Poperinge, a small town in Belgium. I didn’t live a arty youth. I guess my love for photography started when I was working in an amusement park as a photographer with my brothers. With my first payment I bought my first SLR camera.
What was your first musical love?
I used to have a toy tape recorder which I used to record songs from the radio. I pretended to be a radio presenter. During the songs I loved to take my air guitar, air drum, air keyboard, air whatever, to pretend I was in the band. The love for music started when I borrowed (stole) my oldest brother’s CDs. I liked bands from The Prodigy, Metallica, Moby… But when I discovered Slipknot I became this insane/obsessed fan. I wanted to know everything about that band. I guess I needed that heavy music in that part of my life.
What is your camera and post set up?
My previous camera broke during a hardcore show after having it for 7 years. Currently I’m using all second hand gear because of money and because it’s just hardcore [laughs].
I have a Sony A450. Not the best but it does the job.
For lenses I love to use my fisheye – Samyang 8mm, F3.5 accompanied with my external flash on my body. Also my Sigma 30mm, F1.4 does a lot of work where I can’t use my flash (bigger shows).
Who are some of your favorite bands to shoot?
I love when a heavy hardcore band plays in a small venue where I have to find a small ‘safe’ space. I love when the crowd goes crazy. Those moments are hard not to put away my camera away to mosh for a few songs.
But if I have to mention some bands I would say xViciousx and Mindwar because I love the dudes. And Higher Power, Year of the Knife, Just Ice, Worst Doubt,… to name a couple of cool bands who can put on a great show.
If you could go back in time, who are some bands that you would have loved to shoot?
Back in 2010 someone asked me to shoot the last True Colors show in Mol. Because I didn’t really knew the band and because I was young and stupid, I rejected the offer. I regret that choice still every day.
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?
Depends which shows. At these days there aren’t that many (underground) hardcore photographers in Belgium so that’s okay. But when I go to ‘bigger’ gigs like with Rise of the Northstar where there were like 6 photographers in front of the stage, I felt like a dick being a bother to other people who try to enjoy the show.
Tell me about some newer bands that we should all be on the lookout for.
From Belgium definitely Mindwar and Minded Fury.
From Europe I would say Higher Power.
From Canada I say the cool dudes from Just Ice.
Who are some modern-day photographers that you admire?
I really like the following creative hardcore photographers: Matt Gabell, Gabe Becerra, Nat Wood, Kat Nijmeddin, Paul Salazar, and Nick Tronckoe, who is a videographer. He works his ass off and puts a lot of money to create free video content. Kind of like the Hate5Six from Europe.
If you had to pick one of your photos that best encapsulates why you love shooting bands/artists, which one would it be and why?
The Mindwar photo below. Small venue, friends, 10 square centimers to stand and take pictures, sweat dripping from the walls and very important: cool hangouts with great (fast) food. I love hardcore.