“Once I saw those pics, I felt ‘wait, did I just take that?’ and decided that I needed to work on how to get pictures like that as much as possible.”
Rukes captures the music in his photography…from recreating the moments for those who have attended the concert or festival… to creating the moment for those that were unable to attend the event…
Rukes creates is as a whole experience from the moments prior to getting on stage… the dressing rooms… the artist in their moment of feeling the music… to the fans raving… the epic lights and pyro effects…the fashions and trends… all the way through the wee hourss of the morning to the end of the rave! Feel the music not only through the music…. but through Rukes photography!
I basically started photography as just a hobby to go out to the nightlife scene. It never really interested me, aside from the music aspect, so taking pics was a good way to get my foot in the door.
I started shooting the bar scene in the OC (while I lived in the SFV, so it was a big commute) for some work on weekends when I wasn’t on my 9-5+ job of game testing. When I saw some DJs I liked, such as BT, Hybrid, Sasha, etc… started to play at Hollywood venues; I took notice and made sure to get a photo pass to try some “concert” photography.
Of course my parents helping me get started with my first camera are probably the people I owe “big time” the most. But on the musician side, I would have to say Hybrid. They still are my favorite electronic group. Mike Truman is a big photography buff, and even way back then when I was taking really crappy pics, he still saw something in me and was the first person to compliment my work and tell me I have a good eye. So I owe Hybrid both for the soundtrack of my life, and for giving me the first kick to keep doing what I do now.
Have a question for the FAQ? E-mail me! (Last Updated 10/11/12)
What does Rukes mean?
It’s a combination of the world “rocks” and “rules”. Also known as a typo for the word “rules” since the L and K are next to each other on the keyboard.
How do you pronounce “Rukes”?
“Roo-ks”. Not “Ruckus” 😉
How many people work for Rukes.com?
Just me. I am the only photographer and all the pics on Rukes.com are all from me (unless someone uses my camera to take a picture of me of course 🙂
Can I work for Rukes.com?
Unfortunately I don’t see my site as going down the road of “here’s 50 club photographers under my name” route (or even one other person) so for now Rukes.com will be just me.
Who do you mainly work for?
In the LA area, I do the photography for Insomniac.com and Giantclub.com and their associated events. I work with a majority of the world’s biggest DJs as well as some festivals/promoters, and sometimes they hire me for big events outside of LA for tours.
Will you be at X gig?
Please check the calendar I have on Rukes.com. If I am currently on a tour, that’s where you will see the dates I will be at. If it’s not listed, I won’t be there. I purposely hold off some months while I compile dates so I can release them all at once, especially for tours, as well as gigs post-tour.
Why do some gigs have a location and others do not?
I am based in Los Angeles, so anything in this general area, from San Diego to Inland Empire to the OC, all goes without a location label. Anything outside of the area (like San Diego and around the world) gets the location in the gallery name.
Did you go to school for photography?
Nope, all self-taught. The first galleries on this site are the first pics ever.
Why do your pictures look the way they look?
I am big on depth of field, so I love to use lenses that highlight that fact, such as f/1.2. I also like to make sure my pictures are properly exposed and most importantly, properly in focus. I won’t bump my camera up to f/5.6 or higher just to get what I want in focus, I will try my hardest to use the sliver of focus I have to get it dead-on, or I trash the photo. I also like a bit of high contrast and saturation, to bring out the colors and also to make them stand out in the dark. Lastly, I try to get the photo to capture the moment; that means no blurring or light-trails. It’s very easy to get a “cool” shot with some motion blur, but much tougher to get that same shot with everything frozen in time.
Why are so few of your photos in black & white?
Black & white is great in certain situations, but it’s pretty much a crutch to easily get someone to like a bad photo. By default, since we see the world in color, anything we recognize that is in black & white is automatically “otherworldly”. You can take the most boring picture and make it amazing by just making it black & white. It’s much more difficult to get the same punch with a photo in color, which is what I strive to do. I only revert to black & white if it’s not going to work at all in color. I like to challenge myself.
Do you sell prints? Can I get a pic of me?
Prints are available at http://prints.rukes.com/. They are on a per-artist or promoter basis, so it takes a while to work out new deals, as well as keep up with current ones. If you are the picture, I will provide it to you free of charge (exceptions are crowd shots and performance shots).
How did you get into this line of work/how can I do it?
I got in it at a time when digital SLR’s were pretty “new” (Canon 20D just came out) so I was usually the only one photographing at a club. Now it’s tougher since just about everyone has a camera, and can get in regardless of actual talent/reason (usually to meet drunk girls, unfortunately). I got started by asking the booking agents/promoters for a press pass in exchange for providing the photos (since back then I knew nothing about cameras, so I wasn’t giving up any groundbreaking work). It’s good practice, but working for free is a big no-no once you have a foot in the door. In this day and age, it’s best to do a few things. Practice as much as you can. Work with a local musician who might not have the budget to afford you, but you don’t mind practicing on. Once you have a good portfolio, shop yourself around to artists and promoters who could use a photographer. Also, try joining up with local sites that send out photographers for better ways to get noticed/get paid a little/get into events. Leave as soon as you can support yourself. You will never be successfull working for one of them, when you could be doing it all yourself. One big no-no is to try to bump out a current paid/house photographer by trying to work for free at the same time. That will most likely piss off the paid photographer, but also the promoter too. Let the promoter know you are around, and if they need you (such as their usual photographer is out of town/sick) they might hire you as the backup/replacement. If you manage to replace a paid photographer with you doing work for free, that’s a failure too, since that means the promoter/person who was paying the photographer has no money (and was looking for a nice way to get out of paying a photographer) and won’t ever be paying you anytime soon. Good promoters/artists who make money CAN afford photographers, at varying degrees, so consider the “we can’t pay you to take pics” a huge warning sign of impending failure. Never work for free unless you are learing how to use a camera.
Do you have any tips? Can you check out my pics? How can I make my pics look like this?
The best tip I can give is to work on using Manual mode as much as possible. I use a combination of M, Av and P for most gigs, depeding on the situation. For my 1D X, I set it at around 3200 ISO since that has little noise; so I suggest you find the ISO that has the most noise you can deal with and use that. I wish I could check out everyone’s pics, but honestly the only pictures I truly love are the ones I take, so I would have to end up comparing your pictures to mine. While I could say some positive things about your work, it will overall just be a distraction and might not be fully honest. Your goal should be to not care what anyone else’s photos look like and 100% care about what yours look like. If you feel like emulating someone’s style while learning photography/a new camera, that’s perfectly fine, but in the long run you NEED to develop and find your own unique eye for photography and not compare or rely your work to anyone else’s.
Do you have any more pics of…?
If I took it, I put it up. If it’s severely out of focus, only then might it not make the final check. Please don’t ask me “Is that all you have?” because I am not trying to hide photos from people just to say “Oh, you caught me, here’s the rest!”.
What’s your current gear?
All Canon: Canon 1DX, Speedlite 600EX-RT, Canon 24L f/1.4 II, Canon 24-70L f/2.8 II, Canon 85L f/1.2 II, Canon 16-35L II f/2.8, Canon 40 f/2.8 STM, Canon 50L f/1.2, Canon 8-15L Fisheye f/4, Canon 70-200L IS II f/2.8, Canon 100L Macro IS f/2.8 II, Canon 90 Tilt-Shift f/2.8, 1.4x Extender III and 2.0x Extender III.
Do you use a tripod? Some of those shots/settings are impossible without one!
Nope, I don’t. I guess I was gifted with a steady hand with photography! I can usually put the shutter speed at 1/4 and still get stable shots without a tripod or IS.
I hear you don’t drink?
I don’t drink, smoke or do drugs. I have drank a few times in my life, but I can’t get used to the taste of alcohol.