Finding a music photographer in Austin, Texas, is like shooting fish in a barrel. While most of these photographers are amazingly talented, it takes something special to set a given photographer’s images apart from the rest. One photographer who has made a name for himself in this field is Christopher Durst.
As I try to make a name of my own in this field of music photography, I always look to others who inspire me. Durst is one of those inspiring artists, for me and many other photographers.
Over the last five years he has seen his career take off, and all since moving to our great city of Austin.
AFM: What brought you to Austin?
CD: As a photographer living in California I always had a dream to work with Willie Nelson. The only way I saw to achieve that dream was to move to Texas. Austin is the place to be, especially for a music photographer.
AFM: You achieved that dream and then some!
CD: Yea, I have the privilege and honor to work with artists and musicians that I admire. It has been a pretty amazing journey.
AFM: Looking through your portfolio we can see images you have taken of musicians such as, Jane’s Addiction, Social Distortion, Counting Crows, Justin Beiber, LADY GAGA…
CD: I’m honored to of had such opportunities in my career.
AFM: Impressive! You are a natural photographer, self taught. I consider you an inspiration. Where do you draw your own inspiration from?
CD: Oh man, that’s really nice of you to say. I remember the first image I saw that just blew me away. It was that photo of Jimmy Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire; it is a powerful image. That image has stuck with me my whole life. Jim Marshall is the greatest. He is a legend. Bob Gruen and Robert Knight are also two others who I consider my idols.
AFM: You have this crazy double life thing going on. You have been married to Deborah for the past six years, and you have these two gorgeous little girls. But you also go on tour with musicians and travel back and forth for shoots in different cities. How does that work?
CD: It is really strange because while you are on tour, it is a whole different world. You are being catered to, things are done for you. Then I come home, and it is me doing chores, honey- do lists, taking out the trash, but I would not change it for anything. It is like I have the best of both worlds. My family life is great, and my wife is very supportive. It is hard leaving each time, but makes coming home even better.
AFM: What can we expect next from Christopher Durst?
CD: Currently I am in the process of filming a TV show about my life as a photographer. In addition to that we are also filming a documentary, and I’m also in the process of writing an autobiography and a couple other concert photography books . . .
AFM: Busy is an understatement.
CD: I am enjoying the ride. Things are crazy, but I am loving every minute of it.
AFM: What is the documentary about?
CD: Well, basically it is about art and our world today. These days anyone can claim to be an artist or photographer. We have iPhones, smartphones, Facebook for example and many other social networking sites, where anyone can post an image or video they took at a concert. So the film is about how access and our ability to create art are easier than ever. Anyone can do it; it isn’t restricted anymore for photographers with media badges, and it’s not just photographers but also musicians and other artists alike. Access is available to anyone who feels inspired. We explore what this means for art. It’s also about my job, my life, and the experience.
AFM: You are one of the few photographers who love to teach and don’t mind sharing tips and advice. We always ask our features to share a few tips on how to become successful in the real world. What would you tell aspiring music photographers about how to create memorable images?
CD: First off, know who you are shooting. Go to a concert already familiar with the music. Be prepared to capture the emotion of the artist. Some photographers take hundreds of images. I usually take a handful. It’s all about being able to stop, be patient, and try to capture their spirit. The best time to shoot is when you see them open up and really feeling what they are singing or playing. That is the shot. That will be an image to remember.
AFM: Why do you do it? What does this all mean to you?
CD: Photography is an escape from everyday normal life, an escape from my own head. It is creating art, it is what drives me, it motivates me, without photography I would be nothing. Living in a world without art or photography (aside from my family) wouldn’t be worth it to me. I take it very seriously. It is my past, my present, and my future.
When he is not on tour, being Mr. Mom, filming, or writing his book, you might catch Christopher Durst at one of the many live music venues in town, snapping images of his favorite bands. Just for fun.
Written and Images of Christopher Durst by Linda Hughes (email@example.com)
Other images c/o Christopher Durst