Kelsey Giesbrecht

How long have you been shooting for? 
Actually, it was three years ago today that I shot my first concert! I had won a contest to shoot a band known as Down With Webster and from then on I would take my camera to smaller venues, trying to build up my portfolio. I’ve actually owned cameras since I was a kid and bought my first DSLR in high school. I never thought I would get into photography, I just loved taking pictures and it ended up turning into something, 

What made you decide to pick up a camera? 
I’m not entirely sure. When I was a kid, I went through disposable cameras like crazy! I took the most random photos and my family would laugh at me for it. I then upgraded to a point and shoot and would take it to shows because I wanted to take pictures for the purpose of remembering them. I would print out photos and tape them all over my wall. I only bought a DSLR because I wanted to take better quality photos. I then started paying attention to actual photographers and tried to recreate some of their work because I thought it looked cool. What started my obsession with cameras, I’ll never know, but I’m glad I stuck with it and decided to learn and get better. 

For you, what was the most challenging/difficult part of it? 
I used to get frustrated because I couldn’t take my DSLR into concerts without a pass – something I didn’t realize when I bought my camera. Where I’m from was also a city that didn’t have many shows coming through nor any music blogs to shoot for so I found it difficult to shoot and get better. I started taking my camera to small venues that had no camera policies but that also usually meant no lighting. My photos would come out either blurry or grainy. I never took any sort of photography class so it took me awhile to learn how to properly use my camera and edit. I was also just another girl with a camera in my city and heard a lot of jokes that I wasn’t a real photographer. 

You do a lot of commercial & minimalistic photography as well as concert photography as well. Which do you prefer to shoot most & why? 
Concert photography will always be where my heart is. I love shooting musicians because none are the same. Each artist brings their own personality to the stage and I think it’s so fun to capture that. I also just love the energy at shows with the screaming fans, flashy lights, and loud guitars. 

What are your favorite type of concerts to shoot? 
Definitely pop punk or metal. The crowds are always crazy and the bands are energetic. I love artists that move around and get into the song. It’s not to say that artists in other genres don’t, but I find metal vocalists to always be a little crazy (in a good way). I also listen to these genres myself so it’s always more fun to shoot bands that I like. 

Has being a woman in your field been difficult on you? Have you dealt with any effects on sexism in your career? 
I don’t feel like it’s made things more difficult – I have experienced some sexism but I’ve learned to stand up for myself. I’ve been given a hard time once trying to explain that I was on media when my male friend said the same thing and was let by without a problem and I’ve had a few disgusting comments from band members offering me more money if I did more than just take photos for them (I’ll leave it at that). Other than these instances however, I don’t feel that being a female has hindered me. I have a good group of male music photographers now and they treat me just like anyone else. I wish there would be more women out shooting but I do feel included. 

Describe your style & how you decided on it. 
I love contrast. I like playing with concert lighting to make my subject pop and I found I was able to do this using contrast and tone curves. I don’t think I ever “decided” on a style exactly, I just edited photos to my liking and eventually started to notice they were all turning out with the same look. When shooting, I also try to look for those moments – concert photography is exciting because you only have a few seconds sometimes to capture an awesome moment. I like taking photos that show the vibe or emotion of a show. I don’t want to just take a photo of a singer standing at a mic, I want them singing to a fan, kneeling on the ground, etc. I always try to capture something different. 

What other photographers are a big inspiration to you? 
Ashley Osborn will always be my biggest inspiration, Before I discovered her work, I only focused on taking a clean image – basically if you could see the artist’s face and it wasn’t too grainy, I was happy. Then I began following Ashley’s work and she made me realize that photography is art. I started looking at new ways to shoot and began to pay attention to the emotion the artist showed. I also loved how she edited so different than any of the other photographers I was following at the time and it really inspired me to do my own thing and try new styles. I’m also a big fan of Joshua Halling, Elliott Ingham, and Brandon Newfield’s work. They all have unique styles and inspire me to be better. 

Favorite work you’ve done? 
This is definitely a hard one. I’d say some of my photos from this past year’s Warped Tour are some of my favourites. I shot over twenty bands that day and came out with some really awesome work. I usually rely on cool lighting to make my photos pop, but Warped doesn’t exactly give me that option so I had to change up my editing style and put more time into it and I’m really proud of what I came out with. 

Advice for aspiring photographers? 
When I first started shooting concerts, my best friend at the time told me that “just because I had a camera, that didn’t make me a photographer”. I’ve now shot her favourite band at their sold out show and been noticed by one of our favourite magazines growing up. My advice? Surround yourself with people who encourage you and never let people tell you what you can and can’t do. Listen to constructive criticism, but also become confident enough in your work where you don’t feel the need to change to fit what others want. Lastly, just be eager to learn and don’t stop shooting. I taught myself photography and I never would have gotten to where I am if I hadn’t spent hours googling tips and taking my camera out to try them. Keep pushing and working hard and people will begin to notice.

You can check Kelsey out on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.