Los Angeles is home to many photographers who have carved out their own unique niche, and one of those is Drew “Rukes” Ressler, a Long Island native who has lived here for over a decade. From his humble beginnings photographing his favorite breakbeat act at Avalon to touring the world with the biggest names in dance music, Rukes has earned and continues to defend the title of #1 DJ Photographer. Whether it’s a club night in Hollywood or the world’s largest dance music festival, Drew always makes his subjects look great and captures the energy of the party. On the eve of Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas (Stage setup preview by Rukes below), we caught up with the photographer to discuss his life, career, Los Angeles.
You got your start in LA– what’s been the best show you’ve seen in this city– all time and in the past year?
This is pretty much an impossible question for me to answer :)
I live in West Hollywood, and I love it. I can walk around to some good food/shops, and I’m a short drive away from Restaurant Row. Can’t pick a favorite one, other than the one I live in.
Your travel schedule is legendary– what’s been your favorite trip you’ve taken in the past couple of years?
Aside from the recent family vacation to Tokyo, I loved going to Brazil with Steve Angello. My first time in South America and it was just stunning! A close second would be the Asia tour with Deadmau5 in early 2011. I love Asia, so being able to go to just about every major country out there was great. Also can’t forget to mention Holy Ship in January. My first ever cruise and it turned into a legendary event.
The house music scene has gotten bigger and bigger and bigger of the past few years, what have been the changes you’ve seen that have gone along with that?
Just more gigs at arenas/rock venues compared to having gigs only at clubs.
Is there a DJ or performer out there that you haven’t yet shot and want to?
At the moment, not right now. Pretty much my top 3 has recently been covered (Plump DJs, High Contrast and Fatboy Slim) so I don’t think I have a list anymore.
Do you ever dance when you’re covering a show?
What’s your standard equipment setup for a gig?
Right now: Canon 5D MkIII, Speedlite 600EX-RT, Canon 24 f/1.4 II, Canon 85L f/1.2 II, Canon 14L II f/2.8, 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
Of course that will change a bit when the Canon 1DX comes out in June!
Not to play favorites, but in your opinion who is the most photogenic DJ in the world?
There isn’t anyone I can specifically single out, but there are always a few DJs I work with that love to “ham it up” in front of the camera with funny faces, like Steve Angello, Chris Lake, Dirty South and Dada Life. Pretty much every DJ I work with has some quirks, usually some funny face they make while DJing that I try to avoid getting pics of.
What is your favorite part of your job? When are you happier– taking the pictures, or looking through what you’ve created?
My favorite part is actually a mix of both, it’s taking the pictures and then looking at them right after; if the photo straight out of the camera is amazing to me, that’s the best part of the job right there. I get really excited knowing that I have a “portfolio” shot while I’m working, and then I usually spend the next few minutes showing everyone.
You could live (almost) anywhere on earth, what keeps you in LA?
All the musicians! Pretty much every single major DJ in the world has to stop by SoCal/LA at least one gig on their tour (and a lot are moving out to LA), so there is a constant flow of DJs around here. Especially with extra bookings in Vegas, it’s a quick hop over to get even more pics. You can’t say that about Miami or NY!
What’s your favorite restaurant or bar in LA?
Urasawa is probably my favorite restaurant in LA. The rare chance I get to go makes me feel like I took a quick trip back to Tokyo for a night!
Lastly, do you have any tips for aspiring DJ / Nightlife photographers?
Take photos the way you want to make yourself happy, don’t try to take photos a certain way to appease someone else. Also, make sure your images are in focus :)
All images are recent shots from RUKES.COM, where you can find thousands more…