20 Years of EDM Photography by Rutger Geerling (feat. interview)

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We all love to look back on our photos to remember the great times we had at show's. Without a doubt these marvelous photos you and I see took great talent to capture those moments. Everyone will post their work from the promoter, DJ, and Venue. They play a vital role within the industry and have been around for many of years. Rutger Geerling has been in the game since the very beginning. and has documented in the evolution of dance music through his lens. Hundreds of photos over the course of 20 years all in a hard copy book that you can now buy online. I personally think it is pretty cool because I have yet to see someone do this within the EDM photography realm.

His book has got support from DJ's like Martin Garrix, Hardwell, Armin Van Buuren, and many more. I pondered how would someone go about handling a project like this, and where the inspiration came from.  I wanted to ask Rutger a few questions to just see his point of view and to get to know a little more about his background. I highly encourage you to also grab a copy of his book here. They are selling out quick!

1. How did you get into the industry? Tell me a little bit about the early stages of your career.

Even as a kid I was fascinated by photography and I knew it was something that I’d greatly enjoy. So during my studies (Masters in Public Administration) I finally decided saving enough money for a decent camera and I was instantly hooked. By photographing for University magazines and doing tons of free work (architecture, skateboarding, snowboarding) I slowly got better. This was mostly black and white stuff that I developed and printed myself in my bathroom. I figured I liked it so much that I wanted to see if I could make a living out of it. This was about 5 years after I started. I was able to start working for a friend’s publishing house (they had a snowboard and a music magazine) and the whole thing got going after I had my masters.

So for a couple of years I just tried to make ends meet, shoot as much as I could and have a ton of fun while improving bit by bit, you have to remember this was all pre-digital so the learning curve was a LOT different than nowadays. There were a few defining moments, obviously working as ID&T senior photographer was important to me, Chesterfield was the next and working for Bacardi a few years later was important since they completely let me do my own thing, so I got to develop my own style which is very natural, warm and edgy sometimes. Working for Q-dance and their photographers made my work enjoyable because of the enormous respect between all of us. Internationally, Ultra three years ago was a major breakthrough since they spend a lot of time crediting their photographers, and they are really proud having you work for them. Also, Tomorrowland had just gone ballistic and being their senior photographer certainly didn’t hurt.

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2. What inspired you to put this hard copy book together? When did in come into fruition?

 More than a year ago a writer friend of mine and a publisher friend of mine all contacted me within a month that I was just loosely thinking about this. I knew my 20 year mark was coming up and three of us having the same thought so close together was just too good to be true. I think we agreed on the rough outlines over two beers and we started working. Selecting the photos was the biggest nightmare, going from approx. 20.000 pre-selected images to 350 was insane but surprisingly we all agreed a lot to what was good enough or not. We did most of the work in about two days.

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3. What do you think the future of dance music beholds?

Ouch, tough question since I lost my crystal ball some time ago…


We’ve seen a lot of consolidation of a few big organizers which means most major festivals are pretty much very well taken care off production wise. Quality seems to be the norm at the bigger ones. Not sure if it can get a lot more crazy though with the massive shows, stages and fireworks we’re seeing nowadays. I would love to see a return to longer DJ sets (1.5 instead of 1 hour) like at Tomorrowland Brasil and a bit more variety in music choice. The short sets push DJ’s towards instant throttle instead of being able to build up a little.

tomorrowland