Ruben Aguilar IG
How old were you when you first picked up a camera?
I picked up my first camera in early 2014 when I was 24, and I was living in Texas at the time. I originally was shooting Astrophotography and then was asked by one of my friends if I could shoot photos for his band’s first show. Shortly afterward I started shooting for more of the local music in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
What drew you into the world of live music photography?
I always liked taking photos at shows and trying to get the best shots with my phone, but it was shooting my friend’s set with my first DSLR camera that really pulled me in. I’d been going to shows for such a long time, but seeing it through a camera lens for the first time opened up a whole new perspective on shows.
Is there one show you shot that’s defined your style to date?
It would have to be Chelsea Wolfe’s acoustic set at The Palace Theater in 2019. I shot the majority of her set in a slow shutter speed, which I would only do in portraits, never really at shows. I had tried doing it in the past, but it was always a hit or miss for me in my early days. After going over the photos, I really loved the atmosphere it created and decided to incorporate it into my shooting style.
Do you have a favorite band to shoot, and why?
There are so many bands I could list, but it would have to be Soft Kill, Cattle Decapitation, Daughters, Barrage, Corrupted Youth, The Runts, and Deafheaven. A majority of them are my friends and it’s always nice being able to see the atmosphere they create when they play.
How do you capture the emotion and energy of the band and the audience?
I honestly jump into the chaos they create. Some shows are very atmospheric, while others are pure chaos. I dive into it and embrace the energy they give off.
How important is the venue for your photos? What’s your favorite venue to shoot bands at?
It’s honestly not really important to me. Anytime I have an issue with lighting, distance from the stage, or there is no stage, I’ll always try to find a way to work around it. Sometimes it creates a new perspective I would’ve never thought of shooting before. Some of my favorites venues I’ve shot at are 1720 and Bluespade 75 Studios in LA, and Gas Monkey in Dallas, TX. DIY Hardcore Punk shows are always neat since they can pop up anywhere at any time.
Before Isolation, do you think that you took going to shows for granted?
Oh yeah. It was such a surreal moment seeing all the shows I had planned on going to in 2020 getting canceled due to the pandemic.
When shows do come back, do you feel that concert photography will change?
In all honesty, no. I’ve been shooting a lot of DIY shows lately, but with everything opened up now, I’ve been shooting indoors again. So far, nothing really has changed, besides wearing a face mask.
Where are you pointing your camera these days?
As of late, I’ve been shooting a lot of shows. There’s always a DIY show popping up, but up until April, I was doing portraits and diving into the world of photojournalism. I’m still doing both but mixing it with concert photography.
Did you find another creative outlet during Isolation?
Mostly writing, getting more into Surrealism Photography, and Photojournalism.
Could you share three photos that mean the world to you and the story behind them?
The first shot is of Deafheaven on 06/28/2014. Six months into shooting local bands, this was my first opportunity to shoot for a major touring band. It allowed me to see the professional side of things, which later helped me with acquiring press credentials for future shows.
The second shot is of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes 05/09/2017. I flew to NYC to shoot their set and this was my first time ever going to NYC. I decided to arrive a day early, so I could explore the city. I didn’t really want to stay at a hotel or anything, so I decided to sleep on park benches and empty rooftops with my camera bag. I explored the city as much as I could before and after the show. If it wasn’t for the band letting me shoot for them, I probably would’ve never had gone on such a fun adventure.
The third shot is of Igorrr 02/12/2018. This shot holds a very special place in my heart because it shows the power that music has in bringing people together. As the show raged on, I kept bumping into fellow photographer Ekaterina Gorbacheva, who I had never met up with until that night. The crowd was going crazy and we kept getting pushed into each other as we tried to shoot the show, which ended up pissing off both of us. She ended up asking me how my shots came out after the show was over, and we started talking about the music we were into, which then blossomed into us becoming close friends. It’s funny how things turn out. One moment you’re pissed off at each other, the next you’re nerding out over music and photography.