If you have been to any shows along the Jersey shore or attended concerts at Starland Ballroon in Sayreville chances are you have come across Jeff Crespi. He is the guy who is always running around, camera in tow, trying to get “the shot.” And then there is the smile. Jeff always seems to have a smile on his face. In an industry where egos can get very large and people can be ruthless, Jeff is one of the nicest guys I have come across.
On Monday April 6th there will be a special Happy Mondays event at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park. This will be a show to celebrate Jeff’s birthday and he hand picked the bands in this year’s bash. Hard rockers Ronin, alternative power trio Atlas Bloom out of Watchung, and East Brunswick’s Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son. It is sure to be an awesome night with some great local music. How could you not come and support the guy who has supported so many artists himself with his generosity?
You can check out his excellent work over at his website JeffCrespiRocks.
Jeff was kind enough to answer some questions about how he got started with his concert photography and who he hopes to, one day, shoot.
You first started going to shows with your son. Can you tell us a little about that?
My son was about 7 or 8 years old when he started listening to my Kiss CD’s. It’s all he would listen to day and night singing out loud in the back seat of the car everywhere we went. Kiss was playing PNC Bank Arts Center that summer so I took him and we had a great time. I thought this could be a cool father son bonding activity so I took him to another show Motley Crue again we had a great time. My wife told me about a club in Sayreville called Starland Ballroom and that she could get me on some of the guest lists. We went to a few shows here and there but then we couldn’t stop fans kept asking us if we were coming to the next show and we felt obligated to do so. We were going to shows we never heard of which turned out to be the coolest thing because we experienced so many cool shows that we would have never seen if we only went to ones we knew who the bands were.
What made you decide to take up concert photography?
I wasn’t a picture taker back in my day but I always loved looking at pictures and my dad was into photography so I guess it was in my blood. As we went to all these shows we would always be right up front so I was able to get some good pics as a fan. My pictures became the focus of the shows and everyone we knew would wait till we got home so I could upload them. We were always meeting the bands so we have 1,000’s of pics with bands and fans from the shows. A few years back one of the photographers who we chilled with was egging me on to become a regular professional photographer. I emailed a few publications but only one emailed me back, Amp Magazine so instantly I was providing photo coverage for every single show that came through Starland.
Do you remember the first show you shot professionally? How did the pictures turn out?
My first professional shoot for Amp Magazine was the band For Today and Stray from the Path. Within a few weeks I was covering bands like A Day to Remember, New Found Glory, NOFX and hundreds more. I still today go back to those albums and although I feel like I have come a long way since then I’m still amazed at how the pictures came out considering I never took a photography class in my life and I didn’t even know what settings to use or how to disable the flash. The other photographers helped me that first shoot.
How many shows would you estimate you have shot?
I have since provided photo coverage for well over 5,000 bands and approximately 900 shows. I have all the shows listed from the first one my son and I went to.
You have been in plenty of photo pits. Ever get injured by fans storming the stage?
I have never been injured in a pit but I have been injured at a smaller show that included hardcore bands like Reign Supreme and Social Decay. I took a back handed fist to my eye which split open my eyebrow. I probably should have gone for stitches but I toughed it out and drove home covering my eye from the dripping blood.
Who are some of the photographers who inspired you or that you look up to?
I have been around a lot of great photographers but the ones who inspired me to pursue my passion and make it fun were Nicole Mago and Dani Robinson. They were the ones shooting every show while my son and I came as fans.
What band would you love to shoot that you haven’t yet?
It’s actually funny as one of my favorite bands and the one that started this all is Kiss. I have not had the opportunity to provide coverage for them hopefully one of these summers.
New Jersey is a hotbed of great original music these days. What makes the scenes we have in the state so special?
I know for me living in central Jersey I have the option of being at a show every single day of the week within a 45 minute ride. So I feel very fortunate that I can do what I love within a reasonable distance. Hey I even cover sometimes two or three shows a night because they are so close. I also love the fact that every style and genre of music is around us which keeps it very interesting and fresh.
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