Exclusive Spotlight Interview With Rising Music Festival Photographer Pavel Kuna
Pavel Kuna is 20 years old photographer considered as #3 Best Music Photographer of 2017. In the last three years, he photographed more than fifty festivals and hundreds of performances for major EDM festivals and DJs like D.O.D, Vini Vici, Firebeatz, Juicy M, Corey James, Matoma, DJ Antoine and many more at some of the world's biggest stages like Tomorrowland, Ultra Europe, World Club Dome, Balaton Sound, and MAGNETIC Festival.
His personal motto is: „Be yourself, be unique,“ and it has never failed him.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Nitra and currently, I’m living in Slovakia’s capital Bratislava.
When did you start being a photographer?
I started when I was 13 years old. At first, I captured urban architecture and nature, then portraits. But I found my true calling when I discovered music photography. While I was in high school, I interviewed DJs like Nicky Romero, Cheat Codes, Quintino, OMI, Markus Schulz, Matoma, DJ Antoine, Tungevaag & Raaban, Dannic, Jonas Aden and Filatov & Karas for a student’s magazine what helped me to meet people in EDM industry and start to work as a music photographer.
Favorite moment from your career?
I have a number of them. The first time I shoot Tomorrowland or Ultra, that really blew my mind. To work for the greatest names in EDM as a photographer was amazing. I was traveling all over the world and seeing many beautiful places. According to the EDM MUSIC magazine, I was an eighth-best music festival photographer in 2016. Just one year later I won third place on Dance Music Awards in Best Music Photographer of the year category. And of course, my very first own photo exhibition "be yourself be unique" which took place last year in my homeland Slovakia.
Who is your biggest inspiration from the photography world
I really like Rutger’s, aka Rudgr.com, work a legend of EDM photography. I fell in love with his photos when I was 15 and I recognized that that’s exactly what I want to do in my life.
Do you believe the sentence "It's not the camera that matters but the person behind it?
For sure, that’s true! Each person is different, unique, and has own style, thinking, and vision on how to capture the moment with his eyes.
During this difficult time, the world of music festivals has been hit, clubs have closed, and many artists are not performing, how do you think this world we knew in the past will change?
It’s very hard for us at the moment. We can see our favourite music festivals like Tomorrowland or Electric Love Festival cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19. It’s not difficult only for them but also for everyone who’s working in music industry, managers, agencies etc. It affects our lives and our future. We don’t know exactly when this nightmare will end and that’s very important. If the virus will be still out there it can totally destroy everything. Nobody knows how this scene will look like after the virus issue gone, I think that we will be more thankful for the things which were casual for us. But we have to stay positive at the moment and use this period of our lives for something which can enrich us. Start to do something we were dreaming about but we haven’t had a time to do it before. Spend more time with our family, enjoy the basics of every day and think how we can do the world better for all of us
What equipment do you use for festival photography? What camera and lenses?
I use Nikon D750 camera since my beginning of music photographer, that’s 3 years now. I have 35 mm lens for portrait shot from the front and both sides of DJ, fisheye for crowd shot from behind the DJ, 70-200 mm tele lens, and also monopod which is very important when you are taking photos on the stage.
Festival photography is one of the most challenging photography areas there is, there is no directing and there is not much control over lighting, how do you prepare yourself for such an event?
I have to ask for the special effects first. I keep an eye on what’s going on, so if I know a DJ is going to play a drop of the track, I go for a crowd shot behind-the-DJ or wait for a good hands in the air shot. Then when the DJ gets a bit more into the mixing, I go for closer photos without being noticed to capture some details of him and of the DJ players, maybe I look for some silhouette shots and some more artistic moments. Everything is about timing. You have to be at the right time in the right place.
What are your goals for the future?
I would like to continue with doing my work as before. Share the atmosphere of festivals and parties through my photos to people all around the world. I have also a lot of other goals but I would like to keep them in secret, but definitely will keep you updated, just follow me on my socials haha
Do you use photo editing software? And if so what software do you prefer?
I use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. I think that it’s the best editing software for photographers at the moment. It’s easy tool where we can do selection here together with the whole editing process and it’s very fast which is important for music photographers. We have to edit the photos till the drop times which are set by the festival or management of the artist.
Please write a message to your fans.
I would like to wish to all people around the world to stay safe and healthy at this situation and share with you guys also my personal motto “Be yourself, be unique.” We have to show the world our personality and who we are. Then everything will be as it should be and you will be happy in all aspects of your life!