Interview with photographer Ignacio Galvez

“Anthrax in Bogota, Colombia. Biggest festival in Colombia and it’s free admission! I was shooting for them and they where headlining, so that was the final shot, with 140.000 people behind. such a good time. Love those guys.” -Ignacio Galvez

I recently had the chance to chat with photographer Ignacio Galvez. Based out of Santiago, Chile. Ignacio’s creative work with advertising campaigns for Adidas, Levis, Nike, and others can be found all over South America. Our conversation will touch on that a little, but the main emphasis of the conversation centers around Ignacio’s photographic work documenting the South American music circuit.

Deftones at a festival in Santiago — Photo: Ignacio Galvez

I mean come on, who hasn’t looked at one of those South American music festival images of amazing large crowds and hasn’t thought, “WOW!”. Well, the odds are good that Ignacio may have taken that “WOW” shot.

Unlike many music photographers, who concentrate solely on the musicians, Ignacio’s style blends musicians, fans, and venues together to capture the emotion of the moment. His photos convey more than just PR shots for the band, they document the event in a historical type context.

Photographer Ignacio Galvez — Photo credit: Francisca Valenzuela

So we were honored to have Ignacio share his creative process and we get some insight behind some of his iconic shots with captions provided by Ignacio himself.

Lets start at the beginning, What first inspired or drew you to photography?

It was always a lot of fun seeing my dad with his camera. I always tried to borrow it from him. Then at school I started shooting with a friend, it became fun collecting those moments. After school I started shooting more and began shooting music shows.

Was your goal to make photography a career?

At first, I just wanted to have images of all the bands I went to see live. From there it just started evolving into a career. I just began photographing everything thing I could.

Photo: “Deftones at a festival in Santiago, it was a perfect time, sunset in an open air show. Had a blast shooting that show” -Ignacio Galvez

Mike Ness of Social Distortion

What equipment do you prefer to use when shooting concerts, does it differ from your artist portraits?

Just 1 camera body, my Blackrapid Hybrid strap, and depending of the venue my Lenses: 50 1.2, 16–35 2.8, 70–200 2.8. I like to make it simple and carry just what i’m going to use.

I dont know how I can or cannot differ from artist portraits, I’ve seen people carrying lots of equipment and others super minimalists in both areas. So it basically depends on the photographer.

Lollapalooza Chile – “I waited a long time for her to turn around and show her face, and when she turned to talk with her bandmate I got the shot, with her happiness all over her face!” -Ignacio Galvez

When shooting shows, how much is planned vs instinct?

When shooting shows, you can never plan, maybe can guess moments or if it’s an artist I’ve worked several times in the past. I’d say 90% of the time is instinct, 5% being in the right place at the right time, and another 5% planned.

Do you mainly shoot shows at South American venues?

Yes, but I travel abroad a lot. I’m based in Chile so that makes it easier to move around South America and the America’s in general.

“Anthrax in Chile, they played that show with Iron Maiden. I was standing behind Charlie Benante on the edge of the drum raiser. Charlie actually helped me keep my balance to get that shot :). I love that photo, and loved that show! I could watch anthrax 1000 times in a row and still enjoy it.” -Ignacio Galvez

Anthrax — Photo: Ignacio Galvez

The large festival crowds are legendary in South America, what part does this play in your photos?

Legendary South American Music fans

More than plays a good part, it’s the photo itself. It’s a reaaaally important roll in the vibe and the emotion of the moment and the show. It’s pretty cool and inspiring to be shooting with an atmosphere of large or even small crowds full of energy and passion.

Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips — Photo Ignacio Galvez

Any advice for concert photographers or concert goers looking to visit South American venues for the first time?

Concert Goers: Have fun! and put your cellphones down, you can watch better photos online after the show! Enjoy the show and make new friends, people in South America are super friendly.

Fellow Photographers: If shooting shows, watch your head for crowd surfers, things are about to get wild! hahahahaha. and talk to local photographers, there’s always fun stories to share

“Deftones , I was at the side of the stage waiting for some action, and this guy was rocking hard, it’s so easy to shoot bands that enjoy while they are playing, you can tell they are having a blast!” –Ignacio Galvez

Advertising is a whole different world of photography, shooting the Adidas ad campaign must have been a blast.

Yes, That’s my soccer team, Universidad de Chile! I was lucky enough to shoot them in their new official jersey/shirts a while ago. Fun thing to do!

Image from Ignacio’s Universidad de Chile / Adidas photo shoot

Do you prefer working in the studio, where you can control the environment or do you prefer settings like music or street photography?

I love to shoot, no matter where or how, if it’s something that caught my attention, I don’t care if it’s in a Studio or on location 🙂

What inspires your creative juices, other artists, photographers, music?

More than artists, what inspires me to be more creative are my kids, and the life that I’m living, it’s a blessing to work on what you love and make a living out of it, i feel so lucky, and that keeps me dreaming and wanting to create and make new things.

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam

On photographing Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam — “I stared at him for almost an entire song, I think he maybe felt stalked, so we made eye-to-camera contact… hahahahaha.”

-Ignacio Galvez

I was drawn to your portrait shots of Chris Cornell and Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden. Can share your memories of that photoshoot?

Ben Shepard and Chris Cornell of Soundgarden -Photo: Ignacio Galvez

Chris Cornell — Photo: Ignacio Galvez

It was for an interview at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I had a short time to shoot the portraits, so i figured to make them as natural as they can get. The guys were great, really nice guys and with a good vibe and willing to help. Chris, who I spoke with for a while, was a really nice guy, really into sharing his stories and experiences, a great guy! So sad he’s no longer with us, but without a doubt his legacy will be here forever. I’m pretty sure all that had the chance to spend time with him, left with the same impression as I do.

Last, but not least. Any projects you’d like to promote?

Dave Navarro from Jane’s Addiction — Photo from Ignacio’s book —

I’m working on a new book, no links right now, but you can catch my last one here:

All Photos Courtesy and Copyrighted by Ignacio Galvez


Instagram / Twitter @xignaciox

Also follow Ignacio as a BlackRapid Ambassador

Footnote — Title inspired by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder‘s words to encourage crowds to sing-a-long, “Come’on! Get South American on it”

See ya on the road — — Safe Travels!

Follow Michael Young & on Twitter

Photo Gallery —

If you enjoyed, follow Artist Waves on Medium, Facebook & Twitter