Shooting Environmental Portraits at the Roskilde Festival

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All images by Christoffer Rosenfeldt and Kevin Goss-Ross. Used with permission.

Photographers Christoffer Rosenfeldt and Kevin Goss-Ross teamed up recently at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark.They were commissioned to create portraits of the people there–but these aren’t your typical festival portraits. The duo collaborated to create photos that tell a story and also help to illustrate who the people are. While doing this, they created some technical masterpieces.

And according to Kevin, it helps if you’re just a bit drunk.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you two got into photography.

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Kevin: I got into photography while studying graphic design in Durban, South Africa. I needed a scanner to scan illustration work but got a DSLR instead. Over time I found that photography came to me more naturally than design or illustration – with design I had to strain to make things work whereas photography was something I understood. I then realised that I could get into gigs for free if I photographed them, which turned into getting paid to shoot gigs, which turned into shooting festivals around South Africa.

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Chris: I had just changed my degree in Fine Art at the University of Pretoria to one of Multimedia Design where it was mandatory for the first year students to purchase an entry-level DSLR for course-work.

I was playing in a band at the time and tried my hand at taking some promo shots of them as well as at some of the live shows I was always going to. I moved to Europe shortly after that and kept it up as a hobby while I got a job and spent all of my savings on updating my camera gear. I finally decided to take it up full time about 3 years ago once I had finished studying in Copenhagen.

Phoblographer: What gave you the idea or inspiration to do a project like this?

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Kevin: After a couple of years shooting the same festivals the same way and getting the same shots as everyone else I decided to take a softbox to Oppikoppi in the Limpopo province in South Africa. The year before I had was shooting some or other band and after the show I was talking to the other photographers in the photographer’s pit and we all had different crops of the same images, so the next day I spent my time taking natural light close up portraits of the dusty masses in the campsites instead and found some magic.

I returned the following year (2011) with a softbox and a lighting assistant. Now it must be noted that Oppikoppi is a festival with 5cm thorns at eye level, fires and cars in your campsite and dust so heavy you cough up mud for weeks after. What I’m trying to say is that it’s not an environment geared toward productivity, but we pulled ourselves out of our hangovers and took some portraits. A couple of years later I was living in Dublin and Chris contacted me about Roskilde festival in Denmark so we chanced our arm and applied for media accreditation via a South African magazine called Mahala. This year Roskilde contacted us directly to shoot it for them, so we must have done something right, right?

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Chris: I had lived in Denmark for nearly a year and attended Roskilde Festival for the first time in 2009. It absolutely blew my mind that you could have this many people in one place, give them free reign and unlimited access to alcohol and just have no trouble whatsoever. Everyone was just having the time of their lives.

Then I had all of my camera gear stolen after the third night. This blessing as it led me to take the leap and invest in a much better camera which replaced all of the older gear tht had accumulated over the years. I took my camera along to the festival every year after that and sort of aimlessly photographed whatever or whoever I saw that peaked my interest. No real goal in mind. The big change came when I started using off-camera flash to make my portraits, something I had not seen anyone else doing yet, despite seeing hundreds of photographers walking around. When I saw the incredible portraits Kevin had made at Oppikoppi Festival in South Africa, I got in touch with him and pointed out that we seemed to enjoy photographing similar subject matter. In 2014 we photographed the festival together and this year we were asked to photograph the festival again, this time for the actual festival itself.

Phoblographer: How did you guys convince people to let you take their portraits?

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Kevin: It’s a Festival – everyone is drunk so it doesn’t take too much coercion. It does, however, help if you’re at least 50% as intoxicated as everyone else.

Chris: In many cases people would see our gear and run up to us asking us to take their picture. We’d then ask them to do something “picture-worthy” which sometimes got results. This year we decided to make use of getting mobbed by 10 people by just slowing down and posing them like one would an editorial group portrait or a band. But generally if you’re just friendly and ask permission, you’re not very likely to get shot down.

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Christoffer-Rosenfeldt-chris@rosenfeldt.co

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