13 Feb The Inspiring Story Behind Lorenzo Tonucci’s Career as a Music Photographer
“I aim to relive the emotions of each festival and give them the chance to experience the festival through my photos.”
Photography was running through his veins long before he was even born because he comes from a family with strong roots within the photography industry. Lorenzo P. Tonucci grew up trying to understand the mechanism of his grandfather’s camera instead of playing with regular toys, and watching his parents’ steps in this world seen through the lens. Another proof that “Bella Italia” is the country where great talents are born and the country that has been creating beauty for centuries.
Driven by his inner desire to fulfill his dream, Lorenzo didn’t doubt a second to turn his lifetime passion and natural talent for photography into his full-time job immediately after his 18th birthday – the legal age required in Italy to start your own business. He started shooting mainly weddings and fashion shows, which brought him pure happiness and satisfaction because all it mattered to him was to have a job that involves a camera. Even though he was successful at only 20 years old, a sense of curiosity and aspiration made him look for a new challenge. That’s when he began to take sport photography – he shot well-known events such as the national boxing championships in Italy and various surfing contests. In fact, he explored several branches of photography in his constant search for new challenges until one day when he found his true motivation – Dance Music photography.
Shooting impressive artists such as Tiësto, Avicii, Deadmau5, Armin Van Buuren, Chemical Brothers, Faithless, Hardwell, Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Martin Garrix and David Guetta, brought him across major festivals and events in the world such as Tomorrowland, Creamfields, Sensation, Mysteryland, Sziget, Ushuaia, Pacha and Untold.
1. What’s the story behind your career as a music photographer? How did this adventure begin?
I wanted to attend my first EDM show, but none of my friends knew at that time who Steve Aoki, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike or other well-known DJs were. Therefore, I had to go most of the times to concerts on my own, which actually allowed me to have a full experience of a festival. I took my first flight to travel around Europe and finally see the artists that I was always looking on YouTube. In this regard, I can say that Steve Aoki is a guy that had a huge impact on the beginning of my career because he was the first EDM DJ that I attended a concert of. I had the time of my life and that’s when I realized that I don’t want to be just a spectator, I want to be part of the music industry, and I want to actually experience it from inside. I decided that I want to unite my passion for music with my art/ job.
I managed to find a way to take photos at a show Nervo in the North of Italy, which was my first time focusing on an international artist, but not my first time shooting in nightclubs. I ended up backstage with the girls at the end of the night and I had the chance to show them some previews of the photos I took during that night. They were really happy with the results and they gave me an email address to send them the photos. 2 weeks later I received an email from their management in Los Angeles and they told me “Hey Lorenzo! We love the photos! Would you like to go on tour with the girls and take more photos like these?” I was a 22 years old guy who was already in love with music and travelling and I said that I should give it a shot. That’s how I started.
2. What was the first festival you’ve been to?
My first major festival was Tomorrowland because at that time I had a strong desire to see Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike performing live, but they were touring only in Belgium. However, my very first show was a concert of Steve Aoki during the time he had short hair. It was life changing because it was my first time seeing an international EDM DJ live. I remember that he threw cakes in my face and he made me jump on the crowd. It was the moment I realized I want to get involved in this kind of music.
3. What do you like the most about your career?
It’s really difficult to choose only one aspect because there are many activities I am honored to do. For example, I’m grateful that I get to travel all around the world, discover amazing places and be surrounded by beautiful people. Being an EDM fan way before working in the industry, I used to watch many festivals and DJs’ photos and now that I am the one who takes these pictures, I always think about the fans that are going to see them. I aim to relive the emotions of each festival and give them the chance to experience the festival through my photos. Being able to connect the artist with the crowd and make the crowd see something they usually wouldn’t do makes me really happy.
4. Which was the first Dance Music photograph you took?
I took my first concert photo at Nervo’s show. Miriam grabbed the mike immediately after she arrived on stage to say hello to the crowd and I looked through the viewfinder of my camera and I took the shot. Later on, the photo was used as their DJ MAG campaign. They also had a partnership with the watch brand TAG Heuer and my photo ended up being on billboards all over the world, more precisely from Melbourne to the airport in Ibiza. It was really exciting to go to the airport and see a billboard with my very first photo.
5. What DJ posted for the first time your photos on Social Media?
Steve Aoki was actually the very first DJ to post my photos on his socials and that was a boost in myself esteem. It really meant the world to me because I was only 22 years old. Imagine seeing your very first pictures posted by your favourite DJ.
Besides, he recognized me immediately after I started to take photos at his performances because I was always sitting in the first row with my signs when I was just a fan.
6. How is life behind the scenes?
It’s pretty different from how it is usually imagined. Even though everyone expects crazy after parties, excessive drinking and people dancing, the making of a festival actually requires intensive work. Most of the times you just see people doing their jobs and working hard to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Nowadays, everyone, from the organizers to the artists, has so many responsibilities that there is not so much time to fool around. Thus, you can feel a powerful sense of professionalism behind the scenes, especially at those events where you have 60, 000 people on the other side of the venue that are waiting for an amazing and unforgettable show. You can’t really take it easy.
At the end, we are all more relaxed considering that everything went smoothly and you can see people having fun.
7. How does it feel to have that many people in front of you?
I‘m usually too focused and concentrated in doing my job, giving 100% and delivering the results, and I usually don’t realize that I stand in front of so many people until I look at the photos later on.
For example, I took this group photo and I didn’t even realize that I was in front of 60, 000 people. Afterwards, I was astounded when I saw the photo on my computer – I was really standing on a table in front of 60, 000 people that were all looking at me…WOW.
8. What DJ has the greatest personality?
Luckily most of the people in the music industry, even the most famous artists, are really cool and down-to-earth, which makes it easy to socialize and make new friends.
At the risk of repeating myself, I would say that I love how Steve Aoki manages to have an incredible tour schedule and still give 100% of his energy during the show. He entertains the crowd every time, as it would be the first show of his carrier, he’s super available and down-to-earth with everyone around him, and he is super humble and fun at the same time. That is to say, he’s a joy to have around. I also admire the fact that he’s able to combine his professionalism –he has more than 200 shows a year – with having fun and still delivering a great performance. Moreover, every time when he sees me, he’s really friendly – “Hey Lorenzo! Let me hug you” – and maybe he slept only for two hours. I think that most people would have a hard time being always that cheerful after sleeping for only 2 hours. It’s fantastic how he manages to sleep a little and still be very nice and relaxed – Wow, I feel jealous sometimes.
However, it’s hard to point out who has the greatest personality because of course it’s a subjective aspect. I’m friend with many DJs and each one of them has its own appealing personality.
9. What’s the funniest/craziest memory you have from a festival?
There is one in particular that comes up in my mind, which is not that crazy but it ended up being really funny. A couple of years ago, I went back to my hotel after a 3 days festival and a girl who was a little bit tipsy approached me immediately after I entered the hotel. “Hey! I know you! You are a DJ, right?” and I replied spontaneously “Yeah, my name is Dimitri Vegas and that guy is my brother Like Mike”. I just pointed at a random guy who entered the building with me. In the end, the girl actually believed me and asked for a selfie thinking that I was Dimitri Vegas.
After Creamfields, I went to one of the most famous nightclubs in Manchester for an after party together with a couple of guys who played at the festival. Once we got there, we told the bouncers that we have a table under the name of Like Mike and they were like “Who is Like Mike?”. Obviously, everyone pointed at me. Therefore, I pretended to be Like Mike in order to get inside this club.
So, we have now this hilarious activity going on every time we have the occasion. I try to impersonate some random DJs depending on the situation and it always ends up being extremely funny.
10. What do you like the most at a festival?
I love seeing people having the time of their lives because it reminds me of my first experience at a festival. I believe that a music festival is more than just a place to have fun –at least it was for me. It’s truly a life experience because it opens its doors to everyone no matter their religion, race or age.
Besides, it’s extremely cool and inspiring to see DJs that have been performing for 20 years or more and they still make the new generation dance just like they did with the previous one. For example, I used to dance to Tiesto in 1997 and nowadays, at 27 years old, I see teenagers that are still dancing to Tiesto’s music – isn’t it mind-blowing?
A festival is usually about positive vibes, seeing people happy and enjoying their experience to the fullest. Obviously, I managed to see these by going there on my own. Sometimes people text me on Instagram telling me “Hi Lorenzo! I would like to go to this festival, but none of my friends wants to go with me.” and I encourage them not to be afraid of going on their own. I created the best friendships by going alone at festivals because in the end you are never alone – you are always surrounded by people who share your passion for music. I am still in touch with people that I’ve met for the first time 8 years ago when I started to go to festivals.
11. What was your favourite festival from 2017?
If I have to choose only one festival, I would probably have to go with Tomorrowland because it was the very first festival that I’ve ever attended and it’ll always have a special place in my heart. I admire how they manage to add a new theme, scenario and stage every year, and always deliver a fairy-tale experience to their attendees. Besides, I had the chance to shoot some artists this year at Tomorrowland that I was really looking forward to for a long time. I succeeded in shooting DJ Snake, Steve Angello and many more for the first time.
In fact, I photographed more or less everyone from top 100, but there were a couple of names missing and I’m happy that I managed to take them out of my list at Tomorrowland 2017.
12. You get to travel all over the world, what are your top 3 countries?
At the risk of repeating myself, I would say Belgium, which has a special place in my heart, because it’s the first country I travelled to on my own to attend a music festival. Besides, I should also mention Holland, the native land of modern festivals, because I love everything about the Dutch culture. Last but not least, a really special mention goes to Romania and I’m not saying this because you are Romanian. They welcomed me with open arms since the first edition of Untold Festival and I ended up having many supporters from there, which is crazy. All my friends from Cluj told me that my photos went viral after the first edition of Untold.
I feel honored that I get to travel around the world, discover new places and make new friendships. I usually receive texts from people such as “Hey Lorenzo! We are glad that you had fun in our country”. In Romania I had so many people writing me messages such as “We love your photos”, “We are glad that you had a great time”, “Did you enjoy our country?” and “What did you like the most?”, and they still continue to amaze me with daily messages such as “Hey Lorenzo! How are you? How is life in Italy?”. Needless to say, I’m still impressed by their warm welcome because it seemed like they really wanted to make sure that I had a great time in their country.
This special relationship with Romania never ceased to amaze me. Last year during the 3rd edition of Untold, so many people asked me for a selfie, to chat a little bit or even to sign their flags. It was something that made me really proud because there were people coming to me with the national flag of Romania and they wanted my signature on the flag of their country. Undoubtedly, I felt super honored and proud because I always pay respect to every country that I visit.
13. Do you have any advice for novices in Dance Music photography?
You shouldn’t try to copy someone else’s path or someone else’s style. Of course, it’s cool and natural to have your own inspiration as each of us has, but try to find the way that works best for you. I think you should always try to stay as original as you can and basically follow your own path, write your own story and don’t stay in the shadow of someone else. I mean that’s how I did at least and that’s how I like it to be.
Besides photography, which is his greatest passion, Lorenzo loves to discover other cultures and civilizations even though he is usually in a rush. In general, he goes to a new country, he shoots the festival and afterwards, he embarks on a new mission. However, he always finds the time to ask people about their country, culture and lifestyle, learn new words and communicate to locals in their own language.
Believe me, Lorenzo is a true inspiration!
Don’t forget to follow him on Instagram to embark on his exciting adventures and experience the most iconic festivals through his vivid photos!
Till next time,