T.H.E Interview – RUDGR


One of dance music’s favourite photographer, RUDGR has been in the industry for 20 years! And in celebration of that Rudgr announced his book ‘This Is My Church’, a 320 page coffee table book filled with some of the most memorable moments in dance music!

We caught up with Rudgr and managed to ask him a few questions regarding his book, the current music scene and about some of his favourite pictures from the book. Read our chat below. :)

T.H.E – Hey Rutger! Thanks for this interview. What are you upto currently?

Rutger – Hi India! I’ve just finished my first book, it literally is at the printers at this moment. It took 1.5 years, we had to go through 30.000 pre-selected photos taken over 20 years and cut them down to 215. Pretty much a photographers worst nightmare, “kill your darlings” on steroids. The book contains interviews with most top-20 DJ’s where they comment on their own photos like pictures from before Armin or Tiësto were famous. Great stuff!

T.H.E – How did the artist name, ‘Rudgr’ come about?

Rutger – It’s actually quite funny, when I was studying (I actually have a master degree in Public Administration – extremely boring stuff) one of my roommates left me one of thos yellow sticky notes with Rud-gr instead of my real name Rutger. A few years ago I dropped the “-“ so it really is the way an English speaking person would (mis)pronounce my name.

T.H.E – Congratulations on releasing your book, ‘This Is My Church’. How did it come about? Why release a book now? Do you feel you’ve reached your peak?

Rutger – As said it was a huge project but total fun. Two of my friends (one a publisher, one a writer) independently contacted me early 2014 with the idea, which coincidentally was already also forming in my own head. We got together and after two beers we agreed! Timing could not be better since I’ll be in the music business exactly 20 years this December, so the books spans those two decades. Hopefully I’ll be able to add at least another decade to that, I just love so much what I’m doing, the vibe, the music and the collaboration with the artists make my work so much fun. And now with social media people can be so easily in contact with you. In that regard India is the champion, I’m already looking forward to visiting twice in December!

T.H.E – We have seen recently that a lot of artists have put up posts/tweets in support of your book. How have they reacted to it?

Rutger – When we started I told my friend that I thought I’d have enough credit with most artists for them to support me but the outpoor for this project has far exceeded my wildest dreams. Tiësto sharing it, for instance, on every available social outlet really was incredible. Same for guys like Armin who has written this incredible foreword for the book and Garrix and Nicky Romero massively supporting the project too. Non-stop wow moments to be honest.

T.H.E – You’ve been in the industry for over two decades now. How do you feel the scene has changed over this period from your perspective?

Rutger – I think very much for the better, there’s so much more to choose from music wise: whether massive festivals or underground stuff. Really everybody is catered for. Photography wise the digital revolution has made it very difficult for pro’s to earn a living and I know I’m a rare exception – I don’t think there are too many full time photogs making a living out of music photography nowadays. Most of all though you can really see that getting a high quality visual registration at events is prioritized now, organizers and fans really enjoy good quality photography. It’s great I’m being considered an artist and people really treat you like that – the appreciation for what I do is an important part of the enjoyment that I have, the pride in my work so to speak.

T.H.E – You mentioned recently that your favourite part of photographing is people at those festivals. If you had to name 5 festivals/events where the crowd blew you away, which ones would make the list?

Rutger – Easy: Sunburn Festival was insane and together with Ultra Buenos Aires has the most hardcore partying people on the planet. I do a lot of gigs in Istanbul and sometimes it feels like half the crowd knows me there personally and the finally there’s Ultra Music Festival (Miami) and Tomorrowland…. What can you say?

T.H.E – Considering that the major ingredients of a successful festival would surely include the line-up, venue and the crowd, if you had to curate your own festival,

a. Name the five artists you would want to include as part of the line-up

b. Venue

c. If you had to select crowd of one country.

Rutger –

a. This will be a fun line-up, I’m going to cheat a little by tdoing b2b’s: Armin b2b with Above & Beyond since I’m a trancehead, Joris Voorn b2b with Nic Fanciulli for the quality stuff, Porter Robinson because he’s just awesome and some high energy DVLM b2b with Garrix to have the crowd go into a complete state of madness.

b. Either the new Sunburn festival grounds, downtown Miami or the place where Distant Heat was held a decade ago, in the Jordan desert.

c. Hahaha, does Argentindia count?

T.H.E – Considering that your work requires you to be in close contact with a DJ during his set, have there ever been any instances when your interests have ever conflicted with a DJ’s set? (Ever bumped into them while their performance was on?)

Rutger – Almost, last year I was so sweatingly warm at Tomorrowland I think the camera almost slipped out of my hands onto the “Cue” button – that would have been fun. I usually tie my camera strap tight around my wrist to prevent this. So fortunately no problems (knocks on wood) but I did have Paul van Dyk grab my camera and shoots some pics himself. Love the guy, he really epitomizes high quality fun-loving DJ’s for me – there’s so much love for music when he’s performing.

T.H.E – What was your first camera model, and what do you use now?

Rutger – I think it was a Canon 1000N, bought it in 1992 or 1993. This was long before the digital age (I was still an early adopter when I went digital in 2003) so you shot slide or colornegative or b&w film. 36 shots to a roll, the learning curve was a lot different those days which gave me a good head start in the industry, you can say I have a classical education, hahaha. Nowadays I use Canon flagships like the 1Dx and 5D3, new models are expected to hit the market soon, curious to see how they will improve quality even more. When going through all those old photos for the book the difference is so huge with nowadays!

T.H.E – If you had not become a photographer, what would your career have been like?

Perhaps the one I was educated for: upper government management. Thank god for photography!!!!

T.H.E – We have saved arguably the toughest question for the end. If you had to select the top 5 photos you have ever clicked, could you share them with us?

Rutger – Great, so from 30.000 to 215, to 5 now… this is hard but here are a few favourites that are also in my book:

1. Armin van Buuren – Trance Energy 2008 (The Netherlands)


2. DVLM – Sunburn Festival 2014 (India)


3. Tiësto – Innercity 2003 (The Netherlands)


4. Tomorrowland 2014 (Belgium)


5. Ultra Music Festival 2014 – USA


T.H.E – Thanks a ton Rutger. Wish you the very best! :)

Rutger – My pleasure, see you soon again India!

Khushrav Bhada
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