Photographing iconic moments in DJ history with Dean Belcher

Lauren Krieger

TLDR: Dean Belcher’s photos visually complement a global journey in underground electronic music.

You may not know his name, but you’ve surely seen his work.

The Global Underground series was given its visual style through the lens of Dean Belcher, forever capturing the energy and atmosphere of the GU DJs as they traveled around the world bringing their music to every corner of the planet. For me, these photos captured the essence of the music that was taking over my life. Dramatic and iconic, I can still look at the cover photos and feel the energy of that particular CD, and remember what I felt like when I listened to it over and over again. From John Digweed and the palm trees of LA to Nick Warren and the hot springs of Reykjavik, each portrait captured the energy of the location and the music it held within. The liner photos captured worlds that I felt a rare connection with; knowing that there were people across the planet who felt as much passion and magic from the music as I did was reassuring and exciting.

I wanted to learn more about these influential images, so I caught up with Dean to hear about his experiences photographing global adventures in music.

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Do you have any favorite memories that stand out from photographing for the GU series?

I’ve so many memories, lots of which I can’t repeat. I couldn’t choose just one of them but I’m always amazed at the enthusiasm the fans of GU series still have all over the world and how welcoming everyone usually is. Over the years there have been lots of great journeys, food, music and I’ve seen and photographed more places than I ever thought I’d get to see. I’d never been on a plane until my early 20’s or even out of the country.

I do remember being in Zouk in Singapore on New Years Eve, it was rammed. Darren Emerson mixed Born Slippy and Blue Monday, just seeing the energy and delight of the crowd was wonderful.

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What was the process like preparing for and photographing at the location shoots?

I’ll be honest with you, I think most people would be surprised at how little prep there is on the cover shoot. Have you ever tried to get a DJ to be at a certain place at a certain time? Lately though I have to say there is a little more in terms of a recce and instead of shooting as much as possible, a short list and loose timetable is put in place. The recent trip with James Lavelle is a good example of this working well. In terms of the street photography I tend to turn left out of the hotel one day and turn right the next. I like to get lost and see what I come across.

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What was your favorite location from all the cities you traveled to?

Again because I never thought I’d see so many places I really couldn’t pick one. I love South America so maybe Lima, but then Mexico City and Capetown were great also. I do love New York though but then again, Hong Kong… nope I can’t choose.

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What’s your favorite photo from the series?

Favourite picture again I’ve a few. Best cover I think will be the new James Lavelle one, one of my favourites has to be the back of a girls neck with Love Story tattooed, pink nails and maybe the guy in orange on the beach. By far the one I get asked about the most though is the shot of Sasha in San Francisco getting a cigarette lit. So I guess that’s got to be a good thing.

525Yep, that’s one of my favorites too. 🙂

Visit his website: DeanBelcherPhotography.com

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