The 13th Floor Photography Series: Ivan Karczewski

Hello, my name is Reuben Raj and I am pleased to host a new segment on The 13th Floor that focuses on music photography and the faces behind the camera.

We hope this new feature will allow our readers to learn more about our talented team of photographers who work relentlessly in capturing moments of musical history.

Our guest photographer today is Ivan Karczewski from Kioui Pix.

Hello Ivan, thank you for taking some time to discuss your passion for music photography with me.

Can I please invite you to introduce a bit about yourself?

Kia ora! I was born in the seventies in France and in 1998, I arrived in Aotearoa.
I started going to gigs when I was fourteen and never stopped since. I love capturing shots of musicians playing live and the emotions they give to their audience.

Ivan Karczewski rocking the 80s

When and how did you get into music photography?

I started taking photos in gigs in the nineties with film cameras but only got into it more seriously in NZ with digital cameras in 2015.

What were some of the memorable music concerts that you photographed when you started in photography? What was special about these gigs?

I have fond memories of taking photos of a Yo La Tengo gig in Montpellier, south of France (the raging guitar of Ira Kaplan blew me away), Shihad in a church in Adelaide (the energy they gave out was astounding), Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and The Kills at the Powerstation (the rawness and intensity of it), Orchestra of Spheres at Splore (very psychedelic), Black Mountain and Endless Boogie at The Tuning Fork (the essence of Rock’n’Roll), The Ruts and Dead Moon at The Kings’ Arms (honest punk vibes), Low (a truly spiritual experience), Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds at The Vector Arena (I was in the front rows where he spent half the concert singing to the audience – a true genius), The Bads and Voom at the Saw Mill (just beautiful) and Shayne Carter with Dimmer and Straightjacket Fits  farewelling the Kings’ arms in style and passion (I truly love their genuine & honest music – this sold out gig was really powerful and special).

If you had to pick one music event in 2017 that was truly unique for you, which would it be and why?

Fat Freddy’s Drop at Villa Maria because that was the first concert ever for my daughters, the biggest crowd in NZ (10 000 people) at their concert, the atmosphere was fantastic and the setting and weather were perfect. I feel that FFD is a band that brings people together with their spiritual and peaceful music that is very unique to Aotearoa.

Fat Freddy’s Drop playing to a crowd of 10,000 people at the Villa Maria Winery in Auckland, New Zealand

Generally speaking, which would be your ‘go-to’ camera and lens if you had to just pick one of each?  

I like the Canon 5D with the 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens. I think this is a good combination.

Can you please share more about your selection of camera body and lens above? Is it the ability to capture wide angle shots, ready for low light conditions, fast shutter speeds etc. that influenced your choice?

I love the close ups and it enables me to take great shots from the back too (like at The Kings’ Arms, for instance). I also like the sharpness of the Canon L lenses and its low light capabilities.

In music photography, what would you regard as the biggest challenge and what advice can you share to overcome it?

The biggest challenge for me is the sold out shows where I have to  photograph from the front row and make sure that I do not upset or annoy anyone. I always try to be respectful to the music fans who come to see their favorite artist or band. I mostly work on intuition and feelings. I strive to capture the atmosphere of the gig with respect to the artists and fans.

Who have been your ‘heroes’ in photography and how have they inspired your work?

I do not have any particular hero, I just enjoy being part of the Auckland music scene and really love working with all the music photographers at the gigs I go to. I think we all try to give our best and offer a different perspective of the night. I see it as team work.

Lastly, what are some of the songs on your playlist today?

  • Artur H “Le Passage”
  • Chelsea Wolfe “Half Sleeper”
  • Neil Young “Living with War”
  • Marissa Nadler “Fifty-Five Falls”
  • Brett Netson & The Snakes “All Creatures Kill”
  • Bob Dylan “Masters of War”
  • Lisa Gerrard “Space Weaver”
  • Sun Kil Moon “God Bless Ohio”
  • David Bowie “Ashes to Ashes”
  • Modern Lovers “She cracked”
  • The 13th Floor Elevators “Slip inside this house”
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees “Sin in my heart”
  • PJ Harvey “Who the Fuck?”
  • Joy Division “I Remember Nothing”

And much more…. J

Ivan, thanks for your time. It is always a pleasure to hang out with you.

Ivan Karczewski can be contacted at:

Here are some of Ivan Karczewski’s photographs from past music events:

David Bowie Tribute at ASB Theatre
Coco Davis at the Q Theatre in Auckland, NZ
Devilskin at the Powerstation
Earth Tongue at The Kings Arms Tavern
Fly My Pretties at the Mercury Theatre
Fred & Toody Cole at The Kings Arms Tavern
Lisa Crawley at The Tuning Fork
She Loves You at The Kings Arms Tavern
So Laid Back Country China at the Whammy Bar
The Miltones at The Tuning Fork
The Music of Cream at ASB Theatre
The Ruts at The Kings Arms Tavern