The Music Never Stops…Colorado Photographer Jesse Filippelli
By Marissa Isgreen
COLORADO–(July 1, 2014) After five nights of photographing concerts in Colorado last New Year’s Eve, Jesse Filippelli knew it was time to leave his Florida home and make the permanent move to the Centennial State.
As a concert and nature photographer, Filippelli felt that Colorado had the most to offer with its impressive wilderness and bustling music scene. In Florida, he’d get work when there was a small town show or a festival at Suwannee Music Park. However, in Colorado, Filippelli is booked almost every weekend. “I’ve been in Denver for two months, and I’ve already shot at least 15 shows,” Filippelli said.
Living in Glendale, Colorado also provides him with striking landscapes. “I can drive for half an hour and have some of the most pristine sunset shots in the world, I get to see snow-capped mountains every time I drive to work, and you guys have animals out here,” he explained. “Maybe I’m biased because I grew up in Florida”
The 23-year-old concert photographer grew up in South Florida where he stayed for 19 years before moving to Tallahassee. It was there that his life began to change and morph into what it is today.
Tallahassee provided an outdoor playground that South Florida lacked. He started hiking often and began taking pictures of the places he discovered on his phone. He began to eat healthier and exercise more often so that he could do more challenging hikes with better scenery. Then he got a better camera, not yet top of the line, but more advanced than his smartphone.
“I really began to take pictures more seriously last May when I went to the Wakarusa Music Festival in Arkansas, but on the second night they cancelled the music because of severe weather,” Filippelli recalled. A storm cloud had formed over the camping area and threw 10×10 tents across the field. Filippelli and his friends ran for their van to wait out the storm.
While hiding in the van, Filippelli noticed he didn’t have his backpack with him and realized it was still out in the storm with his wallet, money, phone and camera. Everything was fine– except for the camera. It was beyond repair, so he invested in a nice camera, the Canon EOS.
Once he bought a professional grade camera, things began falling into place. The editor-in-chief of DubEra Magazine asked Filippelli to cover a show for the publication. One show led to another, smaller shows led to bigger ones and bigger ones led to festivals.
On December 27 of last year, Filippelli and the editor-in-chief of DubEra Magazine traveled to Colorado to photograph shows for five nights straight. Filippelli decided then to make a permanent move to Colorado.
Six months later, Denver is where Filippelli is, and he has already made a name for himself in Colorado’s concert industry. He’s interviewed Kyle Hollingsworth of String Cheese Incident, photographed numerous shows at Red Rocks including Gramatik and Lettuce and covered the LoHi Music Festival featuring Chrome Drones, Pimps of Joytime and Moe.
Although he is basically doing it for free, Filippelli enjoys the work because he gets to go to shows and festivals with artists he loves for free. Being a huge Phish fan, the abundance of jam music as well as the music culture in Colorado is something Filippelli appreciates.
“Down in Miami it’s all about House music and taking uppers. People aren’t going out to enjoy the most important part– the music,” Filippelli explained. “People in Colorado are. It’s not about how (f*****) up you are listening to the music, but instead the actual music itself.”
Knowing that the music is always new and fresh and always available is what keeps him motivated. “The music never stops,” he explained with a Grateful Dead lyric. “I feel like I would be less motivated to get out of bed and grab my camera if I were taking portraits or graduation photos.”
For now, Filippelli holds a day job managing an all vegan restaurant in Denver, but he knows at some point he has a decision to make. “I know in the back of my mind I’m going to have to decide if I want to make this photography thing real.”
Filippelli has created his own photography company called Filippelli Photos. He envisions combining photo and video shot from all angles for a complete festival coverage. He wants those who attended to relive amazing moments and those who did not to feel like they were actually there.“There’s a complete saturation with photographers, so you need to be creating a product that’s not just pictures,” Filippelli said.