Photo Talk: Dustin Jack Discusses Working w/Mötley Crüe + More

From photographing live music, to candid moments off stage with some of the world's most legendary rockstars - go behind the lens with Photographer Dustin Jack and find out more about his work, how he got started and which artists we would like to work with in the future.

How did you meet Motley Crue and start working with them as their photographer?

I have to first say that growing up Motley Crue was my life, and as a young drummer Tommy was a super hero to me and I could have only dreamed of meeting them.

I met Tommy Lee in mid 1999 when he was working on the first Methods of Mayhem album. I was working at an auction house on Sunset Blvd and he came in with Producer Scott Humphrey. A conversation turned into me spending a month in the studio shooting candid and documentary images of the recording of that album which was also when I first met now Bon Jovi guitarist Phil X. The first Motley Crue show I shot was Carnival of sins at Irvine Amphitheatre. Fast forward to around 2012 working a lot with DJ Ashba, I was invited to come meet the Sixx:AM guys, Nikki had expressed interest in working with me. That turned into an entirely different creative situation because we hit it off immediately.

Can you show us your favorite live photo of the band that you've ever taken? What do you love the most about it?

Well, there are 2… One is from that first show. I love it because it encapsulates everything Motley. It’s a classic Terror Twins image and remember seeing it developer through the view finder. If you look at the sequence I shot, you can see me actually develop the perfect single image. Nikki at the end of the song turns to Tommy as he smashes the ending to the tune and Nikki in the coolest rock star form ever leaning back dropped his pick hand behind him and just kind of dropped the middle finger while still holding his pick… A CLASSIC Moment.

The other is from the Final Show at Staples Center New Year’s Eve. Again, just Classic Nikki during Shout at the Devil he walks out with a fricken flame thrower tossing and spitting fire 25 feet in the air. I could absolutely feel the immense heat coming from the bass, but also the entire show got blasted with huge waves of intense heat and at one point could actually smell hair! I don’t know how Tommy could even stand to sit back there with the amount of fire and explosions because it was hot for me on the floor! Anyway, the shot is Nikki throwing a massive fire bomb from his bass and the face and energy you see in the photo is again just Classic Crue.

Is there a portrait you're most proud of making? Can you set the scene of where you were and how you interacted with the band/subject?

Again, tough to choose one child. Being asked to photograph and design/composite the STADIUM TOUR promotional piece with Motley Crue and Def Leppard has to be at the top of the list. A horribly rainy day, early morning call, two bands, 9 members their teams management, label and a TON of people that caught wind and showed up to just catch a glimpse! Knowing we were going to put them in a stadium setting was a challenge in itself as finding the perfect background was impossible. That aside I wanted to light it old school with big hot movie lights and not strobe so it would be a little more believable in the stadium setting. It is very difficult to get all members of a band to sign off on a single image, but 2 band and 9 members was an impossible task. I shot everyone individually as they came out of make up and wardrobe. I first shot Motley Crue on the set. We had a major time crunch to get everyone to radio for the big announcement so I had limited time with the bands. I then shot the entire group with all members of bot bands all lined up, which was really fun and cool to see. Again, these were two of the biggest bands in my young life, so to be in charge of this circus show of a photo shoot was amazing! After the group motley leaves and I then got to shoot Def Leppard as a band and that was a wrap! In the end we used to individual shots of the bands and I believe only switched out one member total to get approval on the entire line up.

From candid, live or portrait photography- do you have a preference on which you enjoy the most when you're on tour?

I love that I am very proficient in all of these categories. Portraits are awesome because it’s all on me, lenses, lighting, backdrops, attitude so I get to build the image. With concerts the magic is happening and it’s my job to capture those moments that make you feel like you’re there and wish you were. The candid fly on the wall stuff is also a different kind of magic. I shot and filmed some of the recording and studio days while they were making THE DIRT sound track and to be in the room while Tommy and Nikki were tracking was pretty special.

When did you first begin taking an interest in music photography?

As long as I can remember I have been fascinated with cameras, photography and darkroom.

I also started playing drums and music when I was 12. My first band was with Josh Steely lead guitarist in Daughtry. When we were young gigging kids I would always shoot the bands we were around so it started pretty young. Back then I had a darkroom setup at my house so I was processing film and printing before high school

What was the first concert you photographed?

Officially I believe it was Michael Damien of Young and the Restless fame who played a local concert in my home town Vista, Ca. so maybe 16-17. But also got into shooting for school and working on things like West Side Story or our baseball team that featured a very talented player named Dave Roberts. As a pro I gravitated to studio photography and specialized in rarities and antiquities. After the Tommy Lee project I really had the itch again. When Chris Daughtry put his band together and featured my best friend Josh Steely they always allowed me to come and shoot the shows. Around the same time my other great friend Phil X was always playing shows at the Key Club, Whiskey or Cat house with his band The DRILLS and would again always allow me to photograph the shows and this is where I really started to re develop my style and create a defining look to my images. After logging more than 2000 hours of dark room time, photoshop just became my digital darkroom and is also where I do a lot of heavy lifting.

When I met Zakk Wylde it changed everything as he allowed me the creative space to just go crazy and show him larger than life.

Are there bucket list bands you have yet to work with that you hope to work with next?

Definitely. I have been very lucky and have worked with some of my biggest influences but there’s always a band I need to work with. A few would be Metallica. Foo Fighters are always on the list and with the recent death of Taylor I hope there’s still a possibility. Iron Maiden, OZZY and Elton John would be amazing. I dig The Pretty Reckless and Black Veil Brides. Of course, my heavenly list ELVIS, John Lennon, Prince and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

What was your favorite concert you've ever photographed?

Impossible question they’re all so different. Some highlights would be The Final Show for Motley Crue. Black label Society always bring the goods. My recent run with Bon Jovi was inspiring. Sixx:am was blast on stage and LOVED shooting Florida Georgia Line, nothing but boots boobs and booze!

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Last updated: 9 Dec 2023, 06:07 Etc/UTC