Chase Travels: people of Balaton by Jennifer Kesteleyn
Summer is almost upon us. That means Balaton season is almost here! The five-day festival, which takes place at the picturesque Lake Balaton on 3-7July, is one of the largest open-air events in Europe. The festival covers a wide range of musical genres set across 30 different party venues, featuring urban artists like Future, G-Eazy, Denzel Curry, Desiigner, Saweetie and more. Let us take you back to the 2017 edition, when we visited the festival and shot some amazing portraits:
Photography by Jennifer Kesteleyn, interview by Chess Teugels
"I didn’t have a lot of expectations when it came to the music, I’m not really into EDM. But from a photographic point of view my expectations were definitely met. My experience being a photographer for Chase was great to say the least.”
It was Jennifer's first time at this festival and she only started photographing at festivals last summer. “I wouldn’t say I’m a rookie, but I’m not very experienced either. It was different and awesome to have a press accreditation at Balaton and being able to say that I’m working for Chase, for the Belgian press.”
“It was nice to have access to the press village and meet fellow photographers and journalists from all over the world. As a photographer I had front stage access to the main stage during the first three songs of every artist and fulltime access to the smaller stages. The only disadvantage was that I wasn't allowed to use my flash on stage. Luckily I could use it on the festival grounds."
"It was extremely hot at Balaton Sound, which isn't the best situation when walking around an average of 15 km a day while carrying heavy gear. Especially when you’re a scatterbrain like me and you have the tendency to forget stuff in the press room or in your tent.”
“My biggest motivation to visit Balaton was to take a closer look at EDM festivals and of course to expand my portfolio. From a personal point of view I think EDM festivals are a dying trend. Even at electronic festivals like Balaton Sound, you notice more and more attention going to hip hop. The audience at EDM festivals is also noticeably a bit older, compared to the people at urban music events. I’m not saying EDM will disappear completely, but I do believe it will be gradually overshadowed by more urban music.”
“My favourite portrait is the one of the blond girl flipping her hair. It’s a funny story because the gig actually hadn’t started yet, but she and her friend were seeking the attention of all the photographers. So I decided to provoke them a bit. Not to take a fancy picture of them, but to capture that attention-seeking behaviour. When I was editing the picture, I noticed the face of the guy on the right for the first time, which was a nice surprise.”
“I work really fast and jump in front of people, I shove my flash in their face (not literally, but so to speak), I take my picture and I’m gone. Because of my wide-angle lens, I have to get pretty close and try to catch them off guard, otherwise they pose too much. It's only occasionally that I ask them to pose, but I prefer natural behaviour."
"I have my camera with me at all times and I'm constantly ‘scanning’ the crowd. When I see someone interesting I just go for it. You can ask Erkut (our blogger at Balaton Sound). I left him by himself a couple of times when I ran off because I saw someone or something that I wanted to capture.”
“I really love that people dress up, whether it’s a unicorn outfit or their most stylish outfit. For me as a photographer it makes those people stand out and it makes it worthwhile to walk that 15 km a day. Sometimes people critique festival fashion trends, but I like it. Yes, at a festival the music is the most important. But hey, why aren’t people allowed to put in a little extra effort when they come out to play?"
"Although I really like to photograph performing artists, I actually prefer making portraits of the people attending the concerts or festivals. There is just a lot of visual variation off stage and you can really capture the ‘zeitgeist’. Who knows, within a few years people might say: “Unicorns? Nah, that’s so 2017”.”
The essence of Balaton Sound according to Jennifer is summer. “And I hope this shows in the pictures” she says. She would love to visit Balaton Sound festival again next year (and take pictures for whoever might need them).
If you’re also planning on going, Jennifer strongly recommends bringing sunscreen and a floatie to have some water fun on the lake. Along with your quirky fashion sense, a party mood and an open mind, those are the true essentials to enjoy Balaton Sound.
Make sure to follow Jennifer on Instagram!