BREAKING OUT of FOCUS: 10 Questions for Jeff Crespi, The Rock n Roll Photographer Behind JeffCrespiRocks.com
By Matt Chrystal (WNJ correspondent)
I am flying high over Tupelo, Mississippi with America’s hottest band… and we are all about to die! Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration as I am at the office scrolling through the article on NJ.com about the “25 Most Influential People in New Jersey Music in 2016.” I find myself smiling over a few familiar names and furrowing my brow over what I think are a few glaring omissions… but then my smile widens as I see that Jeff Crespi has made the list and continues to be acknowledged for his tireless efforts to capture what seems like every show happening in the Garden State on any and every given night (he has also been the recipient of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Asbury Music Award for top music photographer). There have been so many, many times when I have seen Jeff at Roxy and Dukes in Dunellen crouching in front of the stage taking pics of the band, hanging with and snapping both the crowd and venue staff and by the time I get home to check out the pics on his website, I see that he somehow managed to also get to the Starland Ballroom in Sayerville or get down to Asbury Park that same night to take pics at concerts happening at multiple venues. Is Jeff Crespi omnipresent? Maybe. Are there multiple Jeff Crespis? Nope, there’s just one. Does Jeff Crespi really Rock? Yup. Somehow between covering nearly every local and national touring act in New Jersey, he found time to answer my ten questions for D.I.Y.N.J.
Everyone loves an origin story… Soooo…
1. I think this one may be fairly obvious, but can you tell us how you decided on the name JeffCrespiRocks?
The name came from exactly what I was doing… which was rockin’ out with my son! And I always dreamed of having a website with my name.
2. How/why did you get started?
It all started as a bonding activity with my son, he started to take an interest in music so we went to a show and we both had a great time.
3. How do you decide which shows and bands to cover?
At the beginning it was just about going to shows and documenting our journey along with people we would meet at each show. It has evolved into an almost every single night thing of covering local and mainstream artists. I love going to shows to experience bands and genres that have I never heard before or that I have not had prior knowledge of.
4. How big a role does the area/community of NJ that you operate out of play into your brand?
Where I live here in (Central) Jersey I am so fortunate that we are flooded with major venues, local clubs, bars and restaurants that provide live music all year round.
Speaking of community, in marketing and networking these days, online communities usually have a big role in the success and expansion of DIY businesses. And as with any relationship, there seems to be periods of love and hate as opinions and reviews flow freely on open forums and message boards…
Staying true to myself is what I live for. I am a standup guy who is extremely honest and very real no matter where I am and who I’m with. Social media allows most people to pretend to be something they are not and you have to be able to see through it. More and more people believe they can create a free account and then say they own a business. I read everything I see but keep my opinions to myself, I don’t get into “social media opinion wars”.
6. What phase of the love/hate relationship would describe your current state of mind when dealing with the online community? c’mon be honest!
There are always pros and cons with everything. Very few businesses can survive today without an online presence of some sort. It is very time consuming on a daily basis to keep up with how we are valued online. I can’t stand watching people pretend to be something they are not and ruin the value of what us honest folks do and work very hard doing.
7. Your brand has taken you to many places, not only in the Garden State but also around the United States? What is one of your favorite adventures or experiences?
My pictures have been published internationally, nationally and locally so I’m known all over!
Let’s shift to what is on the horizon for JeffCresiRocks…
8. What should we know about what you got going on?
The only thing I am concerned with people knowing is that I care greatly, not just about the music, but about the music scene as a whole from the venues on down. The scene needs all parties: venues, promoters, bands, sound and lighting personal, photographers, videographers, etc.
9. What can we look forward to in the future?
Good question, I’m not sure. I am just trying to go with the flow and see where it leads me. For now, I just love taking pictures of live music and hope I can continue to do it for a long time.
10. Where can folks find you to keep up with you?
Thanks for the info and your time, Mr. Crespi! And Congrats on making the list of “Movers and Shakers in NJ Music!” Annnnd to our faithful readers, Stay Up, Stay Tuned and Tune In Next Time as WEIRD NJ continues to “Break Bad” with the movers and shakers of D.I.Y.N.J.