Jesse Faatz is a freelance photographer specializing in event and marketing photography. He is also the event coordinator at Montage Mountain Resorts. Faatz is a native of Blakley and is a graduate of Valley View High School. He studied IT and graphic design at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. He and his wife, Staci, live in Taylor.
Meet Jesse Faatz …
When did you first discover your love for photography?
My father was a professional photographer on the side when I was growing up, back when film was still popular. Through the years, I was always exposed to it. I always liked to help him set up for studio portraits and just be a part of it. I would basically be his little helper. Years later, I got into graphic design, and I started doing some design for local clients — mostly bands — and I was being provided with some photos that weren’t the most professional. Maybe a friend snapped it for them, or something like that, and I had one or two bands ask if it was something I could help out with. My father had recently purchased a digital camera, and being an old-school film photographer, he had trouble learning the settings. So he kind of passed it along to me and said, “Can you help me figure this out?” And that’s really where my love for photography really blossomed. I took on a couple of band shoots and seemed to do OK with it, and I was able to integrate the photography into the design side. Fast forward a year or so, and I kind of lost interest in the design side and went full into the photography.
You have photographed a lot of concerts, especially at Montage Mountain. What is it that you enjoy the most about photographing live music? And at what other venues have you worked?
I like to call myself a musician, because I like to dabble on the drums and the guitar, so I‘ve always been interested in music on that end. And not being able to really excel on the guitar or on drums, it was basically the next closest thing that sometimes put me right onstage. I’m currently the house photographer for the Pavilion at Montage, for the PPL Center in Allentown, and I do some house photography at the Kirby Center. And LiveNation will bring me down to places like the Wells Fargo Center and a couple of other festivals that they have in Philadelphia to help out on their official coverage teams.
Who is your favorite national artist that you’ve ever photographed?
Pearl Jam. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to shoot them. And coming out of that shoot, somehow my images got into the band’s hands and landed on the landing page of their official website. My name was there, and four of my photos were featured right on their homepage. It was very humbling, after years of work, to not only be able to shoot one of my favorite bands but also have the band using my images, sharing them on Instagram, on Facebook and on their webpage. It was very humbling and kind of still gives me goose bumps to this day.
What do you enjoy the most about working at the Montage ski slope and water park?
I’m a part of an amazing team. My supervisor has taught me so much over the past two years and I’ve really grown as a marketing professional. And being able to work with our team has just really brought it home. I grew up skiing Montage. One of my first jobs was actually there in the rentals department. Now in the event coordinator position, in addition to all of the winter events that we do, I’ve been able to put on some great beer festivals and wine festivals and adult swim nights. I’ve basically done nothing but broaden my skills since I’ve been here, and that’s directly attributed to Jeff Slivinski, the director of marketing.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I get very little free time. (Laughs.) I really like to work. I’m full-time at Montage Mountain Resorts and doing the photography on the side, I’m also involved in some weddings and editing. But when I do get a little bit of free time, I’m usually enjoying the day working in the yard with my wife.
Besides Pearl Jam, who are some of your favorite musical artists?
I’m a big fan of Cabinet. All of the guys and their management are almost like family to me. I’ve been with them for four or five years now, shooting as many shows as I can. Lately, I’ve also been a big fan of Bruno Mars. His style, his charisma and his talent impress me. I’m also a Grateful Dead guy and I try to see all of the reincarnations, whether it be the Dead, or Bob by himself, or Phil Lesh & Friends. And lately, Turkuaz has been big on my playlist.
Do you follow sports?
I’m an Eagles fan.
All-time favorite movie?
Probably the “Beverly Hills Cop” series or anything early Eddie Murphy.
Favorite TV show?
Recently, it’s been “Mountain Men.”
Pizza. I can eat pizza every day of the week.
I’d have to say Philly. LiveNation is kind enough to bring me down there a couple of times a year, and I basically have another extended family down there that I stay with. When I go to Philly, I work with a team of 8 to 10 other photographers, and it’s great to be welcomed. And we all push each other to make the best images. It’s really a joy and a pleasure.
Favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere where there’s a mountain with snow.
Favorite thing about NEPA?
Family. And I love the weather. I love the fact that we have four seasons, and that we get to enjoy a couple of months of winter, and have a beautiful summer, and we have a great fall and spring.
Two cats, Theo and Jerry.
Is there anything about you that might surprise even your friends?
My mom owns a dance studio, and I was actually a trained dancer for 18 years and taught dance for four years. I lot of people don’t know that about me, but back in high school and the middle school I used to get picked on about it. But it’s actually what brought me the wife that I have today. I’ve known her since I was two years old because she started dancing at my mom’s studio. We were friends until we were about 16, and then we ended up being a couple, and we’ve been together ever since.
Have you had a defining personal moment? Something that has shaped you into the person you are today?
My parents letting me discover things for myself. They’ve always tried to guide me down the right path, but at the same time, my folks have always let me take the leap and learn from my mistakes. I really attribute who I am today to how my parents raised me and the freedom that they gave me. As far as a defining moment for my career, I would have to say it was the first Peach Music Festival that hit Montage. That’s basically how I got my start shooting for LiveNation and being a concert photographer. I volunteered to shoot the first Peach Festival for a small little newspaper called Our Town Lackawanna. I didn’t even get paid for it. I was just so stoked to have my camera out and be shooting music that I loved. An intern from LiveNation saw me running around between both stages, came up to me and asked what I was doing with my pictures. I explained that the paper I was shooting for would probably only run a handful of them, and I was able to pass some of the others on to LiveNation. From then on, it’s been history. And quite a fun ride.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at firstname.lastname@example.org