Music Photographer Interview: Courtney Kiara

Interview by Yising Kao, Photos by Courtney Kiara

With Confidence

What inspired you to want to become a music photographer?

I don’t know if it was something I was necessarily inspired to push for - it just sort of happened when I realized that was the thing I liked most to do at shows. I guess most directly, maybe my bad dancing skills and impulse to say sorry when I bump into people in crowds inspired me to venture into the photo pit? Who’s to say?!

You’ve recently worked as a tour photographer for With Confidence on their Love and Loathing in Paradise tour. What was your day to day experience like and what are some challenges that you faced?

My day-to-day experience was so great in that I was surrounded by a lot of kind people, and I definitely faced some challenges with my workload as I had so many tasks to complete, but it worked out as best as it could and I’m happy to have gotten to hang with such good pals for the winter.

What are some important skills to have when working with an artist or band, especially since tour photographers are invited into such a personal space?

I generally work under the pretense that I’m there to both make people feel as comfortable as possible in order to document them at their best and most honest, but I guess just knowing to always have your camera on you while knowing when and where to point it. I don’t ever want to make people feel uncomfortable or like I’m taking advantage of them welcoming me in to their worlds.

The music industry is all about networking and maintaining relationships with others. What are some ways that you’ve networked with people that have helped you pursue your passions?

For me, “networking” is just forming new friendships and finding common ground, and I absolutely hate the thought of active networking because I think sometimes people can take that idea, and then navigate socially in a way that isn’t genuine. My friend Alicia told me once to “be 20% braver” in situations that I’m nervous or when I’m worried about what people might think of me (as much as I don’t want to worry about that), and it has taken the form of talking about things I care about and sometimes tripping over my words - and over my feet, and other objects near me - and just being okay with that. I think if you’re entirely yourself, you can only either gain friends or gain the knowledge that you’re not compatible with some people, which really is helpful in its own right.

What advice do you want to give to aspiring tour photographers?

I would say that mustering up the courage to go out and bring your camera with you will put you in a good position to do the thing you care about. Showing up is so much of what will get you into situations that make you feel good about your abilities, and remaining true to yourself, humble, open, and kind can only ever help you achieve your goals.

Jordan Buckley of Every Time I Die