Interview by Yising Kao, Photos by Jasmine Denisse
View/Grab a copy of our Music Photography Issue!: https://www.galaxy-mag.com/product-page/music-photography-issue
What inspired you to start doing photography?
Like every other emo/scene/whatever-you-call-it kid, music has always been such a huge part of my life. I was obsessed with so many bands and the vibe of the scene, but I am not musically talented whatsoever, so I could never get involved in the form of making music. (I always said, "If I could sing, I would be in a band." I was never #blessed though.) So, it wasn't until bands started really taking their image and social media presence more "mainstream," I guess you could say, that I even knew music photography was so dang cool. I started seeing all my favorite bands posting more photos of their live stuff and just the way the photographers would capture the atmosphere of the night-man, it was magical. And I always, I guess, subconsciously tried to do that whenever I went to a concert. I would bring my small point-and-shoot camera and take SO many photos because I wanted photos to capture the incredible memories for me to look back on. I didn't know it then, but that intent of wanting to capture a perfect moment in time is exactly what I try these days, just through a new avenue.
Then when I started college, you know, you go to the club fairs and you join a bunch of clubs, and I was drawn to the university’s radio station. I signed up, went to meetings, had a radio show with my friend Cristina, where we played a bunch of songs off Spotify. The next year in radio, I wanted to get more involved and the executive team was like, "Yo, you guys know you guys you can reach out and do interviews at shows in the area right?" and flash forward: I'm doing interviews, our university lends us nice cameras, we film interviews and live footage, and I'm all, "holy crap, what if I tried to start taking photos?” You would think this path would lead me to do more video work-which I should have alongside photography, but it's never too late right? Anyways, covering shows through interviews opened the door to "Hey, maybe I can start capturing the super awesomeness of a concert in the form of photography!" In a way, it was kind of accidental, but I really think it was fate that I got a camera in my hands and made the decision to try out music photography. I never had the intention to say "I want to be a photographer," just because I never thought I'd find myself doing it, or even being good at it if I wanted to try. It wasn't until I shot my very first show with my own camera, it sparked something in me. I found that I freakin' loved what I was doing in the moment. In a long-winded way, I just had always yearned for some tangible way of contributing back to my love for music, and I was so happy I finally found it through photography.
How would you describe your style?
I call it, "What did I accidentally click in Lightroom for this photo that made me like it?" Just kidding, kind of! That's how I used to edit, but I'm still definitely developing my style, and sometimes I just happen to randomly find the magic recipe. With my portrait work, I'm definitely a bright, and warm-toned kind of editor, but with music, I just can't describe it clearly. Any suggestions?
What to you hope to convey through your work? I've slowly been expanding out from music photography to try out other sides of photography. Once you get comfortable with your camera, you have an itch to take photos of so many other things-and there's still so much to learn! I've gotten into wedding photography, portraits, travel photos, and other event photos and I think that no matter what style of shooting I'm doing, I'm always trying to show authenticity. Whether it's the love between two people, the fun atmosphere of a show, or the beauty of a new city, I always want to capture that subject in a very natural way. I guess the best way to say it is, I want my viewer to feel something when they see a photo of mine. I sure hope I'm successful at it so far. And if I'm not, I'm going to work on it!
What are some of your goals? Not going to lie, I hit a rough patch in 2018. I wasn't shooting many shows anymore as I moved back home and started working full-time. I was tired all the time and exhausted, and my energy wasn’t put back into my photography. And when I would shoot the small amount of shows I did shoot, I wasn't very satisfied with my own work. I just wasn't doing as well as I felt I should be doing. So, at the beginning of this year, I packed away my excuses, and set some goals for myself-some small, some big-to aim to better myself. I'm learning that I'm only going to improve if I keep shooting, so I can't slow down. Here's my photo bucket list-some are for this year, some are just overall someday manifestations:
· Get hired to cover a music event (I actually just crossed this off my list recently as I shot Emo Nite!)
· Get published by a large music publication (either print or online)
· Be more intentional with my music photography editing (I feel like sometimes I get a photo to look right only by accident)
· Get hired for another wedding (so exhausting but so fun)
· Do a studio shoot (I know NOTHING about studio and need to learn)
· Do more street portrait work
· Go on a short tour (one where I could still afford to take time off work)
· Get involved with getting to know more photographers and build a community with them (which is technically how this interview is happening!)
Overall, I just want to create some awesome images that I'm not the only one loving. Being able to share what you love and others being receptive to what you're creating is an awesome feeling. I work as an engineer in my day job, so photography allows me to break this left-brained-only mold I'm supposed to fit in and lets my creative juices slow in a completely different way.
What’s your favorite concert you’ve shot and why?
PARAMORE. When I realized, "Hey, I freaking love photography," photographing Paramore was the untouchable goal for so long. I still don't know how they granted me a photo pass for After Laughter Tour 5 this past summer through this small publication I work with, but I screamed when I read my email that they approved me for a pass. They're probably the band I've loved the longest, and I have so many early memories of jamming to their music on my small Sansa clip MP3 player as I walked to my bus stop every day to school. Their music has always meant something to me, and they just make incredible songs lyrically and musically. To photograph them meant I had, in a way, come full circle. I love the photos I have (unfortunately I can't share them to be published for Galaxy since I signed a release form), but I also wish I had a redo. I'm sure every photog would say this, but I've already improved so much since this past summer in my skills. I would love to shoot that night over again and see what I'd get this time around. That show was also my first show using my new full-frame camera, so I was new to its functions and I feel so much more comfortable with it now. I think that show meant so much to me because I feel like every photog has their "dream artist" to shoot. When we all started, we had a vision of us shooting that artist and that artist for me was Paramore. It made me look back on far I'd come since I started. To really just take it all in and appreciate this passion. It was a really proud moment for me, and made me so glad I picked up a camera.