Kind of got away from taking pictures on the cell phone. Used to totally be addicted to it, dropped the phone a certain number of times, and suddenly…the flash and camera didn’t work the same. Took some alcohol and a napkin to the back of the phone though. The clean-up went well, and I’ll be back in full swing in no time. Interesting enough, the camera on the new iPhone seems intriguing, but then so does the camera on the new Blackberry Bold. Ah, decisions decisions. Either way, cell phone pictures on this side, will be making a comeback. Above.
Respect your work it inspires me alot. Im just getting into film making and photography but love it and take my work to heart. But i've been doing research and i am currently stuck at what movie editing program i should use, just to start off with. I have a windows computer and use the canon t3, i would much appreciate suggestions and tips to help me get started with the right program (I've been looking at creator by roxio but am not sure)
All your photos are Dope, I really want to get into photography can you give me some good suggestions on high end start up cameras thanks
Thank you. Photography is a beautiful thing. Suggestions, on high end camera start up ? The first suggestion I would have for you is, don’t buy a high-end camera to start. You’ll be finished with photography before you know it. Buy a cheap camera, or an old one, or a used one. Get it dirty, drop it once or twice, learn it, take it apart, clean it, take it everywhere you go. Then, we can talk about high end cameras, later.
1. Working alongside with artists like Dom and Skeme, who else would you like to work with in the near future?
Good question. I normally don’t reveal/talk about who I’m working with in the future, or would even like to work with in the future just because I don’t want to jinx anything haha, but I’ll make an exception. I’ve done some photos for Casey Veggies before but, never a video so…that’s been talked about. I’d also like to work with a new artist that Alexander Spit produces for, her name is Bago, beautiful voice. Different. Nipsey Hussle has always struck my interest, and the idea of bringing a different look and style visually, to his music. And I kind of want Topshelf to get into more R&B music. Definitely want to switch genres for a little bit, alternative/rock/etc. We just wrapped up some work with Rich Hil, that allowed me to do that kind of, being that the music wasn’t necessarily hip-hop. There’s also an artist in the Bay Area by the name of Husalah. Been a huge fan of his for a while, that would be dope.
2. When you were younger did you always know you had this talent? How did you know that this was exactly it for you?
At a very early age, my Mom would have myself, my brother and my sister in all sorts of art classes. She would take us to plays, musicals, festivals, we would do arts and crafts at home, drawing, coloring, etc. Her and my dad always had cameras as well so, I naturally just picked that up. I can remember my grandfather saying, “you have an eye, you should stick with it.” So, all through the earlier schooling years, I was into photography and picking up all sorts of cameras. High school is when it really kind of took off though, in film production and photography classes. That’s when I really felt something different, inside like, this is what I want to do. My Mom has been at CBS for 20 years, and still is but…growing up around it, on set, in the business is one thing, but really feeling that passion inside, to do it…is something separate. High school is when I felt that. My senior project was a photo essay. While other kids were doing science projects, massive written reports, etc…I convinced my counselor to let me do a photo essay on the city of Los Angeles, and really document a change in the city and show what was going on. I think I told the story in 50 photographs, all on film, and I passed. Wish I had those pictures still.
3. When people come to you and say they admire your work, what do you think it is that makes such a big impression on them?
I really don’t have a clue what makes the work have such an impression on people. I’ve heard people say it seems effortless, some people say its mysterious, other people have just said it’s so real. It’s really a weird thing, to hear someone say the work is so inspiring because, inspiration is inside of all of us. Guess I’m really lucky to be able to tap into that, the inspiration, and utilize that in the work to make an impression. Being able to relate to people on a bunch of different levels, genres, and topics is essential too. Not being boxed in, not being able to lock me down, lock a style down, or even a name for what I and my company do, seems to relate. People just know, when you come this direction for services, you don’t know what you’re going to get exactly, you just know its going to be good. The finished product is quality, and people love that. There was thought, preparation, and work put into what you’re seeing… and that moves people. That dedication leads to appreciation.
4. Your work photography has a faded colors, very blunt shot type photos, yet some are mysterious. What are you imagining at the time of capture?
At the very exact time of me capturing a photo, I’m not really imagining anything. I usually give some direction to the subject, about how I want them to feel, which gives their face an expression sometimes…but all in all, I’m not imagining anything. I’m simply trying to put the viewer there, right where I was standing, in that environment. I want the photo to put the viewer right there, in the moment the photo was captured, but also be able to feel what the subject is feeling, and what being in that environment would feel like. It’s kind of hard to explain but, my photos are really meant to accomplish three things. One, a moment that was happening in front of me, needs to be captured…two, the viewer is supposed to be put into the subjects shoes, but three, at the same time be able to feel what it would be like to be standing where I was. However and whatever I have to do, to make all three of those happen…is usually what I’m thinking about…the ways to accomplish those things, right before I snap the photo.
5. When you look at other photographers work, how are you inspired? What do take from it?
Looking at other photographers work is definitely inspiring. I get really inspired from looking at other work. Whether it be world-renown photogs, people with point and shoots, or even dslr’s…I always see other work and I take something from it. At first, I usually try and think about what they were feeling, when they did that. Then I think about how they did it, or even why they did it. After those first initial thoughts though, I stop thinking about the how and why because…its really not about that. Once you stop trying to understand and question art, but really just look at it for what it is…you can truly admire it and appreciate it. Other photographers do what they do, and that’s them. That’s all it needs to be. They have their own look, their own skill set, their own style…and if it’s something that I’m into or inspired by, I might try to take a piece of it and give it my own little spin. For example, Estavan Oriol has a really Los Angeles feel to his work that I love, Jonathan Mannion has a really iconic feel to the subjects he shoots, Lamar Langston and Sean Lyles have a very real life feel to their work, Sarah McColgan has a very colorful palette to her work…all of which I admire and am inspired by. Just to name a few. But like I said, I take little pieces here and there, apply it to what I’m doing or into, and then see if it fits in with something I’m working on.
6. If you weren’t shooting, what would you see yourself doing?
If I wasn’t shooting, I’d definitely still be in the business…the entertainment business. My older brother used to manage the Black Eyed Peas and work for a bunch of labels, so I was able to intern and work at some of the biggest record labels…since the age of 15. Still in high school, I was knee deep in the business and very much involved in the hip-hop scene, especially in LA. Once I graduated high school and moved up north for college, that took me out of the record industry immediately. I lost a lot of ground and hard work, lost a lot of contacts…all to pursue the visual dream. Film, TV, Commercials, Photography. So, the record industry is one field that I would still be involved in, and like I said, with my mother being at CBS…if I wasn’t shooting, I would definitely be behind the camera but in a different form. Producing, and writing are also some heavy interests of mine. Outside of that, I don’t know what I would be doing. Working at a restaurant is something I’ve never done, working retail was something that I did here and there, but never enjoyed, and working at a record store was cool for the perks but, wasn’t something I really liked either. Come to think about it, I’m very lucky to be doing what I want to be doing. It’s rare, to grow up doing something, study it in high school, major in it in college, work in that field out of college, and finally be able to provide for yourself and be your own boss in the end. I’m very lucky to be in this position and don’t want to do anything else.
7. What was one of the most difficult transitions in shooting you’ve gone through, and how did you overcome that?
Hmmmmm, interesting question. Can’t really say there’s been anything that difficult, aside from…putting down the photography camera for a while, just to pick up a film one. It had been some years, since I took some photographs at one point, because I was so involved with videos and visual projects but, it took a minute to warm back up. Took a minute to get back into the swing of things, and really get comfortable with a certain look or style of shooting. Once I figured out what I liked again, I got comfortable with that, especially the look…but found myself being surrounded with people who were looking for something else. So, on one hand…they knew I could get it done but, it wasn’t exactly what they were looking for. Switching the style up was difficult you can say, especially after I re-found my groove. The only way to describe how I got out of that, or overcame it was, simply by adapting. Trying new things, shooting new things, shooting new people, trying new looks…just being versatile, to fit people’s needs and projects. On the video side of things, I was recently faced with a challenge that I hadn’t before and that was, shooting four music videos in four days…one of which was in Las Vegas. I usually get the music in, listen to it for a week or two, decide the next plan of action, and write the treatment. The artist gets it back, we go back and forth on the idea, then shoot. In this case, they didn’t care. They trusted the vision, had the music, so they would send the song in the morning, and that night we would shoot the video. Same thing, each day…for four days in a row. That was a different transition, and difficult at times…due to creativity and possibly not having enough ideas. Also, shooting four videos that didn’t look like each other was important for me as well. The only way I can say I got through it was, I just went with the flow. Each day, I hit that reset button, and just tapped into whatever direction the music sent me in.
8. Doing a lot of work with artists like Dom and Skeme. How do the images and angles you’ve shot for them influence your future work?
The previous and most recent work that I’ve done for Dom and Skeme doesn’t really influence the future work, by any means. If anything, my editor Bryant Robinson and I look at the previous jobs and kind of laugh at them because, we know we can do better. So yeah, influence comes in that form, knowing that we can and will do better in the future…as you should. The Topshelf motto is, everything needs to get bigger and better, or at least strikingly different from the last…in some form. The things we shot for Dom is, just some stuff that we felt Dom could pull off,or work that fits him, his brand, and work his fans could relate to. It’s no problem to push the limit but, with Dom…it’s not really time for that, or the music on a certain track didn’t fit that motivation. Skeme on the other hand I think was at a point in his career where he was looking for a new look. The few mini-videos I did for him was different than what he had before and, we really tried to push the limit with his video for Ape Shit Krazy. That track, him as an artist, there was a little more room to try different things. That video influenced future work in the idea of…we’re only scratching the surface…there is so much more to be done. And it will be. I think with the newest stuff we’re working on, you’ll start to see that…a change in the style of work. Trying to reach new levels, trying to merge into a few more lanes. Take note of this change though, with the Jhene Aiko video, and the recent work from Rich Hil…both will be out soon. Those works will mark the change in style/feel/look of the work we have coming out, and the starting point of where we want to take things to.
9. What are some of your favorite shots you’ve done?
Some of my favorite shots are, the photo I did for Dom Kennedy at the dinner table, his XXL photo that was published, a few of the photos I did for him while we were shooting “1997”, the photo of Phlo Finister standing in front of the American Flag, the Tupac poster, and sitting on the bed with the Furby, eh…I dunno, I like a lot of my work…there’s so many. The funny thing is, the work that is seen…is really only the work that I really feel strongly about. There’s so much work that gets thrown away, or just isn’t deemed worthy and will sit on a drive somewhere til’ death. I don’t know, I’m just very particular about what is seen and shown. If it’s up, I like it. I could go all day about certain photos that I really like, but that’s corny. I’ll leave that up to you guys and other people to decide. Thanks for everything.
Not really a big fan of any press, interviews, or having photos taken but…Jenesis Magazine reached out and wanted to schedule an interview. After shooting the cover for Dom’s feature on that magazine, and meeting the owner, I said why not ?! They tried to hunt me down for a week, to get the photo, and wanted to do the interview on the phone, but no luck. Don’t know…just wasn’t into those two things for some reason. At any rate, I decided I should post the full interview, (due to the final piece being shorter than I thought), in the fashion it was presented to me…email. They asked several questions and I took the opportunity to ramble on about different things. Take it how you want, informative, inspirational, or even disregard it…just realize, it won’t happen much, interviews that is. Anyway, it’s posted above…
Sometimes before you work with people, you have to break the ice. At the same time, you have to see if they really have it. There’s only a handful of models that I personally know that have it, and Erin just became another one. Randomly picked a spot to meet, jumped out the car, and this is what we came up with. First time shooting with Erin, random security guards, time running out on the meter, and the sun blaring down on me had me nervous though. Above.