How old were you when you first picked up a camera?
I got my first camera after going on a week-long road trip from the Bay Area to Vancouver B.C. with my friend Nathan. He was always into photography, but I never paid attention. One night we were camping out in Golden Ear and we were tripping on acid. He let me borrow his DSLR and I had the trippiest experience looking through the viewfinder. I got myself a K1000 right after that trip. So around 22 years old.
What drew you into the world of live music photography?
I discovered DIY culture relatively late (age 23) and didn’t really know anyone else who was in the scene. Bringing a camera with me to shows helps relieve the anxiety of going to shows by myself all the time as it gives me a reason to be there, and eventually, it became a way for me to connect with others in the scene.
Is there one show you shot that’s defined your style to date?
I don’t think any particular show defined my style, but I recall taking my photography a lot more seriously after shooting a Machine Girl show in this tiny garage at a house show spot called The Hole (RIP) in Oakland. That was the first show where I was really happy with the photos that came out, and it encouraged me to devote significantly more time going to DIY shows ever since.
Do you have a favorite band to shoot, and why?
I do not have a favorite band to shoot. In general, I am more interested in the DIY ethos and the location of the show itself. I would much rather see a local band play at a house show than a bigger band at a venue.
How do you capture the emotion and energy of the band and the audience?
I am a shoot and pray sort of person. I take anywhere from 50 to 300 photos per show, so one of them (hopefully) has got to be at least interesting. I am observant at shows and primarily looking for interesting moments that don’t involve just the band playing their instrument. My favorite photos are ones of people hanging out in between sets.
How important is the venue for your photos? What’s your favorite venue to shoot bands at?
The “venue” is the most important part of my photos, but I tend to avoid traditional venues. I don’t like stages because it creates a power dynamic between the crowd and the bands, and I hate security with a passion.
I will go to any shows as long if the spot is interesting. I have seen shows in living rooms, kitchens, caves, forests, skate parks, etc. Interesting shows where shows don’t typically happen are a hallmark of DIY culture.
Before Isolation, do you think that you took going to shows for granted?
Absolutely, there were so many damn shows I would be going to 3 to 4 shows a week at times! I am happy to see shows coming back now and the fact that everyone has been sitting at home is creating a new sort of energy at the recent shows I have been to.
When shows do come back, do you feel that concert photography will change?
I don’t think so. At least not for shows of the scale that I am working with. Seems like house show culture and DIY is not impacted but I cannot say the same for people who do venue shows.
Where are you pointing your camera these days?
Outside of the context of music, I do not use my camera at all. I use photography as a way for me to interact with music, and I keep all my work within this scope.
Have you found another creative outlet during isolation?
I have not found any new creative outlet since the isolation, but the pandemic definitely made me a lot more open-minded about going to/shooting raves. Despite punk and rave being quite different in terms of culture, music, and style, they both have one great thing in common and that is the DIY ethos.
Could you share three photos that mean the world to you and the story behind them?
This photo was taken at Manic Relapse Fest at The Tubes back in 2019. It was some wild Mad Max shit all day! One of the most fun shows I have been to because everyone around me was equally as nerdy about DIY culture as me, and I felt like this photo really summed up the insane day.
This photo was taken at Core House in Portland (RIP) back in 2019. Drove up to the show with the Heckdorlan and Fuming folks but some members from Fuming couldn’t come. So Cody and Taylor from Heckdorlan ended up letting Cesar from Fuming do vocals during their battle set with Family Vacation. Got my first and only tattoo from a 17-year-old person at this show. Good times!
This was a photo from a promo shoot with the band Kitty Kat Fan Club. I have been a fan of the Asian Man Records label since I was in middle school, so I was super excited when Mike posted a story on Instagram asking for people to shoot his new band. Went to his house where he made pizza for all of us and got to chat and take photos with his band and it ended up appearing on their debut LP!