after hours with Phoebe - Had a drink with Phoebe while we shot. @ chiggabae (IG)
Behind the scenes photos of “Incredible”
I was on set the whole night documenting their music video shoot directed by Jakob Owens . It was a fun but hectic day, we got to the set after having a photoshoot in Los Angeles with every member of the band for promotional purposes and we had a long night ahead of us. Here are some of the images I captured throughout the night aside from the ones that were used on the guys’ social media pages and alike.
It’s been some time since I see the guys together and despite the lineup changes over the years, they still feel like family to me. It felt good to be re-united with them one more time before they ran off to start tour in a couple days. Hope to be back out with some in the future if time allows. Go check out their music video! it rules.
So I recently started taking a closer look into my work…
I noticed that I’ve started going the route in which I told myself I would never go towards. That route being more focused about making images for the sake of making money and that needs to change. The past year and a half has been a little troublesome with my personal life and the way I’ve been coping with it has been by keeping busy with shooting & going to the gym at nights with a close friend whom supports what I do day in and day out, which is the ultimate way for me to de-stress.
I’ve been stressing myself out more and more lately, not only with what’s going on at home but also overworking myself mentally. Being physically tired is one thing and mentally tired just takes a huge toll on you. As much as I stress about my financial position right now, I’ve noticed that I’ve been learning to cope with it a lot better now. My stress levels have lowered even though I know that a problem is still present. I’ve learned to accept the fact that not everything needs to have a reaction, sometimes bad things happen to good people but it isn’t the end all, be all. I listen to some of my friends’ problems and compare them to my own and they seem childish compared to what I have going on yet never talk about but that’s their reality not mine. Who am I to say anything. We live our own life and have our path, our own issues.
I have stopped feeling bad for myself, trying to stay away from a lot of toxicity that is social media. Eventually get to the point where I only check certain things once a day. One of my pet peeves now is definitely people that share every aspect of their lives on their socials, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook has bred a new type of human. Its incredibly scary, sad, and interesting at the same time. You can’t do anything without having a friend or random person finding the need to share it on a platform of some sort, I will say that I do it as well but definitely not to the extant of some. Everyone is trying to be something and thats great but I can’t meet someone new without there being an ulterior motive behind said meet. There’s always that question “
so…what do you do?” - usually followed by… “ we should collab sometime” - essentially meaning, how can you be of service to me and how can I take advantage of you for the sake of posting something on the gram or snap.
I digressed from my original point though and ranted due to the toxicity i mentioned, but back to my work.
I’ve been making images since I was 16 years old… started making it my full time at 18. Not knowing a single thing about business and yet here I am at 22 paying my rent at my studio space and helping my mother with rent and bills… still doing the same thing but just that tad bit more wiser. I’m still winging it as it is and taking it a day at a time but its a cool feeling. Regardless if I’m going through a rough patch or not I’ve still found a way to make images and keep myself from going fully insane. I have sacrificed a little bit of creativity this past year and haven’t had enough time to make images for myself (which tends to be the biggest downside to going full time for most other photographers) it seems. I think its time I take some time off from doing it full time and start learning even more about my craft and perfecting some things. I know I’m not like a lot of “photographers” that have sprung up in the past year or two and want to make something of myself and my legacy. I hope you stick around see what I’ll be creating.
I’ll be sharing more and more on this blog.
Marlee Valencia - @marleevalencia (IG)
Marlee and I finally got the chance to work with each other after talking about setting up a session for weeks.
About 20 mins into the shoot itself I ended up tripping over a light stand and sent one of my flashes flying straight into the ground, it broke instantly so I knew I was going to face some problems seeing as how I was triggering my main light source with the flash that broke and I didn’t have any other way of triggering it. I had to resort to using the modeling lamp off the strobe, which was dimming every once in a while due to some electricity issues that were going on in the building apparently. My camera isn’t very good in low light (Leica) isn’t known for their low light capabilities…if anything they’re known for their limitations. I ended up pushing my iso to 640, 1/60th second @ f/2.5 the rest of the shoot. focusing in low light with a rangefinder can be quite the task and annoying if you’re used to a faster workflow.
In some of the photos in the set you can notice some motion blur but it ended up coming out pretty cool, now my only regret is that we just should’ve tried some more with blur.
Adapting the situation, keeping composure, and working with what I’ve got.
I specifically remember both of us agreeing to a night session because I didn’t need any natural light for out shoot since I predominately shoot with studio flash indoors and that ended up backfiring on me since flash wasn’t an option 20 mins into the shoot. Oh well, like I told Marlee… I needed to upgrade my gear either way. This gives me a better excuse to not hold off on it anymore. Loved the results regardless. Looking forward to the next time we work together. Great model and attitude about the whole thing.
Where to start?
Alright, here goes.
Its been about a year and a half and nearing two years since I’ve toured alongside a band/group of musicians and tonight it has finally hit me after seeing a couple posts over the past couple days thanks to face book’s “on this day” feature and now more recently seeing a couple of my favorite bands announce their departure from touring. A lot of people know me for being a music photographer primarily because I used to photograph it so much, even while I was in high school I used to do it almost every day and continued to do so for years after I graduated. Nowadays, I legitimately can’t remember the last time I photographed a show at the top of my head…which honestly kind of bums me out to even think about. I stopped doing something I fell in love with almost entirely out of the blue.
The honest truth now, is that I’m scared to do so, why? out of fear and judgement that my work won’t be good enough since I haven’t done it in so long and because I feel I’ve become dated compared to all the new faces that have arisen over the past couple years. For two years and a half I felt like I was on top of the world because I was touring with some of my favorite people and doing what I loved even though it was with small time artists and wasn’t making too much money…a lot of people have been asking me why I stopped doing so.
So this is to answer that question.
Right after my last tour in 2015, my mother got sick and I wasn’t in the position to leave again for another tour knowing I wouldn’t be able to help out financially. (The only family I have is my mom, whom has raised me all by herself [bastard child from an undocumented immigrant mom] ) A little more back story to this is that we had been living paycheck to paycheck for a couple years back then and this was a huge blow to us both financially and emotionally… So the fact that I had been touring for that time frame astonished me because I had money saved up and was helping her throughout the time I was touring and she even helped me once whilst I was out.
But anyways, I digress… Ended up selling my camera gear and I gave the money I had and left over saved funds to help pay her medical bills and knew I wasn’t going to be able to freelance work because if any of you Freelance workers know, you gotta have some money and invest money to make money. I ended up getting a warehouse labor job with the help from a dear friend of mine. I worked there for about 6 months, I can honestly say I hated every single day I was there…though my coworkers I had we’re some of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of meeting and still keep in touch with them when we have time.
On average we worked about 50-60 hours a week, 10-11 hour shifts 6 days a week, rarely did we do 8 hour shifts. It was there when I noticed my mind really was going in the wrong direction… I started having suicidal thoughts after seeing that the situation I was in wasn’t going to get any better and wasn’t happy about life. A couple people kept me afloat but I remember the few times I had hung out with some friends they would say that I didn’t look good. Its crazy how something can affect someone so much even when there’s so many worse things happening elsewhere but it did…. I never believed in depression or stuff like that and joked about it (and still do at times) until it happened to me. My first tour was when I was 18, I stopped at 20, almost 21 years old and it hit me that life can be so strange and you don’t know when things can go wrong.
Nearing my 7 months at the job, I had saved up my money, my moms health surprisingly got better after being told that it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon and knew if I didn’t get out of the job I’d make a decision that I wouldn’t be able to regret. I was going to attempt to go back to shooting full time and decided to buy some gear to get back into it.
I remember the day I purchased my camera I have now… I was listening to Vanna, a band from Boston whom some of you know and whom I had the pleasure of touring alongside. Davey, the vocalist… I remember having a conversation one night with him at a Cookout somewhere on the east coast after a show. He talked about his past and why he did what he did and why its important to have something you’re passionate about no matter what it is…. I didn’t think much of it when we had the conversation since but it was the first time I had talked to him for more than 5 minutes at a time and it ended up ringing back and made a huge impact on my mindset when I needed it to. I hadn’t listened to his band prior to this tour nor met any of them and that night I formed a newfound respect for Davey… and (if you read this man, I miss you and hope to see you sometime soon) The day I held my new camera, I remembered the very day I knew I had fallen into something truly special and why I fell in love with a camera…a tour I did with SECRETS. The day we went to New York on a day off… I had dreamed of seeing it but never knew a camera would’ve paved the way for the opportunity to do so and meet some of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Even though it was nothing new to the guys, it was brand new for me and I remember gazing at the cityscape as soon as we got out of the tunnel and I held back tears cause I didn’t want to be judged… It was such a pivotal moment in my mind cause I’ve always been dirt poor and never would’ve been able to afford doing any of this on my own but because I worked hard for years and built relationships with a camera, I did it… at the time they didn’t know this but I was emotional as hell the whole day. ( I could go on forever about some of the things that happened throughout those couple of years but thats for another time) Cam Birchill, whom also has played a key role… He’s always been so supportive since I met him. Forced me to talk when I wouldnt want to and taught me a lot about what goes in in the touring world. I never ended up taking a photo of the night he locked me in the back of the back of the warped tour bus, gave me a drink and just talked about random bs but I wish I did cause since then he’s become one of the people I have an enormous amount of respect towards not only in terms of business but also as a friend…Another key moment was getting to know a little more about Jonny Craig as a person whilst grabbing coffee with him and walking around the tour stops. I learned not to judge a book by its cover and actually converse and be human beings…it was someone I had a lot respect towards despite his past. I got to meet and get to know more because of a camera…something that otherwise would’ve probably never would’ve happened. I will forever cherish the little moments that a little lightbox has allowed me to experience no matter how insignificant it may be to the other person, it means something to me, you have to take it all in and see the beauty of just living.
Now, onto the past year and a half.
1 week after not working at the warehouse job, I got a small studio/office space with the help from a friend whom I now consider a crazy older brother Tyson. I knew I had to move fast and get business going, I hadn’t touched a camera in months and had to get the ball rolling. I turned 21, 2 weeks after getting the studio. It was time to live again… a month passes by and a week after my moms birthday she ends up having more health issues so I gave her the last of my money again but decided to keep shooting.
I couldn’t go back to what I was doing.
The past year and a half I have been shooting freelance work and I won’t lie, its been tough at times. Budgeting has become integrated into my blood. I’ve been able to help pay rent at home, rent at my studio and rarely have some money to spend on myself… a couple of dear friends of mine have helped me when I’ve needed help and never question me about it…and for that I owe them my life and more. I’ve been more involved with helping my community and local area and I have built such a strong support system/family and I’m eternally grateful. I want to get back into photographing music when I’m ready… I have been offered some tours and I’ve turned down some because of all the issues that have been going on and some have just simply fallen through for some reason or another but I’m grateful that some people still love my work from before.
I had a very close friend of mine have a drink with me the other night and it was interesting, I met her 7 years ago when I got my first “real” camera and has seen my growth over the years. I had some Jazz playing in the background and she said she was proud of me for not giving up and actually staying true to my word since I picked up a camera. Something that a lot of people around have done with photography.
I’ve met so many great people because of this thing we call a camera… I haven’t seen so many of you in so long and I miss you dearly but I’m sure I’ll see you soon and take your photo as per usual and maybe have a drink together.
If you stuck around and read this, I thank you and love you. It was emotionally draining writing about this while still censoring most of it all to keep it as short as possible. Sorry about the rambling. I don’t write much.
Models - (IG) @mrynnjcksn // (IG) Caitlin @caitknox // (IG) Racheal @rachael_knox94
Jewelry - @gladglam_ - www.gladglam.com
Photography by - eduardoponcephotography.com - (IG) @eduardoponcee
So I ended up shooting a small look book for a small local accessory boutique ran by some friends of mine and these were some of the results we got.
Back story to it all, I got the call to shoot this look book for them a couple weeks back and and I thought a couple people would be perfect to shoot this with and started scheduling everything and everything seemed to be working perfectly till a couple days before the shoot. I ended up selling my main work camera before the shoot and I was left with only my leica which is a great camera but by todays standards and face paced workflow it is quite slow but I knew I could still shoot the project, thing is I agreed to shoot a small video along with stills.. which my leica doesn’t do. I still had my lens left over from my canon and need to get a decent camera with quality video. Thankfully, my buddy Ben (Ben Camacho Photography // (IG) @bencamach0) let me borrow his camera for the day and I made it work.
A day prior to the shoot itself I got the camera but another problem arised, one of the models I had booked for the shoot needed to cancel and I was left with two models, which was a bummer but I had to deal with it since everyone else was booked for the day and my assistant canceled on me as well. The morning of the shoot Caits sister Rachael ended up modeling along with Maryann and Cait, she did great for it being her first time shooting. It was very last minute for her but we made it work.
80% of the images were shot with available light and some were shot with off camera flash off to a 45 degree angle off to the right not pictured here but will be up shortly.
Something that kept going on through my mind throughout the shoot and prior to it was something thats been on my mind lately, Ive been focused too much on what gear I have, since I keep seeing some of my peers upgrading and buying thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of gear and I keep asking myself I’m not in that situation myself, I sold my equipment because I wanted to simplify and see if I could still make equally as good images as I could without it. Right now I am using a camera that has been outdated since ‘09 (some would say even before then) but I am forcing myself to shoot with it for some time before I add more gear to my arsenal again. This shoot was definitely slower paced but I loved the results. I once dreamed of owning a leica and once I got it I hadn’t shot with it enough but in the last couple months Ive noticed I’ve grown even more accustomed to it and have shot it almost exclusively because it has no features at all compared to all the latest cameras, hell even a rebel camera is better than it if were talking about specs…manually doing everything just feels so intuitive, if it were up to me Id take the plunge and shoot film but my budget doesn’t allow for it right now.
Model - Maryann @mrynnjcksn
Jewelry - (IG) @gladglam_
Shot in studio, natural light with both Canon and Leica Cameras.
It had been a long day and me and Maryann along with Michael (her boyfriend) decided to get some lemonade to take a break and stepped back into the studio for another mini session that fits more our style which tends to be a little darker haha. No flash used, only available light, loved the outcome. I still have a lot to edit and post up from the previous shoot but these were quick and fun. Will post up the rest over the next couple days.
Caitlin Knox - IG @ caitknox
Shot on Leica / Canon Cameras.
I’ve never worked with Caitlin but we decided to have a test session in studio, I wanted to get to know each other a little and see how we worked together before shooting a lookbook with her for a local boutique.
The shoot itself didn’t take long and was super simple. One light set up on a soft box, usually around 45 degrees next to Cait.
Emily x Ruckus Apparel
@ emilyid (IG) // @ruckusapparel (IG)
Shot on Leica, one flash set-up.