Duration: 4 and a half years.
Location: Los Angeles, CA.
Education: BA in English from University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA.
Career path: I didn’t major in photography or art history, but I took film classes in college and was always documenting everything. I got my first DSLR as a graduation gift from my mom, and the launch of the iPhone completely changed how I documented life—I could not stop taking photos! I moved to San Francisco after college and worked in the tech industry, dabbling in different fields along the way. My passion for photography eventually led me to fill a community management role at Instagram a few months after it launched in 2010.
After working there for almost two years, I noticed that a lot of brand profiles were padded with highly polished, traditional commercial images that felt out of place and around the same time, I started receiving requests from companies to create photos in exchange for low-value goods or experiences, instead of being paid the proper amount—this felt like an obvious exploitation of artists on Instagram. Soon after, I learned about Tinker Street*, an agency that was forming to establish standard for the value of commercial photography work on social media. Joining Tinker Street* was an incredible opportunity that shifted my career path in a direction I wasn’t really expecting. My agent, Jesse Miller, helped me shape my visual style into what it is today. It feels good to be signed to an agency that continues to make sure artists are valued appropriately.
Artistic influences: James Turrell’s use of color, geometric shapes and space have greatly impacted my work. I also admire how William Eggleston documented timeless and simple moments that continue to resonate with viewers decades later. These elements subconsciously play a role in my approach to photography.
Favorite projects: I worked with Google on a commercial for a #teampixel campaign that launched this past June in honor of Pride Month. The commercial features several monochromatic portraits I took of LGBTQ+ community members in Los Angeles, alongside Pixel photos and videos from photographers around the world. I’m a queer photographer, so documenting people in my community was extremely important to me. Instead of hiring models, I reached out to friends and others in my network. It felt pretty damn good to see people who are often marginalized, underrepresented and underpaid being represented, compensated and celebrated.
Work environment: I have a home office that I don’t spend enough time in. I’d much rather be exploring Los Angeles and the world with my camera. I spend a lot of time photographing with my friends and peers who have also had a huge impact on my work. Since moving to Los Angeles four years ago, I’ve surrounded myself with incredibly talented women like Emily Blincoe, Becki Chernoff, Alexa Nikol Curran, Lauren Randolph, Anita Sarkeesian and Jamie Varon, to name a few.
Approach: Clients are drawn to my use of vibrant colors, movement and bright natural light in my lifestyle work; but, more important is, I have a lot of experience with producing my own work, coming up with concepts for the client and carefully considering how my work will resonate with various audiences. Looking back, I’m really grateful that I’ve had hands-on experience with every element of a shoot. Because of this, I can easily connect with the producers I work with and fold the elements of my style into a brand’s campaign concept.
Aspirations: The majority of my work is social media based, which is wonderful because there’s so much creative freedom there. After working with Focus Features and Warner Bros. this past year, I would love to do more behind-the-scenes work for the entertainment industry—like film, television, awards ceremonies, etc.—within the next five years.
Philosophy: Know your worth! It’s so easy to doubt yourself as an artist, but instead, advocate for yourself as an artist. I’m not always in a position to say no, but after years of practice, I know how and when to pass if an offer doesn’t reflect the value of my work.