I’m embarking on a bit of a journey to learn more from and about my fellow photographers, some of them notable and some of them very much in the background like myself. I look forward to posting more of these as often as I can. Enjoy.
We’re starting with Shervin Lainez, a Brooklyn-based music photographer who has made a name for himself rather quickly in the community by working with clients like Regina Spektor, Metric, and Ra Ra Riot.
WORDS WITH SHERVIN LAINEZ
MC: What was your genuses for choosing photography as an artistic path?
SL: I have an impulse to photograph musicians. I’m really enamored with the process musicians go through and I have an endless amount of admiration for people who can create/write music.
Do you remember your first camera?
I’ve only ever had three cameras. My first was a Nikon D70 and I’ve been hooked on Nikon ever since.
Why music photography?
It’s an amazing way to see your photos travel all over the words being used in conjunction with an album - you really feel as though you are contributing to the music world.
Everyone in the photog circuit in New York seems to have landed here from somewhere. Can you tell us a bit about where you’re from and how you came to call the city that never sleeps home?
I’m from northern Virginia - went to school in DC. I started shooting bands in DC and came to find that the city was a bit too small for me. NYC made the most sense.
What are some of the major differences between your old photo community and the new?
There are just so many creative people and musicians here in Brooklyn - it’s hard to compare it to any city I’ve been to. The energy here is triple what it was in DC.
Did you have any odd-jobs or day jobs while you were building your new clientele from the ground-up?
I worked for a local ticketing company in DC for 6 months after college. I was fired. Day jobs were never easy for me.
What was your initial set-up like?
I have now exactly what I started with - two Pro-light strobes and one Nikon D800. One lens. It’s very minimal.
Do you remember your first gig in New York? How did it affect the road you set embarked upon?
I got to shoot a great band called They Might Be Giants almost immediately after moving here. it was surreal to start my time in such a huge city that way.
That leads us to your first big gig. Can you talk about how you landed it, what it was, and where it took you from there?
I think the first shoot i did that got a good amount of attention was for the band Metric - it let me to many other bands and helped my portfolio a lot when i started. I begged their publicist to put me in touch with the band.. after months and months she agreed and I set up a shoot with the band. It was quite fast, but the band used the photo for a year on their social networks which helped me a lot with name recognition.
Do you have any advice for young photogs just arriving in the city, maybe music photographers or artists in general?
I think the main advice i would give is to shoot as much as you can - be relentless about WHAT you want to shoot and narrow it down so that you can fine tune what you do. I think your identity as an artist should be very defined and clear. It helps a great deal to know exactly who you are as a creative person and what your intentions are.
What makes your work stand out, in your opinion? And as an owner of your own business, how do you conduct it to stand out?
I’m really not sure to be honest. I don’t really look at my work after it’s done - I tend to move on very quickly to the next thing. I think it’s not really my place to figure out what (if anything) is special about my work if that makes sense.
Do you have a representative or belong to an agency?
No! I have a business manager who takes care of the boring stuff - but I book everything myself. I have a great assistant/producer who organizes bigger shoots and plans. I am not interested in shooting for an agency.
What would you tell the younger Shervin?
This is a heavy question. I would tell younger Shervin so many things. the main thing would be to start sooner - i didn’t start taking photography seriously until I was 24. I’m 29 now. I would also tell him to learn more about his camera sooner - to be more technically minded.
What are you working on now and looking forward to working on in the future?
I’ve been working on a few video projects - I am also working on a photo book for next year!
What’s on your playlist right now?
Sharon Van Etten, The Antlers, St. Vincent, Fiona Apple, Arcade Fire… David Bowie…