How long have you been shooting for?
I graduated from LSU with a degree in photography in 2014, but I had been shooting everything around me for as long as I can remember before then. Let’s just say I’ve been doing it (for real) for about 10 years.
What made you decide to pick up a camera?
My dad is a photographer and used to have a small business doing it on the side when I was growing up, and my mom is really creative. I grew up just being interested in art in general. I loved to draw and I played the trumpet and guitar and danced. With my dad having cameras around, somehow I just started taking photos in the midst of all of that and never realized it could be something I could pursue professionally until I was about 16 or 17.
For you, what was the most challenging/difficult part of it?
I still have the same difficulties and challenges that I did when I first picked up a camera- learning how it works is a hurdle in itself but then conceptually just trying to find your style is a struggle. I’ll think I have it down one day but then the next I’ll see something a completely different way or learn something completely new. It’s an ever evolving trade both in the industry and within your own realm of knowledge.
You do a lot of commercial & minimalistic photography as well as concert photography as well. Which do you prefer to shoot most & why?
I LOVE concert photography. It is my most favorite thing in the world to shoot. It’s completely unpredictable and you get an adrenaline rush doing it that you don’t get taking photos of like, a plant on the side of the road haha. I do love the pedestrian quality of my iPhone though, so I take a ton of photos of random stuff just in my day to day life. Surprisingly, doing that and posting those types of photos on social media has lead me to book more commercial jobs or jobs with brands than anything else. Concert photography is my favorite, but as a small business owner it’s not the most lucrative part of my business (YET!!) unfortunately. So I have just tried to find ways to diversify what I do and still remain creative but in a way that benefits other brands or businesses and me at the same time.
What are your favorite type of concerts to shoot?
I love shooting a good ole fashioned rock concert. I love shooting heavier shows because I think there is an energy both in the bands and the crowds that is not like anything else. Shooting a DJ or a pianist or whatever else can give you more flexibility to compose your shot because they are in one spot the whole time, but I love the unpredictable quality of shooting a hardcore show where a crowd surfer might come flying over your head or the band might jump off of a platform. Those types of things make the best photos!
Has being a woman in your field been difficult on you? Have you dealt with any effects on sexism in your career?
I have a tendency to undercut myself sometimes when talking about what I do. I don’t know why, but I think as women sometimes we are just conditioned to be polite or not brag on ourselves too much. I think sometimes because I don’t talk about what I do confidently people don’t take me seriously whenever I’m doing it. Or because I don’t know a ton of stats about gear or all the words to the songs of the bands I’m shooting some other photographers (or fans) don’t think I’m worthy to be in the pit. I’ve learned to mind my business for the most part, but it can be frustrating sometimes when male photographers come at you with a pretentious attitude. I’ve definitely dealt with little remarks here and there from dudes in the pit or in the front row, and I had one weird slight-groping encounter during the first 3 songs from an older male photographer while I was shooting a band (my boyfriend was in the front row and it was really weird. You know when someone at a bar tries to move past you but they touch you unnecessarily while doing so? And they linger just a little too long? Yeah.) but for the most part I just mind my business and do what I do. Because I’d rather have someone go look up my work later and be like “oh wow this was that girl in the photo pit earlier? She actually knows what she’s doing.” I don’t need to stoop to their level and brag about what it is I’ve shot and show them all the photos I’ve taken that night or try to one up them about what gear it is we’re using. I’d rather just do my thing.
Describe your style & how you decided on it.
Something I always struggled with in college was “do I have a style? How do I get one?” I’ve always listened to older rock music and had an affinity for the aesthetic of photography, music, and clothes from the 60’s-70’s. I remember people telling me in college that they liked the way I worked with color. I did my senior thesis on polaroid emulsion lifts of photos from my family from the 60’s. Looking back this is all so easy to see, but as I was going I didn’t realize I was developing a style. I am obsessed with cohesive branding in both photography and graphic design, and it took me a long time to realize that I had a personal brand of my own. It can get weird sometimes because I’ll get into this mindset that boxes me in like “I CAN’T POST THAT IF IT’S NOT COHESIVE WITH MY BRAND!!” but at the end of the day I’m a creative and I forget that I can do whatever the heck that I want with my art. But no matter how much I experiment with stuff, it’ll probably always wind up being something colorful or something that has a retro flair because that’s just what I’m drawn to shooting and how I’m drawn to editing.
What other photographers are a big inspiration to you?
Oh wow I have a million of them!! I love the work of Neil Krug. He is someone I’ve always been inspired by. Also Gray Malin, he does great minimalist photos that are super colorful and from above beaches and ski lifts. They’re like these vast compositions of miniature things taken from up in the sky. There are a lot of people within the music scene that inspire me all of the time too! Kayla Surico, Penelope Martinez, and Anam Merchant are three woman photographers that all inspire me greatly. All three of them capture moments that I probably would have never noticed and then they edit them with such a powerful mood. I’m a big fan of Ashley Osborne’s work for the same reasons. There’s also this photographer in New Orleans, Patrick Melon, that I love. His work is mostly film but it’s all very pedestrian type moments that happen within the streets of New Orleans. He has a way of capturing the essence and the people of the city that might not otherwise be represented. His Instagram page astonishes me every day: @melontao