Rickie McCanna

How long have you been doing photography for? 

I’ve been taking photos my entire life. I got my hands on a few Nikon Coolpix back in 2007-2008 (I was roughly 10 years old at the time). I took pictures of myself, my cat, my friends and really anything I thought was interesting. I would edit them using online software and would always crop them into squares, like Instagram does now. Over the years I got better and better and even completed higher education for photography. I did senior pictures and family portraits for a few years, then got hired on a Canadian magazine out of the blue and picked up a few shows. Then the publication downsized and I started a magazine called MNSTRM Media. Now I’m the manager and head photographer for the magazine and it’s something I’ve always wanted. I had big dreams back in ‘07, to do exactly what I do now. 

What made you want to pursue it? 

I’m not sure why I started taking photos, it’s something I’ve always done. I think about taking photos all the time, in my everyday life. I’ll see something and frame it in my head and imagine what settings I’d use without even having my camera on me. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t want to be a photographer. It really is a passion for me and I feel like it sets me apart from other photographers who only see it as a job. 

What’s the most difficult part of your career been so far? 

Time. 

Starting my own music publication was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, so far. I didn’t have a lot of help and it took me nearly a year to get my shit together. I have a day job on top of all of this along with a family, promotional jobs and a portrait business. I feel like a lot of photographers I know only shoot shows and get to devote all of their time to it and I am so jealous. I’ll spend 8 hours at work only to come home and sit down at my computer and work another 4 on the mag, then 2 on some portraits and then try and take a moment to kiss my husband goodnight. Occasionally I’ll get overwhelmed and upset, but I love doing it so much I don’t even think about it. I just wish there were 26 hours in a day, or even 25. 

Do you have favorite show you’ve shot? What is it? 

I have so many. I’ve shot some of my dream artists in the past year such as Korn, Mac Miller, Beartooth, Startset and even Alice Cooper. Alice Cooper was probably one of my most favorites because his theatrical performance is insane and he’s also nothing short of a legend. Korn is another one that’s up there because I remember driving home that night and crying because I realized I just shot KORN. I just remember thinking, “I was two feet away from them, and they WANTED me to be there”. That was the night I realized I was finally a music photographer: my dream job since day one. 

Is there a show you’d love to shoot again? 

I’d love to shoot Beartooth with Every Time I Die at Express Live in Columbus again. That was one of dream shows and I honestly wasn’t completely satisfied with my photos. I was with one my best friends that night and we we’re both so happy just to be there, regardless of what was going on in the outside world. That’s really what concerts are about. 

How would you describe your personal style? 

I shoot on a 50mm all day every day mainly because I love clean and simple portraits. A lot of my photos are silhouettes, or up close and clean shots. In post I use a lot of matte presets, or I fade them and I’m actually working on some custom presets that really reflect my style right now. Every photo is different and I go back and forth a lot on what I think makes a good photo. I think if you look at one of my photos you can definitely tell I don’t stray too far from my aesthetic. 

Has being a woman in your field been difficult for you? Have you dealt with any effects on sexism in your career? How did you handle it? 

Nothing too dramatic personally, but I’ve heard horror stories from some of my music gals. I’ve been told by a few people inside a label that I get approved for shows more than most because I have an androgynous name. I’m also addressed as “Mr.” in a lot of emails and have contemplated signing my emails as Mrs. Rickie McCanna to avoid the conversation all together. If my first name was Raquel or Regina or something I would just sign as that, but my dad decided to give me a nickname as a real name, haha. 

But in all seriousness I try to not think about it too much and try to just see the good in people. I love organizations such as GBTRS and Safer Scene who put so much effort into solving these problems. I think we’re going to look back on this 20 years from now and think, “we didn’t take girls on tours?” or “why does it matter if you’re girl?”. Someday people won’t see as a woman, or a man, but just as a human. I wish the best for everyone. 

What other photographers have had a big impact on you? 

I don’t look up to anyone specifically, but I have so many friends I’ve made in this industry. My best friend Ashley is someone I’ll always think of when I think back to this time. She’s gone to so many shows with me over the years and I feel so out of place when I’m at a concert without her. We know everything about each other and we’ve both helped out so much over the years. 

Best work you’ve ever done? 

I’m convinced I peaked at Alice Cooper. I keep thinking back to those photos specifically. 

Any advice for aspiring photographers? 

Don’t throw in the towel when something doesn’t work out. I see so many of my friends want to quit just because they don’t get into shows. It’s something that’s going to happen so many times to you over the course of your career and it’s just part of the job. There’s always next year, or next month or even tomorrow. You can’t compare yourselves to others. 

P.S. Don’t be a dick.