Saturday, November 22, 2014


by Jamie Goodsell
All images © Chad Kamenshine
website •
website •

I couldn't even dream up all of the experiences and opportunities that I've had so far taking pictures. Having a camera has really taken me on an amazing journey so far, and I've been fortunate enough to meet some truly wonderful human beings along the way. Seeing what a camera can do for anyone with drive and talent puts everything in perspective. I met Chad Kamenshine at Bonnaroo last year. We had a mutual friend in New York (that's also a music photographer), we started talking about our careers and what we were up to, what direction we felt like we were going in, and what we were excited about at the time. Everything was very natural with Chad and I think it's because he's such a genuine guy and really cares about the creative process. When I was talking to him for the first time, I could tell that he was a super dedicated individual without even knowing him. Recently, I saw a portrait he did of The Smoke Fairies,  and I remember thinking that it was a very different way to photograph them. When I saw that image, I felt like he was really coming into his own as a portrait photographer, and finding his own path to standing out amongst the thousands of photographers out there. I'm honored to have him be a part of my interview series. 


Where are you from? Where did you grow up? 
I'm a native New Yorker. I grew up in this area called Marine Park, which is pretty much on the opposite end of where everything's happening in Brooklyn. 

Did you grow up in a creative family? 
Kind of, my grandfather liked to draw and my mom liked to paint. My grandfather used to take photos of all of our family vacations and I used to get annoyed by it. I was like, "What are you doing, why are you always taking photos?" and now I understand why. 

What got you into photography? 
There were a few things that came together at the same time and that's when I started shooting. They did this battle of the bands thing during the summer at the park I grew up next to and a couple of the people I used to play hockey with were in a band. They invited me to come see them play and after that show we formed this connection and friendship. I just started going to their shows after that and began shooting them without knowing or thinking anything. We had this relationship for four or five years and I ended up doing all of their online web stuff, photography stuff, some video stuff, one of the guys married my sister…I just showed up to this thing and then it ended up bleeding into the photography thing, and that ended up creating this whole other life for me just from that one random encounter. That was the first phase of my photography.

So where did you learn the basics? (i.e. aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc.) 
After that whole band thing, I decided to stop shooting for a couple of years. The second phase of my photography was when I was seeing this girl and she kept pushing me to start shooting again. She had another friend that was a photographer and she would get us to hang out with the intentions of him kind of being like, "Come on man, just bring your camera to Central Park" or whatever. I brought out my camera and that's when I started to get the itch again. I would always shoot manual because it allows you to do what you want to do. I felt like with manual you could get the photos the way you intended. I learned from that guy and mostly from trial and error. 

Who are some of your most influential New York photographers? 
People ask me about that and I feel bad because I never really looked at anyone else's stuff. Even to this day, I don't really look at anyone else's live music stuff. I kind of equate it to like when someone's recording an album and you're like, "Hey man, what have you been listening to lately?" and they say "I haven't been listening to anything because I don't wanna be influenced by anything else. I'm just focusing on what I'm doing."

Portraits are a completely different thing though. I do look at other people's portrait work for inspiration. I have a folder where I keep all of my photography inspiration for portraits. Whether it's cool lighting, the position of the person, the lay out of the band, all of that stuff. I'll go through other people's work just because portrait photography - that's a whole other art. I've only been doing it for like five months for real and it's been insane since I got a break where everyone has been asking me to do more portraits. If I come across a portrait of an artist or band that I really love, I'll look up the photographer and go through their entire body of work. That gives me a greater appreciation of that person's vision and it allows me to understand their style as a whole.

The funny thing that I've been experiencing lately, is doing portraits of a band and then having them be surprised when they find out I'm also shooting their show later that night. Is there this thing where a lot of band portrait photographers don't shoot live music? I find that funny because for me, the portrait and the live is like the grand vision right? This is how I see the band live and this is how I see the band as a portrait. To be able to do both of them is amazing. 


Do you ever check out any of the photo galleries in New York?
Yeah, my friend John came to visit (who's another photographer) and one of my closest friends. We went gallery hopping yesterday and went to the Morrison Hotel GalleryJohn Varvatos (which is the old CBGBs), there was a mini gallery alongside the walls that was a part of the Rock Paper Photo company. There was a photo of Eddie Vedder at MTV unplugged by Kevin Mazur where he had that writing on his arm and just seeing that photo was so amazing. It wasn't about the technical aspects of them, it was more about the icons being documented. I don't feel that things are captured that way anymore. It just felt like there was this personal connection with the photographer and these iconic artists, no matter how big they were. I feel like now everyone is so heavily guarded and that it's all about perfection (or what they think is perfection) but it's actually very generic and cold. 

Do you contact bands that you want to shoot or is all of your stuff assignment driven? 
I have The Artistree, which is me and my two other close friends. It's a micro publication that we started five or six years ago. That was what really got me back into photography again. Kat said to me one day, "Hey my friend Mike is moving to New York from L.A. and he's always wanted to start a music website, do you want to start shooting again?" So we had one of my friends design the website and before it was even live I just started emailing publicists asking them if I could shoot live shows. People were saying yes, so I kept contacting them over and over which gave The Artistree its starting point. 

I would say the past five months, I've been actually contacting the bands directly. I've been skipping the publicist. Sometimes publicists don't really care unless it's for a bigger publication. They'll say things like, "We're not doing any press at this time," so I'll just hit up the band and be like, "Hey are you down to do portraits next time you're in New York?" Pretty much every time, they're into it and say yes. Now I've been doing a lot of work for music labels, so instead of contacting publicists, they've been reaching out to me now to set up shoots for the bands or a magazine that the band is gonna be in. Now everything has turned to where they're contacting me for work. 

Let's talk about the process. Give us some insight into your location scouting, preparation, and direction with music photography. 

Location Scouting - It seems like every shoot I do on location, I'm told about only a day before. I did a shoot with this band Ume, and I got to where we were supposed to meet up an hour before hand to check out a few places in the surrounding area. I wanted to find something that was visually really cool. I opened up Google Maps or Yelp and I found this really amazing retro candy store and an arcade. I'll also go into different places and ask, "Would you mind if I do a shoot in here?" Most people would be surprised that just by asking, how many people actually say yes. Another good way to location scout is to use Google Earth. It gives you a fly over, so you can zoom in and zoom out (maybe you could see a cool alley way or something). I'll plot points and then go check out the place in person. 

Preparation - The first thing is an email. How can I tell this publicist, manager, or artist in a professional manner that I want to photograph them so they'll want to do it? The publicists are obviously the gate keepers of everything, so it's up to them whether or not it happens. When I email someone about doing a shoot, I have to pitch them an idea. I'll just send a quick two sentence thing saying, "Hey would so and so and you be interested in collaborating on this shoot next time you're in New York?" here's a link to my work. Hopefully I'll get a positive response and then we can start talking about when and where to meet. The only time an email thread can get crazy is when a budget is brought up and that could go anywhere. Once you get past the email, everything else is pretty easy. 

Direction - When I do a photo shoot, it's more like I'm going to hang out with a friend. I'm just a ridiculous human being that wants to have fun. The final product of the images are very important to me, I care a lot about it. The process of the shoot has to be fun and loose. So when I meet up with a band for the first time I'll talk to them as if I was out with you and I met your friends. Just talk to them about themselves and what they're up to. You have to build a friendly rapport between the two of you. 

So during the shoot, I'm studying their body movements and habits because everyone has these habits right? Some people slouch over, some people will tilt their head like they're The Exorcist or something…so I'm trying to pick up on all of that stuff. I just talk to them about the most random shit. It could be about other artists' music, their experience in New York, or their favorite places to eat because I also want to get to know who these people are. The whole portrait thing is about connecting with people beyond just a photograph. I could be making a life-long friend, you never know. So as we're talking about all this regular life stuff, they start to loosen up and they start to forget that they're getting photographed. They're not posing for the camera anymore, they're just having fun. 

Then once I see that they're comfortable enough to really take photos, that's when I'll start to direct them more specifically and build up from there. It's an interesting thing because I think most of the stuff with portrait photography is all psychology. It's all about getting this person comfortable enough to just let go and do whatever your vision is. If you can connect with them on a personal level in some sort of way, they'll do anything. I used to be very hesitant when it came to direction because I didn't want to seem bossy or pushy. Something that a lot of bands tell me is that they have no idea what they're doing, so telling them what to do is the best thing you can do. You have to let them know what your vision is because they don't know what you want them to do unless you let them know, right? If you then show them a photo from the process, they get even more excited about it. So I think the number one thing with shoots and with life in general is communication. 

Why did you choose this path for your life? 
The reason I decided I wanted to do this for my life, is because of the connections that go beyond the shoot. You can have a conversation with an artist in the studio and then when the shoot is over they could invite you out to eat or they could get your number to meet up later. You end up becoming friends with all of these people that you normally wouldn't meet. That's why I'm so comfortable doing this, because to me it's just one big hang out. It's one big social thing and the more that you do it, the more people you meet. When I shoot, I feel like a kid because I'm doing what I wanna do. As photographers, we're all on these solo missions. We know what we want, we're doing it and we're getting results from it. 

What do you think the most important aspect of a band photo should be? 
I think it should come across as natural as possible and it should translate what the band means to you and looks like through your eyes. You should put your stamp on it, but it should still convey who they are. 

Tell me about the Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp-Muhl shot. 
I showed up to the Bowery Ballroom and I found this little cove with a window next to it. It was in the summer and the sun was coming right through it. The two of them came up to the second level and they were so excited to do the shoot. They were super sweet and were complimenting how I dressed. So I placed them in the cove area and I sat across from them. I didn't have to say anything, as soon as I picked up my camera she was doing that pose and modifying it as we went along. They were both asking me questions about my camera and he was geeking out about it. The shoot was maybe ten minutes and it was probably one of the easiest shoots I've ever done because they were into it and they were happy to do it. She's a model, they're a couple and them being a couple obviously the chemistry was very natural. Her outfit is visually really cool, with those pants she was wearing…they look like they're running through the photo. I was really impressed with her too, because she asked me if I was going to be shooting with ambient light. As much as I love flash (and I've been using it a lot recently), for a lot of situations I just love natural light. 

What influenced you to start using more flash and gels in your work? 
It started with The Smoke Fairies shoot. I decided to try and shoot it as if it was a live show. When you shoot live shows there's amazing colors, (blues, purples, reds) and when they mix, it creates this gorgeous light. I used two speedlites, one with a red gel and one with a blue gel. When they went off, I just tried to make them merge where the two girls were. The mix of the colors with their white outfits really made those photos pretty awesome. When I was done with those portraits, I felt like I had gotten exactly what I wanted because I did portraits of them that they don't have. They were really sweet. I would love to work with them again.

Is there any money in music photography? 
This is something very interesting because when I talk to other photographers, the first thing I hear all of the time is, "There's no money to be made." As far as publications go (especially in the past year) a lot of them are cutting down on photography. Some publications used to throw a lot of money towards photography and now they don't. It's kind of fucked up because if you look online (especially with Instagram and Twitter), it's all about visual. When everything's about visual, how could you cut down on photo? The truth is that even though everything is photo-centric, the value has gone down it seems. So the publications have cut down except for the bigger publications like Billboard or Rolling Stone that have print. If you're looking through someones photo book, if something is of poor quality, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Because everything's online now, you can see that they just want the photos up there and they don't really care about the quality. 

So you're saying, don't try and rely on publications to put a roof over your head?
If you're relying on publications to be your number one source of income, that's a very hard thing to do. Unless you're shooting for six publications for real, you're not going to make a lot of money. For me personally, I love shooting for other publications but there has to be a good relationship with them. Like with SPIN for instance, I have an amazing relationship with the photo editors there. They appreciate my work and being able to work alongside them has been incredible. If you wanna make money, I think the best way to really do it is to build a relationship with a label or a PR company. That's where you could get a decent flow of income. If they like your work and you do a good shoot with them, they'll keep coming back to you because they don't wanna go look for another photographer, they wanna build a relationship with one or two photographers that they trust. Publications are the same way, they'll have two photographers that they trust and will want to use all of the time but they're cutting down on live coverage or they're not paying at all. You can't really rely on them, unless it's the big two. 

How did you get involved with SPIN?  
The Horrors were playing a secret show at Webster Hall, so I contacted them and got on the list to shoot it for The Artistree. After that show I felt like I really wanted to shoot for a bigger publication, so I emailed SPIN. About 15 minutes later, the photo editor emailed me back and asked me if they could use one of my photos in the next issue for the iPad. I didn't hear anything from them for months. One day I was sitting at home doing my day job and I was miserable, I was thinking to myself, "Man I would love to do photography as my main gig, I just hate sitting in front of a computer"…there's no interaction, there's no experiences being gained, it's just being a robot, like in The Terminator

I was really down that day and was getting ready to head into the city to go check out my friends band. When I go to hop on the train, I get a call from an unknown number (and I never pick up for unknown numbers), so I picked up and the person said, "Hey this is so and so from SPIN, we were wondering if you'd be interested in going on an assignment for us." I said, "Sure" and she said, "We'll fly you out and we'll put you in a hotel." I was thinking it was going to be a New York assignment, so I was like, "Where the hell am I going?" [laughs] . She said, "You're going to Alabama for Hang Out Fest." That was my first and best experience with SPIN. That was incredible. 

Tell me about your recent shoot with Deerhoof
Yeah, they're amazing people. We did a shoot in my studio and a couple of different locations. At the end of the day, we were all tired but next to my studio there's another room. It's a business that resells books for Amazon and I always wanted to do a shoot in there, so I decided to just put them in this room and see what would happen. I used one light and grabbed a ladder. I had Satomi reaching for a book. There was all of this random crap in the book section, like a basketball…which had no business of being there. I gave John the basketball and said, "Ok, come at me like you're kind of dunking on my face" and then Greg had these lemons with him…I don't know why the fuck he brought lemons but I told him to stare at them like he loved them. I think I was watching old school WWF matches on YouTube the day before, so I told Ed, "You're gonna pick up this chair like you're gonna give Greg a head shot!" So I had them all positioned like that and I took two photos, looked at the second one and knew I had it. No matter who it is, it could be a person with the strongest personality who isn't showing emotion…you have to treat everyone like a kid. Everyone wants to laugh and so you have to get there. That's how the Deerhoof shoot was. 

What's one of the most meaningful images that you've taken? 
The photo studio I got is in this old warehouse and the stairs leading up to the fourth floor are really gross. I was thinking, "How am I gonna have a famous person coming to this disgusting place?" The space itself is great, you can do some cool stuff in there. It was bad, I had it for about three months (this was last summer) and I was traveling in and out. I was doing Bonnaroo, Firefly, etc. I wasn't booking anything and no one was reaching out. I'm thinking this place is disgusting and I'm not getting anyone in here to shoot, even for free. 

The lease was running out at the end of October and I was ready to just give up. A week before the lease ran out, my parents asked to come see the space. I'm thinking, "Oh no, what are they going to think of this disgusting place, they're probably gonna walk in and then walk right back out." So we're walking up the stairs and I'm seeing all of the dust and grime everywhere wondering what they must be thinking. We get to the fourth floor and as soon as they walk in, they say "Oh my God, this is yours?" Their reaction was the complete opposite of what I thought it was going to be. I was kind of emotional about that because here I was picking it apart in my head and my parents had the complete opposite feeling about the space and were saying how much I could do with it. 

I decided to set up some lights and take their photograph. It was the first real photo shoot I did in that space. When I was setting up, I heard the two of them talking about how proud they were and that they couldn't believe it. I put them against a black seamless and said, "Just act like the two of you love each other." They were laughing and so excited about it, and we had this experience together. After that day, it just changed everything in regards to the studio. I decided to keep it and work through the bad times. That image has a significant meaning - both personally and professionally. They looked like two young kids connecting and I just never saw them in that light before, so that photo is definitely pretty amazing. 

What have you been listening to lately? 
I've fallen in love with Banks recently. I saw her live here in New York and thought she was incredible. I've also been listening to this band Deers, they put out a couple of singles and they're really good…and White Lung also - they're sick.

Check out more of Chad's portfolio here:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


by Jamie Goodsell
All images © Pat Blashill
website •

I always try and keep up with Light In The Attic Records because they have a "no bullshit" policy when it comes to putting out a release. They've just reissued a couple of Big Boys records, who were Austin's hometown heroes in the early 1980s and I highly suggest giving yourself a heavy dose of this punk/funk/skate-rock! There was a Q&A with a photographer named Pat Blashill on their site recently and they used his images for the Big Boys' reissues. I looked further into Pat's work and I was pretty blown away. For me, it wasn't even just the big names that he had in his portfolio, it was more about his image quality. I don't mean technically, I mean emotionally. His compositions are always super strong, his lighting style is natural and to the point, but most importantly his subjects are comfortable and totally genuine. I could tell by looking at Pat's images that he had a real working knowledge of photography and humanity. He's definitely become one of my new favorites and I hope you enjoy hearing him talk about some of his experiences and ideas. 


Where are you from originally? 
I'm a Texan. I was born and raised in Austin. 

What was it like growing up there? 
I just saw Richard Linklater's new movie Boyhood the other night and I really loved it. It captures a little bit of Texas in that movie. I also think Slacker and Dazed and Confused capture a little bit of what it was like. It's the most progressive city in Texas, probably…I distinctly remember having racist friends and thinking...that it was fucked up. This is, I'm talking third grade here, second grade. By the time I got to junior high, I was listening to mostly hard rock and I fell in with the "hippie/stoner" crowd…from there I started listening to sort of the beginning of new wave and then I met people who were into punk. I didn't really hear punk for a long time, I didn't really hear the Sex Pistols record for a long time. 

I heard Never Mind The Bollocks around '83 or something. I actually think I had heard punk rock but it was by hearing live bands in Austin. By the time I started college, I was going to night clubs and then I saw and heard punk rock but I didn't really know that it was actually more punk than the Sex Pistols. When I finally heard the Sex Pistols, I thought...that's kind of conservative, because I'd seen the Big Boys. 

I was just hanging out and taking some photos of Tim recently, did he hook it up with the LITA releases? 
Tim's an amazing person, you know? Over the years (since the punk rock times…the last thirty years or so), occasionally Tim has gotten in touch with me and helped me to get my pictures placed in certain places. He's done me a few favors, hooking me up with people and this was just another one of those where he got in touch with me and then I got in touch with the label. 

What kind of things are involved with licensing your images with a bigger label?
It's different with each job, label, magazine or whatever but I studied photojournalism in school and that was my intended profession. So I learned a little bit about doing business there but I also learned about taking pictures and taking good pictures. In the years that I've sold pictures to people, it's different with each deal but I would say the best thing is to get a contract where they write down the terms of the deal on paper. Since I am older, I did come out of that pre-internet/pre-download time, I feel like I should be paid for my images. I feel like I should get some money when somebody uses them and certainly in print or on a record. 

The Big Boys project was such a cool thing and, to be honest with you, Tim Kerr is sort of like the punk rock godfather in Austin. If you go to your godfather for a favor he'll grant you a favor but when he asks you to repay the favor, you've gotta do it. You do a favor for your godfather and that's how I see Tim. He was working on this project with Chris Gates…and I thought it was sort of a cool thing to do partly for them. 

What are some other records your photos have been on? 
Sonic Youth has used several of my photos on reissues of their records. A great portrait series that I did of them is inside of their reissue of Daydream Nation. Also, they've used pictures of mine on their reissue of Goo and then there was that recent live album that they did. I think it's on Steve Shelley's label, so it's a smaller release but they used my pictures on the front and the back and some more on the inside of that record. I think back in the day I had pictures on the inside of a Dinosaur Jr. album and a Pussy Galore record, maybe a few other things but those are the big ones that I can think of. 

Did your parent's give you a camera? 
Yeah my dad was kind of an amateur photographer and he made a point to give us boys a camera to use. I think my brothers liked it but I really liked it probably more and my father actually told me once (after I had become a photographer), "I remember seeing your pictures when you were a kid and they were really good." 

Can you tell us a little bit about your education? 
I was kind of self-educated before I went to college. I just started taking pictures when I was a kid, using an Instamatic and a small camera. I just liked it but I didn't really think about it too much. So I was kind of interested in it and when I got to high school I took a photography class where I learned how to work in the darkroom. I was shooting for the high school yearbook and I just liked it, so I kept doing it. I thought at that time that it could be something I could do for a living, so that's why I studied it at the University of Texas. 

But even as soon as high school, I started to look at photo books by photographers and that's really where I think I learned to do the most important stuff. I learned how to compose pictures and how to think about seeing something in an interesting way. I looked at so many pictures, I loved Robert Frank and Man Ray. I looked at so many pictures that I got used to thinking about taking different kinds of pictures. 


It's really amazing how much you can learn by just looking at someone else's work. 
Sure, and asking yourself…"why do I like this picture?" I always tell people that if they're interested in learning about photography, I tell them that's one thing they should do...maybe the most important thing they should do. In school you get a lot of focus on technique and how to do this and that…I just don't think that shit's important. I think there's way too much focus on technical skills and not enough on really trying to do the right thing with a camera.
You know, how to interact with the subject in a responsible and interesting way, be really engaged with them instead of just trying to grab a shot and then leave. 

So what happened after college? 
At the same time I was really learning how to use a camera in a little bit more sophisticated way in terms of the way I shot, I was also getting involved in the music scene and hearing live bands. I hadn't really been to concerts where you could stand in the audience and watch a band ten feet away and then when they were finished, they'd walk off the stage and you could go over and say to them, "Hey that was really cool" and the drummer or the guitar player would say, "thanks." It didn't really happen for me until I went to the night clubs and those clubs were punk clubs, so I learned that bands are real people and that you can actually talk to them. I started to go to one of the first punk clubs in Austin, and actually my best friend was the first drummer for the Big Boys so that's how I saw them first and also how I started going to this club Raul's. It was pretty much the first club in Austin where you could go hear new wave or punk rock. 

Was it named after the owner? 
No, I don't know where Raul came from…the guy that ran the place was named Joseph Gonzalez, he was a Mexican-American fella and he was great. I actually think I found a picture of Joseph which is good because I don't ever remember shooting him but it's good that I have it - kind of psyched about that. Raul's was very important; Duke's Royal Coach was another place…Club Foot was important also. Over the years places would open and close real quickly depending on how many nazi-skinheads showed up and fucked up the show. 

How did you get access to some of those bands back then…how did it start? 
In Austin, I was really photographing my friends and friends of friends. The bands that I would see, I was photographing. Sometimes I would photograph them live and then if they saw me taking pictures of them live, they might wanna see the pictures later. I just kept doing that in Austin and just made friends with people. I really wanted to photograph the people that I thought were interesting, it just happened that a lot of them turned out to be in pretty good bands. I was really in the right place at the right time, but I would just kind of insist on taking their photos. I would say, "Can I come over sometime and take a picture of you at your house?" And then somebody like Tim was nice enough to let me do that even though they had no idea what the pictures were going to be for or if anybody would ever see them again. 

How was your experience with the Butthole Surfers? 
The Butthole Surfers were pretty interesting from the very beginning. I started photographing them and a friend of mine knew Gibby (the singer). I don't know how it happened but he said he wanted to come see some of the pictures I had taken of them. I distinctly remember being really excited to show him my pictures. He came over to where I worked and looked at them and said something like, "these aren't very good" or "these are shitty" or something and I felt terrible. That was my first encounter with him. Eventually, looking back I realized the pictures that I showed him at that first meeting certainly weren't as good as I became. Eventually I took pictures of them that they did like and that I liked quite a bit. He was sort of right, the first pictures I showed him were just ok but not great. 

When you asked these people, did you ever put any pressure on yourself? 
I don't remember ever feeling nervous about it, I had started shooting so much in school and not just music, I was shooting out in the streets, and taking pictures of almost anything that I thought looked cool or interesting. Taking pictures just became very easy for me and I think when I was photographing people, the only thing that I remember about situations like that is that I'm going to someone's house and I should be respectful. You know, try not to get too drunk or knock anything over, and I felt like I was going into somebody's house and into their space so I should just be upstanding and not act like a hillbilly. 

Later on, I started photographing people that I didn't know personally. I photographed lots of bands and got assignments to photograph them or said I had an assignment, even if I didn't really. That was a little different, like photographing somebody like Ice Cube at a press conference. I just kind of bluffed my way into it and I used the same kind of idea…just trying to be respectful. 

What was it like photographing Ice Cube!? 
I literally had like two or three minutes at the most at this press conference he did, so I knew the publicist and asked if I could have a shot of him. It was really just a very quick thing…he's kind of scowling in the pictures but he was very polite and he didn't have any problem with me taking his picture. We didn't have a big conversation but most of the people I photograph are super accommodating. 

Was window light something you used often? 
Almost always. That was my big trick…if I had somebody for only a few minutes in a hotel room or whatever, I'd just move them over close to the window. I never really used a lot of artificial light. In my punk rock days when I was shooting at night in a club, I was usually using a flash and that's a very harsh but simple form of lighting. When I was doing portraits, I tried to get people during the day with natural light. 

Was that an aesthetic choice? 
Not really, it was just the simplest thing. It was the simplest, fastest thing that I knew how to do and I could do it with Tri-X film and it was easy. 

Were there a lot of good photographers on the scene at that time? 
There were a few photographers on the scene that I thought were really good. One of them was Bill Daniel or "Photo Bill." He's got some pictures up on the web now and he's a fantastic photographer. 


One of the things I noticed about your photographs…no matter who's in the image, (whether it's somebody famous or not) you're able to capture emotions and their personalities really well. The compositions are always really strong and I thought, "how is this guy interacting with his subjects?"
First of all, thanks a lot. Thanks for those words, I appreciate that. That's a nice way of looking at my pictures. I think it is hard to describe how you engage with somebody and I don't know if I could really explain it except that I hit on it earlier with just trying to be respectful. I learned early on by going to punk rock clubs that even scary looking people deserve a chance to present themselves and deserve a chance to speak. They deserve to be taken seriously. A lot of the time if a person looks scary, they're not actually a scary person…they might be very rough, they might be somebody that's had a really tough life but if you talk to them, and respect them then they can start to trust you and give you a little respect back. 

When I look at other people's photographs, sometimes a photographer looks like they have a very confrontational or maybe even an exploitive attitude towards their subjects because the subjects don't look comfortable. I think when you see a good photographer's work, the people in the photos not only look comfortable but you get the feeling that the photographer wasn't even completely there. They look so natural, like they could be looking in a mirror. I think that's what I was striving for. 

There are a couple of images on your site that stood out for me and I'd really like to hear about them. The first one is entitled "Karla." 
Karla was kind of the scene queen in Austin. It was taken literally in the stairwell of a co-op or a boarding house where I lived at UT. Karla was just a beautiful girl, you know? We all thought she was just beautiful to look at and she sang for a couple of bands…she's not a big girl, she's kind of a skinny, delicate woman to look at physically but she had this presence that was very intimidating. I photographed a few of the women on the scene but Karla was very tough and very cool. I felt like she was just a beautiful person. I'm glad I have pictures of people that didn't play in bands because now I have more of a complete picture of the Austin scene. 

The other image I wanted to ask you about is entitled, "Cordell Jackson." 
She was an early rockabilly musician and producer, she recorded a few famous people, made a few singles, and it was just a crazy story that this woman was involved in this ultra-hip/rebellious scene. She was interacting with people like Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, I mean she was of that generation. My friend Dan decided that he wanted to make a video of her because she was gonna release a single again after like 30 years, so he asked me to come along to Memphis. She was quite an energetic person, I think she had found god but she wasn't really proselytizing, she still sort of seemed like a person that judged other people by who they were instead of how they looked. 

How did you get the opportunity to photograph the Ramones? 
I met a couple of people in the music industry in New York and I ended up starting to get assignments with this guy named Simon Reynolds. Simon has done a lot of really cool books about music. He would come over to New York from London and do stories for Melody Maker. He needed a photographer when he came over for these trips for his interviews and I was lucky enough to be introduced to him. He gave me a call and I started doing pictures for him. 

That Ramones photo was for Melody Maker, but not for Simon, because after he started using me for pictures, another guy named Everett True started using me because he'd seen my work. It wasn't a full day, I was maybe with them for an hour or so…I didn't know that much about them really except that Joey and Johnny were like the main guys. I knew the fact that C.J. was with them meant that it wasn't exactly the same group and Dee Dee had been super important. They were cordial to me and I later found out that Johnny and Joey weren't really talking to each other. It was like grunts and from what I've read there was always a lot of animosity between those two and they kind of had different world views. On that day I can only say that they weren't really talking to each other much and in one of the pictures you can see them walking and laughing but they were fairly serious, they didn't goof off too much. 

What band would you say was the most difficult to photograph? 
I saw that question on your list and I honestly can't think of anybody that was difficult. The Pixies were not so hard to photograph but interviewing them was just a nightmare. I tried to interview the Pixies and it was really foolish that I tried to interview them all together. I should have known that was wrong and never did that again. They just didn't wanna say shit. At the time I was taking pictures and also writing...eventually I started to become more of a writer than a photographer. I started to have more success and worked for a fancy magazine and was paid very well to do interviews. I stopped doing the pictures around that time because I couldn't really do both. 

How long were you taking pictures for? 
I would say that I started in Austin around 1980 but I didn't start to get very good until around '82 or '83. I photographed in Austin until I moved to New York in '87. Then I was taking pictures in New York both for assignments and magazines but also just for myself. I continued to photograph people and bands in New York until about '91 or so, and that's when the writing became so much more demanding that I had to put the camera down to focus on raking in the big bucks as a magazine writer. 

I think that was one of my biggest questions, looking at all of these great images and then the guy just stops? I'm glad there was a positive reason. 
I never really stopped taking pictures, I've continued to shoot in the street and of course now that I have a family I take lots of pictures of them. So yeah, I never really stopped taking pictures…I just didn't do the music stuff after about '96. It was also because at that point I wasn't really friends with the bands, I kind of lost that social interaction in that scene and I think that affects the picture. 

What format were you using back then and did it change over time? Did you ever go digital? 
Yeah, I use a digital camera now and I do a lot of grab shots with my iPhone. I think that's a reasonably good camera for quickies. I mostly learned how to use Tri-X film, develop it myself, print it myself, and when I started shooting concert images I would use Fujichrome. I always used very simple equipment too - I used a Canon TX and then an A-1, I used a Vivitar 283 flash. Real simple stuff. 

What was your preferred lens? 
I never really switched out lenses too much. Sometimes I used a 50mm but mostly I used a 35mm. The 50mm was a little too confining, the 35mm to me looks more natural and the way your eye sees type of lens. 28mm is a little wide but it was pretty fun. I still use it except I don't really shoot analog anymore, which is kind of too bad. When I got my DSLR with a wide angle lens it was like I could see again because it's the way I naturally see. 

When people think about the grunge scene, they think of Seattle…was there any of that starting in Austin around the time you were there? 
That's a good question, some people have said that some of those bands (especially Poison 13) were proto-grunge. I just re-read this book called American Hardcore by Steven Blush and it says something in there about Poison 13 being like the first grunge band. Some people look back to them as being pretty important to the guys in Mudhoney and I know that Kurt Cobain was a Scratch Acid fan, so some of those bands did have an affect on the Seattle scene...but I didn't realize that until later. Also in the book, Tim is quoted saying that, "Everybody hated Poison 13," but gosh, I remember a lot of people loving Poison 13. 

It's funny that you mention Seattle because just this morning my daughter (who is eleven) told me that somebody had played her the video from Nirvana Unplugged on MTV. She never heard Nirvana before and she's been singing "Come As You Are" all day today. It's really sweet because for me Nirvana was a great band and those songs still really hold up - It's about a million light years away from my daughter here in Vienna. 

What image that you've taken do you feel is the most iconic? 
All I can say is that one of my favorite photos is not of the most famous band out of Austin. It's the Offenders image which is more a picture of the audience. The singer J.J. is in the top right corner and you can see him looking very intense, masculine, and aggressive in his stance. The frame cuts him off in the middle of his face and you can see that he's really laying it down, then the rest of the photo is the guys in the front row in various states of like either nausea, exhaustion or slamming. Also you can see an anarchy A on the ceiling above them, so for me it's kind of got everything in it. 

How does it feel to have people still asking about your images all these years later?
It's pretty cool, it's amazing you know? My energy is focused on getting all of these images up so that people can see them and a lot of them have never been seen. The two pictures on the Light In The Attic Records had never been printed. The one where you can see Danzig in the background shaking his fist…I never even looked at that really. It's nice that younger people are still interested in these images. There's photographs that I missed the first time around, photographs that I never noticed and I should have. So this whole project of getting the website up has all been kind of another project of discovery for me. 

How did you end up in Austria? 
I fell in love with an Austrian lady. We met in New York, fell in love, got married…started coming over here for vacations and eventually we adopted our first daughter. We just thought we would try Vienna for a year and it just became forever. 

Do you speak German? 
Um…poorly. I'm in the process of renewing my immigration papers and you have to prove that you can speak German at a certain level. When I go into fill out these papers and do it in the office I'm dreading their every question because my German is far from perfect. 

What are you doing now? 
I was teaching photography and film/video which is kind of related to what I did before. Then I taught a little English…but now I've found a job working with refugees and that's what I'm still doing. There's an American organization here based in New York that helps refugees get out of Iran. They all come here first and are all Iranian non-muslims, so they're religious minorities. They come to Vienna to get ready to go to the United States. So they're all going to the U.S. eventually you know, if Obama says it's ok. 

Do you miss doing more photography? 
I do miss it, but in a way I feel like I have this job and at night and on the weekends I work on my website and do more of the creative stuff. I feel like I'm getting a balanced diet. A lot of the more well-known bands that I've photographed are already up on my website or on flickr. But I have some other people that aren't even up there yet, like Bjork and The Sugarcubes, Pussy Galore, there's a lot more Butthole Surfers and Sonic Youth pictures coming as well. It's going to take me a while to get everything up there but that's sort of the intention, to just keep adding new stuff and to make the website kind of an archive. 

Dinosaur Jr. -  "I remember when I photographed them, they didn't seem to be real buddy buddy with each other."

Well thanks so much for giving me some time today Pat! 
Thanks for asking me to do the interview and for taking the time with it! It's fun to talk shop, I like your pictures too…you did some nice stuff. 

Check out more of Pat's images here:

Thursday, June 5, 2014


by Jamie Goodsell
All images © Kevin Carrico
website •

I first met Kevin Carrico in Nashville when he was working his magic on one of Third Man Records novelty machines. He is certainly one of the most interesting and fascinating people I've ever spoken with. I found out that he can virtually invent anything that he puts his mind to. He is also a very talented photographer, videographer, director of photography, and even does CGI. It occurred to me that this was a man of many talents, so naturally I wanted to hear more about how he came to be. He's the kind of person that's always encouraging, enthusiastic and he inspires to push people further. I'm lucky to know this man. 


When and where were you born? 
August 1964 in Waltham, Massachusetts while my dad was getting his PhD in physics at Brandeis University. 

Where did you grow up and what was it like? Did anything there inspire you early on? 
Just north of Detroit in a city called Royal Oak, Michigan. Believe it or not as a child I was deathly-afraid of my dad's super-8mm home movie camera and all the bright lights that mounted on top. I would run screaming every time he made home movies, which made for some pretty funny home movies. 

Have your folks always supported your creativity?
My parents have always been supportive of my creative ventures, be it writing or music or art. I just sort of gravitated toward cameras because they're mechanical and I love all things mechanical. So I would have to say that my parents and family were my first inspirations, having their encouragement to pursue my developing interests alongside schoolwork and such has always been amazing to me. 

Tell me a little bit about your personal history with photography? 
Aside from snapshots, I got interested in the technologies involved very quickly; from special film processing techniques and darkroom tricks to long-exposure photography, double-exposures and the like. 

Where did you go to school and what would you say you got out of your education? 
When I headed into 7th grade I was placed in a gifted & talented program that allowed a lot of freedom creatively. Though still taking regular classes, we were often allowed to pursue our own interests in conjunction with most of our studies. So, for instance…instead of having to turn in a book report, I was allowed to submit a film or slideshow instead. This made learning more fun while it also taught me to use photos and film in new and different ways. 

Was most of your education learned in the field? 
Yes, I began freelancing in the local commercial industry at the same time I started going to Wayne State University. So as much as school had me studying and issuing project deadlines, the things I learned at work were far more practical or "day-to-day" type things as opposed to photo/cinematic history. It was a good balance but I definitely learned the professional side of things by being out there and working. 

What's your relationship with film photography and when is the last time you developed your own image in a darkroom? 
I haven't shot film in about two or three years now, with digital imaging becoming a far less expensive route for my clients being the main reason. Yet I have never stopped learning either. Even when video tape was first coming out I continued to work with friends and colleagues who were also schooled in film and photography, and were able to get better-than-average results with the early cameras through other means. 

It cuts both ways: film can look "digital" if the lighting isn't done in a certain way, and digital can look just like film for the same reasons. Here's just one example…a film shot that is over-lit or too busy with light can come across with the look of an electronic imaging chip, yet a more subtle use of light with a digital camera that pushes a few limits of the chip can often appear to the viewer as film. I think it's more about lighting and composition than format. Just as film stocks have their pluses and minuses, I like to think of the various electronic platforms simply as different "stocks."

You seem to be more video/director oriented than photography oriented, which one came first for you?
My interest in photography and cinematography have always run parallel to each other, so one did not come first so to speak. I enjoy the challenges of both, and they really feed off of each other. I will often take stills in preparation or execution of a film job to make sure the photography itself works before adding-in camera moves, pre-planned edits, etc. 

Your website describes you as a Director/Director of Photography. Can you talk a little bit about how you evolved into this title? 
Although I've been shooting and filmmaking since childhood, my first job in the industry was answering phones at a local studio. It was a natural progression for me to work my way up through lighting and shooting work. By this time I had developed a reputation for flexibility and efficiency in planning and executing the photography of a project. As I always have, I also continued to do my own side projects whether they were paying jobs or not. 

So, several clients started seeing what I was doing on my own, and how efficient I was. Then they began asking me to direct for them which was a great opportunity. As far as "Director/DP" goes, it stood to reason that for much of the work I do, I could direct and shoot the project...which also ended up saving my clients time and money. This, too, parallels the music industry a bit. There are performers that don't write or play instruments and there are those who write, produce, play and sing. I guess I'm very comfortable in writing, lighting, shooting and directing. 

What are some things to think about when photographing musicians?
I believe that with any subject (unless it's purely art for art's sake), the subject is the most important thing. My job is to get the best images possible to the audience and not to interfere with subject, but to exhibit it. When it comes to music, I think this is extra important. A musician is already expressing themselves and my job is not to alter that expression, but capture it properly and enhance it where I'm able to. I prefer not to "get in the way" creatively, but to "play along.Also, I think musicians (as any person does, really) look best when they are playing music or emoting to their music. To have them off doing random things that might be uncomfortable for them will show in the final product. 

When you're photographing a band, what are some of the things you do to plan for that shoot and when they're finally in front of your camera, how do you start to work things out to make it a productive, positive, and comfortable shoot? 
Well I've always been interested in the imaginative aspects of photography and film…the creative parts. Musicians are extremely creative people and so it's great fun to work with their ideas. My favorite stuff has always been shoots that start with a basic idea and then just heading out and seeing what we can find to fulfill it. Along the way there are always great discoveries to be found if you keep an open mind about it and don't try to plan every little thing to the Nth degree. I think the best stuff comes through a process of discovery once everyone is together and kicking around ideas. Film is very collaborative and some of the greatest ideas come from places or people you'd never expect. So I make sure to have what's technically needed and I'm always broadening my experiences so I can bring those lessons with me to the next job. 

Visually speaking, what makes a great image in your mind? 
This is a tough question! For me it could be any number of things from an amazing lighting setup to a wonderful location. But to the question, I'd have to say that a great image (regardless of the technicalities of getting it), is an image which expresses or exhibits the subject in a way that doesn't distract from the subject, while still being interesting to the viewer after seeing it more than once. 

What were some things that influenced you early on in life?
I grew up often visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts with family and friends and then later on in school, since it was across the street from the university I attended. Initially there was curiosity to these great images from over the centuries and later on it became more of a study. Armed with my spot meter I would often examine the various lighting ratios used. For example, how bright was the subjects face compared to the background, or how bright was the sky compared to the subject? 

In film, of course, the black & white works of cinematographers such as Gregg Toland and James Wong Howe left an indelible impression on me in "controlling light," shaping it and sustaining a look even while the camera moves to and from various points in a scene. Toland embraced and advanced technologies and even employed many darkroom or special effects "tricks" in order to get images that were otherwise impossible to get…and the end result is that you cannot tell any tricks were even used. 

What do you bring to your shoots? 
Not very much in terms of off-the-shelf-gear…I will often make my own devices (ring lights, water effects,etc). Mainly I head out to get what we call a "clean negative." I prefer not to filter lenses very often or use gimmicks in the field. I think it's my experience in the darkroom that taught me that so much can be done there and it translates into motion picture and post-production techniques very well. So I guess the one thing I always take with me is an open mind. 

Can you talk about how you've gotten some of the work you have?
Much of this work has come through personal projects I've done and shown to others. For example I love aviation and aircraft history, so I've played around with CGI in this area as a hobby for quite some time. I've rendered stills as well as film clips and a few clients saw them and asked if I could do the same with product of theirs be it a satellite, aircraft, etc. 

Again, it's easy to get close-minded and form an extreme familiarity with certain looks, certain pieces of gear and certain subjects. But there is a huge difference between knowing how to make an image and understanding how to make an image. Knowing how means you've learned a few things that always work, yet understanding means being able to constantly apply anything you've ever learned to things you may have never done before. 

Do you think the still image holds the same value today as it did 50 years ago? 
Oh, yes…of course. As much fun as it is to make a nice dolly move, a beautiful crane shot, or to have action to support a moving picture, a great still photo can evoke so much more at first glance and over time. I think having been grounded in still photography has meant more to cinematography than the other way around…and I think it always will. 

When you hear the term "finding the light" what does that mean to you? 
I believe it means stepping back for a second, wherever you may be shooting and seeing what might already be there for you to use. So often you can discover great little things if you take a moment to do so. I've seen many shooters simply frustrate themselves (and their subjects/clients) by coming onto a location or into a space and trying to take over the complete environment. Rarely does an environment offer up nothing, but often nuances it does hold can be overlooked. 

What has photography taught you about yourself? 
I think mainly to express myself through an ever-changing landscape of technologies and ideas. 


You said you like all things has that opened up your career path?
I've always been interested in learning. Besides things I'm passionate about or hobbies, I love learning. So it's always been a part of me to do many things (I've renovated and built houses, I understand electronics, I like to repair my own car, I design things on the computer, I can write software)….and it really helps my career in that I can apply just about any of these seemingly unrelated experiences right back into filmmaking and photography be it building a special camera mount, or writing software that will affect an image in a certain way. Being well-versed in other things opens the mind and I think removes limits from one's imagination. 

Explain quality over quantity for everyone. 
Be prepared for both! Some clients will want to shoot all day and night for a single image in an advertising campaign. Other times you might find out that you have fifteen minutes with a band instead of the two hours you were promised. In a more general sense, I think quality…knowing when you've gotten your shot and knowing when to move on instead of shooting something six ways from Sunday. But even with this in mind, things can change. If you're shooting an uncontrolled event (sports, concerts, etc.) sometimes you simply have to rely on quantity and then go back and pick through the pile of photos for the few that will be used. 

How did you get into CGI?  
I've always been interested in computers and learned to program at an early age, so when the technology began to emerge on a consumer level it simply fit right into what I was doing. Sometimes I use it to "test" a shot before a shoot (playing with lighting levels, lenses, etc.) and most of the time I use it as an extension to other "digital darkroom" tools like Photoshop and Corel. As a filmmaker it's fun to incorporate CGI into projects. Anything from virtual sets or creating images that are impossible to get with a camera. Again, it's just another tool in the box, yet the evolution of these things fascinates me. I've most recently done a short film in which a certain location was unavailable, but through CGI I was able to place my actors there and no one can tell. Likewise, CGI has also allowed me to bring a feature film to life over the last few years. 

Can you give me a brief history on your relationship with The White Stripes and what kind of work you've done with them? Can you tell us a good story from those days? 
I shot their first two videos ("Hotel Yorba" and "We Are Going To Be Friends") which is actually related to a funny story. 

I think this was right before "White Blood Cells," I was doing a commercial for Ford/JBL sound systems. Part of the spot required shots of a generic rock concert and the producer had brought in some local musicians to play along to an unknown track that was approved by the agency. Between setups, one of the guitar players would jump off stage and come help us get the next shot ready and it was great. I noticed he was British, but no matter: all day long he's both in front of the camera and behind it and it was great fun. 

Out of curiosity, I asked the producer where they found this amazing guy from England and everyone started laughing. It turns out it was Jack doing an accent which was very funny indeed. During meal breaks he brought a turntable in and played us some of his music which was very cool. About a week or two later they were going to shoot "Hotel Yorba" and asked if I'd like to be the DP and it was great fun. By the end of the day we had about 200 feet of film leftover and instead of throwing it away, we were able to do one single take of "We Are Going To Be Friends," in which Meg actually fell asleep after a 16 hour day. 

What records have you been spinning lately? 
The Raconteurs "Consolers Of The Lonely" along with some Mozart and Beethoven. 

See more of Kevin's work here: