Our Fine Friends : Theonepointeight, Documentary Photographer

June 16, 2016
- Our Fine Friends

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Sometimes an image can stay with you forever.

It’s easy to remember that when going through Theonepointeight’s impressive catalog of photographs. Whether it’s capturing an art show for our friends at CYRCLE, going behind-the-scenes at Grammy rehearsals, or standing in the lines of Ferguson protests here in Downtown Los Angeles, his pictures convey what any creative aspires to: true impact.

All that and he’s just a nice guy, so it was only natural to catch up with him for the latest Our Fine Friends. Do yourselves a favor and follow him on Instagram; if his past photographs are any indication, there’s greatness to come.

Who are you?

Theonepointeight – a documentary photographer based out of Los Angeles, California.

Outline a day in your life.

Emails, emails and more emails. I don’t really have a 9 to 5 job, so I’m constantly looking for new jobs or pitching projects to publications, magazines, artists, etc. It takes away from shooting, but there’s no other options really.

I’m shooting a lot of music content nowadays but those don’t happen ’til the evening so if I’m not editing photos, I’ll go out and shoot some street photography; stuff that most people won’t see. No backstage access, front row sections, artist parties, etc. You’re just one person among millions. It helps you keep a grounded & healthy perspective.

I also work with an agency called Windish Creative (The Windish Agency) that helps me with a lot of the footwork. I’m part of their visual artists roster but the agency itself specializes in music and work with an incredible number of musicians, so that opens up a lot of opportunities in that field.

Cyrcle - Theonepointeight
Kelly Slater - Theonepointeight
Dave Stewart - Theonepointeight

If I’m shooting a gig that night, it involves arriving early to the venue, prepared to fight through crowds that have been in line way longer than you have. It’s a constant battle to get those handful of gems. Expect a lot of disgruntled reactions from those you’ve politely shoved aside throughout. There may be security who have already asked you to put your camera away after the first 3 songs, but you still find ways to shoot. It’s worth every second.

I’ll come home, do some editing, more emails and sleep around 5 a.m. Then repeat.

Schoolboy Q - Theonepointeight

What inspires you?

People whose mindset is “focus on other people and their stories” instead of thinking of themselves. Those who put everything on the line to achieve their goals. Those who refuse to take “no” for an answer. Artists courageous enough to survive on very little in order to create; driven risk-taking selfless individuals. They’re out there!

In relation to photography, nothing inspires me more than photographers and storytellers who would rather focus on human stories and the struggles/successes that come with. Those who are not afraid to travel to dangerous areas of the world in hopes of capturing stories that may actually improve people’s lives. This type of photography, which is often overlooked, is a high point of inspiration and in a way it forces you to realize that a lot of photography out there is more often than not empty and superficial.

Also, music and films are another huge source of inspiration. Without these two, I’d probably be a slave robot in some underground factory counting the days til I died.

JR - Theonepointeight

Crystal Castles - Theonepointeight

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What do you listen to while working? While unwinding?

That’s a difficult question to answer since I’m pretty much listening to music 90% of my day and constantly searching for new stuff. It’s playing everywhere. I mostly listen to a heavy dose of electronic and indie rock. But I’ll throw in a lot of classic rock, hip hop, film soundtracks and everything in between. For the time being I’ll mention my fave albums as of this exact moment. Worth every second of your time…

Rone: Creatures
Run The Jewels: Run The Jewels II
The UK Gold (Original Soundtrack)
Fatima Al Qadiri: Genre-Specific Xperience/GSX Remixes
Makeup And Vanity Set’s 88:88

Where are your favorite places to shoot in LA?

If it’s street photography, I’ll start in the middle of downtown, usually on my bicycle and then I just kinda go with the flow. No real plans or directions. If I’m shooting a music event, I really dig the smaller, more intimate venues. That’s where you get the real fans coming out and support. Places like The Echoplex, The Fonda, the El Rey, and Low End to name a few.

What’s your photographic/film weapon of choice?

I mostly use a Canon 6D with either a 24-70mm 2.8 lens, a 50mm 1.8 or the occasional 70-200 2.8 lens for music photography.

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Take us through the night of the Ferguson protests. What were you thinking? What were you hoping to capture? What do you feel like you captured?

The photo essay I shot during the LA/Ferguson protests actually took place during the period of 3 days. I really did not know what to expect but I simply knew I had to be there with my camera. I wanted to document the experiences and the faces of all those who were out on the streets, not just the protesters but also the police. Once I arrived at the Downtown area, I witnessed high emotions and frustrations from both sides of the fence. That’s exactly when I knew I’d made the right decision to go out on the streets. Even when things got a bit tense, I couldn’t see another option but to keep shooting and remain in place. The moment felt important and it was empowering to see people standing up for what they believe in. Who knows? Perhaps some of these photos can affect someone’s life or change their perspective in any sort of way. As a photographer, you can’t really ask for anything more.

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What’s your favorite distraction?

Music, films, photography and writing. It varies from day to day as to what comes on top. So just to be safe, let’s say my favorite is all of them all rolled into one giant mess.

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Anything you want to plug?

Only thing worth plugging – the quote “Better ask for forgiveness than for permission.” Best advice anyone has given me when it comes to photography.