Nikko La Mere is an incredible photographer whose work you may have seen in editorial, on billboards lining Sunset Boulevard, on your favorite album cover, and anywhere in between.
I met Nikko when we were just 15 years old, a time in which his weapon of choice was a polaroid camera, taken with him on every adventure we embarked on around LA. Over the past thirteen years, I’ve watched his passion grow to a true skill and then a mastered craft, as he’s shot the likes of Taylor Swift, Dita Von Teese, Pusha T, Skrillex, Sky Ferreira, Azealia Banks, Tinashe, and oh-so-many more for Capitol Records, Teen Vogue, Snapchat, Nylon, you name it.
Meet our fine friend, Nikko La Mere.
Who are you?
Hi! My name is Nikko LaMere. I’m a Los Angeles born and raised photographer, director, and creative.
What’s your background?
I grew up in West LA. My upbringing was eclectic to say the least… raised by my grandmother who was a creative/artist in her own right and one the most influential people in my life. She exposed me to everything that has inspired me today. She was a hairstylist who specialized in hair extensions, hair pieces and was an amazing men’s barber for people like Michael Jackson, The Pointer Sisters, Courtney Love, Mandy Moore, Devon Aoki, and Melanie Brown (aka Scary Spice). Growing up around these amazing musicians and tagging along with my grandmother is the root of my fascination with music artists and celebrities.
In my early 20s I interned at Capitol Records for Danny Lockwood, who booked me on some of my first jobs, behind-the-scenes gigs at Milk Studios while I was still putting together a book to get into art school. Then I got in, took a year off and moved to New York right before I turned 21, where I PA-ed for Anthony Mandler on his perfume campaign with Rihanna when I didn’t even know how to set a simple c-stand. I just remember being so excited to be on a set and taking everything in.
It was then that I really got to know myself and met some amazing people who to this day have had a huge affect on my career. On one of my first nights out I met Phillip Picardi who is now an editor at Teen Vogue and Allure. Phil gave me my first assignment for Teen Vogue and that was such a moment for me. I remember it was shooting a get-ready with Sarah Hyland of Modern Family at the Peninsula in Beverly Hills, and those photos to this day are some of my favorite.
I was not the best student. My attention span was horrible. While I was studying at Art Center I spent most of my free time emailing as many managers/PR/label contacts as I could, offering to shoot artists for free. I think I spent the first couple years doing that. That finally grew into actually getting paid and everything just snowballed after that. I was definitely more interested in just shooting as much as I could instead of doing my homework assignments. I found the lessons I was being taught so old school in comparison to the new age of digital photography. I learned more from trial and error then sitting in a class room. Most of the lighting I use is from watching guys as a PA working on music videos.
Outline a day in your life.
This is a hard question. Every day is different which is the beauty of it.
What inspires you?
Most of my inspiration comes from the subjects I’m photographing. Music artists give me so much life. From how they dress, perform, and most importantly, their music. I get extremely inspired by live shows. I’ve gone to so many I’ve lost count.
What do you listen to while working? While unwinding?
Music fuels my life 24/7 so it really depends on who I’m shooting. I have a 90’s R&B playlist that I almost always play with TLC, SWV, Janet Jackson, and Brandy. I also have a great disco playlist that one of my friends made that’s makes a regular rotation. I just like to have fun and have everyone vibing. When I’m unwinding, Tame Impala or Alabama Shakes are usually playing in the background.
What has been your favorite place to shoot?
Bar Marmont where I had a real fun shoot with YSL Beauty x Chiara Faragni.
What’s your favorite camera to shoot on?
I haven’t shot on one in years, but some of my favorite portraits I took when I first started out were on a 4×5 camera when I was in school.
What’s your favorite distraction?
My favorite distraction is a long night of whiskey and dancing with my friends (Rhonda or Akbar usually), or catching a live show.
Who is or are your ultimate muse(s)?
There are a few people that inspire me who I have photographed throughout the years. There is this amazing male model Kendall Harrison who I think is just so unique, my dear friend and collaborator Scarlet Moreno, and my cousin (who I consider my sister) Sky Ferreira.
Talk to me about After Hours. How did you come up with that concept and what is it?
After Hours happened without me realizing it was happening. After about a year or so I noticed I had gravitated to a ton of portraits that were all similar. Those portraits collectively became “After Hours.”
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Shoot every day, shoot as much as you can.
Anything you want to plug?
I have a new music video out now with artist Grabbitz, and I’m directing my second video at the end of May.