Tag Archives: Concert Photography

Platinum Baby!

My very first platinum print ever is going up for auction on April 16th at the Belasco Theater for the Above Ground event that Dave Navarro and Billy Morrison organized, and I couldn’t be more excited about it! Over the years, I’ve been asked numerous times about selling some of my work and I’ve always been hesitant for a few reasons. Part of it had to do with me feeling that many printing techniques didn’t feel special enough. Then I learned about platinum printing a couple years ago and my ears perked up, but I never had time to dive into it properly. It was another thing that I always wanted to do but never did. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I got an email from Dave Navarro (yes, you know that awesome guitarist from Jane’s Addiction and one of my favorite humans) about the possibility of contributing something for the Above Ground charity auction. I knew immediately that I had to do a platinum print. This was the perfect excuse to learn more about it and, finally, do it. What I learned is that it’s going to take me a bit to get it down properly. By a bit, I really mean a long time.  You see, making platinum prints is an art form itself and it takes some time to master the process.  However, I’m super-lucky to know someone who has already mastered it and was willing to let me see the process from start to finish.

The next step was selecting the image.  At first, I wanted to create three prints and let Dave and Billy choose which one would go up for auction. Then I realized how much it actually costs to print each one and that idea got quickly thrown out. So, my image selection became even more critical.  I took two images with me and talked to Larry (my printer/friend) about it.  I loved how dramatic one of the images was, but I wasn’t sure if it would work because it was a bit grainy. The other image was pretty and technically great and I’m sure would have made a fine platinum print, but it was missing some of the drama of the first one. Once we started and I saw the chemicals react with the print, I knew I made the right choice. That moment is probably the most excited I’ve been in a long time and, in my opinion, it came out great! I’m making a limited edition of five.  No more of that image will ever be printed in platinum again.  The other four won’t be available until after the auction and it’s exciting that I already have a list of interested people.

I’m hoping, though, that the first one will fetch a good sum because it’s going to a cause that is dear to my heart.  One hundred percent of the proceeds from the event are going to support mental health via Music Cares.  If you know me, you know how important mental health is to me. My mom has been sick since I was four-years-old, so I’ve been to just about every psych hospital in the LA area and have seen firsthand how vital this cause is. Everything around my life revolves around helping my mom and maintaining my own mental sanity in the process. Some days are super hard and other days you wouldn’t even know there’s a problem. So, when Dave asked me if I would be willing to contribute something, he had no clue how much it would mean to me, I’m both honored and excited to be able to contribute something to this amazing event.  It’s another reason I went with platinum. I wanted the print to be special and I think I achieved that.

Down the road, I plan to do more prints of different iconic images I’ve taken over the years and, hopefully, there will be an art exhibit soon (I’m already manifesting the shit out of it). I love that because this is a handmade item and it’s both expensive and time consuming, none of them will ever be mass produced. No two prints will ever be identical which makes them even more special. And, did I mention, they are platinum!?!  Side note:  I’ve said platinum so many times the last few weeks that you can play a drinking game with it. Ha!

To buy your ticket to Above Ground before it’s sold out click here.

I’m a vampire, yo! Not really, but it has been an eternity since my last update.

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last updated this site. Lots of stuff happened over the last year.  Some of my favorite moments ever, and some of my not-so-favorite moments.  I had some moments where it felt like total awesome madness, and then it was just madness.  I got to shoot some of my favorite bands and even broke that 3 song rule barrier with some, which was a HUGE thing for me.  Like freaking Andre the Giant huge! And then I had some of the worst problems I’ve ever had, and all the energy I would get from trying to follow my bliss would be withdrawn from trying to take care of those issues.  If I wasn’t busy trying to pursue photography, or with my full-time job, I was busy handling very serious matters.  In all the hustle, I neglected taking care of myself.  I attributed my low energy to my overflowing plate and to getting older.  Turns out every once in a while you have to take care of yourself a little bit, too. After feeling like poo for a long time, I finally went to the doctor’s office.  And last week while I was at lunch, my doctor calls me and tells me I need to go to the ER stat. I thought he was exaggerating.  It turns out that I’m a vampire and needed a ton of blood. I hope they put in some good young blood in me.  Seriously, I read an article that young blood is like the fountain of youth.  Anyhow, I digress, my point is that whatever you are doing, take a little time to take care of yourself.  The hospital doctor asked me how I was able to function, and I said I just walked it off and pushed myself a little harder.  She looked at me, gave me a scolding, and said that my brain needs oxygen to live, and blood caries that oxygen to it.  If you are running low on blood, then your brain is not getting the oxygen it needs and everything tanks after that.  Who knew (I’m sure plenty of people know that, especially medical students).  So now with an almost full thank of blood, I’m running around with rosy cheeks again, I’m also starting to turn into a vitamin/healthy eating Nazi (side note: I kinda miss my pale vampirish skin tone, ha!).  I’m also a little upset at myself because had I been taking care of myself all this time, I would have done so much more this past year.  Instead, I was operating at 40 percent capacity, literally.  So if you want to take over the world, take care of yourself, yo!

About social media: Yes, I pretty much quit all social media. No, I haven’t quit photography, but perhaps because I felt so tired all the time, I wanted to better allocate my time and give all my energy to the really important stuff in my life, and social media took too much of it.  Right now, I’m regrouping and figuring out a new way to do things.  The old-way disillusioned me, and made me feel a bit jaded, and that’s not how I want to feel about what I’m doing.  I want to be excited about stuff as much as possible, and I never want those butterflies to fly away.  So I’m doing whatever it takes to get to my happy place, and I’m letting go of all things that I think are unnecessary and disillusioning.  I will never again quit doing creative stuff, but if I need to change a thing or two, I have no problem doing so, even stuff that meant the world to me not so long ago.  I have a lot of high hopes for the future, and will do whatever I can to make it happen.  I suppose that’s how I would like to end this post.  Never lose hope, and continue fighting the good fight, but take care of yourself in the process, too.

Minnie and Nasty and Billies, Oh My! My longest blog post ever.

When I was a little girl, I remember a family member told me to be nice to one of my uncles because he had money.   I was somewhere between five and eight.   That advice didn’t sit well with me, so before I was 13, I was already out of the will.    No joke. He actually told me that.   I’ve never been able to kiss ass.   If I say something nice about someone, it’s because I genuinely believe it.
Anyhow, years later, I hit a rough patch at work for my inability to ass-kiss.   One of my bosses soon learned that if he wanted someone to blow up his ego, that person wasn’t going to be me.  But he also learned that when I thought something was great, I had no problem telling people how great I thought it was.   So what does this little story have to do with my music photography?  Well, had I not shared this story to someone who doesn’t know me, I would appear to be kissing ass.   This being my website, I don’t really need to explain myself, except that I want the world to know how great I think these people are, and know that I’m not just blowing smoke.   
Minnie Driver Minnie Driver:  So a few weeks back I was watching Return to Me, for the 3rd or 4th time.  I don’t remember if I had seen one of her pictures on the popular page on Instagram, or if I searched for her after watching the movie, but I saw that she was on Instagram and I thought, ” Love her. Follow.”   About a week later, she posted that she was going to be singing at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach.   My first thought was, “Minnie Driver sings?  Yes, definitely want to go see her.”  I commented on the picture, “Can I bring my camera?”   She replied, “Yes”.  I was totally stoked, but I kept pretty quiet about it because, although I love my photographer friends, I wanted to keep this one to myself.   Going there, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had never been to that venue, and I had never seen her sing before. Was I going to like her?  Was the lighting going to be good?  Was the venue going to be cool with me doing my thing?   But, at the show, all my fears were silenced.   It turned out to be a magical night.  She was lovely, adorable, and MAGICAL.  I couldn’t have been more stoked that I got to take pictures of that night.   The venue was also super nice.  The crowd wasn’t what I was expecting, but they were nice, too.  I came home excited to edit pictures into the late hours of the night, even though I had to go to work early the next day.  It didn’t matter how tired I was, I was on a Minnie high.  And then she actually liked my pictures, followed me back, retweeted me, and comped me for her next show.   Yes, I was totally on a high.  So not only was she a pleasure to shoot, but she turned out to be super sweet too.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  The next time I shot her was at Hotel Cafe.  I liked the pictures from Saint Rocke better, but I liked the show at Hotel Cafe even more.  At Saint Rocke it was standing only, so I was able to get around a little better without disrupting the audience.  At Hotel Cafe, the lighting was a little lower, and because they have tables in the front, I didn’t want to get in people’s way.   While I love taking pictures, I’m also a fan, and I know how it is when a rude photographer invades your space.  Whenever possible, I avoid being that rude photographer.  Overall, I hope these pictures I took capture at least one third of the magic that I saw before my eyes.   She really was awesome!  But don’t take my word for it. Go see for yourself.  www.minniedriver.com
Little Miss NastyLittle Miss Nasty:  The name says it all.  On the same night I shot Minnie Driver at Hotel Cafe, I shot Little Miss Nasty at Harvelle’s in Santa Monica.   What can I say? They were at opposite ends geographically and visually.  One was magical and lovely, while the other was in-your-face sex .  Literally, there was a point, or several where I had an ass in my face. (That’s not to say they weren’t magical, it was just a whole different type of vibe as you can see by the pictures.) These girls are hot, talented, and totally rock n’ roll.  If you see their “after” pictures with all the bruises on their knees, you see how much they put into their performances.  They give their audience everything and then some, so go check them out.  If you’re wondering how I know of Little Miss Nasty, let me give you a short backstory.  I met Gina Katon via Camp Freddy.  She was performing with the Darling Stilettos which opened for Camp Freddy.  She was always nice to me, so throughout the years, I continued following her.  Later, Gina started her own musical group, as well as began designing some awesome one-of-a-kind outfits (Rotten Couture) and also does Big Ass Bows.  Anyone who is out there hustling, and doing what they love, has my mad respect.  Once I slim down a bit, and have the extra money, I plan to commission her to make me an awesome one of a kind, sexy, black, photographers dress.  It’s going to be awesome!
The Viper Room All Stars The Viper Room All Stars: About two weeks ago, I got to do my thing at the Viper Room.  It was for the Viper Room’s 21’st anniversary concert party.  Billy Morrison tweeted that he and a bunch of his All-Star friends would be performing there on a Saturday.  I asked if I could shoot the event, and he almost instantly said yes.  I remember doing some imaginary cartwheels and being once again super grateful to Billy.  From the moment he replied, to the moment before the show began, I was all smiles.  Actually, right before the show it was more like the 4th of July in my tummy, but still smiles.  So how was the show?  Let me start with who was there. The All Stars consisted of, Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), Carla Harvey (Butcher Babies), Billy Duffy (The Cult), Erik Eldenius (Billy Idol), Phil Buckman (Filter), Grace McKagan (Pink Slips), Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), Jeff Scott Soto (Talisman, Journey…), Taylor Hood, Steve Vai (Frank Zappa, Whitesnake, Meat Loaf…), Stephen McGrath (Billy Idol), BILLY MORRISON (Billy Idol, The Cult, Camp Freddy, Royal Machines, Circus Diablo), and BILLY IDOL! 
I don’t know about you, but having Billy Idol and the rest of the All Stars perform less than a foot away from me, is not my normal Saturday night.   All the anticipation and fireworks were well-merited.  Another highlight for me was when Steve Vai came on. The moment felt pretty magical.  Shoot! It was all pretty rad.  Rad and freaking sweaty.   God, I was so hot.  There was a point in the show where I thought I was going to die from the heat. I felt like someone had dropped a never-ending bucket of sweat on me.  I couldn’t cool off.  I was so hot, I had to do the crouching tiger, hidden bird, to fan myself.  It also took me at least a couple of days to get my hearing back, but, again, it was all worth it.  (Another side note: although there were 3 Billy’s that night, I think the place would have spontaneously combusted had they all hit the stage at the same time.  So for safety reasons, only two can perform at the same time. Kidding. Or am I? Ha!) 
On the bill that night was also a cool band called the Kansas City Bankroll (I was a bit mesmerized by how much the bass player rocked that gigantic bass).  It was awesome to witness. Lastly, the always rocking Abby Gennet and her band, Slunt, also performed.  So yes, that night will go down as one of my favorite nights at the Viper Room, ever.  Once again had it not been for Billy Morrison, I would have missed it all.  I really have to thank him for always being super awesome to me.  I would have said thank you after the show too but I was all icky and sweaty, yuck.   This is where the story I shared earlier totally kicks in.  If people don’t know me, they would think that I’m constantly kissing his ass.   And here is the truth, the dude is super talented (he paints, DJ’s, and acts too).  He has always been a total sweetheart to me. My camera ADORES him (seriously check out all my Billy Morrison pictures). And he has made it possible for me to shoot some of my favorite nights on this planet.  How could I not be all about Billy???  Even Dave Navarro once joked, “You’re always at Billy’s side of the stage!” Can you blame a girl?  So if anyone thinks I’m sucking up or whatever, I don’t care.  The truth is, the dude ROCKS, and I genuinely think the world of him. So there :-). 
More gratitude:  Because I’m on this thanking bit, there is one more person that I owe a huge note of gratitude towards.   Years ago, before I quit taking pictures, he offered to help me build my website.  I didn’t have money, I was in a really weird place, and then I went into a deep depression and kinda quit everything.  Every once in a while he would check in to see if I was still taking pictures.  He always believed in me, even when I didn’t.  He’s one of those people who I thank my lucky stars for having met.  When he saw that I sorta started sharing pictures again, and when the whole Juliette Lewis regraming one of my pictures madness happened (the power of one regram was crazy), he convinced me to put up this site. Within a day or two, he had it up and running.  Thanks to him this site exists.  And thanks to him, the dream lives on.  Thank you Robert Chafino for being one of the most amazing humans I have ever met.  I said this a million times, and I’lll say it again, I may not be lucky with money or love, but I have the most amazing friends ever. Including my editor of this site, and another one of my favorite humans ever, the fabulous Lady Anonymous.   
This concludes my shout out to the universe and my expression of gratitude, to some of the most extraordinary people I have met.  Go to my gallery to see the full picture sets, and check out their sites to be bombarded with awesomeness.  You will not regret it. PS the entire Viper Room All Stars show is on youtube.  Check it out.

Ask and you shall shoot

IMG_0155I was raised to never ask for anything. I’m not sure if it’s Mexican culture that dictates that it’s not polite to ask for anything, or if that was just Chilo (mi Abue’s thing). I lived with my grandparents from the ages 5 to 8.  During that time, it was so instilled in me to not ask for anything that even when someone gave me something, I never accepted it.  This was particularly hard when I was a kid.  I remember someone once tried to give me a toy, and I couldn’t accept it even though I really, really wanted it.  To this day, I’m still being shamed for asking my mom for money when I was 19.  Really.  But despite how I was raised, once in a blue moon when I have a wild hair up my ass, I go against everything I was taught.

So this brings me to Jane’s Addiction.  I got to shoot Jane’s Addiction three times.  The first time was at El Cid, in Los Angles, the second time was at the Music Hall in Tucson, Arizona, and the third time was last weekend at The Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas.  Two of the times, I bit the bullet and asked Dave Navarro if I could shoot the shows.  I remember the first time I asked him, he said the guest list was full but to ask him again for the next show (The El Cid one).  When I did, he apologized for only being able to get me in without a plus one.  I emailed him back something along the lines of “Seriously, Dave, I’m super stoked that I’m getting in. There is no need to apologize”.  He then apologized, again, and my mind was blown.  The second time I shot them, remembering that the local shows are a lot harder to get into, I asked his manager (who happens to be an awesome lady) if I could shoot the Tucson show. She was super sweet and hooked it up. I hadn’t shot a show in a couple of years. Despite the fact that one of my pictures made it to his Facebook fan page (the cover photo) I felt like my pictures sucked overall and I went into a depression. I remember feeling incredibly disappointed with myself, and put down the lens for a few months.  Side note: when you shoot most concerts, you only get to shoot the first three songs, unless you’re Ross Halfin or some other kick-ass photographer. The first 3 songs of the Tucson show I pretty much got nothing. Then I saw some other photographer go somewhere else and continue shooting, so I said “fuck it I’ll shoot until someone tells me not to, too.”  Had I not done that, I wouldn’t have gotten that shot or anything else.

I’m skipping a couple of stories that happened in between the Jane’s shows including Camp Freddy in 2012 and the 2013 SSMF.  The pattern was pretty much the same.  I shot the shows, then I went into a severe depression following the shows because I thought my pictures sucked, so much so that I deleted all my social media accounts.  And after a few months would go by, I found myself missing it deeply.

About two month’s ago, once again, I began daydreaming about taking pictures. I began Instagraming and Tweeting old photos like crazy.  When I remembered, I tagged people on them or @ them.  Both Dave Navarro and Dave Kushner retweeted a few, Billy Morrison retweeted a couple more, Robert DeLeo also retweeted one, and then Juliette Lewis regramed one of my pictures, and, for a minute, everything went bananas!  At that time, the only thing I knew for certain was that this time around, I wasn’t going to quit no matter what.  I was heading in a different direction when my friend (one of my favorite humans ever) convinced me to do this site.  Riding on all the craziness from the Juliette Lewis’ retweet, I finally accepted his help and within a couple of days this site was born.  Since then, every waking hour and even during my sleep, I have been obsessing over pictures (except for a few days when I had a Game of Thrones marathon).  It was during one of my walks in the park, when I thought to tweet Dave to see if I could shoot one of the Vegas shows.  I knew that if I didn’t tweet him at that very minute, I never would, so I just went for it.  He tweeted me back instantly to contact his guitar tech, Dan.  And that’s how I got to shoot the Brooklyn Bowl show. Do I still question the quality of my work?  Absolutely.  I came to the conclusion that no matter what, some part of me is never going to be satisfied with my shots.  I’m always going to wish I did better and that’s a good thing.  Normally, I would go curl up in a ball and hide for a few months (I’ve never really curled up in a ball, literally, but I was practically there).  This time around, I’m breaking my patterns.  I can’t recuperate lost time, but I can choose not to continue making the same mistakes.  As for asking for stuff, while I’m still not very comfortable with it, I have to admit that sometimes you just have to do it.  I mean the worse that can happen is that they say no, and if they do, the sun will still shine the next day.  Maybe one day, I will be so good that bands will start asking me to go shoot them.  That’s one of the goals.  In the meantime, the fact that one of the members of my favorite bands, called ME last week, shows me that maybe I do have some mad skillz after all.  I look forward to my phone blowing up with more awesome calls in the near future ;P



“Luke, I am your father.”

“Luke, I am your father.” I always wanted to say that. While this has nothing to do with Star Wars, it does have to do with someone named Luke, Luke Steele, and his band The Sleepy Jackson (Sorry. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use the quote). But, back to The Sleepy Jackson. Sadly, I only saw them perform twice. The first time I saw them was a fluke. I went to a show to watch Tom Morello and came out being blown away by them. I remember them being funky, energetic, fun, and incredibly talented. Discovering them that day, is still one of my favorite concert memories. Their show was so good that I had to buy their CD, “Lovers,” right away and came to absolutely love it.

The second time I saw them was at the Troubadour. Again, they were awesome. I had just purchased a Digital Rebel (an upgrade from my point and shoot camera) and I snuck it in. I didn’t have any fancylenses, but their light show was phenomenal and those pictures are stilll some of my favorites. While I was shooting them, I remember I was trying to make my camera “bend”. Many times when I’m photographing, I’m just going through the motions, but I know I have something special when I feel the same way I felt that day. It’s as if I can make my camera bend to my will and produce something that captures both what I’m feeling and seeing. The goal always is to chase that same feeling. When I manage to catch it, it’s a great day.

Side note: I don’t usually listen to Electronic music, so I have no clue what’s new or who’s who. The other day, while trying to find hashtags for some of my pictures, I discovered that Luke is in Empire of the Sun. It’s no surprise. The dude is seriously talented. Luke, I am your fan.


My Journey with Camp Freddy

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Taken at the HOB show I snuck into in 2005

I lost count how many times I saw them. They were one of my favorite addictions. I always said the Camp Freddy experience was like a straight shot of Rock ‘n’ Roll to the veins. My journey with Camp Freddy went from fan girl, to fangirl with a camera, to fangirl with a camera who took really good pictures, to photographer who shouldn’t have smoked some of B-Real’s joint, to “where’s WendyBird?”.  The first private show that I saw them in, I snuck in. It was at the HOB and we literally just opened the door from the restaurant and made our way in. It was afreaking awesome show. I remember fearing that someone was going to catch on, and we were going to be thrown out. But that never happened (side note: one of my pictures from that show taken with a point-and-shoot camera made its way to rollingstone.com). But I digress.  After that, as I got better at my craft, I didn’t have to sneak in any more. Still, those butterflies (actually more like fireworks) in my stomach never left. In my head, I was still that chubby Mexican girl from the SGV who snuck her way in through the restaurant door. Eventually, I let all my fears and insecurities get the best of me, and I removed myself from the scene and thus stopped doing what I was born to do. I will forever regret that. What I didn’t realize back then was that even if I didn’t feel like I belonged, and even if I felt like all the other photographers had more of a right to be there, my contribution was just as valuable, and that I was, via my documentation of it, part of the experience. I didn’t need that shot of Rock ‘n’ Roll because my veins already oozed it. Ha! Maybe I’m going a little too far there, but you get the point. So now that Camp Freddy is over, if I get the chance to be part of the Royal Machines experience, I’m going to pack a ton of Tums and show the world my world, one kickass foto at a time. Here are a few Camp Freddy shots. I’ll post more in the Gallery section of my site tomorrow. Sweet dreams world. XoXo

PS. The moral of the story (besides that Camp Freddy was a freaking kick ass experience) is that there are many people in the world who are going to bring you down, you don’t need to be one of them (this advice was given to me and I’m finally getting it).