Young People Doing Stuff | How to be a Freelance Photographer in LA

You see her all the time. Scrolling through Tumblr, or your favorite brand’s Instagram feed. Photos of hairy, bare chested men racking cocaine lines. Those photos where you ask yourself, “Damn, do I look that good lying on my bathroom floor?” Photos waiting to get reblogged because the composition rejects the usual ephemera.

Brooke Barone is the person taking those photos. And even sometimes behind the people taking those photos. Whether she’s shooting look books for small brands, snapping behind the scene photos for Vanity Fair, or making connections from her loft in Downtown LA, Brooke is on the move. Brooke shared with The Daily Twenties her grind as a freelance photographer, her style, and what she has planned next.

IMG_7111-EditAfter high school what did you end up doing?

After I graduated high school I had no freaking idea of what I was going to do but my parents were putting pressure on me to figure it out quick. So I started looking at schools with art and photography programs because it’s always something I’ve been interested in. I ended up at FIDM as a digital media major and two years later, ended up getting my AA there. Initially I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do but I learned about video editing, photography, other visual arts. The classes were pretty generic during that time, like how to use the various editing softwares and stuff, so I didn’t really know how to incorporate my inspiration with the things that I wanted to do. Once I started getting into my Bachelor of Science in Business Management, which is what I’m currently in at FIDM, I started getting more into photography and implementing the ideas that I’ve been inspired by and consistently creating my own work.

Yeah I don’t think FIDM teaches you how to create your own style of photography

Yeah that is something that definitely comes from within. A lot of the stuff that they teach in school has nothing to do with finding your own style and pace. It’s something that you have to pursue on your own and they make that clear that it’s part of your own discovery.

Where does your photo style come from and how would you describe it?

I like to go against the normal comforts and push the viewers boundaries in what they’re willing to accept. My style is a feeling that I get when I’m creating that’s wrapped up in this confrontation between my camera and the subject… Making the model feel as though they have the comfort to push their own boundaries, it creates a space for them to explore what they desire that meets an equivalence to what matches my vision. There’s rarely a time where this doesn’t work out for both of us.

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And it shows. These women are not looking vulnerable at all. They are dominant subjects and actually the men look like the objects. A reversal of what one would usually see.

It’s not that I want to degrade anyone, I’m focused on the woman as the primary subject and so the men become an asset to the creation. There’s a space where masculine and feminine energy combine, and I’m exploring the grey area of that space.

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So where does that idea come from within you?

Sexuality is just as important as eating food. Wouldn’t it feel terrible if our families made us feel shameful for having desires to eat certain foods? From my own experiences growing up I have learned that it is not in my nature to allow a lack of knowledge toward sexuality under any circumstances.

You have a bunch of different shoots and looks on here. Walk me through the process of coming up with a shoot.

I hit up most of the girls on Instagram, some will hit up me, and then I’ll just have them come over and we’ll shoot. Initially I used to send out concepts to models, but now I just freeform and it comes out pretty fucking well.

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So it sounds like its just a natural flow of ideas and movements between the model and the camera?

Yeah and I think that’s where it’s always been at and what I had to realize. Like I wanted to have that sense of inspiration and have the models feel comfortable but I started to become comfortable within myself and my work and so I didn’t really need the conceptual stuff to rely on anymore and it was more spontaneous.

So I think I remember you telling me you worked with some brands. Tell me a little about that.

Well there wasn’t really a defining point where I was suddenly a brand photographer. It just kind of evolved. So initially I started to shoot for brands without their knowledge of who I was. It started with some girls that I knew who had a high following and I would shoot clothing that they had on that was more brand oriented.

At first the brand stuff I do has at one point been completely for free because it matches my vision. Now I am pretty firm in charging to shoot brands on models.

Other brands that I like shooting for is @omweekend, @y.r.u, @badwoodx, @mandalynnswim, @petalspeacocks, @memoricapparel and many others.

What’s on your gear list?

Sony A7, 25 film cameras and awesome lenses to go with them.

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What advice do you have for small brands when hiring a photographer?

Trade is always a nice option if you can’t afford to pay someone.

So what do you want to eventually do?

As of now I’ve already made some great accomplishments that are outside of what I do. Most of the people that I’ve met in my professional career have been through Instagram, I’ve met some amazing people that have referred me to kickass jobs. I’ve worked for Milk Studios a couple times, I’m starting a job with YouTube tomorrow, like BTS stuff for them. And to just keep making awesome connections and collaborations where I get to continue to be creative.

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What are some of the drawbacks and pitfalls of what you’re doing?

There’s always hard moments, but the positive experiences outweigh the negatives and so as a whole, I see all as worth while.

If you had some advice for someone looking to get into this field, what would you say.

Stay humble – keep working.

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You can follow Brooke on Instagram or Tumblr

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Post-Obama America: Does Drug Legalization Look Possible?

“We have to make a choice in this country,” said a prominent cable news personality in 2009. “We have to either put people who are smoking marijuana behind bars, or we legalize it. But this little game we’re playing in the middle is not helping us, is not helping Mexico and is causing massive violence on our southern border… I think it’s about time we legalize marijuana.”

People might expect this sentiment from an MSNBC host, but this pro-legalization rant came from former FOX News host Glenn Beck. That’s right, it appears Glenn Beck and Kanye West finally agree on something, and if these opposing personalities can find common ground on cannabis, maybe America’s two political parties can as well. Legalization could become the first major bipartisan issue in a post-Obama America.

“The idea of marijuana as a gateway drug I don’t think is borne out by statistics. That’s like saying that everybody who is guilty of rape once masturbated” – William F. Buckley

Consider several of the key issues found in the official party platforms. The Republicans espouse state’s rights, spending cuts, civil liberties and limitations on government oversight. Prohibition, however, effectively promotes the following:

  • A denial of state sovereignty on cannabis issues in favor of federal regulation
  • Federal interference on medical decisions made between a doctor and patient
  • Excessive government spending on incarceration, law enforcement and the drug war
  • Restrictions on civil liberties involving personal use in the privacy of one’s home

The Democrats, meanwhile, prioritize social justice, racial equality, health care and employment issues. Prohibition also counters these priorities in several ways, including the following:

  • Prevents the natural production of new jobs in the cannabis industry
  • Creates employment hurdles via criminal records related to cannabis
  • Fosters social and racial injustice with discriminatory drug law enforcement
  • Limits legitimate health care options for serious and terminal conditions

In this age of hyper-partisanship, few issues exist in which aging hippies and left-leaning millennials can unite with rural conservatives and family-values suburbanites. On the issue of cannabis, however, the tide is turning. In ever-increasing numbers, individuals in both parties recognize the benefits of reform, the damage from prohibition and the dishonest propaganda in anti-cannabis campaigns.

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank co-founded by Charles Koch, looked into the issue with the 2010 study The Budgetary Impact of Ending Drug Prohibition. The 54-page findings argued that ending cannabis prohibition would cut spending by $8.7 billion and increase tax revenue by the same amount. In other words, ending prohibition would cut spending, increase tax revenues and produce more jobs. If that is not an equitable balance for each party’s priorities, what is?

Stereotypes suggest that ending prohibition is a liberal cause, and polls do show that Democrats are twice as likely to support legalization than Republicans, but several conservatives are taking public stands. Former judge Andrew Napolitano said, “These are times that call for more freedom, rather than less” in offering his support for legalization, while right-wing power broker Grover Norquist (Americans for Tax Reform) aligned with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) on a bill to allow legitimate dispensaries to deduct business expenses on their federal tax returns. Mama Grizzly herself, Sarah Palin, even told National Review in 2009 that “I’m not going to get in the way of a doctor prescribing something that he or she believes will help a cancer patient.”

In other words, ending prohibition would cut spending, increase tax revenues and produce more jobs. If that is not an equitable balance for each party’s priorities, what is?

Speaking of National Review, William F. Buckley founded the seminal conservative magazine 60 years ago. During an interview with the Yale Free Press in 2001, Buckley said, “The idea of marijuana as a gateway drug I don’t think is borne out by statistics. That’s like saying that everybody who is guilty of rape once masturbated.”

Anti-prohibition conservatives like Buckley were more common in the 1970s, and in 1972, National Review ran the headline “The Time Has Come: Abolish the Pot Laws.” The War on Drugs propaganda machine helped shift the needle in prohibition’s favor, but the political pendulum appears to be swinging back. A Pew Research survey last year found that 63% of Republican millennials support cannabis legalization.

The religious right might still need more convincing, and some conservatives believe the cultural associations with cannabis justify its prohibition even if science and sociology do not. At the same time, yellow-bellied Democrats who privately support legalization often avoid public support because focus-group data suggests they shouldn’t. Libertarians, economic conservatives and conscience-driven liberals currently lead the political charge, and with the change in tides becoming ever-more clear, the number of legalization supporters should continue to swell.

Last March, bipartisanship took a major step forward when Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and presidential candidate Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act. The proposed bill would end federal prohibition, expand medical research, change the controlled substance schedule and reclassify certain CBD strains for expanded use. A few weeks later, Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Don Young (R-AK) led a bipartisan effort in the House introducing a similar bill to restrict prohibition and increase access.

Similarly, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) helped make history last month with their Veterans Equal Access Amendment. The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted (18 to 12) in favor of the bipartisan bill, which allows Veterans Administration (VA) doctors to recommend medical marijuana (MMJ) for patients in states that legalized MMJ use. The historic vote marked the first time any Senate body approved legislation that increased access to cannabis.

How far will these legislative bills go? Time will tell, but unlike the hyper-partisan battles under Obama, pro-cannabis legislation will likely pass by bringing the political parties together rather than pushing them further apart.

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Until Next Time, Grantland

I remember waking up earlier this year on the morning of May 8th and immediately checking my twitter (yeah, us Millennials do that a lot). I saw that Bill Simmons was trending and I already figured out what had happened: ESPN and Bill Simmons had finally parted ways. Given the tumultuousness of Bill’s tenure during the last couple of years with the company (including notable feuds with First Take and Roger Goodell), I knew that their split was both imminent and inevitable.

I also knew then that once ESPN cut Simmons, it would only be a matter of time before long-form sports and pop culture blog Grantland, a site he created in 2011, would meet a similar fate. Despite ESPN President John Skipper’s assurance that the company would remain “fully committed to Grantland” post-Simmons, reports of the site’s low web traffic, writers leaving for other publications, and the companywide cost cutting meant that their death was on the horizon.

Sports media, like most corporations, is all about making absurd profits. It’s the reason why ESPN, FOX, TNT, CBS and NBC pay billions of dollars to the NFL, MLB, and NBA to broadcast their games. An apt comparison can be made to cinema. A movie can be critically lauded and granted various awards, but if it isn’t a blockbuster or making any real profit, the studios will consider that film a failure. As James Andrew Miller wrote, Grantland was not making enough money (only generating $6 million a year), thus setting the clock to its inevitable demise.

As the months passed, Grantland continued to operate under interim editor-in-chief Chris Connelly as it churned out content. This was until a few weeks ago when the Grantland YouTube channel took down most of its videos and the once fluid well of columns and podcasts dried up faster than the State of California. Jalen and Jacoby’s popular “Pop the Trunk” podcast was moved away from the Grantland banner and towards ESPN radio.

Finally, on October 30th, ESPN indefinitely suspended the site’s publication, drilling the final nail in the coffin of a brief, but rich, 4-year lifespan. As Richard Deitsch wrote for Sports Illustrated, it was a sad day for all sports fans.

Like many others, readers and writers alike, I too was saddened to see ESPN kill Grantland. The site’s amalgamation of sports and pop culture in the style of longform writing was Bill Simmons’ vision. Love him or hate him, Bill Simmons, formerly the blogger known as the Boston Sports Guy and creator of ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, found a niche that worked: pop culture and sports can easily be worked together; compared through parallels that made context and magnitude translatable. One could write about the NBA playoffs one column and then talk about Game of Thrones in the other. One could even make reference to Game of Thrones in an NBA playoff game. Under Simmons, the skies were the limit on what writers could talk about and how they talked about it.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 14: ESPN TV Personality Bill Simmons Coach of the West Team reacts to a play during the Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at Sprint Arena during the 2014 NBA All-Star Jam Session at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on February 14, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Grantland was unique and highly influential to my own style of blog and column writing. Reading articles from esteemed writers such as Wesley Morris, Andy Greenwald, and Rembert Browne taught me that longform (pieces over 1000 words) could be just as engaging as standard articles fewer than 800 words in length. Zach Lowe could explain the game of basketball almost better than any other writer aside from a coach or a player. I still take pleasure in reading “Oral History: Malice at the Palace,” a longform account written brilliantly by Jonathan Abrams that details the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl in 2004.

Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose always had excellent chemistry on the BS Report podcast (which was never the case among the rotating cast of NBA Countdown). Grantland could provide its audience with witty humorous columns, articles concerning serious subject matter, and movie and TV reviews all under the managerial genius of Bill Simmons.

This is not to say that Bill’s passion project was perfect, they could not generate enough web traffic to justify its operating costs, they aired their podcasts and television shows (ex., Grantland Basketball Hour) on inconsistent times, and it had its fair share of controversy. In addition, I always felt as if some Grantland writers would focus too much on reacting to other pundits as opposed to just writing their own work and letting the research speak for itself. Nevertheless, Grantland was easily my favorite aspect about ESPN aside from watching the actual games. I can’t imagine an intellectual sports-fan who preferred regular ESPN to Grantland. Teading/listening to certain personalities who bloviate about tired talking points and propagate opinions discredited by research gets old when its airing on repeat, even if you change the anchor reciting the talking points.

Simply put, constantly hearing about Tim Tebow got really f****** annoying. But instead of solely bemoaning all that I loathed about ESPN (and trust me, there’s plenty), I consistently supported and praised both writers and pundits who did excellent reporting and commentary. I supported Grantland immensely.

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Overtime, ESPN has created personality-brand projects similar to Grantland such as Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight and (formerly) Jason Whitlock’s The Undefeated (known informally as “Black Grantland”). Unfortunately, FiveThirtyEight, which examines sports, economics, and politics through statistical analysis, might be next to be cut from ESPN given its low web traffic. In addition, The Undefeated, which is supposed to examine sports as it intersects with African-American culture and race, has yet to be launched after 18 months of incompetent leadership from its former former Editor-in-Chief. Yet, President Skipper still insists that ESPN is fully committed to these projects.

When have we heard that one before?

I remember when my editor Jake Kahane approached me to write for The Daily Twenties just as the site was getting ready to launch. During our conversation, we both discussed our mutual fondness of Grantland and lamented that Bill left. Yet, I also told him about how Grantland inspired me to write about multiple subject matters that many people consider unrelated. In my case, I was (and still am) inspired to write about the intersections between politics, sports, and/or pop culture. I can say that my very first article on Roman Reigns and race was in part inspired by some of the content I read at Grantland.

Thankfully, ESPN has archived the many wonderful works the site has produced during its tenure. I would encourage everyone to look back at the archives and read some of the most brilliant sports and culture writing from the last five years. If there’s some form of everlasting life for the site, it’s in the crypts of ESPN.com, the type of storytelling embodied by ESPN’s 30-for-30 franchise, and in the minds of those who read it and were better, more interesting people for it.

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How to Get your Medical Marijuana Card in California, Hint: It’s Really Easy

Unless you live under a very large rock, you’ve likely caught whiff of California’s lax rules surrounding medical marijuana. You might have heard your dealer rambling about his plan to move to “the promise land,” or maybe you’ve seen a green cross sticker on your California cousin’s laptop. Either way, we know you’ve heard the rumors. We’re simply here to outline the rules and tell you how you, yes you, can smoke totally legally!

What do the rules say?

While the federal government still recognizes marijuana as a schedule 1 prohibited substance (grouped in the same category as cocaine and heroin), the feds have much bigger fish to fry and let states enforce their own rules on medical marijuana. In California, medical marijuana has been legal under Prop 215 and Senate Bill 420 since 1996. As a medical patient, you can buy weed in any California dispensary, carry up to 8 ounces on your person, and smoke legally on private property. Yes you heard it; you can smoke legally if you have your medical card.

Who can get a medical card?

While medical marijuana has shown to help treat patients with serious physical illness such as cancer and glaucoma, California also recognizes marijuana’s medicinal benefits on a list of “illnesses” that almost every living person “has.” Let me just say that if you have any amount of anxiety, physical pain, trouble sleeping, high stress levels, or literally any persistent medical symptom that limits your ability to conduct major life activities (such as eating, sleeping, walking, etc.), you are eligible to smoke legally. If you can think of even one way that marijuana “helps” you live a better life, you are eligible. And no need to be picky, because California marijuana doctors certainly aren’t.tumblr_n6ceyuiMN81s15nabo1_500

How to get your card

Now for what you’ve been waiting for, how to actually get your card. Here’s what you need:

  • California State ID or Driver’s license
  • A brief excuse for why marijuana helps you
  • About $60 cash

First, let’s start with how to get the CA state ID or driver’s license. If you already have a CA state ID or drivers’ license, you can skip this step. This is the hardest part by far. You have two options here. If you choose to get a California driver’s license, you have to take the written driving test at a California DMV, prove residency, show a government issued ID (passport always works) and wait about 2 weeks for a driver’s license to show up at your door. I suggest however, that you go the easy route and apply for a CA state ID. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Visit a DMV office (make an appointment for faster service)
  • Complete application form DL 44 (An original DL 44 form must be submitted. Copies will not be accepted.)
  • Give a thumb print
  • Have your picture taken
  • Provide your SSN. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
  • Verify your birth date and legal presence (you may use your California driver license)
  • Pay the $21 application fee. There is no fee for a senior citizen ID card.

Once you’ve visited the DMV and have gotten either a California ID or drivers’ license, you are ready to visit a weed doctor! (Sometimes the DMV can take up to 3 weeks to mail your new ID, be patient!) There are hundreds of doctors in California that are licensed to recommend people for medical marijuana use, and if you are in any major California city, you’ll find it almost impossible to miss the big, green, “420 Doctor Recommendations Here!” signs sprinkled literally everywhere. Or you can always look up marijuana doctors on your favorite search engine and you will be sure to find a doctor within a short drive.

As soon as you settle on a doctor to visit, bring your California ID and a little cash with you and you are almost guaranteed to walk out of the doctor’s office with a laminated medical marijuana prescription recommendation. Just make sure to be honest about how marijuana has the ability to improve your life functions and almost no California medical doctor will deny you. Once you’ve gotten your ID, recommendation, and a little spending money, you are ready for the fun part… visiting your first marijuana dispensary! Stay tuned to The Daily Twenties to learn more about what the inside of a pot-shop actually looks like!

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