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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Young People Doing Stuff | “We Started a Feminist Podcast”

 This is the first installment in our new interview series, Young People Doing Stuff. We’re going to focus on young people making things happen for themselves, by themselves, with knowledge they worked to acquire. If you know of someone doing something that needs some recognition, email us.

Conversations around feminism and patriarchy are usually reserved for classroom talk at liberal arts colleges where professors of Gender and Women Studies are leading the conversation. And once the period ends, so does the discussion. The Left Ovaries, however, are looking to change that and keep the conversation going.

Who are The Left Ovaries? It’s the kick-ass, extremely clever, name for a feminist podcast made up of 6 twenty-something women tackling both personal and shared issues women face daily. With only a season of airtime, they’ve already explored topics regarding pornography (“Porn-O You Didn’t”), identity intersectionality (“Is Your Feminism Intersectional?”), and patriarchy (“Fu*k Patriarchy, Get Money) in addition to other topics about what it means to be a feminist in today’s culture.

The Daily Twenties had the opportunity to chat with Bianca Rosen, a 23 year old graduate student at USF, and a member of the The Left Ovaries to get the scoop on their mode of cultural engagement.

How did it all start?

We’re all actually friends from the 6th grade. It started with the three of us: Erin Breen, Shelby McNabb and myself. We also all have sisters that are close in age, so it’s the three of us plus Erin’s sister, Claire, Shelby’s sister, Mackenzie, and my sister Bella. And we’ve all been best friends growing up. 

We often found ourselves talking a lot about social issues we’re witnessing that are intertwined with gender and race and age and so many other factors. We thought, we should really start a podcast and really sit down and open these dialogues that are not solely coming from the male centered perspective that we see a lot of the time in mainstream media but really from women about women’s experiences.

On getting the ball rolling

In December 2015, I was telling a older colleague about my interests and my passion about battling gender inequality. She told me that what is most impressive to employers who are hiring is young people just going out there and starting something.

And I was thinking, I’m not going to just wait around for 20 years and hope to fall into my dream job. I want to be doing it right now. So that was the final push.

Plus my Dad is a record producer so we had the means of recording it. We figured, let’s get in the studio and do some recording and figure this out. That was January 2015 that we got the ball rolling on it and ever since it’s been going and going really well.

On how it has evolved

It definitely has evolved in that we are all struggling to find our voices as individuals. As a group we realized that when we’re talking naturally we’re always talking over each other and a lot of it is not suitable for the podcast or our audiences. So we’ve learned how to talk personally, because our podcast is rooted in personal experiences, but also professionally.

We had to learn how to be articulate but also at the same time not sound too jargon-y so people who aren’t necessarily Feminists Studies or Sociology majors can understand what we’re saying. And we really have to strike this hard balance but I really think we’ve found this voice that we’re all comfortable with and worth exploring.

How diverse is the conversation?

There’s a lot of agreement. We would probably like there to be more disagreement…I mean we don’t want to be fighting… but I think it would be interesting to see more points of view and that’s why we interview people.

And we are all white and cis-gendered people from the same demographic so we really try to acknowledge our privilege and have other people’s voices in the podcast, so we try to get different opinions that way, but in general we mostly have the same point of view. We clash maybe sometimes but rarely.

What about having a male perspective?

After our first episode a male friend approached us and asked if he could be interviewed for the show. And we found that kind of problematic. When you’re listening to a podcast with all men or you’re listening to a talkshow with all men, listeners are not like “where are the women? Where is the woman to make this a balanced conversation?”

So we haven’t had any male interviewees yet because right now we’re really focusing on people’s experiences who are left out of the dominant narrative that we see.

But we can definitely see that changing as our story evolves. For example, right now we’re working on a dating episode and we’re hoping to have someone who has experienced same-sex dating. So we’re going to have some of our male friends who date men share their experiences.

On their audience

Our audience is mostly the feminist community so we’ve gotten mostly warm reception but a lot of the time we get called out on our privilege and we always try to acknowledge and address it in our conversations but mostly we’ve had a lot of positive responses.

Our most successful social media platform is Twitter. A lot of us are constantly tapping into our networks since there’s 6 of us and we all go to different universities and programs.

We’re on iTunes and we have about 300-500 downloads per episode and we currently have 7 episodes. And our goal is to get bigger and bigger.

Where did this genius pun come from?

We thought of it when we were freshmen in high school. We made a punk band called The Left Ovaries and last year when we were thinking about a name, some brought it up and we decided that that name was gold, and we need to keep it around. So it stuck.

So what’s the future for the Left Ovaries?

We’re all passionate about the podcast and what we’re doing about battling gender inequality and just inequality in general so our hope would be to make this a career at some point. Or at least part of our careers because we all have our passions.

I’m particularly passionate about the anti-rape movement, Shelby is passionate about mobilizing women in leadership roles, so I think a lot of us want to be doing this for a while. We’re obviously doing other things at the moment, but we definitely want to see this grow to shift how people view and think about women’s experiences and influence how they’re talking about them in general.*

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You can listen toThe Left Ovaries on iTunes by following this link: http://apple.co/1RaNeI6

And you can follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheLeftOvaries

And Ig: @theleftovaries

*Transcript edited for length and clarity

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