“A good photographer can make any subject look interesting”
Drew Yorke is a hip-hop scene photographer whose photos have been featured on sites like Hypebeast, Sidewalk Hustle, and Rap Season. He’s a 4th year Media Studies student at the University of Guelph-Humber, and on top of the many sites he has contributed to he’s taken photos for us at IGNITE.
We recently had the chance to feature him in an artistic profile – check out the rest of his interview below:
How did you get your start in photography?
I feel like I’ve always had a camera, even when I was younger my family always had one around. I didn’t really start concert photography until I was well into University – I was going to a lot of shows but I really couldn’t afford to go to as many as I wanted to and ran out of money. I noticed photographers were always getting in for free so I started renting camera equipment from the Guelph-Humber Media Cage. Then I started emailing as many people as I could to try and get my way into as many concerts as I could. Eventually someone said “yes” and from that moment I got addicted.
Do you have any specific influences that affect your style of photography?
A lot of live event photography is reactive, so I’m not necessarily dealing with something I can set up or control; it’s always something that’s happening in the moment in front of me. So I’m influenced mostly by the music of the artists that I’m capturing on film, they are influencing how I can move and what kind of moments I can create based on how they perform. I’m also really inspired by photographers who have taken those iconic images that you’ve seen a million times; like the kinds that people have posters of in their rooms. That really inspires me to make something. Not just take pictures that look cool, but also mean something interesting.
Are there any particular moments that have stood out in your career so far?
There was the time I convinced a security guard that I was working for Ryerson Radio to let me into a Frosh event where I snuck in a camera and a big lens to take pictures of Future and Drake. Other than that, a really important moment for me was getting kicked out of a Mac Miller show. I actually had a lot of access to that concert; I was taking pictures of openers behind stage, on stage, and even in the dressing room. Then the show manager told me I wasn’t allowed to be shooting for Mac Miller – and I thought that meant I wasn’t allowed to be on stage. So I thought I was cool to take pictures from the crowd. But then they saw me taking pictures and kicked me out in front of a lot of important people. That was a really defining moment for me; I learned that concerts are all about access: who’s important, who’s not important. If you get caught in a place you’re not supposed to be, people really don’t take kindly to that, especially when you’re dealing with multi million dollar artists like Mac Miller. That’s inspired me to constantly improve and get to where I am today.
Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers?
My number one advice to aspiring photographers is to shoot every damn day. Even if it’s just for a couple of minutes, pick up the camera and take some cool photos. People will always make excuses like “there’s nothing cool to photograph” but a good photographer can make any subject look interesting. Practice is everything. Bring your camera to anything, especially where people are creating art or performing live. People always want photos of themselves, so shoot as much as you can and create those opportunities for yourself.
Buying a camera can be daunting because of the wide range of brands, models and price points but Google is your best friend when navigating the market. Entry-level DSLR’s are really powerful these days and you can get a full kit with a lens for less than $1000.
Keep learning. Watch YouTube tutorials. Take classes. No two photos are ever the same and there’s always something that can be improved. You will always be a student of photography. You’re also your own boss, and you have to motivate yourself to get out of bed even when you’re not feeling 100% so that you never miss an opportunity.
If you’re looking specifically for concert photography advice then here’s a quick list:
- Arrive early and stay late. There’s nothing worse than finding out you missed a photo opportunity.
- Keep your gear safe. Camera gear is expensive and can be ruined very easily by water, beer, sweat or anything else you may find at a concert.
- Be confident. It can be awkward to push past people to get the photo you need but most people will respect someone who looks like they belong there.
- Wear ear plugs. You may not look cool but your ears will thank you.
- The biggest struggle with concert photography is capturing fast motion with little to no light available. It’s all about capturing the performer in the perfect light at the perfect time doing the perfect pose.
What’s your next big goal for your career?
Ideally I’d like to work with a specific artist for an extended period of time. I’m constantly shooting different artists and constantly looking forward to finding new up-and-coming artists or what’s the next big show. It’s different stuff all the time since I work for a lot of different publications and magazines. I’d like to work with one artist for a whole tour or a whole process of creating an album- to create something meaningful and emotional that progresses over time.
Know someone that’d be perfect for our next Student Profile? Let us know!
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity