Fresh off a tour with Macklemore and Kesha, photographer Zoe Rain took a moment to share her creative journey with us. Read our full Q&A below—the first in our new series on music photography and the ONA community—for a behind-the-scenes look at Zoe’s life on tour.
Name: Zoe Rain.
Hometown: Seattle, Washington.
Most recently on tour with: Macklemore & Kesha.
Go-to gear: Nikon D810, 70-200mm lens, on camera flash and my black leather Clifton backpack.
Describe your aesthetic in five or less words: Simple, Timeless, Rugged, Comfortable.
Zoe carries the leather Clifton backpack in black
“I first picked up a camera…” When I was in elementary school. It was a pink Fuji digital camera.
How (and why) did you start shooting music? I was taken to a Macklemore and Ryan Lewis show in Seattle, where I became a fan of both their music and photographing live shows. The scene in Seattle was really picking up during that time, and there were a ton of people to follow and be inspired by.
Biggest creative influence(s): Artists of all kinds. Photographer inspirations are endless. I love looking through magazines for inspiration. Pinterest, Tumblr, billboards etc. Anything visual goes into a notebook. Music also can help get me into the right vibe when shooting or editing!
Thing you can’t live without on the road: My headphones. Music is so important to have in the background of my life.
Your favorite photo you’ve taken this year, and the story behind it: I had the pleasure of shooting a portrait of Kesha while on tour with her and Macklemore this summer. She is such an inspiration and I really fell in love with her story and her person. It was shot super quick before she walked to stage, with a handheld LED light on a wall. Super basic, but all you need for a good portrait is one light.
One piece of advice that stuck with you: There are a few mottos I like to go by. “Be so good they can’t ignore you” has been a long attitude of mine. But that takes confidence, and when I am not feeling so confident, I also have to remind myself that “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Focus on what you enjoy creating. Don’t try to be someone else. Be yourself.
Advice you would give to someone looking to get into music photography: Make friends with not only bands and agents, but also venues, doormen and security. Shoot a ton for free (when starting out). I like to shoot a band and send them a dropbox of images, just as a sort of teaser. “Hey thanks so much for getting me a pass, here is what I do.” I don’t recommend shooting everything for free, as that is a large reason why bands don’t expect to pay anything for photos. Building that relationship and trust is really important. Also don’t be an a jerk. Best advice for anything in life.
One thing most people wouldn’t expect about you? I’m secretly a big softy. I think a lot of people are intimidated by my tattoos or that I wear all black. But I am a pretty kind and understanding human.
Mistake you’ve learned from: Backup your files. Backup your hard drives. Backup your iPhone photos. Backup everything!
Biggest challenge: Being a female in a male-dominated industry. Being self-reliant financially has also been a huge one. I don’t rely on anyone to support myself and that can cause some scary seasons in an artist career path.
Work you are most proud of: All of my work. At least the stuff where I know I put my whole heart into it. My music work sings that effort most vivaciously.
Dream project: Shooting a Fader magazine cover.
Favorite album: Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon.
Instruments you play: I use to play piano!
Hidden talent: Unicycling and juggling at the same time.
Your first concert: Death Cab for Cutie in Seattle.
Bucket list artist to see: Sublime.