Thursday, February 19, 2009

Photographer Profile: Benjamin Hoste

Starting on Friday, February 27th, the month-long Exposure show featuring the music photography of Benjamin Hoste, Jeff Koga, and Simon Cardoza will take place at Meet, Mix, Mogul in Silver Lake -- and each Friday night, a group of three bands will perform, including such local luminaries as The Movies, Le Switch, One Trick Pony, and Manhattan Murder Mystery.

We'd profiled both Jeff Koga and Simon Cardoza in the past, so thought it was time to check in with Benjamin Hoste...

How did you start taking photos? And doing music photography?

Growing up I had a couple of those flat compact cameras that take film cartridges. I don't remember taking any pictures with them, I think I mainly just carried them around and pretended to take pictures. And besides a couple photography classes in middle school and high school, I don't have any photography training. Even now, I sometimes barely feel like I know what I'm doing on a technical level; I'm still adjusting to digital photography and learning new things all the time.

I got into music photography because I'm in no way qualified to write about music. I wanted to meet bands and a friend of mine suggested I get a camera and it immediately seemed like the perfect idea. Rock photography had never crossed my mind before that conversation. I also justified it as a way to give myself permission to attend shows alone. I used to go to a lot of shows with a my friend Nick, but when he moved back to Baltimore, I didn't know anyone who would go to shows with me. I hate going to stuff alone, I'd much rather share the experience with friends.

What do you like about it most?

By far the people. Everyone I've met through photography has been super friendly, especially the musicians. When I started I expected bands to be cold, venues to be rude, and everyone else to ignore me. But the opposite has been the case. I feel really lucky that a lot of bands I've photographed and people I've met through photography are now friends. In fact, if it wasn't for Noah Green and The Henry Clay People, I probably wouldn't have continued with music photography.

Getting free tickets to shows is also nice, but to be honest, if I really want to enjoy a show I leave my camera at home.

What was the best time you ever had shooting a band or show?

I'm not sure people realize how hard it is to shoot rock concerts. At a venue like The Echo or Spaceland, there's simply not enough light and at larger venues photographers have to deal with either impossible crowds or a three song limit. As a result when I'm shooting a show I'm not really paying much attention to anything other than the light, how it's changing, and what I think the musicians are are going to do next. I'm not even really listening to the music. Shooting a show is work, it takes a lot of focus and patience, and it can be exhausting. But it's definitely work I enjoy.

That being said, the show I most enjoyed shooting last year was The Mae Shi at The Echoplex in December. It was a very difficult shoot but the show was fantastic; the band had an incredible amount of energy, the fans were really into it, and I think the photos turned out well, you can see them here. The Henry Clay People are also a lot of fun to shoot and shooting NOFX at The Henry Fonda this month was awesome and a great change of pace.

I also recently did a photos shoot with Rademacher that turned into a massive, impromptu project. Even if it ends up going nowhere, it was still the most fun I've had with photography in a long time. Those guys are amazing and their show at Pehrspace in September was my favorite show of 2008, but I wasn't taking pictures that night.

Where can people find your work?

You can find my work mostly online but in print from time to time, and hopefully in more places in an increasing amount in 2009. But the best place to find my work is on my website Yeah Yeah Yeah, I Know Your Style.

I also have a gallery show opening February 27th that runs through March 20 in Silver Lake. I'm showing my work alongside music photographers Simon Cardoza and Jeff Koga and am really excited for the show. Each Friday for four weeks we're having some of our favorite local bands play acoustic sets and people can come by and check out our work. For more information on the gallery show go here ( I'll be showing ten prints including photographs of Everest, Le Switch, No Age, The Happy Hollows, The Henry Clay People, Autolux, The Movies, The Airborne Toxic Event, and The Binges.

What's next for you?

The gallery show is opening at the end of February and I'm currently in the midst of directing my first music video for The Voyeurs, one of my favorite LA bands.

I'm also lucky to be heading out to Austin, TX in a month for SXSW and am still looking for a Los Angeles band to tour out with and another one to tour back with. So shameless plug: If your band is going to SXSW and playing shows on the way there or on the way back and have room for me in your van please contact me. I would love to photograph your tour.

As for the rest of 2009, I'm hoping to direct a few more music videos. I'm also working on a portraits project but it will probably take over a year to complete. And there's always another rock show.

- Photographer Profile: Jeff Koga
- Photographer Profile: Simon Cardoza
- Photographer Profile: Sterling Andrews
- Photographer Profile: Laura Jennings
- Photographer Profile: Kip Terry


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