If you head over to Estevan Oriol’s site. You will see an impressive set of images — Josh Brolin, Dr. Dre and Tony Gonzales. And a list of clients that are equally impressive — Ford, Nike, Colt 45 and Metro PCS.

It’s self-evident that Oriol is not only successful. But that he has a wealth of access to celebrates. Which in my view is an impressive accomplishment for this ex-bounder. As Oriol, mentions in the interview:

Tweet This: There is a lot of competition out there… Everyone has a camera…

But I find that Estevan’s father to be a pivotal player in Oriol’s photographic career. And I think that we all need a champion in this industry — someone who will support our choices.


LBTL: Why did you make the transition from a bouncer at hip-hop clubs to a photographer?

EO: Muggs from Cypress Hill offered me a job on tour managing House Of Pain. At that time I was doing construction during the day and working at clubs — at night. I told both bosses that I wanted to try it, they both said no problem. And I could have my jobs back if I didn’t like it, so I took off.

I was soon off to start traveling the world. And when I was back home I was very involved in my low rider club. And low riding in East L.A. . My dad was a photographer and a painter. He gave me his and his wife’s extra camera they had lying around. And told me to start documenting the touring, with the rap group. And the low riding life I was living .

LBTL: Has being a Mexican American influenced your photography? How?

EO: My dad influenced me. And he’s Chicano. As well as my low rider car club, it’s about 98% Chicano. So it was there and I had no choice. Everywhere I looked there was la raza.

LBTL: You are known for photography that focuses on Los Angeles and gang culture. What is the draw to capturing the gang culture?

EO: It’s there and I was around it — so why not. Back then I never realized it. But I was able to photograph stuff that not just anybody could get. To me, I was just hanging out. Most of the time it was a lot of fun just hanging. There was some action here and there but not like the media makes it sound.

Everyone is not a savage.

LBTL: What advice could you give young Latino photographers about becoming a professional photographer?

EO: At first do it as just a hobby make sure it’s what you want to do as a profession. There is a lot of competition out there now. Everyone has a camera and because of the digital era there is — no film cost, no processing charges, so a lot of expenses for budgets were cut.

So the kind of living you could make from just photography has been cut in the last 5 years from 50% to 70%. Also 80% – 90% of the magazines have either gone out of business or have gone online to save on print charges.

So being very hungry and very competitive helps a lot. One very important rule is try to be as original with your images as you can.

LBTL: Finish this sentence for me “What does Estevan Oriol have in his camera bag…”

EO: Canon AE1 WITH A 28 MM , 35 MM, 50 MM, AND 100 MM LENS, EXTRA BATTERYs . Canon 5d mark III , Ef series 24-70mm lens , Ziess 35-55 mm lens , a fish eye, 3 extra chargers and 4 extra batteries, a Leica m6 with a 35mm lens, light meter. 4 – 16 gig cards , 3 sharpies , Visio Pro-Led light and very important — a stack business cards. Also a bag of film with 10 rolls of black and white and 10 rolls of color.

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So if you have plans on making photography your career — follow Oriol’s advice. Start small — as a hobby and see if you have the hunger to turn it into a business.