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Behind The Lens: Israel Shoots

We recently caught up with the homie, Israel. Creative connoisseur, artist photographer, and all around plug. He talks life on tour, his love for photography, and his experiences behind the lens. Tap in.

Can you share with us a little bit about yourself, and where you’re from? 
I’m 28, Photographer, Director, Editor. I was born and raised in San Francisco, currently living in Los Angeles.

When did you develop a strong connection with photography?
My interest was first sparked at a very young age and it all began with video actually. My father used to have a camcorder around all the time around holidays and birthdays. I became fascinated with the idea of being able to rewatch something that had already happened. I started to play around with his camera and film movies with my toys. When I got to the age of about 11 or 12 my parents finally got me my own camera and I taught myself how to edit in camera. I never put it down. After school, on the weekends, you would always catch me directing the stupidest little videos with my friends and family. I took a long break in high school, I began focusing on acting, knowing that in college I would want to study Cinema again.

I developed a strong connection with photography around 19 years old thanks to one of my best friends, Daniel Mondragon. He introduced me to street photography. So I sold my handheld camera and bought my first DSLR w/ a 50mm prime lens and taught myself how to use it manually. 

We’ve seen you intertwine your passion for photography with your career, whats that creative process like?  
I studied Cinema in college, I have my Bachelor’s degree in Cinema. After I graduated from university I immediately wanted to jumpstart my own career in photography and video by starting a collective, Hungrie Ones, that would showcase artists in the Bay Area. We had big ideas and we really fucking killed it at first. I was working 2 jobs and making these short form documentaries every month. We were DIY hungry ass young kids just making our own projects in hopes that it would lead us to making a profit. I knew I had to move to LA to really intertwine my passion with a career, and so I did so. Through networking and putting out a lot of content, I made it happen. 

You started traveling last year with one of our favorite artists, Anderson .Paak. First of all congrats, that’s major! How’s that experience been? 
It’s been absolutely rewarding, humbling, inspirational and fun. I started off as a fan of his music and actually met him in 2013 at a music festival when my buddy Mr. Carmack brought him out as a special guest. A month prior I was on the bus in SF and wrote a music video treatment in my phone to the song ‘Realla’ that he made with Tokimonsta. I never thought I’d meet him a month later and when I did, I showed it to him. He really liked it but unfortunately the video was already shot, but he gave me his email and we started sharing ideas for Venice. Time passed and we kind of lost touch but would see each other around at shows. Then on NYE in 2017 I went to his 1015 Folsom show and he said ‘Wanna work for me as my video/photo guy?’ 

I dropped everything and said yes. At the time I was sleeping on the floor in Mr. Carmack’s house, eating turkey burgers twice a day and I was desperate for work. It’s been almost 2 years now. He changed my life.

We all know crazy stories come with touring the world w/ an artist, lol, any good ones you’d like to share….
Shit hahaha. Next question? 

Thus far in 2018, what’s been your biggest moment? 
2018 has been a whirlwind of big moments for me and the team. Speaking for myself though, traveling the world takes the cake. It has really humbled me. I’ve been working on a major project for him and it’s been a huge learning experience to do it all on my own. I had a pretty big moment recently when I got the confirmation that my photos would make it onto the album cover. The album is fire.

When (or if) you stumble upon self-doubt, how do you overcome it?
I stumble on self-doubt more often than not. Spielberg says that he gets really nervous before every shoot and that’s how he knows it will go well because his sense of self and his task is heightened. If he goes to a shoot feeling like it will be a piece of cake, things will go wrong. 
I strongly feel the same. I’m never freaking out but I’m always nervous before a shoot whether it’s a show, a photoshoot, a video shoot, etc. Also, don’t compare yourself too much with anyone, ever. Your path is your path, make it beautiful. Your art is your art, make it beautiful. 

What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned about being a creative & climbing up the career ladder?
It ties into what I just said. You have to realize that the most wonderful thing about art is that it is reflective of the artist creating it. That being said, it CAN be pure. There is no wrong or right. It just is. 

Now talent is a different aspect of art. If you have the talent and you spend your life mastering your craft then you will only get better. Not everyone has talent. If you do have it, don’t waste it. Getting your work out there is another important part. If you share it with the world, constantly, project after project – someone will notice. Network, be a good person, pick your battles, collaborate, speak your mind and reach out for opportunities – these are all things that will help you in your career. 

What’s one thing you want people to know about you?
I’m pretty much self taught and still have such a long long way to go. 

What’s your ultimate career goal?
I want to start a production company. I want to direct music videos, short films, photograph all kinds of subjects and make a feature film. I want to give back to my community by using my art, somehow some way. 

Make sure to follow & keep up with Israel on his journey.

Instagram: @IsraelShoots / You Tube: Israel Shoots

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