Today is one of the most respected and popular photographer/director birthday, Estevan Oriol. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with him at his studio and ask him some questions we’ve all wanted to know, like how he got started, some advice he has for aspiring photographers and being in shoot outs during a photo shoot. This exclusive interview is brought to you by Dopamine36, make sure to check out his work on EstevanOriol.com and to check out his clothing line joker brand.
1. Can you briefly introduce yourselves to our readers?
My name is Estevan Oriol and I am born and raised here in L.A.
2. Being that you were born and raised in LA your work has that unique Los Angeles feel to it, what does the city of Los Angeles represent to you?
Basically L.A. represents home to me, and you know what they say, the only good thing about leaving L.A. is coming back. One of the things that you can only really get here is the low rider culture, or the gang culture but other than that we have things like the beach and mountains only a half hour each way. L.A. is pretty much the place where people come to have their dreams come true.
3. How did your father Eriberto influence you to become who you are today?
My father Eriberto has been a photographer/artist for as long as I can remember. I didn’t live with him as a kid because my parent divorced when I was 3 years old. So when I was real young he gave me a camera he was no longer using and gave me a quick tutuorial on how to use the camera and I din’t feel it from the start but as time went on I started to like it more and more.
4. How did your Mom influence you as a child?
My mom never pushed me into one career, or to do one thing or another she just wanted me to do everything correctly. It was rough growing up because she was on disability and couldn’t work as a kid I couldn’t always get the things I wanted and at a young age it made me want to be the hardest working, so I could get those things.
I couldn’t always get the things I wanted and at a young age it made me want to be the hardest working, so I could get those things.
5. How did you go from being a bouncer to being an established and respected photographer/director?
When I worked at the clubs I would either be a bouncer or dj at the after hours clubs. Back then in the 90’s everyone who came out of L.A. knew each other because there were only a few clubs. The biggest thing I learned working at the clubs was to be cool with everyone, I met people like Cypress Hill and at that time they were blowing up and he asked if I could work with them. It was the break off point, after going on tour with house of pain for 3 years I ended up becoming the tour manager for Cypress Hill.
6. After managing tours for music artists what was the first big photoshoot you had that you were proud of?
The first one I was happy with was doing something for Cypress Hill and they cut us a check worth $25,000. At that point I realized “hey I could do this”! Man this is me. This whole time I was working with Mr. Cartoon on creating cd packaging from photos, logos and layout, it was kinda like when an animal get his first taste of blood from a kill, that got me high and this is when I knew this is what I wanted to do.
It was kinda like when an animal get his first taste of blood from a kill, that got me high
7. Can you tell us the early stages of working with Mr. Cartoon to create Joker Brand?
Cartoon had already been designing shirts for other companies and back in 1992 I was working with a guy doing construction and he had a few stores opening up and I had the idea for a ‘streetwear store’ and he thought it was a cool idea. At that time in 92′ there wasn’t really anyone doing anything big with streetwear.
So the guy I was doing construction for after seeing the success of what we were doing there got greedy and said everything he said he would do, he would now only do 25% of that. After some time there was an altercation and he closed the stores down. After a few more years Cartoon and I had some other brands like, Scandalous & Crazy Life. So eventually myself and B Real took over joker brand from Cartoon until he decided he no longer wanted to be in the company and I and some other partners have been managing it till this day.
8. Seeing the overall growth of joker brand in places all over the world, where do go and love the support you get?
We get lots of love in Europe, Australia, Brazil and Mexico as well. Unfortunately there is a group in Guadalajara that is bootlegging our clothing and it makes me sick.
9. You wear a lot of hats in terms of being a director, photographer and entrepreneur. Is photography your outlet?
The actual holding the camera and pushing the button is the great part of the job, but thats only like 10% of the job. Its getting the work and having to track down your money. With this industry I don’t know another industry where people only want the cheapest price and will always fight you on price, they don’t care about the quality, its crazy. I don’t go to steakhouses and ask to get $50 dollar steak for $30.
It’s rare you get a client who says'”here is the money you asked for, here is what we need, and we will stay out of your way because we love what you do and your work” But man when you get that it’s like sex, you always want to chase that feeling with photography when you get amazing jobs and you chase getting more jobs just like it.
10. Despite having to go through all those politics with photography what does it take to have a dope photoshoot?
For me I really don’t need anything other than my camera. For me I could just walk around and do great photoshoots. Now a days people think they are photographers because they shoot a photo on their cell phone or because they can add a filter to their photo with an app. That ain’t photography there ins’t any skill needed to do that.
11. What is the craziest thing that has happened during a photoshoot?
The craziest thing has been a shoot-out, but the things that bugs me the most is out here in L.A. it is the only place in the world where you need a permit to just shoot photos on the street. Every other place in the world you can take a photo on the street, but here you need a permit, its the craziest thing. So yeah I have been in a photoshoot where rival gangs are shooting each other and you ducking or whatever and your adrenaline is pumping, but to me the craziest thing is people trying to charge you money for shooting a girl leaning on a brick wall or asking you for a permit to shoot against their brick wall.