*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life
Trying to focus your passion into a hobby and translate that hobby into a profession can be an uphill battle. There is always a certain level of uncertainty when trying to break into a new business. It doesn’t always boil down to if you are the most qualified, the easiest to work with, or the most punctual. Sometimes you just need someone to give you a chance, someone who will put their faith in you that you will deliver. It’s on you to follow through. Diego Acevedo, who goes by the tag “Diego In Focus,” has been given his shot and is rising to the challenge.
A’Damaged Pro – Where did you grow up?
Diego Acevedo - I was born in Los Angeles, CA but I grew up in Dallas, TX. I’m still living here now actually. Dallas, & Texas overall, has an amazing music scene. We get major artists that come though almost every weekend so it’s a great place for me to keep expanding my skills & see some great EDM artists.
A’Damaged Pro - How did you first get into photography? Did you have a mentor?
Diego Acevedo - It was a few years ago I had some spare cash, so I bought the most basic camera at some pawn shop and just started shooting. I was just alright at first. It took a while to find my shooting style, all while learning the basics. Once I felt experienced enough, I went and bought some real gear and the rest is history. I can’t say I had a real mentor, just many inspirations.
A’Damaged Pro - How long have you been listening to EDM? Who are some of your favorite artists?
Diego Acevedo - I’ve been listening to EDM for a solid 8 years now. I was a fan of the scene way before I was ever interested in photography and I still listen to it every day. It’s 90% of my music library. It’s hard being a fan of a single artist with our genre, a lot of the times an artist makes one amazing song and then falls off the planet, or just never makes anything as good again. That being said, some of my favorite artists who consistently make amazing music are: Keys n Krates, Grandtheft, Above & Beyond, GTA, Armin Van Buuren & Duck Sauce. Just to name a few.
A’Damaged Pro - What was the experience of shooting your first event like?
Diego Acevedo - Scary. I had spent almost a year just shooting anything I could to build a small portfolio so I could attract some clients, and when it finally happened I was extremely nervous, but excited. As soon as I got into the venue though and got into my groove, it was amazing. I knew it’s what I wanted to really do with my life.
A’Damaged Pro - Who have been some of your favorite artists/festivals/events to shoot for?
Diego Acevedo - In Dallas, we have Full Access/Prototype Industries and they bring the best of the best in electronic music to the city and it’s such a joy to shoot for them. As for everything else, Flosstradamus is always fun to shoot and I’m glad to have made friends with them. EDC Vegas is by far my favorite festival to photograph. The production/artists/people are the perfect combo for amazing photos.
A’Damaged Pro - What’s the farthest you’ve travelled for an event?
Diego Acevedo - As of today, the farthest I’ve traveled has to be to Las Vegas for EDC. We drove last year and are planning to do so again this year. It’s a long drive, but totally worth it with the right tunes and people. I almost flew out to Canada for a major festival, but didn’t make it due to complications.A’Damaged Pro - What goals have you set for yourself in 2014?
Diego Acevedo - To expand my artist roster. Ive covered a handful of artists so far, so I’d love to expand that as much as possible. TomorrowWorld is a huge goal, as well as other great festivals. We’ll just have to see A tour with an artist is on the list as well, but I’m in no rush for that just yet.
A’Damaged Pro - Any new projects that you’re working on now?
Diego Acevedo - Now that summer is in full swing, I’m going to start up a series of street photography with a few models when I have the time. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and the results are incredible. If you’ve heard of the photographer, Van Styles, that’s more or less what I want to experiment with.
A former project that went viral was a drawing that my girlfriend at the time and I made to commemorate my first time photographing EDC Vegas. It was a completely hand-drawn version of the EDC Owl stage and me in the photo-pit. Pasquale Rotella found it and shared it on his Instagram and then it was featured in the White Wonderland Aftermag. That was such an awesome experience and hopefully more art will be made in the near future.
A’Damaged Pro - If you could shoot any show around the globe, what would it be?
Diego Acevedo - It might sound cliche, but Tomorrowland. It looks like a great fest with great vibes and I’d love to cover it one day. For now, I’ll aim for TomorrowWorld.
A’Damaged Pro - What keeps you on your toes with photography?
Diego Acevedo - Well, there’s this Facebook group that I’m a part of called, EDM Photographers. I’ve been told that it’s the hardest group on Facebook to join, and that Facebook themselves contacted the admin of the group to ask why. There is a rigorous screening process for our group, so not just anyone who picks up a camera is allowed in. On a daily basis, the best EDM photographers from around the world post their photos in that group and it’s a really humbling experience. It makes me always challenge myself the next time I go and shoot, so that I might be as good as they all are one day.
A’Damaged Pro - Is there anyone who has helped your career along the way?
Diego Acevedo - Most definitely. My former girlfriend, Gemma Campos, has been and still is a huge help in my photography. Together, we were featured by the owner of Insomniac. Not sure how much bigger it gets from there. She created my cartoon character design, which is now iconic in itself when people think of me. It’s even on my stickers. She’s always been a great help and my biggest fan.
Also, my dear friend, Sara Tariq, writer for Vibe and DJ MAG USA, has been essential in the building of my photography. We tag-team events often, I’ll photograph while she interviews artists and reviews the event. I would not have had half of the events in the last year had it not been for her.
A’Damaged Pro - What are some of your own favorite photographs?
Diego Acevedo - I love my Above & Beyond photos. Those are by far the ones I’m proud of most. They occasionally share my work as well, so that’s always nice. Above & Beyond always inspire such real emotion and moments wherever they play and I try & capture that. I think the fans love them as well. A’Damaged Pro - How did you hear about Electronica Life?
Diego Acevedo - It was a funny experience. I saw one of my photos on the Electronica Life Facebook page without any mention of me, which happens all the time for photographers. We cleared it up and the rest is history from there. Now I’m happy to be here with you guys today.
A’Damaged Pro - Do you attend these festivals and events as media/press?
Diego Acevedo - Yes, anytime I cover a festival I always go as media/press. It grants me basic access so I can get the shots I need, but if I’m covering an artist then I’ll usually be allowed on stage for their set if I’m not granted all-access.
A’Damaged Pro - You mentioned that your writer friend at Vibe & DJ Mag helped you…for those events you fly under their flag for press purposes?
Diego Acevedo - Yeah, anytime I shoot with Sara, we’re both under the Vibe brand & whatever content they choose goes up in an article or photo gallery.
A’Damaged Pro – Do you have a club residency anywhere?
Diego Acevedo - An official residency, no not yet. But there is this nightclub in Dallas called Lizard Lounge that I do shoot at regularly. Although it’s not an official residency, I know the staff well and it feels like a second home to me.
A’Damaged Pro - You mentioned building your portfolio shooting anything…what were you shooting and how did you translate that into your first event opportunity?
Diego Acevedo - When I was getting my foot in the door, Lizard Lounge was where I basically taught myself how to shoot. Lucky for me, they are very relaxed if someone wants to bring a camera in for an event and just shoot from the crowd. As I mentioned earlier, Full Access brings the best artists to Dallas and the usual venue is Lizard Lounge. It seems like all the elements were just right in order for me to fully grasp nightlife photography. Once I was able to build a solid beginner portfolio from the heavy-hitter DJ’s that would come through Lizard Lounge, I began to contact artists and various media outlets until I was able to land my first booking.
Well, it was awhile back but I remember not really getting a response from artists. Which was to be expected, even now I have a hard time & it doesn’t help that 90% of it is just emailing the press reps & hoping for the best. I had much better luck with some of the mid- size edm blogs & that’s how I got my first booking.
A’Damaged Pro – How large was your original portfolio when you first started contacting artists?
Diego Acevedo – Well it was a while back but I remember not really getting a response from artists. Which was to be expected, even now I have a hard time and it doesn’t help that 90% of it is just emailing the press reps and hoping for the best. I had much better luck with some of the mid-size EDM blogs and that’s how I got my first booking.
I think I had about a solid 50 shots in my portfolio at the beginning, and thankfully that was enough to convince Kent of Electronic Midwest to take a chance with me, and even that was me reaching out to him cold and simply asking to cover some local events under Electronic Midwest.
It’s always hardest for any photographer in the beginning to cover events. I feel like now I’m starting to really break out of the mold and I’m finding it easier to get access to the festivals I want. It just took a bit of time, but well worth it!
A’Damaged Pro’s final words…
You have to chase your dreams and believe in yourself. There’s no real substitution for a harmony between self-confidence and quality work. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it but there is always room to grow. If you find some aspect of your craft is lacking, you have to put in the work. Don’t be afraid to learn and don’t be afraid to fail. When it comes together, you’ll know it was all worth it. Diego never gave up and he’s picking up speed and credentials as we speak. There’s always hope if you are determined to make your dreams come true.
Connect with Diego Acevedo: Facebook