#GramGen is a series profiling the most radical characters in youth culture, who continue to shape trend behavior and spark controversy through their avant fashion sense and candid social media personalities.
Meet Colin, the Chicago photographer snapping pics at all of your favorite concerts. The 25-year-old’s Instagram feed is nothing short of impressive, from incredible shots of artists like Migos and Lil Yachty to A-Trak and Justin Bieber. Unlike many other music photographers and film makers, Colin’s diverse taste in music has led him to shooting a range of of shows, and in turn, a crazy mix of crowds and energies.
From an early age, Colin found himself obsessed with hip-hop music. That love, followed by a later passion for photography and electronic dance music, led him to a dream job that covers all three — oh, and he gets to travel the world while doing it.
We caught up with Colin to discuss what life’s like as a touring photographer and why he thinks using IG as a creative platform “really lets those that are unique shine.” (Btw, we think so too).
How old are you?
I’m 25 years old.
Where are you from and where are you currently living?
I was born in the suburbs of Chicago, like 45 minutes west of the city. I live in downtown Chicago now, though.
What’s your occupation?
I am a photographer, videographer, editor and film maker.
Your Instagram is primarily music photography — what came first, an interest in music or photography?
Well, I guess my interest in music came first. I was obsessed with music way before I was even old enough to be trusted with something expensive like a camera. I always had an appreciation for photographs, though.
Growing up, like mid/late 90’s, my mom was always super persistent at keeping family photo albums up in our house from vacations and stuff like that, so at any point if I was bored I could just pick a time and reflect on it, that was really cool to me. It wasn’t until high school that I started to embrace and express my own way of seeing things, and really getting into photography.
You shoot a range of artists from hip-hop to electronic dance music. What kind of music are you into?
Primarily hip-hop and dance music. I was exposed to hip-hop at a super early age. When I was in like 3rd or 4th grade my dad took me to this bookstore to pick out a cd for my walkman for an upcoming flight. I saw the cover art of Beastie Boys – Lincense to Ill, and remember thinking “Wow, that airplane looks cool. I’m going on an airplane tomorrow, I’m going to get this one.” I think it’s safe to say that put me on a particular path.
From there I got really into Ludacris and the whole Atlanta movement, Nelly and the whole St Lunatic thing. My dad was a basketball coach for a neighboring high school, so I was always at their practices, games, in the locker room, etc., absorbing whatever these 17-18 year old kids were listening to. I think I was in 5th grade.
When high school came around I fell in love with dance music. I heard Justice for the first time and was blown away. After high school I discovered skrillex, I had never heard anything like it. He’s extremely inspiring to me.
You’re the touring photographer & videographer for the DJ group, Louis the Child. What’s a typical day in the life?
Depends on the day — if we’re a playing a festival, it usually starts with a flight somewhere. Also depends on the current project we’re working on. I live in Chicago and Freddy & Robby (Louis the Child) live in LA, so we usually meet at our hotel and then kind of just do whatever. They’re hilarious so there’s usually a lot of joking involved which is super easy for me to film. They’re so much fun to work with.
If we’re on an actual tour things are a lot different though. I usually wake up pretty early. I like to see the city we’re in and shoot as much as possible. After the show I head back to the tour bus to edit.
Why concert photography?
It’s just the way things have evolved. I’ve always loved music so I guess it was natural. I shoot a variety of things.
What’s the biggest difference between shooting a hip-hop show versus a dance music show
I’d say the thing that sticks out most to me is the difference in the crowd. Dance music has a really tight fan community. Hip-hop shows appear to have a lot more fans there for their own interests, which is totally fine. I think hip-hop fans tend to go to a show to see the artists, where dance music fans go to shows to you know, dance.
Your feed features a ton of big name rappers, from Swae Lee to 21 Savage. How do you make that happen when you’re on tour?
Just being in the right place.
Does sharing your work on IG ever help you connect with any of these people?
What’s the best part about having a visual platform like IG to share your work on
Honestly, just the opportunity for more people to see what you’re doing, and see who really appreciates it. It’s insane how much you can tell about about a person’s personality these days solely based on what they put out on the internet. It really lets those that are unique shine. I think that’s kind of new.
Your style is definitely something that has caught the attention of followers — what are some of your favorite brands of the moment?
Oh man. Honestly, whatever I think looks cool. Doesn’t necessarily matter where it’s from. As far as brands I buy consistently though, I like Palace a lot. I was just in london a few weeks ago and finally got to go to their store. That was cool. Youth Machine, Bape, Off-White.
What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
There’s new opportunities everyday, we’ll have to see.
For more #GramGens, check out @butlerarchive, the artist using minimalism to illustrate the female body.