Q&A with Divad, Photographer/Director
There's power which results from consistent chemistry.
Divad captures an integral perspective of our very first 5 that JIVE artist, DaniLeigh -- providing the very vantage point in which we see in her music videos, photoshoots, and often on Instagram. He's responsible for a large portion of Dani's visuals as the fluidity of their collaborative efforts allow the world to feel like they're sitting shotgun on the journey of her career.
It can't be stressed enough, Divad's presence alone comes with the potential of capturing valuable moments that can be used to
set the narrative of Dani's story.
Dani & Divad were on the receiving end of fulfilling such potential in July 2018 -- when a trip around the block turned into a viral sensation, taking the In My Feelings Challenge to a whole new level. We were all asking who the fly girl with the curls who made jumping out the car seem so casual. From that moment, Divad's been able to present Dani as the shining light she is, while making you feel like you're in her inner circle.
Shot this while sitting in the passenger seat with one leg over on the break while steering, but it was worth it cuz @iamdanileigh killed this - @divad
Dani and her team are trailblazers at maximizing an opportunity. They took her viral moment and cemented her stay power by displaying her ability to perform and capture a crowd. Dani turned Times Square into a showcase with an impromptu performance of "Lil Bebe", sharing on social media to let the world know she's not new to the moment. Although signed to Def Jam in early 2017, Dani didn't rely solely on the infrastructure that a label typically uses to introduce a new artist to the market. She created her own buzz, incentivizing Def Jam to prioritize releasing her music.
We've been following Divad since we discovered Dani. His energy is felt throughout his social media content and his driven by genuine enjoyment for the art he creates. We encourage aspiring photographers to study the moves he's made just like he learned from Van Styles and other photographers before him.
We were able to link up with Divad prior to Dani's performance in November 2019 at Newport Music Hall. Here's a look at some of the photos we captured along with a Q&A regarding his career and the recent announcement that he'll be releasing his own music throughout 2020.
In my opinion, DaniLeigh is providing a very unique blueprint for new artists. Social media and visuals now play a very important role in the industry. You’ve played an integral part behind the lens of her success, what are some of the goals you set for Dani’s visuals or any other artist you work with?
Divad: When it comes to Dani's songs, the idea for the music video usually comes right from the lyrics in the song. If not, we’ll come up with a concept but it usually always involves her brand and who she is as a person.
What’s one of your first photography memories that planted the seed for you to pick up a camera? What camera did you start shooting with?
Divad: I don’t know if I have a specific memory, but I remember buying this little camera I literally fit in my pocket and I used to shoot my friends with it. I am looking back at the phase like, wow these moments are cool to have. After that, I fell in love with documenting.
What are some of the early practices you used to really hone your craft? Did you study photography / research different techniques or did you rely on trial and error by actually shooting?
Divad: It was kind of a mix. One of my biggest inspirations was a photographer called Van Styles, so I would look at his photos and try to emulate the feel. I remember the biggest thing I was looking for in my photos was capturing the emotion. I did a ton of research, watching YouTube videos, as well as trial and error until I found my style.
What are some of your favorite shots you’ve taken in your career?
Divad: I don’t have a specific favorite photo, but I remember there was one photo I took a long time ago and it was the first photo that made everyone take me seriously. I remember taking this photo by myself. I put my camera on a tripod, it was a self-portrait 30 second shutter. Intimate, was the perfect picture... me sitting looking towards New York City.
You directed the Easy Remix video for Dani. The song continues to climb Billboard and the music video has now surpassed 100 million views -- where does your mind go when you read that? What are some of the obstacles the team faced when creating the music video?
Divad: To be completely honest, I never really cared about the views. I remember it being at like 80 million and somebody told me about it. When I look at it now I am definitely proud of it. I just know that there’s still so much more work to do. I wouldn’t say there was any big obstacle other than it being my first real video so everything was a little new. If I had to say what I was most nervous for was getting Chris Brown to set.
Music Videos have had to make a comeback from the music video countdown days. Why do you think music videos remain an important piece of the puzzle in an emerging artist’s career? What are a few things you keep in mind when creating a concept for a music video?
Divad: Well to me the reason music videos are important is because it’s the best way to showcase the song. I think the most important thing when it comes to having a concept for a music video is keeping the brand of the artist in mind and making sure it remains consistent with the creative visuals.
Who are some of your peers that you admire or draw inspiration from? Which emerging photographers should new photographers follow?
Divad: When I first got into photography I had two photographers I really looked up to Van Styles and Andria LinQuest. Currently, out of my peers I have to say one of my favorite photographers is my friend Baeth. She’s a great person to check out for any new photographers coming up.
Give a shout out to 3 people who have helped your career and explain how:
Divad: I always have to mention my aunt Wendy. She bought me my first camera at 16, I used that camera for 3 years to jump start it all. Gerard Adams, he taught me marketing. Greg Yuna, he doesn’t know this but he taught me a lot about business in a short amount of time. And of course Dani. She helped me put it all together and gave me my first real platform to create. That was 4 but there's alot more!
What advice do you give aspiring photographers who want to get their foot in the music industry?
Divad: I guess for any photographer that wants to go in any industry, understand that you’re running a business so have that on-point. And be quick with your edits.
When shooting on-tour, what equipment do you have in your camera bag? What camera are you currently shooting with the most?
Divad: I shoot videos with a GH 5SU. Photos with the Canon 5D Mark III with a 16 to 35 mm lens and a 580 EXRT flash. I have hard drives and my computer, that’s it.
What do you enjoy most about being on-tour? What’s a day off look like for the team when you’re in a new city?
Divad: The biggest thing I enjoy about tour is the food. A day off for the team in a new city is us trying to find the best restaurant to eat the best food.
Best way a fan can support an emerging photographer?
Divad: I guess just tell him/her what it is that you like about their work. Sharing a photographer's photo on Instagram opens them up to a whole new audience.
You recently announced you’ll be releasing music in 2020. What’s the most beneficial lesson you’ve learned about the music industry as a photographer, that will help you in your music career?
Divad: I have learned it all. I say that knowing there’s always more to learn, but I have a good amount of knowledge being in the industry.
Three words to describe the music you’ll be releasing this year:
Divad: Real, trap, fun.
Finish this sentence:
Divad: By the end of 2020, Divad's greatest accomplishment will be PAYING OFF MY MOMMA'S HOUSE
Damn...I feel that. Be sure to show love to @divad by following his work as we anticipate the release of his first single -- which should be out soon.