Estevan Oriol


Photographer Estevan Oriol started out as a bouncer in clubs before moving on to becoming a tour manager for musical acts. During his time as a manager he started to snap pictures of the famous musicians he was working with and something clicked for him. His passion for photography started to manifest and overwhelm him; it quickly became his full time profession.

Oriol was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. His home city and state has had a major influence on his photography. Southern California is known for its glamour and celebrities, but it also has a strong gang culture as well. Estevan has been able to balance a career that includes snapping pictures of famous faces like Eminem, Dr. Dre and Ryan Gosling—with shots of real life street culture. This mixture of worlds has allowed him to develop a truly unique and fascinating photography portfolio.

We talked to the in demand picture taker about his upcoming book, his personal philosophy on photography and where he would like to see his career go in the future.

What does it take to become a quality photographer?

Originality and drive. You have to be original to set yourself apart from
everyone else. You have to have drive because it’s a very competitive field
and there is always someone better or cheaper out there.

What is the highlight of your career?

There have been so many of them. Every time I travel because of my photography—
that is special. Shooting huge musicians like Blink-182, Eminem, Justin Timberlake
and Cypress Hill—is also a special thing.

What components go into the creation of a quality photograph?

Imagination, skill and a really good location with effective lighting.

Is it possible to take a perfect picture?

Sure it is. I’ve seen a gang of them. Have you ever taken a perfect picture? To me, many of my photos are perfect. I love so many of my pictures. That’s why I hit the button.

What kinds of people make the best subjects for photography?

All different kinds of people do, it is just about connecting with them.

What is your biggest strength as a photographer?

I’m not sure. I just love to take pictures.

What is your biggest weakness?

My love of natural light.

What can you tell us about your book?

It’s coming soon and it consists of photos I’ve shot over the past 20 years.

What was the biggest 1519_Estevan-Oriol-LA-Portraits
challenge concerning the
creation of this book?

Selecting the shots. There are
so many that it’s hard to edit,
but once you get into it you
can’t stop.

How did you decide
what images were worth including
in the book and which were not?

I like them all and that is why
I pushed the button down to take
those photos. It’s very hard [to
decide which to use], but I have
a publisher on my ass so I have
to keep it moving.

Has releasing a book always
been a goal of yours?

Of course! The best part for me is
going to be when they have all sold.
It’s a little nerve racking to see
boxes and boxes of books. In your
head, you are thinking, ‘man, I
hope these all sell!’

How would you pitch the book to someone who may not be familiar with you
and your work?

I would show them some of my pictures first so they are familiar with my work, then I would say ‘what do you think, do you want to see my book?’ I’m not a car salesman, so I don’t have some crazy pitch. I just keep it simple and moving.

How did you get your start in the industry?

In the early 90s my dad and stepmom gave me a camera. My dad gave me a five-minute crash course on how to work it. The rest was on me. I had to take pictures until I thought they were good enough to be in a magazine. Once I got to that point, it was about convincing the magazine to use them, or hire me to do a shoot for them. When all that happened I had to work it out so I got paid.

Do you remember the first time you picked up a camera or snapped a photograph?

As a little kid, playing with my parents, I would take snap shots here and there. Nothing serious.

What challenges are you looking forward to tackling in the future?

Staying relevant. There is ten times the amount of people shooting now and less people to work for due to all the budget cuts. There are a lot less magazines now that everything is digital. It’s cheapened the art form.

What is your greatest motivation in life?

Life itself is my greatest motivation.

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