JONATHAN TATE: How does it feel to have a billboard on Rosewood & Fairfax? DAVID RIVERA: Feels good actually, knowing everyone gets to see it in such a staple location in Los Angeles. Everyone drives on that street throughout the day, so knowing a lot of Angelenos get to see it feels even better. I didn't even know my photo was up there. I actually saw it first on Instagram. Someone took a photo of the billboard and I was like, "Wait, that's my photo up there!" Definitely a great feeling.
How long have you been in Los Angeles? Been in Los Angeles almost all of my life. I'm originally from Compton but moved out of the city for a couple of years. Now I'm back, for good.
How did you get into photography? When I was younger my dad was into it. He gave me my first film camera, and when I got it I had no idea how to use it. He made me teach myself, so I learned and that's when my interest grew. I used to just shoot my friends all of the time, trying to capture their emotions. Emotions are a big thing in images for me. Each photo has a different tone of excitement, happiness or even anger being showed. Nothing is ever the same. There's something new everyday to shoot.
When it comes to pictures for you is it quality or quantity? Quality > Quantity.
Do you have a favorite aspect of photography? The balance you have on it. You can shoot whatever you want and however you want. Nobody can tell you shit, everyone has their eye. Just know how to emphasize and to capture that moment. Don't let the distractions ruin the image.
What campaigns have you recently collaborated on? Converse, American Apparel, The Hundreds, Power-106 FM… to name a few.
What project have you had the most fun working on? Power-106 FM was fun, definitely a new experience. Everything was so fast and you just have to keep up. You are on a tight schedule and have to keep up with artists coming in and out. There was no better feeling than capturing memorable moments in someone's career. Whenever they see your photo, they just go back to that and remember those good times.
How old are you? 21.
What else do you do aside from Photography? I am also a Designer for some of your favorite brands. I try to take my creativity and put in a lot of different places, not just photos. I feel like I can do more than just that. I want to leave a mark in this world and raise the bar higher to make a new definition of a "hard worker".
Do you prefer working with equipment and a crew or keeping it to a minimum with just a camera in-hand? Let's keep it natural shall we? I just like to be more on the simple side. I feel like it's more of a natural feeling when you see the images that come out. It's like you being there, looking at that subject. Not just another print you see on a paper or a wall.
Working with The Hundreds is Huge, no pun intended. How did that opportunity come about? A friend of mine got me in as a Photographer. I was at that position for about three months and then moved to Post-Production for the brand. I handled their ads, billboards, and web development. And then eventually I moved to being a Designer for the brand. My first official season with The Hundreds is releasing in Spring 2014 - so stay tuned.
Is there a favorite photo you've taken? If so, what makes that particular image special to you? I don't know if I have a favorite photo yet. I feel like it's too early for me to choose what a favorite is. I like my images, and how they come out. But I feel like I can always do better, or how I could've perfected it instead. That's just the learning process though. I'll perfect this craft sooner than later.
You were in Mexico a little while ago and returned with some amazing photos. Can you share how that experience was for you? (P.S. I loved your office out there.) Yes, I love Mexico. It's so close but still makes up a major difference. I try to do an inspirational trip every year to a new place, and get away from this Downtown L.A. life. Need to change up some scenery, and have my eye seeing new enviroments. Leaving the country to work and experience all these new ways of seeing sites differently...There is a different definition of fun out there, a different way of living. I just want to see it all.
Film or digital? Both, just depending on the what I have on me, or what the job is.
I like the name of your blog (myeyestoyou.tumblr.com). It's beyond appropriate. How did you come up with that? My Eyes To You. Showing everyone the world through mine. Simple as that. I want you to see how I see subjects, sceneries, etc. Everyone has their talents, or crafts I should say. But not one person sees the same things you do. That's what I love about all of this: It's all unique.
Do you have a favorite type of camera? No, I love all shapes and sizes.
Where is photography going in your opinion? I'd like to think it's going in a good direction. There are many photographers out now since equipment is available to almost anyone. Some still stand out more than others, but if you feel like your eye is something to show for… then why not show everyone else? As long as you're proud of your work, and know that no one can put you down for it, then there won't be any stopping you.
Do you keep a camera on you at all times? All the time. Siempre Listos! I just always get myself into certain situations that need to be documented or remembered where I've been lucky enough to have a camera on me. Since then I've learned to always be ready for anything.
What's next for David Rivera? Keep shooting, and pushing myself to do better at whatever I do. Whether it is being a photographer or a designer. I want to make my family and friends proud.
Interview and photography by Jonathan Tate
Follow Jonathan on Twitter at @Johnny13laze