After a break in 2018, Through The Lens is back. Connecting with photographers, videographers, filmmakers and more, this series goes behind the lens, to see what goes on behind the scenes.
Despite being relatively fresh in the photography game, Qavi Reyez is building a nice portfolio for himself, with magazine shoots, campaigns for the likes of Ted Baker and Clash Magazine under his belt and nature photography within his repertoire, Qavi’s out here still keen to learn his craft but he’s already got a wealth of experience from the industry. With targets to reach and some important lessons learned from last year, the photographer’s not looking to be inactive anytime soon. Here’s how the eleventh installment of Through The Lens shapes out:
You’ve been active, working with Clash Magazine and Young T & Bugsey, you still doing work with Belly Squad?
“I haven’t done anything recently with them but I ran into them at Young T & Bugsey’s headline show in Islington last year. With them, I’ve done a lot of stuff, I’ve done behind the scenes on ‘Missing’ with Headie One, I did some shoots for them which got used in Clash Magazine and on the main posters for their headline tour, a three or four city tour. There was also Wireless Festival, I looked at their website, I see Belly Squad there and it’s my photo they’re using, that was mad seeing that.”
Jheeeeze! Did Wireless credit you though?
“They didn’t still.”
You’ve got to pattern them tings there.
“Yeah, some things I’ve got to pattern properly in terms of the way the my photos are used, I need my share of the cut but it’s been a good 2018.”
What were your favourite campaigns of 2018?
“I worked with Ted Baker in July, that was a cool campaign because the employees there got to be models for the day. In normal life, they’d be doing their normal jobs but on that day, they got to be in front of camera. They had so many different kinds of clothes and shoes to choose from plus they got to pick what they wanted to wear and I was able to capture all of that which was pretty sick. The campaign went online which was cool because sometimes you need to spice it up in the workplace, some of the money from the campaign went to charity which was really nice.
I also got to do a lot of behind the scenes stuff, one of the biggest ones was Ambush’s ‘Jumpy Remix’ with Skepta and Chip. I ran into a good friend of mine called Megan, she’s a producer and has her own clothing line called King’s Ransom which she runs with Komali, another friend of mine, both of them girls run the line with their own money and they felt like getting me on board to shoot for them, it was definitely something I wanted to do. Then a few months later, I was actually off to get a trim when Megan called me saying there was a big shoot that she thought I’d be interested in, she explained it was for the ‘Jumpy Remix’ and I told her I was on it. I decided not to get a haircut, the shoot was more important.
I met up with the director, his name was Suave, he directed the whole thing and this was the first time both of us were working together. It went really well because the way I work, I don’t really get in the way, I just do my thing from the back, I’m like a shadow, you will not see me. People are always telling me “where are the photos, I don’t see you shooting” but that’s how I work behind the scenes. The whole shoot lasted about eight hours, starting around midday, Skepta was actually on his way to Wembley to perform so he was only there for a few hours, time was tight. We got Ambush’s parts out of the way first and then some with Ambush & Chip and then Skepta came, shooting with all three of them, it was crazy to just see them in person because I’ve listened to them since I was young.
I can see my transition from when I first started photography to now, working closely with amazing producers, directors and artists. The photos came out amazing, I posted them and they got a lot of love.”
What’s been the most important lessons you’ve learned from 2018?
“One thing I’ve learned is not to procrastinate and just do your thing, if you have a plan, just execute it, if you want to try something, go and try it, if you want to get people on board, talk to them and see what you think. Speak your mind, that’s so important, it’s being not afraid to say you’re not cool with something. As a freelancer when you’re starting out, you allow other people to dictate to you but you need to take hold of the reigns. If there’s something you’re not happy about then say it.
Another thing is being yourself and kind to others is vital, the industry’s so small, you want to show you are a serious candidate and give a good first impression. I met so many good people in 2018, the journey I’ve been on is insane and I’ve just been myself, going out my way for others too which is something that will come to help you a lot because people appreciate those gestures in this industry, putting in extra effort and not complaining all the time. Delays happen in this industry so you’ve got to be understanding, a lot of last minute thing happen. Always give your best, it’ll get you so far.
Get on with the work, stick to deadlines and if you can, excel them. When I shot at Young T & Bugsey’s show, as soon as I finished with my job around 12am, I went home and started editing the photos I took straight away, I finished around 4am and then at 6am, I went to do another project. I love doing what I do, I don’t have problems staying up late and getting the job done. People appreciate it as well when you get the work done quickly because they don’t have to chase you up.”
How do you get over adversity, coping when things don’t go to plan?
“The main thing here is speaking up, if you have any issues for example with the background the designer wants to use and you know it’s not going to look good or if you forgot to bring an extra memory card and you know it will affect the shoot, don’t stay silent about them. Communication is so important, there’s been so many times where things have not gone as completely as planned but if you communicate with the team, the makeup artists, stylists, designers, managers etc, you can work around it.
Never think that you’re alone, people are watching you, they’re there to help you. If you need time to change the lighting of where you’re shooting for example then let the team know, I went to do a shoot with a magazine and they suggested a backdrop for it and I told them it wouldn’t look good so they took this on board and changed the backdrop straight away and it looked a lot better. You have to have that belief, you’re there for a reason so they have to take on board what you say even if they don’t like it.”
Why do you think different medias such as music, photography and fashion go together so well?
“Personally, I love portrait photography and the main thing here is capturing your subject in the most nature way possible or in their own environment, capturing them the best that you can so when it comes to music, the musicians that I’ve met are so unique and they all bring a different level of confidence with them. Everyone that I have met are so different in the way they interact with the camera, it’s good to see because it shows that everyone isn’t the same in front of the camera.
Photography and music go hand-in-hand because at the end of the day musicians are people and portrait photography is about capturing people in their own environments and nowadays musicians are getting a lot more bold in being themselves which shows in the photos what kind of people they are rather than them just standing around, there’s always that bit of flair.
Music ties into photography which also ties into fashion, they’re all intertwined. There’s so many good stylists out there that know what they’re doing so that helps push the artist even more. The way they dress these artists can go into streetwear which means the artists start getting more attention, a lot them of won’t actually know what looks good on them until the stylist comes and dresses them, it helps artists a lot because there’s not many of them that know about fashion like that.”
Although the scene’s healthy, there’s still things that drag it down. Do you think these things are unnecessary?
“Yeah, I feel like it’s just squabbles that happen over little things that are not even worth fighting over. Some people think it’s needed so that they can draw people’s attention to it but I guess if it keeps people talking, there’s no such thing as negative publicity, it depends on how you spin it. Even when Wiley went off on Skepta and Dizzee, I’m sure people from other countries wanted to know what was going on, it puts more emphasis on who’s in the scene, people who didn’t know who Wiley is will find out who he is and try to understand where he’s coming from. It’s a way of keeping people relevant and sparking debates plus these people get more recognition.
Compared to the US, the scene in the UK is quite small, I feel like over there it’s easier to get big because there’s so many more people that will catch onto the music. The more people there are in a country, the more likely your music will get heard in that country, in America there’s so many rappers, new ones I’m hearing of every week that are making lots of money off one song, they haven’t been grafting at it, they’ve just blown up, it is what it is. With the UK, we didn’t appreciate Ella Mai so she went off to America and look at her now. I feel like it’s easier to make it over there, they’re more open than us, there’s so many of them doing their thing and making money whereas over here, it’s usually the same names getting the attention.”
What do you need to do to make yourself your best form possible?
“I need to take more photos, it’s one of those things where you can get caught up doing lots of things for campaigns and artists but not do things for yourself, personal projects. You can get caught up with work, with deadlines and you won’t grow as much if you don’t have personal projects, I definitely feel like that’s a fact. You find again that love for photography, I recently went to Richmond Park at 6am and it completely rejuvenated me, I hadn’t done nature photography for a while, it was something so different to what I’d normally do, not shooting people but nature. It made me realise why I love what I do. I need to push this more.
Another thing is to keep meeting more creatives, to do more things with others. It’s been about two and a half years since I first started doing photography properly, after five years I feel that’s where I really start because I’m still learning now. You’ll always be learning but these first five years are about meeting as many people as you can and enjoying yourself, do campaigns, do personal projects, if you want to travel then do that, work with companies in Europe and around the world and help people out. For 2019, I need to work more with people, be more efficient, get my website out and push my photography more.”
Follow Qavi on Instagram (@qavi_reyez) and on Twitter (@Qavi__Reyez).