Photo Essay


Yamataka Eye

I have been shooting individual portraits of musicians for a little over three years - a project inspired by a trip to the Coachella Music Festival in 2004. With an all-access photo pass in hand, I wanted to break free from typical live performance shots, and do something that both challenged my talents and captured these artists in a unique and personal light.

I initially decided to photograph individual musicians because of the difficulty I encountered coordinating full band shoots. However, after the first shots I took at Coachella, I quickly realized these one-on-one portraits were a special way for me to capture how these artists wanted themselves to be perceived.

I strive to capture the musicians, no matter how famous or unknown, as human beings first, encouraging them to show the lens who they are as individuals. By limiting my lighting options, mostly to available light, and background choices,

I allow my subjects to bring their own personalities to the project, encouraging them to choose their own poses, facial gestures, wardrobe, etc.

I have found that my best photos are born from quick shoots, often of only 5 to 10 frames in under 5 minutes. Over the past 3 years, my portrait project has evolved from a series of simple, isolated shots into a cohesive collection, with a strong centralized theme of "the musician as individual artist".

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