Gogy Esparza: Seeing Sounds

Gogy Esparza is a photographer, designer and barber originally from Worchester, Massachusetts and currently living in New York. Gogy has worked with a number of musicians including Rick Ross and Brooklyn cult favorites NinjaSonik. Gogy recently released his first book of photography, entitled Light Time. I recently sat down with Gogy at Brown in the Lower East Side where we discussed Gogy’s life and work, and his thoughts on music and images. For more info on Gogy Esparza, check out his official site at www.gogy.me

How did you get into photography?

I started a clothing line in ’06 (Knucklehead Kids) and released a series of t-shirts with my best friend, Shan Pooviriyakul  One day, we were strolling down Lafayette Street, handing out promotional tees to all the stores we liked, and ran into A-ron, the owner of aNYthing. We had met him a few times, and he had seen and liked one of our other promo tees. I stopped him, said “what up” and handed him a shirt. This particular shirt was commemorating Big Pun, one of my favorite rappers, and as we’re talking, all of a sudden this dude pulls up to us on a bike. A-ron turns and says “oh shit! What up! Yo Shadi this is my man, Gogy!” And he says “Shadi used to shoot Big Pun’s videos” and I’m like “Word! Heres a t-shirt,” and he traded me his business card. I looked him up and thought he was an amazing director/photographer, so I emailed him and asked if I could help out in any way. I became his assistant and started running alongside him, working with him on shoots, running around downtown a bunch. He was the one who told me I should buy a camera, a real camera like an SLR. He helped me buy it, so that’s how I got into photography.

What musician would you most like to do a shoot for?

Pharell, Kanye or Theophilus London. Jay Z, obviously. Andre 3000 is another person that I would really want to work with.

What artists do you think do the best job creating a visual prescence for themselves?

Some of Gogy's Handiwork

Always listening to Jay-Z, Pun and Outkast, and all 90s New York rap pretty much. Nowdays, I’m listening to that kid Dom Kennedy from LA who I really like, the new LCD Soundsystem album, Talking Heads a little, and a bunch of dance music. Theophilus London’s new mixtape is good too. But I’ll always go back and listen to a lot of soul, salsa and funk too; I grew up on it.

What is Your Favorite Memory of Shooting Something Music Related?

I shot on stage alongside some artists, mostly friends like Ninjasonik a few years back, and that’s amazing because you really capture the energy, and you’re such a part of the show. Onstage is crazy. I think naturally your photos are going to be super, super intimate and that’s very unique.

What Specific Elements Do You Are Important For Artists to Keep in Mind When They Work With Imagery?

I think visuals have to be sincere. A lot of these artists get stylists or image consultants, but the image they try to provide is totally inorganic and not true to them. Like they’ll take a Hiphop dude from the hood, and they’ll give him a music video concept that has to do with punk rock. Or maybe that’s not the best example, but they’ll give him a video concept that has nothing to do with him. It’s important to evolve and elevate, but you have to be sincere–not just try to be different for the sake of being different.

So What Are You Working on These Days?

To pay the bills I am a barber, and have been working at Frank’s Chop Shop for about 3 years, and now I’m about to open a new barbershop on June 23rd. My friend Jeff Laub partnered up with a couple guys to open Blind Barber- a barbershop/bar/lounge on 10th and B in the East Village. Jeff brought me on as head barber and creative director of the barbershop, so we’ve been collaborating on everything from wall treatments to tiles, gloss, semi-gloss and artwork to adorn the space. It’s coming along great, and we’ll be officially open the 23rd. Also I’m pushing my first photography book LIGHTTIME, and getting it into stores overseas. But it’s currently selling at Dashwood Books, aNYthing, and Artbook at MoMA P.S. 1., and my solo photo show is still up at La Esquina in Soho til the end of the month so please check it out and support!