DeMayne is a driven, passionate and charismatic photographer and cinematographer with a unique approach. His style is authentic, direct and straight-forward in the best possible way: This visual artist strives to capture images that represent the culture and traditions of everyday people. His photographs strongly highlight the individuality and personality of his subjects, particularly when it comes to creating dramatic and compelling portraits to prove a powerful insight into the subject’s livelihoods.
With a strong affinity for hip hop culture, DeMayne has worked with clients such as Interscope Records, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Machine Gun Kelly, Rufus Blaq, The Ohio Hip Hop Awards, and many others. DeMayne is particularly focused on the music scene. However, his work expands way beyond the boundaries of the hip hop and music, adapting his creative eye to fashion, sports and commercial work.
DeMayne is also active as director, and has created stunning music videos for independent artists and record labels.
Tell us a more about yourself and your photography.
I’m a big city guy who happens to be from the small town, Youngstown, Ohio. I am a father, a husband and people watcher. I make pictures to capture moments of people’s lives and the culture that surrounds them. I like to consider my work as an extension of me. My images are my way of telling a story, from my view point. I am always a student of photography and I constantly push myself to become a better shooter.
Why did you start taking photos?
Growing up, I always had a fascination with music. Coming from a small town, I’ve always been inspired by the local music but often questioned why they weren’t bigger, why their albums didn’t look as good as national releases. I wanted to make a difference by sharing my passions for photography to help enhance their brands, to give a small town act a national look.
What is your secret when photographing hip hop artists – their music and life?
Whenever I’m shooting anyone, not just hip hop, it’s all about getting to know the subject or people you’re shooting. I enjoy engaging with my subjects to get them talking and feeling great about themselves. We’ll talk about recent shows or their favorite moments in their careers thus far. I want to build a report with the people that I shoot. People seem to relax for the camera when we make a personal connection with each other. This allows me to make the shot I am after instead of taking the shots they give.
How do you bring forward the artist as a character?
I like to learn as much as I can about the person before the shoot so that I can have a better understanding of who they are and what they represent. If their music is about the streets, I want to shoot them in their element versus in the studio so we shoot on location in their neighborhood. If they produce happy feeling music, I’ll play upbeat, energetic music during the shoot to set the mood. Any time someone calls me for a shoot, they are calling to enhance their brand. The shoot has to mean something and I am responsible for pulling the best out of them to help further their careers.
How does your hometown in Ohio influence your work?
Youngstown is a resilient, blue collar town. The city has been through a lot in terms of unemployment, drugs and violence. People in Youngstown are tough hearted and have experienced a lot of let down. They’re not just going to embrace your music or art just because you say you’re a musician or photographer. You have to really stand out and bring your A-game everyday. This toughness helps me see things in a different perspective; to keep digging deeper on a shoot, to bring out the best in my subjects. Youngstown forces me to make pictures with meaning so that the viewer sees the creativity and personality in the shot versus only seeing who is in front of the lens.
You also do some cool work with cinematography – like music videos – tell me about the similarities and the differences with “ordinary” photography.
They are both about telling a story. In cinema, you have the luxury of telling the story with motion. You can lead a viewer and provoke thought with cut-a-ways and sequences to engage them in the story. Photography presents a different challenge in the fact that you are still trying to tell a story or convey a message, but you only have one instance or frame to do so. In the end, both cinematography and photography are the tools that I use to tell a story from my perspective.
What kind of a camera and lenses do you primarily use and how do you select your equipment?
I primarily shoot with Canon cameras and lenses for photography. I use both Canon and Red cameras for cinema work. The only tools that really matter to me are my passion and eye. If I lose either of those, the camera and lenses won’t make much difference.
Can you name some tips for those who want to start taking photos of musicians?
First and for most, I’d say start with the premise that you want to tell a story about something you love and are passionate about. I don’t shoot weddings or high school portraits, but I have shot both on occasion because the subjects were people that I care about and love. I wanted to capture those moments and tell their story from a different perspective. So, choose music only if you love everything about music! Otherwise, the stories that you tell won’t be authentic.
Secondly, always be a student of your craft. Learn your tools and constantly push yourself to be better. Study the works of others and find ways to to master your greatest tool, your ability to tell a story.
Thanks DeMayne for giving us an amazing insight into your lifestyle and music photography
Please check out DeMaynes work at his site: