We have all felt as though we were born into a world that seemed out to get us. With events like the Dot-Com bubble in 2000, Great Recession of 2008, increasing tuition prices, and hyper-competitive job market, there has not always seemed to be much room to move out of the norm. The world often tells us to follow a more structured path, using an established system to cushion any risks we take, if any at all.
But what about those who only take risks, double down on their passion, say ‘screw it’ and take that leap?
What about those like Kaytlin Dargen? At only 20 years old, she has already built a hell of a career on hard work, youthful passion, and perhaps a bit of luck. Passion has driven her career forward, inspiring many to believe that if you have an eye for something special, nothing can stop you.
I spoke with Kaytlin and found out more about her attitudes toward making it in the industry, how she communicates the vibe of the show through photography, and her hopes for 2018.
You’re only 20 years old, what has brought you this far?
I was lucky enough to figure out that photography was something really special to me very early on; I’ve had a camera on me constantly since i was about 11 and shot my first shows when I was 15. The fact that I grew up with such a supportive family that never doubted that I could make it in this field was crucial to excelling in my art/career/life in general. My mom didn’t bat an eye when I told her that I didn’t think college was for me (after going for one day) and that I wanted to pursue photography fully on my own terms, and because of that trust I’ve gotten a really solid start on the life I’ve always hoped I’d create.
How does living in North Dakota impact your career?
I lucked out growing up in Fargo because it’s definitely the most progressive part of ND and really different from the rest of the state, it’s almost more like Minnesota I’d say. So people around here are really supportive of the arts and young entrepreneurs. And since it’s borderline tundra, I kinda get to chill in the winters because no one’s trying to shoot when it’s -30 degrees out and I’ve come to love that. And Minneapolis about 3 hours away has kind of become my second home especially for music, so it’s like I get to pay my bills through the supportive people who have been looking out for me in ND and I get to shoot rad shows through the bustle of MN, and I can keep a nice balance between the two.
What is your favorite thing about the music photography community?
I love how cohesive it is; the whole music scene in general is kind of like a big workforce and we’re all coworkers working for the same cause doing our respective duties. While shooting shows, all it takes is a look at the other photographers and you can silently ask “wanna switch spots?” or “am I blocking your shot?”, etc. We want those around us to succeed just as much as ourselves, and we show it by hyping one another up and looking out for everyone.
You have photographed some pretty high profile bands. How were you able to get in the pit?
First show I ever got a photo pass for was Taking Back Sunday and The Used 5 years ago, I got it because an older photographer had taken notice of my budding portfolio (if you could even call it that) and reached out saying he was unable to cover this show and wanted to pass it along to me. Since then it’s been a lot of networking, reaching out to venues, eventually getting contracted by venues, shooting under publications, and the good ol’ just showing up with my camera to local gigs where the promoters know that I’ll share whatever photos I get with them. A big turning point with show photography that made me a much more selfless artist was realizing that I love doing it because it supports the band and the venue and the music scene, not because I want anything from the band. Show photography for me has become about communicating the vibe of the show while making sure the crowd goes home with solid memories rather than just trying to make the artists look ~cool~, which is what I thought it was all about when I was 15.
There seems to be a cohesiveness to many of your landscape photos and other miscellaneous shots. Any inspiration you draw from?
I take a lot of pride in the style I’ve been carving out, which is just what’s left over after stumbling around from Youtube editing tutorials to books on Lightroom trying to figure out how to edit in a way that communicates my intentions. Personally, it’s become almost impossible for me to not alter the colors in my photos to be more satisfying to me; I kind of feel like it’s my duty as an artist to color scenes the way [that] I see them in my head. Trying to communicate my ideal world full of stars and neon and pretty colors has become what drives my personal work.
What is a photography and/or career goal you want to achieve in 2018?
Photograph Post Malone 🙂
BTM: Well we hope you get that shot of Mr. Beerbongs & Bentleys.