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"Into the Lens" with Photographers Zach Wolfe, Cam Kirk, Diwang Valdez, and Jonathan Mannion

Tyler Mason
Posted by Tyler Mason on Oct 8

IMG_3446.jpgPhoto credits: Brandon Davis for A3C Media & Services

A3C attendees had the honor of meeting and speaking with some of the most influential photographers in the Hip-Hop industry. Amongst the panelist were photographers Diwang Valdez, Cameron “Cam Kirk” Kirkland, Zach Wolfe, and Jonathan Mannion. During the “The Stories Behind The Lens” panel, each panelist spoke on their journey into the industry, as well as some of the inspiration behind the work they’ve done for various artists.

Zach Wolfe has worked for the Source, Time , Esquire, and Vibe magazine. Many of the artists that Wolfe has worked with include Lil Wayne, Andre 3000, T.I., Gucci Mane, and 3-6 mafia. He shared a lot about the history of his various photo shoots and what it took to capture some of the most iconic moments in the careers of the industry’s biggest artist. “One of most pivotal photos in my career was the picture I took off 3-6 mafia two days after they won their first Oscar,” stated Wolfe. “As a photographer, I merely feel privileged when I am allowed to be part of special moments.”

Diwang Valdez, who has shot videos and photos for Joey Bada$$, Boosie, and Big Meech discussed how much he appreciates just being involved in the intimate moments when shooting artist. Valdez told the story of how he traveled with Joey Bada$$ to Saint Lucia, and captured the memory of Joey Bada$$ meeting his grandfather for the first time.

IMG_3428.jpgPhoto credits: Brandon Davis for A3C Media & Services

The panel shifted from telling stories about past work to the importance of photographers and having ownership over their work. Wolfe explained how he battles with receiving acknowledgment for the work he has given to the culture.

The other panelists agreed that it is hard for photographers to make a living in this industry when so many individuals steal images that do not belong to them. Cam Kirk, who has shot for Lil Yachty, 21 Savage, Rae Stremmurd, and Young Thug, shared his experiences on not getting paid for individual photos he’s taken for artists he’s toured with.“ Ownership is everything. It is of utmost importance to learn about everything you are owed like copyright laws and other aspects of the business, “ said Kirk. 

IMG_3445.jpgPhoto credits: Brandon Davis for A3C Media & Services

 “As a photographer, it is important to understand just how valuable it is to have access to an artist,” stated Mannion.  Mannion is most credited for creating some of the most notable photos in the industry from Jay Z’s Reasonable Doubt album cover to pictures of Lauryn Hill, DMX, Outkast and Biggie Smallz. “ I was always out chasing my dreams, no matter what. Patience is key to getting the results you want from your work.” Mannion continued by telling the audience to always turn “no’s” into “yes’” when advocating for your work. In this industry, perseverance is the main component that separates the successful from the unsuccessful. 

Tyler Mason

Written by Tyler Mason

T. Mason is a Content Producer for A3C, as well as an entrepreneur with a passion in fashion and music.

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