How did I get here:
When did you first start developing your passion for photography?
My dad got a camera for family photos around my senior year of high school that he never used, so I started to experiment with it. During my first year of college at Cal State Northridge, I would sneak the camera to school and start shooting at random places/people around campus. As time passed, more and more people starting telling me that they enjoy with my work, which motivated me to keep pursuing photography and improve in my craft. I then started sneaking into concerts and events to get shots of notable artists which resulted in more personal exposure. I would literally finesse my way into every concert. When people ask how I got to where I’m at, I tell them that you have to pull whatever strings you have to get to where you want to be.
Who was that first notable name that had you somewhat star struck or made you say to yourself, “damn I can’t believe I'm shooting for this person”
I was asked to shoot on set for a Lil Wayne and OT Genasis project. They need some timeless portraits captured on set. It was a small gig but I went out there and I took advantage of the opportunity and everyone was loving the shots I got. As a result, they invited me to be a part of the next visual project they had lined up that week. It was surreal going from behind the scenes to being a part of the main camera crew. That was the first time I said to myself I could do this for a living.
During our time keeping up with your progression as a creative, we notice the documentation of your trip to Haiti during the hurricane crisis in 2016. Why did you feel the need to visit?
It was crazy how it played out; I was at brunch on a Sunday at this spot in LA. I was on twitter and noticed all these people tweeting about what happened in Haiti with the hurricane. I realized how crazy it was getting out there so I decided it was my time to do some philanthropy work. At this point, my appetite was gone. Whatever I had on my schedule for that week, I cleared it off. I had to get out there and capture that experience. It’s cool and all to tweet a hashtag but it’s different when you go out to witness the circumstances first hand. I repeatedly asked myself, “Did I do this off of impulse? But, I proceeded to my flight at 10 AM anyways. I thank God for people like Andre Berto, professional boxer of Haitian blood who has become a dear friend of mine. The confidence to step out of my element in a foreign land came from this man. Wouldn’t have had it any other way.The initial plan was to stay out there for 3 days but I ended up staying the entire week. Everyday, we had a new task to tackle.The roads were blocked off with people still being affected by the hurricane, so we would have to go out and find people in need to deliver medicine, beans, rice and various other resources needed for their survival.
Why did you feel the need to share this experience with your platform?
Capturing the moments with pictures and putting them on Instagram to give my followers visuals of my experience in Haiti was the objective. Fortunately, the feedback was great. A lot of my friends were inspired to get out and do something similar to make a positive difference. When people simply donate to these organizations, they tend to have no idea what impact they are making with the donation. You don’t need to be a millionaire to make a significant impact. Throughout my time in Haiti, I connected with the people physically and emotionally.. It gave me the opportunity to give my followers the ability to see what the people had to go through rather than just hear about it and go on with our daily lives.
What inspires you to keep pushing at your craft despite the milestones you have accomplished so far.
Just the company you keep. If you're around people who are satisfied with being complacent and content with where they are at in their lives, then you will reciprocate their actions, as a result, without even realizing it. Everyone who I surround myself with (friends, roommates, etc) are trying to improve themselves. Whether it is working to graduate, making music, film, creating apps or whatever it may be. If the people surrounding you are handling their business, it makes you subconsciously force yourself to handle yours.
What would you say to kids who want to start their passion and pursue it as a means of living.
One thing I always say is the word “No”, No should not exist in your vocabulary & treat every yes like it’s gold. Appreciate that support from your peers. If I didn’t listen to those people who encouraged me to keep taking pictures I would not have progressed the way I should’ve. When I look back at them now, those pictures I took in the early stages of my career were trash to me, if we are being honest. All you need is one person to like your art to keep you going. You choose what you want to put your energy into; it’s either a yes or a no.
Name: Alfred Muteti
Hometown: Inland Empire, CA
Occupation: Photographer/Creative Director