Interview answered by: Kody Pickern
Tell us a little bit about SUGAR LA and how it came to life.
Sugar LA started outside of Sacramento actually in a small town called Roseville. I was working a full-time job and it really came down to a simple question – “How would you really enjoy spending your life?” So I decided to start shooting out of my 700 sq. foot apartment and putting my focus in to photography. My Fiancee called me Sugar (always has) and I knew I wanted to move to Los Angeles to further my career so I started marketing towards it. Really… never expected anyone to notice.
Describe the type of woman captured through the photographs of SUGAR LA.
I don’t think there is a “type.” I love that about what I do. What I really look for in the people that I work with is that they are doing it for the right reasons. The people that I shoot are really in it for one reason, the same as I am, to make great reason. There is never an alterier motive and with that said everyone that I have had the pleasure of working with has been intelligent, confident, strong, and some of the best people I have ever met. Like my IG says “I’m a photographer. These are my friends”
Why did you decide to focus only on women in your work?
It was something that I started noticing everyday with my fiancée actually. I would see her every morning getting ready, sitting on the floor, hair all over the place and I couldn’t help but notice those small little detailed moments of my life that I probably walked past 12,000 times that were beautiful, real, and simple.
How did you acquire your style?
It started with the idea of seeing something most people never do and then evolved out of necessity. I was shooting in a tiny little apartment and trying to make it look different every day without moving an entire place around. I work with only one lens which doesn’t zoom, I don’t use artificial light, and I don’t retouch images. Working with very little helps because you sort of force yourself to think “What else could I do?”
What is the first step in your creative process?
Truth? I spend a lot of time in museums. I don’t really look at much photography, never have. I’m a total nerd and those 16th century renaissance paintings are the bees-knees.
Everyone has an “Ah-HAH” moment; tell us about the moment you knew you were an artist.
I think it was the first time I had anything published. It wasn’t being published; it was about how it came about. I was shooting in my apartment and at the time I was totally into flash photography. A friend had come over to shoot and 5 minutes in my flash burned up (entire house smelled of melting plastic). I shot images anyway and pushed the camera past what I thought it could do as I was shooting with the help of a 12 dollar Ikea lamp at 10:30 at night. Anyway, two days later I received a message back and I realized that everything I thought about photography was wrong. I’ve been going that way ever since.
We love that you teach how to photograph women, the right way. Talk to us about your hands-on workshops.
I see SO many photographers out there that really don’t know where to start. My goal is to give a real world approach to dealing with people, perceptions, the industry, and shooting all in a way that everyone can understand. There are a lot of photographers that think it is about hair, make-up, Photoshop, you name it. They couldn’t be more wrong in most cases.
How do you stay connected to your social media fans?
Well I think for me it is something that comes pretty easy. I am always completely open, honest, and willing ot chat. I definitely try to respond to everyone I can as well.
Top 3 Instagram’s that you follow
My account was actually just deleted …I’ll let you know as soon as I can look up usernames again!
What’s on your office playlist right now?
Wow, I’m all over the board. Buddy Holly, Devo, Jimi Hendrix, Metromony, Kavinsky, Tom Waits, Notorious B.I.G., and Cults. I should stop, this could go on forever.
Best advice someone has given you that has kept you going and growing.
I learned early on from another photographer in my home town by the name of Tim Engle that it is not about what you have that will prove your success. It is about what you don’t have and what you can do with it. We were shooting with flashlights, fire, you name it.
Tesla Model SP85 Edition. I had the opportunity to drive one recently and it absolutely blew me away. Simple, beautiful, intelligent.
What gets you up for work every day?
My iPhone. Same as everyone else
Idea of happiness?
Doing what I love while traveling and making friends
What cant you live without?
George and Max – My cats.
Do you have a MUSE that you’ve fantasized photographing for your work?
I don’t actually have just one. The list is miles long
What are some projects viewers can look forward to seeing with SUGAR LA in the near future?
I am stepping into working with celebrities here soon and actually very excited about it. Also working on some 3D techniques that are quite challenging as well. I will let you know more as I get the details worked out!