Haylow Interview

Please introduce yourself to our audience and tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Halline, also known as Haylow, or Ha. I respond to them all.
I consider myself a creative artist, specializing in digital media including video, design and photography, and I also DJ. Music has always been a part of my life, from my days as a high school percussionist, to my collegiate days and early adulthood as Hip Hop aficionado, music junkie, and a DJ, to my present ventures as a visual artist and video producer.

The basis of my art has always been to educate, uplift, and celebrate underrepresented aspects of mainstream culture, specifically amongst Black and other persons of color. I appreciate every part of being an artist, from the creative process to the exhibition.

You’re also pretty well known as a DJ, how did you get interested in photography? Are there any similarities between the two disciplines?

I’ve really been getting into photography heavily over the last few years because as I get older, I’ve begun to realize the importance of documentation of my personal life as well as the people and communities around me. As for similarities between the two disciplines, there are many. Both are about inserting your own personal style, experiences, and emotions to your audience. Most of all, how you present your audience is a reflection of you. Part of being a public artist is about playing to the crowd, but the true beauty is when my selections resonate with them on a personal level. Like the obscure song, the photo speaks to them differently than everyone else. Those reactions may be far and few in between, but they not only mean a lot to me, they give me a new perspective on my photograph, and thus, my art.

I was a fan of your work before you started shooting film, what was it that made you decide to experiment with the medium?

Simply put, I love the aesthetic of film, especially with my Konica c35. I love the look, the soft tones and sharp imagery, and lighting gives it a vintage look that I appreciate. I also love the imperfections in the process. Similar to a jazz song that has a noticeable error in the recording, you can tell that it was a live take, and that those imperfections give it a human quality that digital doesn’t have.

Another aspect of film that I enjoy is the calling to years past. With so many aspects of Los Angeles that are rapidly changing, film is a way to slow down the processes of gentrification, at least in my own head. In a simpler explanation, the vintage look reminds me of my childhood, growing up in Los Angeles.

Has shooting film impacted your creative process at all? How is it different from a purely digital workflow?

When digital DJing began to become the norm, I was meeting up with DJs left and right, and we were swapping music collections. After every meet up, I would have thousands of songs. As a music lover, I thought it was a dream come true to have all the music I could imagine, plus some. But after doing this so many times, it got to the point where I was taking up more and more space, and there was not enough hours in the day to listen to it all, but more importantly, I couldn’t find the songs that I really wanted! This is how digital photography came to be. I would take my camera to an event and I’d come home with 300 photographs. Then I’d go on a shooting excursion and come home with another 200. The idea of “limitless film” seems like a dream come true, but when you have to go through 500 photographs to find 10 that you really like, it makes you rethink your process, the way you shoot, and literally and figuratively what to focus on.

Film has taught the patience needed to create a great shot. I also think that it’s given me respect for the process. Digital photography is usually manipulated and color corrected, but with film, you almost don’t want to touch it after it’s processed, as if it were etched in stone. There’s a finality to it that I appreciate.

Tell us about your relationship to Los Angeles. How does the city factor into your work?

Growing up, I always saw Los Angeles as an ugly city with no character. I spent the late 90s until 2015 in San Francisco, which is filled with unique architecture and sweeping views that are unlike anything in the world, so living in SF strengthened my case. I’ve always had love for LA, but I never would describe it as “attractive”.

In 2015, I relocated back to LA, and as a photographer, I began to look at the city much differently. I had to learn to find beauty in the aspects of LA that don’t jump out at you, for example the simplicity of the architecture, or the southwest and spanish style of the houses, or the lines and geometrical shapes of the office buildings, or the mid-century triplex that is down the street from you. I noticed that there is beauty everywhere when looking at it through a lens, but it’s different than San Francisco. In SF, everywhere you point your camera, there’s a potential post card. In LA, you have to work much harder to find your shot, which is always a fun challenge.

Do you have any film photography projects planned for the near future that you would like to mention?

I do not have any specific projects, but I would like to have my photography live in more than just an instagram account. I am thinking of ways to sell and show my work, and have my work hanging in my friend’s homes or in public spaces. Oakland based artist Joshua Mays said that he lives by an “artist’s triangle”, where the three points of inspiration, creation, and exhibition have to be touched. As a photographer, I am full of the first two, but I need to work on the “exhibition” side in the near future.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

In this day and age, it’s more important than ever to support the things you care about most. Supporting your friends and family and their personal endeavors is paramount. If you can’t support them monetarily, tell them how much you appreciate them. Even your most talented inspirations have waves of doubt and insecurity and little ounces of support go a long way.

You can find more work by Halline on his website, www.halline.com or on Instagram at: @hay.low.