I had the opportunity to interview Andrew Noorily, a young creative who has had the chance to photograph a multitude of artists including Lil Wayne, 21 Savage, J Cole, Rae Sremmurd, Flatbush Zombies, Cage The Elephant, Migos, Chance The Rapper, and many others. The Interview went as follows:
Please introduce yourself. When did you start taking photos? What's your photography background?
My name is Andrew Noorily. I am an eighteen year old artist based out of New York City. Photography began for me in the ninth grade of high school. I took a 101 course at the ICP and was hooked on the art form.
Who are some of your artistic influences?
I am influenced mainly by musicians and the way they interact with their fans. When it comes to visual art, I am influenced by Gregory Crewdson and Sally Mann.
How would you describe your work?
Raw. All my work is unedited and is not messed with. It just goes from the exposure, to a scan, and to a published site, nothing else. Most of my work is also made with the help of a flash so it would be safe to say that my art has a harsh look and is somewhat bright.
You've had the opportunity to photograph many different artists. Who are some of your favorites you have worked with?
By far my favorite artist to work with would be Bas, from Dreamville (J. Cole's label). Bas was so personable and professional about the work he puts out there. Bas also was very aware of the work that I was producing and was helpful in being a good sport about being photographed.
What was it like being on tour with Lil Wayne? Any funny stories from your time on the road?
I have done a few shows with Wayne and they definitely have been interesting times. Wayne has a huge following so I was very surprised the first time I met him. His assistant came out of the bus and said “Hey get in here”. After entering the bus I sat down, she left, and minutes later he [Wayne] pops out of the bathroom shirtless with sweats on and dabbed me up, slid me a fat cup of Hennessy and we had a conversation like normal people. I think Wayne taught me the most important lesson about how famous people are still people. We bonded and talked for a few and then took a bunch of shots. It was a great time.
When you're shooting a concert, or an artist backstage, what's going through your head?
I mainly think of how I can capture the scene in a unique way. Now with technology everyone can capture an artist on stage with their cellphone. I try to access those moments that are not published, like on busses, right before an artist takes stage.
What do you think was the craziest or most iconic moment you photographed?
I was standing side stage at a Francis And The Lights concert and I must have been standing in the alleyway to the stage but I feel someone grab my shoulder and go in for a handshake. Chance the rapper introduced himself and told me he loved my camera and he asked if he could have a photo with his bandmates (the social experiment). I loved this moment because chance did not need the photograph but was so happy to help me out and was truly so personable. I was not surprised by this experience because it was something that I believe is apparent throughout his music.
I must ask, as people are so often curious about this. What gear do you use?
I am really not into my gear and have never updated it since I began shooting, however, I shoot with a Leica M6 and a Contax T2. The Leica is great because it is so smooth and the shots come out so crisp. The T2 (automatic) is so useful for quick shots and stuff that you may need a flash for.
What next? What are your plans for the future? Are there any big projects you are currently working on?
I am currently studying architecture at Drexel University in a six year program but plan to continue shooting. I hope to explore some venues in Philadelphia along with continuing some work with groups and artists that I have established relationships with in the past.
Any advice for young photographers looking to get into concert photography?
Everyone wants to get the right equipment and the best gear. That shit doesn't matter. Don’t worry about software, scanners, camera bags, ext. Just get the gigs and take the shots. You won’t be a great photographer if you have nice gear, the shots are all that matter.
Thank you, Andrew, for taking the time to do this interview.