An interview with photographer COUGHS

What's it like to be the person behind the camera, capturing photos of some of the biggest names in music? Amidst the lights and fanfare, photographers have the opportunity to get an intimate perspective on artists and can uncover candid emotions or unique personalities.

COUGHS is a Los Angeles-based photographer whose work focuses on fashion and portraiture. Notably, COUGHS' portrait work requires the viewer to do a double-take, with a dreamlike glow that draws you in and paints a picture of one of your greatest fantasies. The artistry lies in the shared intimacy that is captured between her subject and the camera. It's through these shared moments that the viewer is granted a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of her subjects ⁠— who just so happen to be some of the biggest names in music.

We had the opportunity to catch up with COUGHS to discuss some of her career highlights, the pressures of working as a concert photographer and her future projects.

Winslow: How did you get into photography?

COUGHS: Photography for me began as a hobby which developed in high school. I started out by taking a class in traditional black and white photography for fun with no intentions of knowing that this would be something I would be doing in the future. I really wouldn't say there was a particular thing or person that made me want to lift a camera, it kind of just came naturally.

W: Tell us how you got started as one of Kali Uchis' concert photographers. What was it like to be on the road?

C: It was great being able to tour with Kali for her 2018 Isolation Tour (and I'm def bummed I couldn't join her and the whole team for the Kali x Jorja Tour).

I don't really remember how it all started... Kali and I really just had mutual friends and it naturally grew like that.

Being on the road, a.k.a living on a bus for a month...haha. It was a lot of fun (I actually really miss it) and one of the best experiences. I got to meet so many new, talented people and really had the chance to get to know them...and to me, towards the end of tour, it felt like we became a big family. 

W: Do you prefer concert photography in comparison to shooting in a studio?

C: You know... both are very different. I enjoy studio because I have control of my surrounding (the lighting, set, etc). And as for concert, I enjoy it because it's a bit more challenging with so many different lights flickering, low lights, bright lights, etc.

Honestly, it's hard to answer. I love both.

W: How do you stay inspired when you are on the road and have quick turn around times for editing? Do you find this hinders your process?

C: I will say I'm very lucky. Very lucky to say I always feel inspired while being on the road, whether it be with Skrillex, Kali, or whoever else. Being able to travel is a blessing and will always keep me inspired - so there's no problem there.

However, quick turn around times on the road can be tough because you're up all day, then at night have a show, sometimes after parties (that might even end at 6 am), you're taking pictures the whole time and still need to find the time to make sure you deliver content by sometime the next morning (because the earlier/faster your deliver content, the better).

It does hinder my process - but you know what... you make it work. You will find a way to manage all of it.

W: What should we be keeping an eye out for with your work?

C: Definitely more experimenting. I really want to start working with new people as well as continue growing with the people I am already working with.

I want to be able to reach out to different artists (graphic design, painters, etc) and have them create whatever the fuck they want with my photos.

Stay up to date with Coughs by following her on Instagram and through her website.