Photo Pass: Ethan Holland
Ethan Holland is not your standard music photographer. He’s entered the scene with unprecedented access to capture images of Mac Miller, Drake, Metro Boomin, Travis Scott and more. He’s also currently interning with iconic photographer and director Danny Clinch — oh, and he’s just 17 years old.
For this edition of Songkick’s Photo Pass, we’ll learn about Ethan’s prodigious journey, including his love of hip-hop, stories from some of his favorite shoots and lessons learned from starting his career at an early age.
Tell us a bit about yourself, Ethan.
I’m 17, I live in New Jersey, and I’m in my senior year of high school.
When did you realize you liked photography?
I realized I wanted to take pictures during my freshman year of high school. I was really into sneakers, so I had started a little sneaker blog and just began taking pictures for it there. I always really liked music because I grew up in a place where music was everywhere, so I was already very cultured when it came to that. I was always at these shows, and I kinda felt as if I was just watching. I wanted to do something a little more than that.
What were you listening to when you made that realization?
The earliest stuff I was into was probably Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Travis Scott. Travis was a big one, because he was the first artist I met and was really familiar with his music. I met him when I was 13 or 14 — that was just crazy, to meet someone who I listen to all day.
What were some of the first shows you shot?
The first show I shot was The Fader Fort during CMJ [Music Marathon] 2014, when I was just 15. Mary J. Blige and ILoveMakonnen were the two people I shot, and the photos were so bad, they were terrible. But it was really cool; I had grown up watching people photograph live music and then I was actually doing it. The photos were completely unusable, but it was still cool.
There’s definitely a hip-hop focus on your Instagram and website. Would you say that’s your preferred genre? Any favorite artists?
Yeah, 100%. Favorite rappers…I’m all over the place because I know there are people who don’t like a lot of the new stuff coming out. I like everything, so I can go as old as all the original Nas stuff, all that original West Coast stuff, and then my new favorite rapper is 21 Savage. His ideals probably don’t match up with mine completely, but I think he’s really interesting. He’s definitely the realest rapper out there from what I’ve been told and the stories that I’ve heard. Some of those stories I don’t know if I can tell.
Kanye’s my favorite rapper of all time probably — I don’t get bored of his music; there’s always new underlying things that you keep hearing. For me, at least.
Can you tell us about your work with Metro Boomin?
I haven’t been on tour with him [yet], but I’m lucky to have shot him on multiple occasions. I met Metro at SXSW this year, back in March, and took his photo. After he saw the photos I took of his performance, he asked me to send them to him. I asked for his email and he just said, “Here’s my phone number.” I sent him a bunch of photos, and said, “If you ever need anyone in New York let me know.”
Later on, I saw he was coming to New York so I texted him and spent like, five hours with him that day. Now the last couple of times he’s been in New York, I’ve been really lucky for him to let me tag along and shoot a lot.
I think Metro and I get along well because he was heavy into music and working when he was my age — we’re doing very different things, but we’re both working full-on. He was in the tenth or eleventh grade, driving six hours to Atlanta to make beats. He’s great. And his music’s good, I love his music.
[This photo of Metro] is really important to me just because that’s the first time I really met Metro and if I screwed that photo up, my career would be very different than it is. So I’m happy that it came out nice and he liked it.
I was at Madison Square Garden for the [A$AP] Rocky and Tyler [The Creator] Tour and someone just introduced me to him [Tyler]. I have the Golf Wang app [he created], and on the app there was a cooking video about some waffles that had this special recipe, so I made them and they were amazing. So we literally talked about waffles for five minutes and then he went on stage.
[This photo of Metro and Travis Scott] was over the summer. Metro had gone on [stage], and then Travis came on. After Travis got off stage they saw each other across the room and just ran over and hugged. It was kinda funny. It was at the Ford Amphitheatre in Coney Island. We all just hung out for two hours and the venue was trying to kick us out the whole time, but no one wanted to leave.
[This photo] was cool because it was the first time I really got to shoot Travis Scott against something and it kinda made up for not being able to shoot him when I first met him, so that’s why I like these. This is at the same place (Ford Amphitheater). And then he posted it on Instagram but didn’t give me credit. [laughs]
When I shot Kanye West at Meadows, the media picked up this photo and used it in the context that he was leaving, but it was taken like a half hour earlier. When he left, everyone was just confused. I was watching with Chris Rock and Jaden Smith from pretty close and we thought it was a joke. Then security was like, “We need to get out of here right now” because they thought there were gonna be riots or something. I wouldn’t call it rioting, but there were a lot of people hopping fences to try and leave because everyone just wanted to go home. We ended up hanging out backstage for like a half hour and he let me take this just before he left.
Thanks for coming in and sharing, Ethan. One more thing before you go – the quick fire round:
Mac or PC? Mac.
Canon or Nikon? Canon for Digital, Nikon for Film.
Future or Drake? Drake during the day, Future at night.
Wu-Tang or A Tribe Called Quest? Wu-Tang.
Tacos or Burritos? Tacos.
Ethan will be taking over our Instagram account today, November 8th.
Check it out here!