hip-hop and rap have always maintained themselves as an underground
fixture in Utah, making them both some of the few local genres you
have to invest yourself into to know everything. Now some of those
with a passion for the music have started documenting it in different
ways both to showcase and tome it away for people to
Patiri Photography has been doing its share, taking pictures of the artists and the events all across Northern Utah, giving the unknown and hard-to-find exposure while the principal photographer has been making a name for themselves professionally. I got a chance to chat with the woman herself, Bethany Fischer, about her photos and body of work, as well as thoughts on the scene and a few other topics that came up. Along with some samples of her work from local and national artists.
Gavin: Hey Bethany! First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Bethany: Lately I have been driving myself crazy trying to find this De La Soul Is Dead album, its outta print and I'm determined to find it. I have a wide range of influences in hip hop, punk, hardcore, and graffiti. My photography is what I live for daily. I have an incredible determination for pursuing it and succeeding in it. Most of my style in my photos is just based off how I see the world, gritty and beautiful. I have tons to be thankful for and try my absolute hardest to not take anything for granted. I'm a truly blessed individual. I'm also a ninja in my spare time, but keep that on the low.
Gavin: What first got you interested in photography?
Bethany: I've always liked pictures but once I really got going in it I was inspired by guys like Estevan Oriol, Craig Wetherby and Ricky Powell. They are mostly specific to photography of the hip hop genre. I loved the raw grittiness of it all.
Gavin: Did you seek out any education for your craft or was it all self-taught?
Bethany: I'm a self taught champ! I have taken some community courses for basics skills and knowledge. School would be amazing though. Somebody invest in this amazing talented lady! Anyone? Anyone?
Gavin: Prior to you starting up professionally, I read you had come down with some major health issues. What were you going through at the time?
Bethany: In 2006 on a routine physical at the doctors they found a large mass in my thyroid. (Insert the Indiana Jones Theme music here.) After a inconclusive biopsy I opted to have the mass surgically removed. When I woke up from the surgery they told me they had removed my entire thyroid and that it was cancer. I faced massive ninja attacks, iodine radiation treatments, and dodged moving airplane propellers. After it all I still have my hair and am proud to report that I now glow in the dark.
Gavin: How was it for you recuperating, and what started drawing you toward the new career?
Bethany: Recuperating was a giant roller coaster and it still is. Cancer brought photography into my life though. Before surgery I wasn't pursuing anything I loved. After I got out of the hospital a friend of mine borrowed me his point and shoot and I just started playing around trying things. Turned out I pretty much am a super hero behind the lens. I completely fell in love with photography and to find something you love that much and pursue it to the fullest is the best feeling in the world.
Gavin: What was the initial draw for you to cover more of the hip-hop and graffiti scenes?
Bethany: Hip Hop is where my roots are. My big brother is one of those old timers in the hip hop scene here in SLC. He is most well known as Fisch and is currently in the group The Rotten Musicians, and was originally in The Numbs. Its because of him that when I was little I was into groups like Boogie Down Productions and Leaders of the New School. I grew up around it, but as I grew I got tired of being known as Fisch's little sister. I had something to prove and wanted to make a name for myself. So I did.
Gavin: At what point did you officially decide to turn it into a business?
Bethany: It really doesn't feel like I'm in business yet. I'm still building to get there. I have a huge resume for only doing this two years and tons to show for myself but ya know its just not a business in my eyes until I can solely live off it and it can pay all my bills. Hmmmm.... hey City Weekly, you hiring photographers?
Gavin: Do you prefer traditional film or digital, and why?
Bethany: Most professional photographers will say with a snotty voice that they "highly prefer film of course." Its true that digital has changed the course of photography and made it that every other trophy wife or bored husband with a decent camera calls themselves a photographer these days. That's fine by me though I love the competition. My digital camera is what I prefer to work with at this point. Film is a art form and once I have more schooling I want to be able to develop my own prints and everything but till then I'm fine with digital.
Gavin: Since were on the topic, what kind of equipment do you shoot with?
Bethany: I could tell you that but then I'd have to kill you! Just kidding. I prefer Nikon cameras right now at this moment and don't use ANY lighting or other equipment. Its just me and my camera. That's what makes it all the more rad.
Gavin: Was it difficult for you to get started and find clients or did things manage to work out from the get-go?
Bethany: Starting out was more fun than difficult. It really provided a challenge for me to network locally and nationally. My first major break was getting to shoot Evidence and Little Brother (which consists of Phonte and Big Pooh) in 2007. I had twenty minutes in a horribly lit record store to try to get any kind of decent pictures to present them for media. In the end those pictures were used for one of Phonte's album covers, hip hop magazines in Italy and all over the internet. It all kinda blew up from there. Its a lot of work and networking but its what I love so its worth it.
Gavin: Who are some of the people you've done work for both on a local and national scale?
Bethany: Oh I love all my locals, Mindstate, TML, The KnoItAlls, Miss Mindy, Marcus Alexander, and tons more. I highly recommend checking out those Mindstate cats, they are some of the best local hip hop you can find in the city. Nationally I have a continually growing resume but a few of the national artists I've done work for are, Evidence of Dilated Peoples, Little Brother, Del the Funky Homosapien, Souls of Mischeif, Akil of Jurassic 5, Strong Arm Steady, Pigeon John, Louis Logic, Living Legends, Masta Ace, and Binary Star.
Gavin: Considering the work you do, do you prefer the studio clients or the live shows?
Bethany: Location shoots are preferred. I shoot shows but hate it because show pictures mostly all look the same and its so repetitive and boring. I'd rather watch the show and enjoy it than be crammed on the side trying to get a shot of a rapper with a mic shoved up his nose.
Gavin: What are your future plans or goals as far as being a photographer?
Bethany: I have tons I want to accomplish and some seriously BIG goals. I want to do work for magazines like Vibe, Source, XXL, Juxtapoz, BUST, Missbehave and Swindle. I want to shoot for different company's and designers like Claw Money, LRG, 10 Deep, Fresh Jive, Seventh Letter, and lots more. I would love to do shoots with as many amazing hip hop artists and music artists in general as I can. I want to have a my own studio, travel all over the country and internationally, and eventually do nothing but shoot rappers day in and day out. Like I said I have big goals and am extremely tenacious about pursuing them.
Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local art scene, both good and bad?
Bethany: I think the art scene is pretty healthy here honestly. There is a awesome array of local art shows that happen on a regular basis. Both fine works and urban art are both supported from my point of view. More recently though, awesome projects like 337 and the Mac & Retna piece on second south, are helping to grow the more urban side of arts in the community and I think its great!
Gavin: Is there anything you feel could be done to make it bigger or better?
Bethany: More ideas and investments like 337 because projects like that bring a wider audience to the urban arts. Graffiti is so amazing and we have some really talented artists here in SLC. Its a shame it has such a bad rep but projects like 337 and the Mac & Retna wall really show people a different side to it.
Gavin: What's your take on the local hip-hop and rap scenes and how they're holding a place in the community?
Bethany: I think that its trying its best to thrive in a city that can be welcoming and warm when it wants to be, but in general we stand in our own way a lot. I don't mean to be negative about our hip-hop scene but its true. As a female in a male dominated scene its exhausting dealing with giant ego after giant ego from a bunch of locals who have no reason to be cocky cause they have nothing to show for themselves. People here have such a chip on their shoulder like everyone owes them something or like people should be kissing their ass because ten years ago they put out a wack album that went nowhere. Everyone wants support or something for free but then they don't wanna put anything back into the scene. I think there would be a huge difference if all these dudes who think their so elite would pull their heads out and just get over themselves. And if your getting pissed off reading this your probably one of the assholes I'm talking about.
Gavin: What can we expect from you over the next year?
Bethany: I do not plan on stopping or letting up any time soon. I'm planning on becoming a legend and that takes time, hard work and a superhero cape. You can expect to be seeing more and more from me and of me!
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Bethany: Oh absolutely! December 19th, Patiri Photography and Peach Boutique are having a art and fashion show from 6-11PM. Its at 1401 South and Main Street and is completely free to attend. There will be a full fashion presentation, photography and urban art works. I highly recommend checking it out!