Career Spotlight: Ariya Behjat, Contracting Photographer
“I love your photography! the post production and depth is really good!“ Paavo – Above & Beyond
“You have one of the coolest business cards and your pictures are not far from it“ Armin Van Buuren
“You’re a very strong photographer, when I see the shots I almost can’t believe I just performed there!“ Artem – Arty
When did you realize that you wanted a career in the music industry?
I never planned to get into the show or music business, it almost just happened. In 2009 I helped with a weekly event at the W hotel in SF. A small part of the job was where I had to hire a photographer. I was never satisfied, so I started shooting. Before I knew it, I became Ruby Skye’s photographer, until I was later discovered by major artists in the EDM industry – Paavo of Above & Beyond. (See EDMJobs interview w/ Ruby Skye’s Entertainment/Marketing Director)
How did you work your way up to the position you currently have with Arty at Interscope Records?
Unlike most photographers, I didn’t take pictures for the money, women, or guest passes. I did it strictly to recreate the experience for the ones who could not make it, and amplify it for the ones who have. I always saw money as a byproduct in this because of my major at the time as an Industrial Design student at the state school. And whenever I got job offers I either took them with a high asking price or drop them. This was so I can understand my value in education vs photography. Ironically however, photography took me to a very great stage in my life.
What does your Photography position at Interscope entail?
Many think that my position is to simply take pictures, which is true for 75% of the time. However, to get the best picture I have to be in the same mindset as the artist and intone with everything around us. This would help me create the ambiance and the visual sound when one looks at the pictures. In reality, people rarely share pictures [unlike video or music]. But in my case, I only take 20-30 pictures when I work for an artist, and I make sure each picture would be poster-ready and can stand independently from the album.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
Befriending the real industry movers. Which includes a very small number of stage performers.
Least favorite aspect?
Is there anything you do for work on a daily basis others might be surprised about?
Many artists ask me to teach them photography, and in return they teach me some tricks with music programs.
How do you feel working in the music industry differs from other industries?
I have worked in everything from retail, to graphic design, and silicon valley cubicles…and I cannot be more thankful for being where I am and making as much as I would have if I had my masters degree.
Is working in the music industry as cut-throat and challenging as many people make it out to be?
In the beginning, it sure is. Even if you have the strongest connection. Ultimately it comes down to 50% of you as a person, and whether the people within the industry would want you to be in their meetings, parties, 16 hour flights…and the other 50% being your skill, and how much you can impress your clients’ fans.
Do you have any advice for those trying to find a career path in the music realm?
Be honest with yourself. If you’re doing it to make money, stop and become a real estate agent (while dj’ing on the side). Or if you’re doing it to get fame, stop and start a creative youtube vlog (while dj’ing on the side)…etc. Performers who last to become legends were true to themselves from the very beginning and accepted the realities and hardships they would have to face, to have their music heard.
A big thank you to Ariya for taking the time to share his EDMJob with us in this Career Spotlight. If you’re interested in becoming a Photographer, be sure to check all open positions at EDMJobs.
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