Whether you're a shady politician or a pot-smoking running back, you have to hustle in Miami to a make a name for yourself. Sometimes it's for money, other times it's for a shot at fame, but how often do you meet someone just hustling to be happy? The concept may sound crazy, but Karla Garcia, the creative force behind Kar Gar Photography, is doing just that -- having fun.
She embodies the spirit of new Miami. A creative revolutionary armed with a digital camera and a smile bright enough to light up a photo shoot. Over the weekend we met for lunch at Lime's Midtown location and discussed everything from Annie Leibovitz, to art direction, to her affinity for sour cream.
New Times: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?
Karla Garcia: Documenting things has always been important to me.
In elementary school I was always the dorky kid with a disposable Kodak
on field trips or field days, whatever. A few years ago, I was going
through some personal shit and really started thinking, what do I want to do for me?
I bought a DSLR, a Canon Rebel, and started shooting everything. The
more comfortable I became with the camera, the more people started
saying, "you really know what you're doing. This is some good stuff."
How did you get started shooting music?
one of those people that think anything can happen if you want it to.
I've always been passionate about music and the Miami music scene. By
coincidence, a friend of mine knew some guys in ArtOfficial, and he put
me in contact with them. A few weeks later they became the first band I
shot.How did the idea to shoot ArtOfficial at an airplane hangar come about?
(Laughs) I was just starting out, but they thought I was serious shit. I made a
list of possible locations we could shoot at and they were super
impressed by the idea of an airplane hangar. They were like, "you could
really do that?" Yeah, my boss at the time owned a hangar with her
husband. I asked if I could use it for a photo shoot and the band showed
up ready to go with scarves and skateboards, super spiffed up. It was
addition to being a photographer, you are quite the art director. You
have incorporated Kermit the Frog and a whole bunch of creepy toys in
some of your photo shoots. Is the set-up half the fun?
I really like setting up the shot but letting the bands be themselves
when I'm shooting. Cuci (Amador), of Afrobeta, came up with the toy
concept two weeks after I met them. She had all the stuffed animals and
dolls we used in the shoot stored away at her mother's house, and I
found an old throw blanket and bed frame at a thrift store to use as the
background. I borrowed some Sesame Street records from a friend and
tossed the toys around Cuci and Tony (Smurfio), and it turned out to be a
pretty cool picture.Artistically, who has been your biggest influence?
anybody has had an influence on why I started shooting music and
musicians, it's Annie Leibovitz, and in particular, the book, Annie
Leibovitz: American Music. She's great at capturing the human side of
celebrity, the person and not the musician.
are working on a new project called "Family Values," where you take old
family portraits and give them a new, contemporary twist. How did the
idea come about??
My mom has these old boxes of black and
white family portraits from Cuba and I've always thought they were
really cool. She used to wear bandanas in her hair and my dad dressed
like Paul McCartney. They had such cool style that seemed super thought
out, but it wasn't, it was just the way they dressed. Five months ago, I
got the idea to recreate these photos with random people. I'm not
looking for mom and dad look-alikes, rather people that represent
Where do you see yourself in five years??
Wait. Can I take your sour cream? I love sour cream.
Really? That's disgusting, it's all you. Five years, where do you see yourself?
I hope to be on the map as a photographer people contact when they want
to brand themselves. I want to be taken seriously in music and
editorial stuff. I don't want a part-time job to fuel my vice; I want
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people to say, "Karla the photographer? Yeah, she's dope."
For more information about Kar Gar's work, visit www.kargarphotography.com.