Kar Gar on Photographing ArtOfficial and Afrobeta, and Her Love of Sour Cream

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


Photo by Kar Gar
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.

Photo by Kar Gar
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

people to say, "Karla the photographer? Yeah, she's dope."

For more information about Kar Gar's work, visit www.kargarphotography.com.

Photo by Kar Gar

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