Photographer Profile: John Kilar
Plus see his top 20 photos of Agyness Deyn, Charlotte Free, A$AP Rocky, Snoop Dogg, Zombie Man and more.
LA is a wild place and it needs people like John Kilar to see and share it all. John takes photos of freaks, models, rappers and the crazy things he casually sees on the streets. Sometimes verging more on a nightmare than a straight-up Californian dream, it's no surprise his immersive photographs have been picked up by the likes of DIS and Vice, along with shooting parties for purveyors of good times The Cobra Snake and Purple Diary. We asked him to share his top 20 shots with us and opening the folder he emailed back was like opening a present, containing photos of Agyness Deyn, Charlotte Free, A$AP Rocky, Snoop Dogg, Zombie Man, alien juice, naked people playing in mud, deserts and a man who looks remarkably like Jesus (see them above). We also asked John a few questions to learn more about the mysterious man behind the lens.
Ingrid Kesa: Hi John. How old are you?
John Kilar: Hello! I'm 26-years-old.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up all over. Mainly in California. I spent time growing up in Istanbul and Las Vegas as well.
Where do you live now?
Venice Beach, Los Angeles.
How did you get into photography?
It happened somewhat spontaneously. It was during a point in my life where I was learning how to share — not just material things but more of my feelings, thoughts and experiences. I felt somewhat introverted for a minute even though I really wasn't. I developed a fascination for film photography and wanted to expose more of my experiences and adventures to loved ones. It was therapeutic and a pleasant way of self-expression. I had just moved to Venice from the other side of town and managed to explore a new city and art form simultaneously.
Do you remember the first photo you ever took?
Yes. It was of an old roommate, Kat, on the bed we used to share. It's also a mental image that'll be embedded into my mind for a long time to come. Good times.
What camera do you always carry around?
One of my point and shoots is usually always in my pocket.
You shot FAGMOB for us. How did you meet those guys? What do you do when you hang out with them?
I've been friends with them for a while. A few of them longer than others. I'll usually catch 'em at parties or on the dance floor at some underground shindig. They're fun cats.
Do you have any ice breaker or great one-liners when approaching people you want to take a photo of who seem a bit camera-shy?
I usually just go ahead and snap the photo. Saves effort on both parties.
I saw on your Twitter that you're taking photos for Vice DOs/DONTs. Shot any good ones yet? Will you also be writing the commentary to go with them?
Yeah! Vice is chill. I shoot events for them and recently did the DOs/DONTs thing on the boardwalk. I don't quite write the commentary, but that would be fun.
What's your most hated thing in fashion?
The fact that it's used to brainwash the masses and leads people to look outside of themselves.
Can you tell us the story behind your photo of Snoop Dogg?
I saw him at my friend Jeremy's party during Coachella. We had a few words and I ended up taking a photo. It was a wild night.
What about Agyness Deyn, how do you know her?
I ran into her at a party in Hollywood. She's sweet.
What's your favourite song at the moment?
I can't quite say I currently have a single favorite song. I've been listening to some old school Prodigy lately. A lot of acid house and jungle. I go through my phases.
And your favourite blog/Tumblr?
None, really. I follow some friends' blogs but can't quite say I have a favorite. I just casually lurk.
As for role reversal, how do you feel about being in front of the lens rather than behind it?
It's cool as long as I'm working with the right people and on the right project. I'm open to infinite possibilities.