What’s up everyone, my name is Zoe Rain. I am a 24-year-old photographer and director.
How was life growing up?
Life was a little chaotic growing up. I had divorced parents and spent a lot of time alone on airplanes going from Seattle to Spokane. I never had a stable place growing up and that’s why I felt I gravitated towards art. I was an only child and was always alone in my room. Art was my outlet.
When did you begin to witness you had creative talents?
I’ve always liked art and people reaffirmed that I had some type of talent in it. I was a pretty introverted kid and being an observer I was able to form an eye and aesthetic for things around me. When I was younger I really liked to draw, but I’m such a perfectionist and drawing is so hard to refine. I started playing with cameras and image/video editing. That’s what I really felt connected to.
How did you get into photography and meet your mentor Jason?
I got into photography because I needed to the credits to graduate High School. I met Jason because he came and volunteered in my class and helped me out a lot. He was the first person I ever witnessed that made a living off of taking photos.
Do you feel like you could be a mentor to someone at some point?
Totally. At this point I feel extremely knowledgeable in a lot of aspects of photography. I’ve been in the business and doing it for over 7 years. I love teaching and I feel like I’m in a space where I can give back.
What made you fall in love with photography?
I think because I am such an introverted person, being able to capture an image makes me feel like I’m apart of it.
Through Jason you were able to shoot and tour with Macklemore. Do you ever get tired of people just associating you as Macklemore’s photographer?
I think there have been seasons of my life where it bothered me. Especially right when I finished tour and was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I was insecure about what my purpose and career goal was. As I progress and still figure out what I want to do, I’m still very grateful to have had that opportunity with Macklemore. Without that experience or reputation I wouldn’t be able to support myself doing this.
Do you want to do more tours in the near future?
I’m definitely open to it. I think what bothered me more than the Macklemore thing was just being labeled as a music photographer. When that’s not really what I plan on doing. I am way more into the portrait side of photography. But, obviously I’m still down to go on tours. I enjoy music photography and thrive in that setting.
How did you land in Chicago?
I was on tour and had been to a lot of US cities. But as soon as I stepped off the bus in Chicago, I felt something special. We were there for a few days and one of the guys in the band knew someone here in Chicago and we went out to meet them. My now girlfriend and I met here and fell in love. The next day I had to leave and couldn’t really get her off my mind. The move to Chicago ended up being because of wanting to be with her. And now we live in this Studio together, so it ended up working out.
Over 3 years being in Chicago now, what do you love the most about this city?
The community factor in Chicago is really cool. Seattle has a very saturated small creative community and it’s very easy to see. Even though Chicago has a larger community, people here are genuine. You’re able to meet people and create projects together without too much effort. People are eager to make art.
I saw recently you went on a trip with Construction in change…
Back to my mentor, Jason has worked for Construction in Change for the last 10 years. I remember the first time I went to his house seeing photos of little kids in Zambia and being blown away and intrigued. He always put it in the back of my head that one day I would be able to go on one of these trips. Over the years I had been waiting for the opportunity. This year, Jason was busy shooting a music video and I was able to go on the trip. The trip was unreal. It was great. I was able to stay in the most rural Cambodian village. 90% of the people that we met there have never seen a white person. That is a very special experience that you can’t buy or be a tourist and go do. Being able to give back with photos, gave so much back to me. I was able to learn so much about Cambodia and it’s history of genocide but also hope and resilience.
What’s it like being a young female in this industry?
I didn’t specifically notice it starting off. I guess because I had no perception on how life as an artist is supposed to be or how much money you’re supposed to be making, etc. Recently, I was in a situation where my friend referred me to shoot a concert and they responded, “yeah but do you know any male photographers”. That’s when I first started to see the blatant sexism. It was really upsetting and made me wonder about what other jobs I missed out on because I am a female. There’s also a positive side to being a female in the industry. With such prominent sexism in our culture, there are people that are fighting back. There are a ton of female teams and want female photographers and directors. There have been a lot of events recently that want a strong female act to balance the sexism.
When it’s all said and done how would you like to be remembered?
I obviously want my work to be unique and stand out. But even more so, I want people to remember me as someone deeper than my work. I want people to remember me as someone that was conscious and always kind to people.
Written by: Nico Rud