Today we’d like to introduce you to Virisa Yong.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I grew up in San Jose, a city in the Bay Area. I’ve always been a huge fan of live music events. In high school, I used to listen to local radio stations, waiting for the cue to call and win concert tickets. One day, a radio station answered my call and I actually won Drake tickets! I couldn’t believe it. I was so surprised! Back then, I didn’t have that much money and didn’t want to ask my parents for help, so I constantly tried winning tickets to see my favorite artists.
It’s crazy. I never thought of becoming a concert photographer until I got inspired at this one show in 2014. I won front row tickets to see The Weeknd in San Francisco. I felt so lucky. It was my first time ever being in the front row! When the concert started, I found myself getting distracted by a group of photographers in the pit. I kept thinking to myself, “wow. That’s so dope. How do I get there?”
I tapped on one of the photographer’s shoulders and asked how I could do what he does. Fortunately, he was really friendly and gave me his contact information. I didn’t have any experience at the time nor did I have a portfolio to send him, but he gave me advice and we kept in touch.
A few years later, I had moved out to Los Angeles for college and was working as a photographer for several nightlife venues in Downtown. One night, Tinashe had a concert at The Belasco Theater and although I never photographed a live show before, I was given the chance. I can’t explain how surreal that moment was. I finally made it to the pit! It was exhilarating.
Eventually, I reconnected with the photographer from The Weeknd concert and the next thing you know, he became my editor at Impose, an online magazine that covers live shows. From there, I just kept going, connecting with people, and creating more opportunities for myself.
Please tell us about your art.
I love what I do. Being able to combine my love for music and photography is truly a blessing. I get to photograph concerts, festivals, behind the scenes of music videos, red carpets, and sometimes one on one photoshoots with artists. It is a reality that was once just an idea in my head.
What draws me into music photography the most is that I get to document meaningful moments in artists’ lives that will forever be a reminder of their journey. An artist can look back at these photos and reminisce about when they were performing at a certain venue, when they just dropped a project, when they had a certain style, etc. I can look back at these photos and reminisce about how these were moments when someone took a chance on me and gave me an opportunity, moments that genuinely made me feel grateful to be in this field.
My work will always be a reminder to myself of how far I’ve come and how I went from being a music fan to a music photographer. I hope people can look at my work and not only appreciate the photos but appreciate that there’s a woman behind the camera taking them while dancing and singing along to that artist at the same time. She’s living her dream!
Whatever your passion may be, have the courage to go for it and create the life you want to live.
We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
Express gratitude to other artists that inspire you, reach out to people you want to potentially work with, attend events where you can connect with others in person, and simply be yourself. Genuine relationships will happen naturally if you’re being yourself and spreading good energy!
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I post most of my work on my Instagram @virisayong, but I also have a website. I really appreciate it when people share my posts on their stories or message me about purchasing physical prints of my photos! It’s an incredible feeling to know there are people out there that like my work and enjoy following my journey.