Blair Brown is a 21-year-old from Oakland majoring in American Studies at Cal State Long Beach. She also happens to have 20,000 Instagram followers and photographs musicians like Rita Ora, G-Eazy, Kehlani, Little Sims, Olivia O’Brien, Lauv, Alina Baraz, Majid Jordan, Saba, YG and Lauren Jauregui.
Brown got her start in photography when she got her first camera during freshman year of high school. “I’d be like to my friends, ‘Let’s go take photos somewhere,’ and beg people to let me take photos of them. That’s sort of where it started, and then I never put down the camera since then,” Brown said.
Brown’s photography skills are self-taught through YouTube and Google, although she did take a class in high school. “I got a C in it,” Brown said with a laugh.
Brown’s first big break came in 2017. “I used to sneak in to a bunch of shows back in the Bay when I was still in high school or somehow find a pass to bring my camera in and take photos of everything, but I would say my first tour really was this artist Little Sims… she’s a rapper from the UK. I was out in London for the summer in 2017 and she had some shows,” Brown said. “It was the first time I was able to see the world because of my camera and get paid for it and do exactly what I wanted to do.”
Brown says her hometown in Oakland and the Bay Area greatly influenced her as an artist. “That music scene was coming up and so much was happening in the arts scene back when I was in high school, so being able to see artists like Kehlani and G-Eazy and Marc E. Bassy and a ton of people really starting to have their moment and getting their recognition and seeing them have such strong teams around them—especially photographers—really inspired me,” Brown said. “That whole scene was all moving down to LA at the same time I was coming down to Southern California to start school… one thing led to another, and I just kept taking photos for everyone, and that’s sort of how that happened.”
When asked why she tends towards music and concert photography, Brown likens her experience capturing photography to her background as an athlete in basketball, cross country and track. “As weird as it sounds, coming from being an athlete, music and concerts are such a fast-paced environment, so when it’s showtime, it’s such an adrenaline rush because you have to be at the right place at the right time,” Brown said. “On the other side of it, being able to work closely with artists and getting to know them and seeing a side of them that other people and the general world and their fans don’t get to see…just them being human in different moments.”
Brown’s favorite moment in her career so far was capturing Red Rocks. “Way back, I think one of the really cool moments for me was in 2016, in the fall I think, Kehlani and G-Eazy co-headlined Red Rocks Amphitheatre and that was really cool for me because that was the first time I flew somewhere for a show. And Red Rocks is super legendary and beautiful, so that was a really big moment for me to see these two important figures from the Bay Area play that.”
More recently, Brown photographed Rita Ora on the Australia/Asia leg of her Phoenix World Tour. She is also working with Creative Director Amber Park and AP Studio, a media company that works with musicians on artwork, photography and album packaging.
On what’s next, Brown isn’t entirely sure. “Things are always changing. I’m always one phone call or one email away from having to pack up and be somewhere or clearing the next month or week or whatever it is,” Brown said. “I’m usually pretty busy, but I’m working with a few new faces and a few old faces, just always making sure that I’m continuing to learn and better myself as an artist.”