Interview with Kayla Surico (Photographer)

Kayla Surico is a photographer from Florida whose work I’ve been following for a while now. I got the chance to talk with her about her career and life outside of work.
Get to know Kayla Amber Surico:

Nick: How did you get into photography as a hobby and then as a career?

Kayla: “I first became interested in photography back when I was in middle school. I had some old little android phone that I would always snap photos with. Back then I would take photos of practically everything – my friends, flowers and trees, my puppies, the sunset, etc. Then when I was in my freshman year of high school, I received a Fujifilm Finepix camera for Christmas and that was when I really started to fall in love with taking photos. I began to improve a bunch over time, and a lot of people who saw my photos always thought I was shooting with professional equipment which made me feel great.
Shortly after I turned 16, my grandmother (who at the time was just diagnosed with lung cancer and wanted to spoil her grandchildren as much as possible before she became too sick) bought me my first DSLR. As soon as I received my Canon Rebel T3i in the mail, I literally could not put it down. I was constantly shooting with it. I brought it with me on a trip to New York that summer in 2012, and I came back to Florida feeling overly excited to share all of the photographs I took.

Later that summer I attended the Vans Warped Tour for the first time and brought my camera and took some photos of my favorite bands. After a long day of jamming out and taking pictures, I was contacted by my friend Candy Valenzuela who ran a blog called Concertjunkies. She told me that she needed some assistance with the blog as well as someone with a camera who could film her interviews with bands. In return, she promised to get me photo passes to shoot shows. I thought “why the heck not?” and agreed to help her out. That was basically the start of my career in photography, specifically music photography. Ever since then, I have just continued to grow and take photos and learn as much as possible. Also shout out to my grandma for being supportive of what I wanted to do from the very beginning and for being cool as heck because I definitely would not be where I am today without her. Rest in peace.”

N: What’s your favorite subject to photograph? 
K: “Musicians, definitely. I love both music and photography so much, it is an absolute dream for me to be doing what I do.”
N: Can you tell me about your relationships with New Noise Magazine and Cherry Pit?
K: “Sometime in 2014, I remember my pal Nathan Katsiaficas randomly hit me up and asked me if I would be interested in shooting shows for New Noise Magazine. During this time he was working as the photo coordinator for the site/magazine (he no longer works for NNM). I remember him saying how he wanted to steal me before I blew up and other publications wanted me. Shooting shows for New Noise has helped open a lot of doors for me and has given me a bigger platform to showcase my work. I still occasionally shoot shows for them, but I mostly just contribute to New Noise now when they need photos for print.
When thinking about Cherry Pit, “family” is what comes to mind rather than it just being a publication. Cherry Pit Mag became a thing when Keano Jan Osmillo, Eden Kittiver, and I decided that it was best for us to part ways with Concertjunkies and start something new. Cherry Pit is still very young, but we have come a long way since starting up in August of 2015. It’s wonderful working with a talented team of people who are also some of my closest friends that share the same vision as I do. We have lots of cool things in store for the future, so be sure to keep up with us.”
N: What’s on your playlist right now?
K: “Oh man, are you ready for this? I’ve been obsessing over a bunch of music lately, here are some of my favorite songs right now (in no particular order): 1. Bad Thoughts by Rome Hero Foxes 2. Too Loud / Too Cold by Kurt Travis 3. Permanent by Paul Travis 4. Bluebird by Paper Rival 5. The Drugs by Weatherbox 6. Mood by Porches 7. The Bad Parts by From Indian Lakes 8. You Can’t Live There Forever by TWIABP 9. Night Channels by Foxing 10. Stovall by Microwave 11. Stone by Born Without Bones 12. Kept by Movements 13. Art School Wannabe by Sorority Noise 14. Somebody Else by The 1975 15. Kehaar by Insignificant Other (I will end the list here otherwise I could keep going for like forever).”
N: What’s the best show you’ve been to in the last year?
K: “This is such a difficult question to answer. I think one of my recent favorites would definitely be when I saw/photographed Melanie Martinez in April. I had so much fun singing and dancing along to her music as well as taking photos. I love her style and I admire her for being so different compared to other pop artists. I also left that show feeling super happy with the pictures that I took.”
N: What other mediums of art (if any) do you take part in?
K: “I occasionally like drawing and painting, even though it has been a while since I’ve really done either of the two. The closest I’ve gotten to drawing lately are the silly little doodles that I add to some of my GIFs. I’ve tried doing embroidery which was cool, and I’d love to do that more often. I’m also slightly obsessed with doing makeup and that’s basically art on your face.”
N: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
K: “I love spending time with my boyfriend and my friends and going on adventures, talking to my dog (she does this cute thing where if you say “I love you” to her in a high pitched voice, she will howl and bark at you and sometimes it sounds like she’s saying “I love you” back), cooking, eating, and sleeping.”
N: I don’t meet many people that are also from Florida. How do you think your home state influenced your career path?
K: “I think where I live has majorly influenced my career path in a positive way. Luckily I live not too far from Orlando, which has an amazing music scene. I’ve become friends with a decent amount of local bands and most of them have been very supportive of me and my work. I probably would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for working with and supporting the local music scene. I’ve realized that other photographers struggle with getting their work out there and noticed in their local community because their scene is a bit lacking. So I feel very blessed to be able to build up my business and work with lots of other creatives in my area.”
N: If you hadn’t gotten into photography what do you think you’d be doing right now?
K: “Honestly, I have no clue. I used to be interested in architecture and psychology, so maybe something in either of those fields.”
N: What/Who are your biggest artistic influences?
K: “One of my biggest artistic influences would definitely be my best friend/boyfriend, Michael-Rex Carbonell (he’s going to read this and probably think I’m super lame or lying, but it’s true). Ever since I met him a little over a year ago, I have learned and improved significantly. He’s always showing me something new or teaching me a different editing technique or telling me how I can improve on my work. Rex isn’t afraid to be honest and up front with me, and will let me know if something looks a little off or if he thinks it’s incredible. I love how we can work together and learn from each other, and he’s just a huge inspiration to me.
Other honorable mentions would be Matt Vogel, Maysa Askar, Nicole Busch, Sarah McGonagle, Shannon Bray, Sam San Roman, Sam Cannon, Mimi Hong, Kara Smarsh, Lori Gutman, Keano Jan Osmillo, Eden Kittiver, Emily Tantuccio, Elliot Ingham, Dieter Unrath, Chelsea Kornse, Chase Harris, Bethan Miller, Ashley Osborn, Anam Merchant, Miranda Eliot, Kurt Cuffy, Madison Bass-Taylor, Sim Morales/Insignificant Other, Joshua Halling, Penelope Martinez, Natasha/@deanastacia, Meagan Abell, Tiago da Silva/@apricotberlin, Deejay Forte, Johann Arteaga Ramos, Chris Schoonover, as well as all of the bands/musicians that I listen to.”
N: What’s your advice for an aspiring photographer?

K: “I think the best advice that I was given and that I will continue to tell others, is to just never stop creating, never stop experimenting, and to always remember to have fun with it. Do not get into photography to make money, because chances are you won’t make much, especially in the beginning. If you’re interested in photography, pursue it because you’re passionate about it. Become a photographer because you want to capture and document life’s most beautiful and fleeting moments.”

Check out more of Kayla’s work pm her webiste:

and follow her on Instagram below: