Aundre Larrow is a freelance photographer and creative currently based in Brooklyn, New York. I first learned about Aundre's work when I interview Jeremy Perez-Cruz for the podcast. I immediately fell in love with Aundre's photograph and knew I had to hear his story. His work captures the raw emotion and joy of everyday people. Aundre was also a participant in the Adobe Creative Residency where he spent an entire working and honing his skills as a photographer.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:00:00] On this episode, I'm excited to welcome independent photographer based out of Brooklyn, Aundre Larrow, whose photos can be described as capturing the life and joy of everyday moments. Aundre, thank you so much for joining me today and, and allowing me to come into your apartment to record.
Aundre Larrow: [00:00:14] Nice. Well, in a way you're joining me cause this is my house, but I do like that you came and brought all this sweet equipment and got weights in here and like wind guards pretty prepared for essentially anything.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:00:24] Try to be pretty official on the show. Um. Aundre, you've, you've grown so much in your career in the last few years or so, and, um, you know, it is interesting to read that when you were younger, you used to watch the world news with your mom and, and dream about being an anchor.
Aundre Larrow: [00:00:42] Oh, yes. So we were big Peter Jennings fans in my house and my house being the two of us.
But my mom and I, um, you know, from when I was a young kid. I think it was maybe like a reflection of like, often when I was younger, my mom was, uh, since we moved from Jamaica, she had a teaching college degree, but when she came here, she had to get, she had a different certification and so, um, she had to go to take her bachelor's.
Then she was also like working in the Motorola factory and doing a lot of different things so she wouldn't be done until like later in the day. And the world news would come on five to six. And so, um. I mean, it was five 30 to six. I remember if it was an hour or half an hour, but we would always watch it.
And some of my strongest memories are like September 11th, with Peter Jennings like a lot of really specific ones. Um, and so there was always a big value on reading fiction and the value of truth. And so my mom was like a big journalism fan and I always kind of enjoyed it cause it was always before we'd watch like wheel of fortune, which is dumb about jeopardy, which is awesome.
So yeah. And like. Mom is a reading literature teacher primarily. So her whole thing is like, well, technically you should go to read the New York times by the time you're in like fifth or sixth grade, cause it's written at that level. Um, and so it was like a furthering of that.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:01:57] It also sounded like it was the nice ritual time for you to spend and to spend time with her.
Aundre Larrow: [00:02:02] Oh yeah. My mom is a great cook. So we would be eating, um, you know, whatever Jamaican food she felt like making that day or whatever it was. Uh. You hold over, whether it was like some king fish or some salmon and some rice and peas and that'd be right around that time we'd like eat and watch it or like watch it while she was cooking.
So like right around that time was like wind down before homework started and whatever. That was like a pretty normal thing. Only on weekdays though, for some reason we didn't watch the whole world is on weekends cause I guess the world took a break
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:28] Are you still holding onto that dream at some point in your life to maybe become an anchor later on?
Aundre Larrow: [00:02:33] I don't know. I mean, I will say this, I, David Murer is the anchor down cause we still watch it. um, and David Brewer feels like he's not that much older than me, even though I'm sure that he is.
Um, but I think when we're, like, when we were like eight. All the anchors were like 60 now we're like, well, I dunno, we'll go over.
I still would probably same age, I'm 28 and I'm assuming they wouldn't be where it's like maybe 40 and so it's, maybe it's the 42. It's just like different gaps. So before it was like you had the thing where you maybe thought they were like, knew everything and like had seen everything and now you're like, no, they, they just like go and experience it like normal people.
Um, I don't know. I think that. The same things that anchors do can be achieved in other ways, but like the, as people would say, like the Leo and me or the attention loving person in me would enjoy being able to present the stories and things that I learned from to like a larger stage and audience, which is I guess how I've tried to use social media and that.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:03:32] Yeah. There's an aspect of it that you still
Aundre Larrow: [00:03:33] You put a suit on, you sit down and you tell everyone in America all the things that happened in America that day, and you try your best not to form conclusions unless things are wild. And then you just present it and let them make decisions.
And there was like a really good value in that. And in anything we've lacked that now like, um, you know, we're in a crisis of truth as Americans where people, I mean, I don't know. I will say that there is almost a manufactured crisis of truth where people are concerned with where they get their information and whether or not it's true or not.
I think there are some easy ways to go around that. But there was one, some things that are really fascinating, like are now distrust of the Times and like Washington Post and that is very dangerous game because you know, these places have existed for 250 years. Like there was a reason for that. And so if we don't trust them.
Then there is a level of danger that comes with like, where do we choose to get our truth from? So in a way that those news anchors were really valuable because we could say, this is what happened in Watergate. These were like the things that we know happened and we're not gonna argue about them. Now we're having impeachment hearings and we're like, well, I mean, this is just ridiculous.
Why are we having this when it's like, no, no, no. The conversation would be more like, this is what happened. Yeah. And then forming our conclusions, not the other way around.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:44] There's a, there's a lot. Um, there's a lot there. It's, it's really interesting. Obviously, knowing a little bit more about your background, you had a photojournalism, um, later on in your career.
Before we get to that though, um, you also grew up like super musically, like playing the. Saxophone and guitar or the keyboard.
Aundre Larrow: [00:05:03] It's kind of a joke. My mom, if she could, I mean, she would never, I mean, she probably meant it. First of all, I think she definitely wishes she had another child because sometimes she'll just rub my hair and be like, you had such, such, such pretty hair if you're a girl.
And I'm like, what is this? Why do you say this me? Um, but, you know, I think growing up in a environment that is very, uh, British influenced. There is like a lot of idea around prestige and some certain things. I mean, thank you, colonialism. And so there are certain things are really prestigious and one of them is being like a concert pianists.
So she always thought that was really cool. Um, and so the first instrument I played was the piano, I think from when I was like, it'd be six to nine or 10. Um, and so we'd play, my problem was I like, as with all children, you're like, practice or watch dragon ball Z or go outside, play basketball. Um,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:05:52] Always watch dragon ball.
Aundre Larrow: [00:05:54] Of course was, he is incredible.
And I think that like, one thing I wished that I realized younger as a kid was that like all of these things don't exist in a vacuum. Like, um. Now, if you like stream Dragonball Z and YouTube, which I do sometimes they have, they'll tell you the different scores based on who did the music for it and you're like, Oh, this is so useful.
Um, and I probably would've like enjoyed it more if I like, realized that there was more of a point outside of just like what I was doing to myself or practicing on myself. Um, saxophone was when I was in middle school, I did the middle school band and like a second, a jazz man. I wasn't very good. Shout to Mr. Helm.
And then my friend Sarah Darville, who lives in Brooklyn now. Um, but. The jazz band was, the band was actually really interesting because that's when I like, started to think like I'd already learned how to read music, so it wasn't as difficult. And I remember like the first year I didn't understand it because with the piano you're just pressing down keys.
So when you move from that key, you're the next one. But with a woodwind instrument, like the Alto sax, or, sorry. Yeah. With the alto sax until you finish blowing that note, you're essentially slurring between things. So I didn't really know that at first. I was honestly just slurring between notes constantly instead of paying like a synced one.
And I remember that. I remember that lesson clearly in seventh grade. He was like, you need to stop slurry everything. And I was like, okay,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:06] I did not know that. That's, interesting to hear about the kind of technique involved in that.
Aundre Larrow: [00:07:11] This is really basic. I just was like, I guess not paying attention. And I remember I was so embarrassed when he was like,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:16] everyone got the concept.
You eventually kind of gave up the idea of playing an instrument, um, partly because of your friend Jeff.
Aundre Larrow: [00:07:27] Yeah. And so like instruments are, they're beautiful things, but either maybe either I am like lazy or it was just a kind of a bad time or whatever. But I would like play the piano and the sax in particular I played for like.
Uh, probably four years and I wasn't like bad, but I wasn't like really good. Um, and I was never going to play in the high school band. I remember in middle school we opened, we like played the national anthem on TV at a Marlin's game. And we had to wear like Sawgrass Springs, Minol like button-down green polo shirts and like black slacks.
And I was like, I am so hot this is terrible.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:01] Why does anyone sit through this?
Aundre Larrow: [00:08:02] And then you, and then you see like the high school ones with like the, you're like, nah, not gonna work. Also, I don't really want to stay after school for this. And so I just didn't do it. Um, but there was a man in our church that was my like teacher.
So like every week, I think up until like. All, like middle of sophomore year I was having like saxophone lessons. But then when you get into that, remember when you were in high school and you like in that weird period of like deciding to being a nerd is the most valuable thing. You just kind of lose all track of time and somehow it's okay to like let your things you're interested in fall to the wayside.
But no, like music was important and I think it always was like helpful and how it moved me in it like still definitely does. Um, it's embarrassing a little bit to think that I have like, I mean my mom keeps them in this one part of the closet where I see them whenever I'm at home and she just got this baby grand piano.
So she's always like, whenever you decide, and I'm like, Oh, this song, do
Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:52] you want to just pick it back up? Like, Aundre everyone's here in the living room why don't you play a little bit.
Aundre Larrow: [00:08:58] No, my friend Jeff, bless that man's soul. I met him when I was a freshman in high school when he was a junior, and then when I was a sophomore, he was a senior and I thought Jeff was the coolest person.
This was back when I was doing a lot of youth group stuff. Like. Uh, where are you from?
Jon Sorrentino: [00:09:13] Grew up in this area in New York.
Aundre Larrow: [00:09:15] Then you don't know this is there, is this like this thing and like, cause Florida's not really the South, but like there's enough Southern things, like essentially South Florida is not the South at all, but like in the South there's a thing called first priority, which is essentially this Christian club.
It's like make God your first priority. And so I met Jeff there and I thought Jeff was cool because he had this like, really cool, um, like techno band. That was just him and this guy Chris Day, but it's mostly him and he would like just play piano and then like stay up and just mix things on a midi keyboard, which I've never seen before.
I remember when you're like 13 14 15 like anything that you haven't seen before that you just like gravitate to it. Like I remember we used to make fun of like girls when they were like nine and they'd be like, Oh my God, look, I love the Jonas brothers. Like whatever it was. But like that same fixation you just have on something that you liked, didn't understand.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:10:00] I just learned what a midi keyboard was in the last five years.
Aundre Larrow: [00:10:03] I was like, what is this thing? And so he would like, he had fruity loops and he would just like sit up and watch MASH and like not do his homework. And like, and like make all this music. And it was like such a fascinating thing to me because we'd start to hang out and he'd be like, Oh, I'll tell you this, or I'll play you this.
Or like, this was back when I remember this was going to burn CD and data CD. Yeah. Remember that
Jon Sorrentino: [00:10:24] I was, I was all about Kaza and burning a CD. Oh yeah. What you're mixed stays around CD-ROM.
Aundre Larrow: [00:10:29] You give me like, data CDs with bands. I like Copeland. The first one was my Copeland, which is from Lakeland, Coldplay, which people love to make fun of but Coldplay is good. Um. There's so many, like so many, so much music. Um, my high school friend Caroline gave me see burn CDs with Keen and Nada Surf. And it was really interesting because, um, there were points when I wasn't really aware of how I was about my identity. The school we ended up going to was in a very black part of town with a magnet school called Deerfield Beach high school.
And it. Was a very black school, but the program we were in was like a high achievers program. It was very white and generally every other would only be like one or two black people in the class. Our year there was my F there's Kendrick or there's Keon that was me. So there's a couple of us, but like identity wise, we don't really think about it as much.
You know, there were some Indian Indian American kids, some Jewish American kids, and their identities were like a little bit more, a little stronger. But like as African American kids or as like a . Uh, Caribbean transplant can, I didn't think about that as much. And so my point with that was like, I had some things are influencing me, like my youth group and then Jeff and Caroline, whatever else I was listening to you?
But then there was also like, just general, like pop rap that I was used to. And so this was an interesting time where I was starting to like meld interests together if things I like to listen to. And it was a really good time for that reason. And so, um, with Jeff I really liked, um. Hanging out and hearing a lot of music he had.
But then I also was really fascinated because he started to make like Photoshop brushes. This is all stuff. This was like 2008 and I was like, this is not a, no, this wasn't, this was like 2007 so I graduated 2009 and he graduated 2007 so this is probably like early, or this was early 2007 before he graduated, we'd gone to see like Switchfoot live and Reliant K and all that stuff, and we'd like hang out.
I'd like sleep over, and then he'd like. Make stuff. He'd just be like making a song or something. Or he wrote me the song for my birthday. Um, and it was just a really interesting time cause I started to be like, Oh, like I could just like make a lot of stuff. And you know, the music thing, I was like pretty thought.
I like couldn't definitely couldn't do it, but he would kind of take some photography and it was like, okay. And I was like, Oh, I can totally, you like play around with this and do it. Um, and at the same time as this happening, I was in youth group at church and there was this woman, Katie Sayer, she's Kathleen Moto, and now she's married.
Um, she and I would hang out and she would lend me her film camera. She have a lot of them for some reason. And so there were like a, just a lot of swirling influences that kind of had that thing where, um. There's a nonprofit now called Hundred Cameras. I've volunteered sometimes and we just did this program in Chicago or they did it.
And I got to come where we like talk to kids about how storytelling is important and like what it does to you to be able to tell what you think is best. And so much of it is just saying like, you can actually make this thing, like it's not a big deal. And like if something bad happens, nothing's going to happen.
But I had that happen to me just by the existence of these people. And so between. Katie, give me your camera. Jeff given me examples of things to shoot the people around me being okay with me shooting. And then I would just go live with that Walgreens, Walgreens, like a mile and a half from my house. And I would walk over there.
I'd wait till they had like buy one and get one on like film to buy or I would get what I feel in the process and just spend like that little money I made working at Old Navy like two summers before on that. Um. And so that influence was just that, that eyeopening experience of like, Oh, I can just like make this thing.
And it like wasn't like super high stakes. So I'd like make, I make like a yearbook or something when my friends are like, Hey, people photos and stuff. Like nothing was weird. It was just like, this is a thing that's happening and we're all like in high school and need to have like two hobbies. Or like, we're useless.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:13:52] It was very much like you, you weren't, you realize that you didn't need permission to just be making an experiment thing and things. And I think now even so as you're doing this group a Hundred Cameras, that is a thing. It's still today. Even in my personal career, it's like, I don't need permission to direct, or I don't need permission to do these things just because you know, someone else has that title or something like that.
And that extends all the way down to like, even when you're younger in high school.
Aundre Larrow: [00:14:17] Well, yeah, I mean it's so much of a permission thing because like, okay. Some of the permission thing is it's a socioeconomic thing. It's understanding that it is expensive for my mom to decide to do this thing, and if it's just my mom, she has to pitch you just pay for her school.
She has to pay for me to go to school. She has to pay for me to exist as well as like general house and life things. Um, the permission is important because you can't just do whatever you want. And so those constraints are important. But then once you get that ability to be like, okay, like this actually isn't expensive.
Like you can get like three rolls of film for $10. Um, and if I mow these people's lawns or I do this thing, I can like, then get that stuff, shoot it, wait. Or someone can expose it for like whatever it is. Um, it's all like very doable. And then, you know, halfway through high school, my theater teacher gave me his old film camera as a gift cause he like noticed a shooting in a lot.
And so these things, it started to become more, um. It just got, it got easier. And so that permission is like a mental one as well as like just getting yourself to the point where you can have access to stuff.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:15:17] You make it through high school. You graduated 2009, and uh, you're working on a number of different things.
I imagine you're shooting, you're doing a little bit of design, you're getting exposed to what your friend Jeff is working on. You ended up at the university of Florida and you go into the program, uh, as an economics major.
Aundre Larrow: [00:15:34] Yeah. So I was a journalism economics major, just really fast. I really wanted to be rich to Chicago and I got in, I was like, I don't know.
Did you apply to a lot of schools when you were,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:15:44] uh, I visited three, chickened out on all of them and then ended up going to a community to figure it out.
Aundre Larrow: [00:15:51] Yeah, man. I like, I had friends that were like, I applied to like 12 schools and I was like, bro, I'm tired. We talked about, it's like, I don't want to do it.
I did Florida, central Florida, and then I did U Chicago because it had the common app. I really wanted to go to Chicago without realizing it. Like this is very childish, but I can admit this now I'm more of an adult. Um, Dwayne Wade is greatest basketball player in Miami history from Chicago. Giant Kanye fan, especially as a younger boy, um, from Chicago.
Um, you know, Obama was just elected in 2008 from Chicago. I felt like. Chicago had influenced me a lot and I was always really fascinated with it. And you remember how like people were applying to colleges for the dumbest reasons when we were like 17, like, Oh look, my sister's boyfriend went there. And like Arizona is just like, the temperature is perfect for like mental.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:16:41] I was I had those reasons. I was just like, I'm lazy.
Aundre Larrow: [00:16:45] My mom was like, get out of my house. Yeah. It's, so, um, I applied to U Chicago, visited after I got in. And I think I can say this is the first time I've ever said this, like in a podcast form, it would have cost me the same amount of money to go to U Chicago as Florida, which was ridiculous cause you're Chicago is a really highly ranked school.
I had one of the worst experiences in my life on that trip, learning about that school. It was awful. Yeah. They have like a big thing where it's like, this is where fun comes to die and it's like this really big. It was just. I was really excited about it cause I was an IB program in high school. And so this was like, you learn all these classics, like everyone has the same curriculum.
It was like this big focus on learning, but it was like this thing where we were just overcompensating and like trying to talk about how our intelligence made us in a way like superior interesting. And I just, I wasn't into it. And it's one of the few decisions I can tell you for sure. Even at 17, I was like, I don't want to do this.
Like I knew, like I remember that they ended up, I was like, nah, bro. And so, um, I went to, I went to UF and I was really happy with it. Like UF was. UF was really interesting because a lot of my friends from from school went there. A lot of my friends from youth group and like the greater coral Springs, Margaret Tamarack area, so like I knew a lot of people that are going there, but the year before us, a lot of the kids that went all stayed really tied.
They all kept dating each other. They all kind of kept doing stuff. And that was like really frustrating for me for some reason. So I came and just decided like, I don't. I, I just, and some of it, I didn't really realize it then, but I was like, I don't want to be just like that. So I went to preview. I like made a bunch of new friends.
I like very foolishly, uh, poorly broke up with my high school girlfriend. I didn't look up really dumb way. And then I got to UF and it was just like, I want to try a bunch of stuff. Um, and so. Economics was really interesting to me because it like kind of is the idea of like how money allows people to act a certain way.
And then, um, journalism made sense because the college of communications journalism, I met one of the people in charge of scholarships and he was like, I can give you this. If you stay at a journalism major. And so I got there and immediately was just like trying to figure out more things about myself.
Like first semester, um, I had a goal to eat with a random person every day. So like, I would go to the dining hall and just like talk somebody in line or like maybe somebody had an a class or just sit down with a stranger. And sometimes it was. Terrible. But I think just like realizing, and this is like, I don't know if you have siblings, but as an only child, there was like a excitement and a freedom that comes with going to school and like being around other people.
Um, and then on the same level of that with econ, I was just really interested in just like sitting down and learning a bunch of stuff. So I took like sports economics, which was fascinating. So you learned about how like when people talk about the NCAA can't afford to pay athletes, it's complete nonsense, or like how much money the Olympics multiplier makes like all this stuff was really interesting cause I looked like to understand how people think and like how it motivates us
Jon Sorrentino: [00:19:22] The reasoning behind a lot of these things.
Aundre Larrow: [00:19:25] And then, um, I also got the chance, since I had a lot of credits from being a big high school nerd, what to take a bunch of things that I think influenced my work now.
So I took visual literacy, which is a black and white photo film class. So I like learned how to process my own film. Then, um, I took this class called documented, no. Oh, what's it called? That. It was called, it might've been called documentary propaganda and film. I can't remember why. I think that's what it's called.
But we did this like a whole class where we just watched films Thursday nights and we'd just like write papers on them. Um, and so in the journalism college, we didn't have like a, like an insane amount of photo electives, but the fact that I could take other things was really helpful for me. And so, yeah, I got there.
And the influences were like those classes as well as trying to work in the student paper.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:20:09] There's so much there.
Aundre Larrow: [00:20:11] I'm sorry I'm talking so much.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:20:13] No, no, no. It's, it's great. It's crazy. Cause you describe yourself as a nerd, you know, when you were younger. But. You did things very that were very extroverted, right?
Like you pushing yourself to go meet with someone every day for lunch is something that like, I don't think anyone really would do. You know, especially going to a new school, you go to like your orientation or whatever, you make like one or two friends there and then slowly but surely over time you have a, someone in the class that you work with and that's another friend.
It's like you just went right to it.
Aundre Larrow: [00:20:42] I was like super into it. I was like super into it cause I was like. It was super, I don't know, just like stuff I'd never really experienced before. I'd never, I mean, I don't know if you've been to get Gainesville is the South bro, like you hadn't been to Gainesville before.
You go from being like, you've been to Miami, I'm sure. Yeah. Fort Lauderdale and Miami essentially the same. You leave that and you go like, I don't know, four and a half hours North and you're just in Alabama. You're just in a different state. And it's sort of a really fascinating experience for like an 18 year old black kid.
And so, um, I was really into the idea, and I still am like, I can learn a lot from the people around me, and I just really wanted to meet as many people as I could, especially that first semester just kind of stood out to me like, okay, you chose to come here, you complained about how you don't want U Chicago, and now you're here.
Um, and so like, what. Can you get out of it? Like, I don't know.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:21:34] I have a ton of questions here, but I think this, there's so much here that I want to just kind of hold onto a little bit. You sound very much like a Doer. You had just said like you yourself, how these complaints about not being able to do X, Y, and Z, and like instead of just talking about that complaint or complaining about or having that misery, you're just like, I'm going to change it.
Is that, is that how you are today?
Aundre Larrow: [00:21:53] I mean, I hope so. I guess. I mean, to my detriment, I think one of the big things I struggle with is being, having good work life balance and being understanding when it's time to stop. But I guess I always just want to do stuff because I just want to get it done. Like if I think that something is like right or like what we need to be done, then I just want to get it started.
Um, I think my mom is very much the same way. She'd always say we love watching. Like another thing, we'd always love watching basketball, but like if I had something to do, like I had like. To rake leaves or do something, she'd always be like, those people are doing their job and you're not at that level yet, so you need to go do your job.
And so I guess the only that would stop me from doing is exhaustion or not understanding something. And so like for example, when I first moved here, I tried to like meet a bunch of people to talk to them and understand like, Hey, you do like your producer? Like what does that mean? Cause you're not a producer, designer, producer, designer.
Maybe the most vague terms. I'm a designer. Video game designer, nails, like it can be anything. Um, and so understanding that, um, I was just trying to get going and do stuff because I don't know, like I, if I'm in a position to do it, then I'm going to try, but if I can't, then I need to figure out how to get to that point and do it.
And if I still can't, then maybe it's a sign that I shouldn't be messing with that thing in the first place.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:23:11] I liked that. I liked that idea. How did you eventually go from photo journalism to photography? Like what was that switch? Is it just
Aundre Larrow: [00:23:18] you all there? Bro there was no switch like it was, I, you know, the university was actually been really cool since I graduated.
Um, they invited me back last year. They're doing this alumni series. We had alumni come and talk to students about things that it's like a gaps in their learning. And I was like, wow, you guys are like really committed to this. Okay, cool. And I just came and talked to them and just talk to them about like understanding all the things that they could do that are like marketable.
Um, and so, yeah, I mean, in college I think it was just cause I liked photo more. Um, I had. Kind of loaded up and taken, you're suppose to take like one capstone or maybe two. But I took three cause I was like, I have a bunch of time. So I took applied journalism the end of junior year, and that was this film, like a journalism video class.
Um, and then we also did like an app pitch, um, with this woman. Amy's over the, now you're worse than New York times. Lovely woman. Um, in that class we did, like, I did this really bad video, but the concept was cool. Like it was horrible. Um, it was about how at this point, but now it's number set up at that point in 2011.
Um, African American kids were three and a half more times likely to drown than white kids were. And like, just about like what leads to those things. And then we did this app pitch, but I still think it's cool and hope someone should make, it was called, Hey, bill. And the idea was like, people would put in their personal information and sync with like Facebook or something.
And, um, it would then be able to tell you like, what bills were up for voting and how much it would probably affect you. So you'd have to put in like, what your, uh, socioeconomic. Whatever it was, but the idea was he could tell you like if it was on a school, we also like thought it might be, we call it earthquakes and like on a scale from like one point like 0.0 to like 10.0 being like, Oh it'll impact you this much or it'll impact this person this much, which would be interesting cause then you could like maybe like track the bills or whoever.
I don't really know how it would work. It was a cool idea. Then I don't know how to make an app, but the idea was cool because I was just thinking about how like. When you know, when you go vote and you're like, what is that.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:25:16] What are all of these things,
Aundre Larrow: [00:25:17] What does this mean? And even if you read the stuff before, you go in there and you're like, I don't understand what this is saying.
Um, and then I took an advanced design, which I was really bad at, but my teacher was really nice and I learned a lot. And then I took advanced photo like senior spring. And so it was just more of like a ability for me to say, like I always wanted to do more art and felt like it was, I was, I've always felt like this.
Like I'd never really been. So the level of being like, I can just draw or paint or like. Just start doing something and you get good at it. I'm like some of my other friends. Um,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:25:49] Photo was a medium that you sort of identified with.
Aundre Larrow: [00:25:51] Identified with. It was like easier for me to, it just made more sense to me for some reason.
Like I've never been a really good, like freehand drawer. I remember the strong memory of being in third grade with this girl, Allison Odding. She's awesome. Um, she lives in Utah now, but I remember we all made like, uh, Valentine's day cards. We all made like pretty basic. Like children's ones and Allison made this one, when you opened it, it was like some sort of pop out with this sword go through this heart and she'd be like. It's like, love sucks. There's, it's unnecessary, whatever. She was always so cool and I was so jealous. Like little kids, our art teacher, Ms. Purvis would be like, Allison, it's incredible. And I'd be like, you're right.
Um, and so like painting, all that stuff was really difficult for me for whatever reason. Um, but my mom gave me some exposure to them. So I think photo always like made sense. Plus working at the student paper, I didn't like writing on deadline. I felt like I did a bad job of it, but shooting was cool because I felt like once I left, it was like a self contained situation of like.
I'm here, this thing happened and now we can go, like edit it. And so, um, you know, I was always in that mind frame. The thing that really changed it was I tried to apply to a bunch of internships and like, I guess my portfolio wasn't good or maybe it was good. I don't know. I was kind of in a weird head space.
And you know, when you graduate or when you're like 21, um, you try to apply to stuff on the internet and just goes into this void of like whatever. Um, what the big change for me was I did one internship in Chicago, um, my junior year, summer, summer 2012. It was a great time and it honestly prepared him for this.
But the bigger thing was, I did an internship at the local paper the Gainesville Sun, and there's a photographer there, Matt Stamey, that I love. He works for the Santa Fe community college now. And I remember one day we were doing ride along and he was talking to me and he was like, what are you doing here man?
You don't want to work here? And I think they had just been bought by different, a publication or like a media company. And like some of them got pay decreases. And he was like, man, you don't want to do this. And I. Uh, wanted to figure out what I was gonna do, but I had no idea. Some of my friends had moved home to Fort Lauderdale from like Florida state, UCF, Florida, and all moved home and we're having a really hard time getting jobs, like, you know, Rob work as a lifeguard, like, and he was an actual science major.
He's a super smart dude. You know, everyone, Lex working at Teavana. Brooke was working at this like, she was an art history major. She was working at like this is like a historic house, like planning weddings for people. And it just didn't seem fun. And I love South Florida, but I just didn't love the idea of like getting home and just like driving everywhere and like kind of falling back into the same stuff, which is I guess always been a fear of mine.
Um, and so I was there and it was kind of the end of the summer. Our house lease was up and I ran into my friend who was the social media manager of Grooveshark. I remember.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:28:21] Yeah. I'm glad you touched on that. Cause I was like Grooveshark I remember them.
Aundre Larrow: [00:28:26] Grooveshark was weird, but very big for me.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:28:29] It was a social media internship. It wasn't necessarily directly.
Aundre Larrow: [00:28:34] Yeah. So he was like, he was a social director and he was like, our visuals suck our Instagram is bad and you're good at it. And it was a big deal cause I just hit a thousand Instagram followers, which is like a big deal. I was like, Whoa. Everyone's like, yo, Whoa. And I just, I remember I had just taken this photo that had a hundred likes and it was like a big deal for me and for them.
So I like, he asked me if I wanted to do it and I was like, sure. I interviewed a bunch. They didn't tell me anything. I packed up my house. And, um, I left some of my, some of my friends, we had lived in a house and right next door it was like an old, crappy apartment complex. And my friends live right next door, but they were gonna be gone for like five weeks.
So I asked them to just leave some stuff in there and I just moved home with whatever and then threw everything else out. And, um. And I get home, I'm home for a couple of weeks and they're like, Hey, can you like come up here? And I was trying to see if I can get like a paid job or something too, but like, it didn't really work.
So I was just an intern there. And the thing that helped me was in the summer I did a job for the alumni association that ended up designing shot and design these like banners and posters that went in every, all the freshmen's rooms. And on this bus pay me a whopping $1,500 which when you're 21 you're like, yo, this is it.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:29:38] I do a hundred of these projects every year.
Aundre Larrow: [00:29:41] You're like, yeah, totally. Look, I know this took me like forever. And also like they should've paid more money, but look, I don't know. You think about anything. So I did it. And like that's what I lived on from August until December. Um, and that's actually not that crazy because what ended up happening was those friends, I let set their stuff, I just live in their living room and paid them $100.
So September, October, November, December. Paid $400 to stay there for four months. Then paid whatever the like splits were, and then like paid for food and just like general existing, but it like worked out. See she sharing anything. Oh yeah. No, I mean, $1,500 in Gainesville at that point. I was like, chillin.
Go on some dates, you know. Um, but I, um, there when I worked under JR and is awesome. Um. You'd have me to shoot a bunch of stuff. And that was the first time I didn't have to do anything for like news, so I could like, I could shoot it again, you know, like I'd shoot a portrait and then I'd be like, Oh, can you just move over here?
Like I had a lot more control of what was going on. Um, you know, artists would stop by and they'd be like, make a music video for them. So I'd like second idly, second camera under the video person. Um, this woman, Hannah Piper, who lives here, and you should interview her. She's awesome. She now works for planned Parenthood and she likes.
It was in the Brooklyn magazine 30, like two years ago for like this app she worked on and helped women like track the reproductive health. Um, she was the like talent team leads. So she'd deal with all the artists and so I would just be doing all sorts of stuff. And it was the first time I had like seen how like communications can be used outside of in journalism sense.
And, um, it was cool. Um, you know, JR was really, really nice and you know, it, it taught, taught me a couple of things. I got in trouble, um, kind of late in the internship, they did a big show at Webster hall. I came up here for, and I like, at one point I was shooting video for them earlier in the day and the day before, like background with Zach.
Then that day I was helping set up and then I was taking all the VIP booth photos as well as shooting the concert and then like posting live on social. And I remember like at some point being like, I'm the only person who is going to get isn't getting paid. And they got really mad and I posted this thing about using new slaves by Kanye.
It was kind of foolish. And remember the guy who was maybe going to hire me then like, or I don't actually think he was gonna hire me, but he brought it up in the exit interview like, well, you shouldn't have said this and you know what? I stand by it because it was like that time when I was just like, okay, enough.
Like I've been an intern three times. Like enough of all this stuff
Jon Sorrentino: [00:32:00] You realize sort of what you were doing and,
Aundre Larrow: [00:32:02] but at that time it was super helpful because like you need it, you know? When you get to that point where you can be angry enough to like understand something about. Yeah. And so I learned a little bit about value of my work, a lot about different things I could do.
And then, you know, that was my introduction in New York when I was here. I saw my godfather and he lives in flushing on 140 eighth like probably 25 minute walk from the seven train. And he was like, look like, you know, if you want to come for a little bit and like figure something out, you can. And so that's what I did.
Like I moved, I, you know, we were here in October. I think a little bit for Halloween for this thing. And I ended up moving back January 7th, 2014. Um, and, you know, it's been really interesting since then, but like that transition I guess started then where I was like, photography is just like a thing. Like I can just do it.
Um, I mean, I still want to, like, I have like a photo or two of the times, but I'm, you know, I still want to do editorial stuff cause I feel like there's prestige in that. But, um, that was the first time when I was like, Oh, like. This campaign person use my photo and now they're going to like use it in their campaign like this.
This can be used for other things. I just, I always hated doing breaking news. I always hated doing stuff that was like gross or just cause I had to do it. Um, and I never liked to Russia doing editorial. I'm in like a hard new sense. And so
Jon Sorrentino: [00:33:19] Media magazine,
Aundre Larrow: [00:33:20] I was media magazine made more sense.
And one of the first jobs I had when I was here was a photo assistant, a men's fitness, and those photos were a little bit easier. But then I was like, this is essentially just like a giant catalog. I'm not super interested in that
Jon Sorrentino: [00:33:30] Grooveshark. Like really? So. First of all for people who don't know, because is no longer around
Aundre Larrow: [00:33:36] Shoutout
Jon Sorrentino: [00:33:37] A music streaming company and I remember like I went to a few concerts because they were really honing in on the concert goer music enthusiasts and connected with them through that. Um,
Aundre Larrow: [00:33:48] It was like pre. Spotify post Napster. So it was essentially YouTube, but like you could just make songs and there were people that were like internet DJs on there that would just be super popular.
This is crazy.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:33:59] It's opened you up to doing a number of things. You know, between social media between like doing a event, photography, all that stuff. It's, I mean, it's kind of, cause you also went on to have a ton of other internships after that, you know, like you did, you were at Shutterstock for a bit.
Aundre Larrow: [00:34:14] Yeah. So I did like a Shutterstock, like temp thing. That was fascinating and that I learned about the, that stock photography in the course of like three months. Um, and it's funny cause like all that stuff, the one thing, I mean, not one thing, there are many things that are wrong with me, but one thing is I can be like a very, I don't like let, I'll let stuff go very easily.
And Shutterstock was just like, you know, when you temp, like just randomly, they'll like, either they have the option to like renew your contract for way more money or cut you. And then just one day randomly they were like, yeah, don't come in. And I was like, what? And but at that time I didn't realize that that was important cause I made enough money then to then move into my first apartment.
And like be settled enough and then get back into that period of understanding. I needed to be like frantic enough to like stay here and like make time for it. And so I think that was my last like internship, internship. But that was my like, that like opened me up to like the grad school of learning that New York can be.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:35:00] Yeah. The grad school in new York's crazy. You mentioned that you also like, you know, you went on to have a few other positions you, you ended up at men's fitness doing a lot of their like advertising campaigns and things like that and you didn't really like it?
Aundre Larrow: [00:35:13] Oh no. Yes. What men's fitness? I was nah.
I mean, I don't know. I guess I was doing some advertising stuff, but mostly what I was doing was like looking for stock photography. I'm organizing the prop closet, like reviewing contracts or like. Honestly, like and Henry, David, Kate, they're all great. No shaded them. It was just like kind of a boring job.
Like there, I would just like watch animated sometimes cause like we just don't have anything to do. And like I'd have to wait a couple of hours who gets like to do stuff or I'd go pick up props for shoots or I'd go to a shoot and like put together like we'd like a stair master or like they had like paid some money to have it in a photo shoot.
Um, and so. It was kind of whatever, and that was kind of my last, like we're done with editorial because I was like, I was like best case scenario, they hire me. Like I think I was making like $10 or $15 an hour somewhere in there, which isn't bad. I just was like, this is a colossal waste of my time. Like you guys don't really want to be here.
I don't want to be here. They're cutting a lot of people constantly, and this is a huge bummer. Like, you know. I just knew I didn't want to be there anymore. And so I'm like, Liv brings it up all the time as like the ways that I start like finding, um, ouch for myself. So like I had been interviewing for some things I didn't get.
Like, I remember something that almost happened as I was in the last round of interview for a social media manager job at Uber in LA. And it was crazy because like, if I had taken that, I think everything will look super different when happy didn't move, but, um, and happening and get it. But like, at that point I was like, definitely looking for other stuff and starting to understand like, Oh, I could just.
Do this other stuff, like it's not like a difficult jump. I could take a month and learn it and then go. Yeah.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:36:43] How did, um, how did you end up at Walker and Company
Aundre Larrow: [00:36:46] Walker and Company? Shout out for a couple of reasons. My good friend Javan, my very good friend, um, there is a small number of people that have similar life experiences to me and Javan is one of them.
Javan moved to America later than I did. He moved from Jamaica, um, was just he and his mom. Um. She's a tremendously strong woman. Giovanna's Giovanna is smart as anything, man. He went to Yale and at Yale he was really aware of this guy, Tristan Walker, who was the CEO of Walker company. It's like the Silicon Valley darling.
It's black dude. He has some Jamaican influence. I don't know what it is, but I remember I was in New York for a couple months maybe like I was in there. I got moved there January, maybe like April. He calls me and he's like, Hey man, you heard this walker and company, man? Like, dude, they're like working out New York.
So bad ass. They're like, they're like, dude, all this cool stuff. Like you should just reach out and see if you can do anything for them. You know, there's a lot of things that are fascinating about Tristan, but the number one thing I'll tell you is I've never met somebody who like. I emailed them and I think he emailed me back the same day, or like the next morning I emailed just to see like if you need any photo help.
And at this point, um, the guys from street etiquette work on it, like Josh Kissy and Travis, who's D my last name, I forgot. Um, and I just reached out. They emailed me back and they were like, yeah, you know, we like could use some images for like some cause like for Instagram, cause you know, like you just need stuff.
And so I would just kind of send them stuff and they'd repost it. And um, they pay me like I'm paying like $300, like for three months, or like 12. I don't know what it was, but it was like some small amount of money, but they really liked it and they're really, really nice. So I think they paid me for like one, three months stint.
And then they asked me again like a month later, and then they started to do these like barbershop profiles and they were like, Oh, like Mari. So Tristan introduced me to Mari and Mari after Grooveshark might've been one of the, like, there are a lot of pivotal people on, um, I am the result of all of these people's hard work.
Mari was a creative Richert Walker and company. She was like the first designer at fourscore. Now she works at Instagram. Incredible professional, creative person. And Mari, um, she was like, Hey, you know, why don't you shoot this barbershop thing to New York? Your work, it looks fine. So I go to this barbershop, shoot them for a couple of hours.
It's, um, first I do levels, which is up in Harlem. Then I go do Danny Mo another day. And then I forget what he did. One I did Adrian Fantas for the third one, which is actually right, or like right near here. Um, and after that, things, you know, they started to pick up and give me some more work. So I think they just needed stuff.
Like, often, a lot of reason why New York works for a lot of creatives is companies just want to be associated with the energy of it. And when you're like 23. Like that look you have is the one that everybody wants. And so I wasn't making like a crazy amount of money, but they hired me for that. And they had me shoot some like stock photos.
They used people shaving and then I was in one. And so I started to talk to Mari a lot. Um, and she reached out one day and was like, Hey, I need to do this project called find your Barker. And basically the way it worked was. They're, the cities are selling the most in which are like high density urban areas.
So it's big cities with a lot of black people. So that's DC, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Fort worth, Miami. Um, and then LA I think. And so they needed someone to do, they wanted all of these to look the same and like be written the same. And so there's written to say like, find your barber. It's a project about this thing and it does this thing.
So I just was hired for like a three month thing to like. Go down to these places, interview these people, make this project, and it was cool. So I like rushed, start doing it. Um, you know, then when I talked about how much more I influenced me, the biggest thing, which sounds really silly as she just started to teach me, you need to think through everything you're doing.
Everything you're doing, you need to have a plan. You need to tell me where you're going, what you're doing, who you're shooting, what's inspiring that you need to be articulated easily. You need to have like tested it, everything. And so every week we'd have a one on one and she'd just be like, okay, so what's your plan?
Are you going to do? And it seems like so basic cause a, clearly you need a plan, but you're really used to that when you first move. And um, you said you worked at Vice, so I'm very sure you're used to this where you just kind of get thrown in stuff and you got to figure it out. Yep. And often you lose so much time in that figure it out that like you lose that.
And so she was just really instrumental in like getting me to be accountable and more importantly, like be used to the process of what I'm doing and like being prepared for it, patient with it, et cetera.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:41:04] Well, it's also like, you know, it sounds like up until that point, you were very much a maker, right?
You are. Taking the shots, not even thinking like, I could do this. This is easy for me, but you're not thinking about the larger conversation that usually goes into these things because you haven't been exposed to that. And now it sounds like Mari was very much a influence in that process and understanding like it is part of being a creative or a photographer or even a designer.
It's like, yeah, you can make this thing and a lot of people can make that thing. Your value is in the process as well.
Aundre Larrow: [00:41:34] 100% and like the other thing was, since I. After this, I'm sure you realize they like hired me. So I worked as a creative associate. Um, I was like writing copy sometimes I was looking at how my image was being used in like packaging design we use on the website were being used on different things.
And then I'd, she'd start, I'd start to physically see, we have our creative all hands. These are all the things we're working on. This is where the stuff's going to go. This is what this use case is. All of these things need to be solved. And so it was really interesting because all of a sudden I like.
Cause you kind of had this at Grooveshark but it was more all over the place here there was a physical product. And in New York we had the HR lead, the product lead, Mari, the creative lead, and then other creatives. So I was working with a lot of the people like Quintin and Fatima all the time. So all the designs that Quintin and Fatima were making for the site, for everything, we're all like very present to me.
And so getting my hands on that really early was really interesting. And then with Mir, who now works at Adams, um, he's worked at Quip, I swear, Mir, like influenced everyone. Um. Seeing him like go to China, work on all these like demos of things, understand what the use case is like. We would test products in there.
Like it just really got me involved in understanding that process of things. Um, which then fed me really well when it got time for residency stuff because I wasn't like as confused when it got started cause I like knew I had to make a plan out. And then when they were like, Oh, they're like, are you okay having one on ones?
I was like, yeah, I had one on ones before, so this was cool. Um, and so I don't remember what, what this question was, but just like making sure that I like am really clear as to why the process of working with Mari, Quintin, Tristan, like all this stuff worked. The Walker and company experience was one that like really just opened my eyes up into being like, this is a, what the working world is somewhat like startups, a little different, but like you are important part of this and that's why I think that working with startups is interesting because you get more experience with a couple of different things early so you can decide quickly what you do and don't like, and what you like want to work with are not
Jon Sorrentino: [00:43:26] Two things. You're very much a sponge at this time, right? You just like absorbing everything, everything. And then also you're doing a great job leading me into the next part where we talk about how did the residency, the Adobe creative residency, come onto your radar and what kind of drives you to pursue that.
Aundre Larrow: [00:43:42] Residency was interesting. I, you know, they, uh, 2017, no, 2016, around October I had just gotten off of a performance thing at Walker cause we had some new management. And to be honest, I was kind of not doing that while I was doing like a lot less work for some reason. I don't know if I wasn't motivated or what my problem was, but you know, Mari was like, yo, like I gotta put you on this performance thing.
You got to tighten up. And I was like, okay. And so did it. Got off of it. And then like a month later, I remember it was maybe like November and we're in the, WeWork on Dumbo and we're working, and she's like, Hey, I need to talk to you. And it wasn't a one on one time. So we go over, she walks into this room and locks the door.
And I was like, am I getting fired now? Are you serious? But also like, I probably brought this on myself. And she goes, yo, I'm quitting. And she goes, and the officer's moving to San Fransisco and I was like, what? It was like a crazy watershed moment because all of a sudden it was like everything that I was really comfortable in, like honestly, legitimately, I probably would have worked there for at least another year and a half or two years.
Like I just would have, it would have been good for me. Like that environment, I had a lot of room to grow. Um, and like if I showed initiative, I could work on things. I'm like, so we say that we do that. Then I'm like trying to figure out what I want to do, ask her for her advice. I some other people and kind of settle and not move.
And so that means that I'm going to work up until the end of January. Work in the office until end of December and then work January remote. And then I worked on this Valentine's day, campaign beginning of February, and that was it. And so then ties have kind of been cut. I did everything I needed to do for them.
I wasn't like completely broke, but I also couldn't just be like out here chilling and spending money in Brooklyn, which should be, you should change this podcast that you walk outside and you're like. $400
Jon Sorrentino: [00:45:28] $8 dollars on a bacon, egg and cheese before.
Aundre Larrow: [00:45:30] Like second ago, like, like you feel guilty eating, or like last night I take an Uber back here, really fast to do something for my mom.
And I was just spend $13, like doing nothing
Jon Sorrentino: [00:45:40] Out the window.
Aundre Larrow: [00:45:40] So, um, I decided not to go. I had started do this tumblr has this program for creators, so they like, let us go to fashion week. And it was awesome. Shot a bunch of stuff for that. Um, and when I was at fashion week, I got an email from this woman, Heidi Voltmer.
It was awesome. Um, you said you met Julia. Heidi works with Julia, um, and she is kind of over the program and in like a collective creative, uh, creative cloud marketing executive. And she just reached out. She sent me an email and I remember I was sitting on the floor at a fashion week show and I saw an email from Adobe.
I'm like. It's like, am I also like, do they know that I was stealing this before? I wasn't at that point. I was paying for my Adobe at this point, but I was like, do they know that when I was in college I wasn't paying for it? Um,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:46:22] Damn they're getting me all the way back.
Aundre Larrow: [00:46:23] We all have, we all have those friends in high school that were like, Oh, I can give you this for free and be like, how will you do this?
They're like, the code generator, like creepy skull comes up. And so, um, she reaches out, tells me about it. Will you do a call? And I ask her a bunch of questions, it sounds fake. And then all of a sudden I'm like applying for it. And like I had gone, Lydia and I had gone on a trip to DC before that. And I remember on the way back, I was like working on the, like the Megabus on it.
And, um, I just remember the things that I was really focused on were when I graduated, I was really bummed. Some of my really good friends had kind of. A bunch of my friends had done a bunch of trips after college, like we're gonna go see like all, let me see like 30 stage, like do something crazy. And I was really bummed cause I knew I couldn't really do that in really have any money.
And I was bummed because I didn't have a job. And like honestly, my cousins in the same situation right now, and it's been really stressful to like see him in that. And like. It's like weirdly reliving it, um, where like some of his friends are like taking three months to go to Europe, just to do things, and he just doesn't have that latitude.
And I remember just feeling really like stressed and pressed in those moments. And so I wanted to expand on the idea, like, I really liked working on find your barber. And I really liked the project. I did my senior year of college called my neighbors project, and it was about, um. The fact that I lived on a poor side of town that was a lot more black people.
And you know, people just didn't hang out over there they were released with being near the university. And the idea of like a sense of place was really interesting to me. Plus we just finished with, you know, Trump election one. And um, I was fascinated with the idea that like earlier in that night, I remember us shooting something with my friend Eric, before I even got back to the house, he had won Georgia.
And I was so fascinated by the idea that like. Something at that point to me had seem very, obviously not okay, had like completely passed with flying colors in this place. And so the idea of place and sense of place was so interesting to me. And at that point I'd lived in Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Chicago, and New York, and they were all super different.
And so I was like, well, like what project can I do based on that? So I originally like pitched this project, um, that eventually eventually became stories from here. Eventually it was originally called echo chamber and was supposed to be more like political, like how, where do we live and how does it reinforce what we think?
But this ended up being more story about like micro stories about people and things, which was I think, easier to execute and not have to like be as crazy about. Um, but after he reached out, I pitched that, um, and she really liked it. Like, I mean, I think a lot of the residency is making sure that the people that are there to support you understand what you're doing because you know they're there to support you.
But like you're also a grown adult, so you like need to do everything yourself.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:48:58] just like a high school project.
Aundre Larrow: [00:49:00] They're not going to like come hold your hand every day
Jon Sorrentino: [00:49:02] Adobe is a very official, you know, big corporations.
Aundre Larrow: [00:49:06] They're grown like they have other things to worry about. And so, you know, after Heidi reached out, it was kind of quick, like I pitched my idea.
They asked me for a budget. They asked me to make some changes. Then I F they flew me out and I like interviewed some more. That was the person, someone and floan me for an interview that like a hotel is paid for because for that, for that, like the Uber job, I remember I flew and I like stayed at my friend's house, but.
The hotel. It was funny cause it was an Intercontinental San Franciscan. I remember because when I got there, the hotel wasn't paid for and I didn't know if that was supposed to be a thing or not. So I was afraid to tell them and my mom was like, they're supposed to be with the hotel, like stop it. And so I told him the next day and they're like, no, no, no, we'll clean that up for you.
Cause I was like, look at limits. Like at that point you're your credit limit. It's like,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:49:47] Hey, can you come out here and then pay for it?
Aundre Larrow: [00:49:50] So weird now.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:49:51] And it's still very expensive in San Francisco
Aundre Larrow: [00:49:52] knowing that, but you know, you're, I'm, I was like 25. Hadn't just hadn't had that experience before
Jon Sorrentino: [00:50:00] Very hesitant to throw your voice around.
Aundre Larrow: [00:50:02] And I was would just, you're scared cause you're like gonna go into this thing, you don't want to make a big deal. Which was very silly cause I didn't really know any better, but ended up being good. You know, went interviewed had a long day of interviewing with product managers and different people, they were basically having you talk to all the people who work on products that I'd worked with, like audition for audio, you know, light room, Photoshop and then like residency people.
And so, you know, some people challenged me and hounds out on my project ideas, but. I, you know, a lot of good things came out of it. Um, but I mean, Heidi reached out for our year, you know, um, the six of us, two of them are German, Julia and Rosa. I don't really know how they got it, but I remember we had this conversation when we got our video taken.
Jessica got a DM on Facebook from Heidi, which is funny. Um, Natalie found out about at school, I believe, and Chelsea got a targeted ad, and that's how the four of us found out. And so
Jon Sorrentino: [00:50:52] It's grown. The program has grown a lot since
Aundre Larrow: [00:50:54] it's changed every year. It's like.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:50:57] It definitely is doubling in size. You had mentioned that you had to pitch something, and that's because you go into it with this goal and the idea is that you work on this goal.
Then the following year or that, that whole year leading up to it, um, and yours was stories from you.
Aundre Larrow: [00:51:11] Stories from here,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:51:12] stories from here. Um, you come out of this creative residency and it sounds like magical for every creative, right? You have a whole year of just working on yourself, working on projects, honing your craft, and then you get out.
Like, I think for someone that isn't in the program, right? Someone that's looking from the outside. It just seems like green Hills, you know, like Oh, green grass. Like what is that? What is that experience afterwards? I mean, I know it sounds like, again, it's a great program to be able to have that time for yourself as an artist, but coming out of it, you're not set for life necessarily.
Aundre Larrow: [00:51:42] Right? No, well, first of all, let me say this. The thing that is underrate about the residency is you have the time. It's like shopping at the grocery store and you're not hungry. You're the time to start to talk to people without having to worry if they're going to hire you in the next three weeks. Now, I've been trying to do more film things and so a lot of times a client will pay me all the money at once, but that'll also mean I have to wait till they pay me to then pay the people that I worked with.
And so it'll be a bummer. People need to get paid money, like we should all get paid on time. Um, and so I feel bad because my friends will hit me. I'm be like, look, man, can you just pay me early? And it's a bummer. Sometimes it's, I'm like, I can't, but in the residency there's an ability to like meet and talk with people and get yourself, get your name and your work in front of people in a less urgent fashion, which is just a lot nicer.
It's just, it's like a level of stress that when you first like, you know that you take meetings and you're just like, please call me back in the next couple. I go, I really need something where like often like, um, I'm like up for this Airbnb job and I showed them my work. I think in January this year, and then no one said anything to me.
And then all of a sudden I got an email like, Hey, remember we met? I'm like, okay, yeah, sure. And it's so fascinating. Um, and that's one thing like that the freedom to be less stressed is a very nice thing. And I see, I assume that's kind of the reality for people that just ended up having like a little bit of money or privilege or just ended up like maybe work on freelance while having a job.
But that was one of the nicest things for me is I was like, okay, like. I'm working on my project and if this person chooses to not like my work, it doesn't impact the work I'm doing now or the amount of money I have. It's just a thing. And so after it ended, it was funny, the first couple months I was like, like it ended, I was exhausted.
My roommate had a party here and I was, I was told I was annoyed with him for something else and I was like, I'm so tired. Like please stop. And I had to fly to North Carolina cause I'm one of my best friends got and got engaged. And he's in the air force. So it was like, okay, like, let's take some photos and get it ready to go.
And, um, I finished it. I got stuck in that airport for a day and a half. It was awful. I finally fly back here and I'm like, okay, what now? I like had a quick job with, um, Uber when they were promoting some Spike Lee stuff at the beginning of that year, uh, Jesse from Tinker had reached out and I just joined the roster, but I w I didn't really have anything coming in.
It was. April may, um, you know, it's kinda like, okay, like I don't really know what's going to happen. Um, and you know, some things kind of came up that were really helpful, but you know, the beginning of it was like very similar to like, I left some people, I was getting a lot of emails about being in the residency from people that wanted to be in the residency.
But besides that, I was just kinda getting like, whatever. And so it was a lot of like, what I'm used to doing, which is like. Kind of that journalism ground is like hitting the ground running mixed with that, like West Indian desire to have 40 jobs because you don't ever want to like be without money. And so.
Like I was living here. I was like going on the street. Um, I ended up meeting the guy who's in charge of the business improvement district and I just told him like, if you need photos, let me know. Called him. Um, it was like a lot of just BizDev as people would call it. And so, um, it wasn't super green, but the thing was that a lot of people were really, really kind.
And I just kind of went back to being like, Hey, like I need to figure out what to do next. And like
Jon Sorrentino: [00:54:58] Over time, it sounds like, it sounds like one, the residency was able to provide you with a portfolio of work. So that when you did come back to do this business development, which a lot of people tend to forget, or even think about, you had that
Aundre Larrow: [00:55:11] had stuff to show
Jon Sorrentino: [00:55:12] Had a much easier conversation.
Aundre Larrow: [00:55:14] And so, uh, one thing that was big in my residency that wasn't supposed to be, or it was a, the how to shoot and edit for darker skin tones. And so that was kind of a throwaway thing. Adobe has their internal, um. Internal magazine called create. And I, I wrote an article for them based off of an article that I read in Hollywood reporter about how they light Issa Ray's insecure show and how they introduced certain light like in club scenes to make sure it's not too dark for people of color.
And so, um, I remember thinking is super interesting and like doing more research and like writing a piece. And then he was like, this is essentially the Hollywood reporter piece. Rewrite it and then read it again. And then like two months later, I remember I had a conversation with them in person at Adobe max and he was like.
Yeah. That article actually did really well, like a lot of people read it. And so light room had reached out the product team and asked if I could do a takeover. And so I said, can you pay for a studio for me to do like a version of this? So I did. And after I did that, my Adobe mentor, Michelle introduced, took me to this dinner.
She hosts, I met a woman who worked at Apple. She introduced me to a woman who does today at Apple. I did it today at Apple about that. She was really kind about it. And then it became like a thing I like tweeted out this. Like random Twitter thread. I wasn't really using Twitter at that point, and then like my phone, like exploded.
Um, and that like, that's as viral as anything goes. But from there I ended up getting a good amount of work. So I did the Uber thing, did like a wedding, did this project about immigration. Um, I like, one of my friends got me like, uh, we did like some photo video work at red bull for a little bit like this.
Yeah. The beginning of this year was really weird. Like post residency. I was like, kind of just getting back into my normal stuff. Um, and I think there was some fear of that because without realizing if you do that, you can end up driving your own costs down. But at that point I was like, I don't care.
Like I said, I make sure I'm not broke. And so I just started doing work. Um, I ended up doing something with Uber, a couple of things with Uber. It was a big client for me last year. Um. That ended up kind of ended up rounding out the year, but end of last year I was just working on all sorts of different things, um, to kind of round it out.
And then at the start of this year, like I think a lot of the seeds from maybe residency and on started to kind of pick up. And also I think the quality of my work even got better and in different. There was some things that I did that were fine and some things that were great. Um, I had like a big shoot last year that at that time I was really nervous and ended up being really mediocre but ended up helping me cause I did like a version of that same shoot for two other clients this year that made more money and were like more helpful
Jon Sorrentino: [00:57:34] Being independent now for some time, uh, post residency and, and figuring out your own way and your process and taking all the things that you've learned over your career so far.
You know, I noticed that you've been able to work. And on projects. And you photograph people like Karamu from queer eye. Oh yeah. You photograph like golden state, you know, you've had a ton of different opportunities. Um, what do you think has been one of the biggest things that you've learned in this time of being at your, you know, your own boss, essentially?
Aundre Larrow: [00:58:00] Oh yeah. First of all, that like you, every famous person I've shot, I've had sans Kamau on United shades. Shots come out to Kamau. Great for my career. I appreciate you, dude. Um, every other famous person I've shot has been like a 10 minute affair. I'll like, get somewhere, they'll be like, all right, you have like an hour.
And then I'll wait some beliefs inevitably. And then like, they'll show him like, yo, what up? You got five minutes? And it's like, it used to really stress me out and I was just like, whatever, dude. Um, so, you know, on a, on one front. Um, I'm looking up to be nominated for this photo award and we were putting together work for it yesterday, and the editor I'm working with was just like, yeah, you don't have, you don't need to put it in famous people.
Like, it doesn't matter. Like you just, you're showing like a display for work. And so, you know, the things that I've learned about my work, I need to be patient. When I'm stressed or rushed, I get sloppy. Um, and I fall into taking the same photo, which isn't necessarily bad, necessarily bad, but it's not necessarily useful.
Um. I need to continue to ask a ton of questions. One nice thing about being on the Tinker roster, like obviously it pays me like I get paid money, um, to like, like it's nice, I did a Coor's job. I've done other like, big jobs that I wouldn't have had access to Walmart job because of this. Um, but the people on Tinker have been doing this a lot longer than me, generally.
Like, Chris Ozer lives. Over in Gowanus. Um, and Chris is awesome. I remember when I was doing the Kors shoot, they were asking about my gear and I've used different gear before, but I was really nervous and I called Chris and just talk through every phase of it. Then, um, you know, talking to Sam, I talked to Sam before the and and J Zombie about the, um, about what I was doing for Walmart and like what to expect.
And so like a lot of that shared pool knowledge is really important and like not being afraid to ask for it as another thing I've like definitely learned and then reapplied. Um. And then figuring out a way to remain relevant enough that the people that like you, um, will find ways to like, pay you for your work, which is like a tricky thing to do.
You want to be present without being annoying. You want to figure out ways to provide value for them. Like whether that's like, Oh, do you like, they're like the guy who edited all my stuff yesterday. His son's like two. And he like, I know that he probably wants some like nice photos of his family. So figuring out ways to go down there and give that as a thank you.
Um, not to be too pretentious about my work, but also no when to like fight for people to pay you more money. Um, pricing is weird. It's, it's, I thought it was gonna get less weird. It keeps getting weird. Um, and the fact that you just have to understand, having to understand that, like what something is worth to somebody is different than what it is worth to you.
And so, yes, I might charge you. This much money for a headshot because you're a kind person. I understand that your budget is this, but like if the an executive at Netflix needs it, it's just worth a different amount of money. It doesn't make me bad. It's economics, it's price discrimination. It's how like most good businesses maintain things, doesn't make me a bad person.
Um, and then very lastly, uh, pay catch. Ron's at this meeting started the year she, she and she was on Tinker with me and she works at Adobe now, and she said, when you do a lot of travel work or a lot of work that requires you to not be home, people forget that you exist. And sometimes they don't forget someone's retired of inviting you and you always saying no.
And so you have to make sure you understand that the repercussions of you choosing this thing you want to work on has a very heavy strain in your relationships and like what it is that you are going to do to reflect, like to rectify that on the backend. And I'll never forget it and she's right. It's definitely something I'd be like need to continue to work hard on and with.
But when she said it, even then I knew that it meant a lot. And so that's only like a really big thing I learned is like. You know, figuring out ways to make sure the people that cheer for you, but don't necessarily hire you like day ones or day eights or whatever. Like, know that you, you know so much of who you are.
Is thankful for so much, like what they've helped you build out to be, you know,
Jon Sorrentino: [01:01:54] I think that that rings so just loud and echos so much. Um, Aundrea, where can people find more of your work and find ways to keep up with you?
Aundre Larrow: [01:02:04] Well, they should listen to the Wellfed podcast. Obviously. If they're this deep in it, then clearly they're a big fan of you or very misguided friends of mine.
Um. Uh, no. Uh, they can see my work, um, on Instagram at , under the use of A U N D R E just Aundre. People always ask me how I got
Jon Sorrentino: [01:02:21] thats like an OG username.
Aundre Larrow: [01:02:22] People ask me. I'm not, it wasn't even like early, like it wasn't late, but it wasn't really early on. Just didn't catch. I just typed it in and you always want, I did was my UFID was also just my first name, and I was like, Oh man, let's try this.
Um, and then. And my website, dot com but I'm also like a big Twitter user now because Twitter is hilarious and I don't know. I know it didn't tell me this for so long. So it's my full name, a U N D, R, E, L, a, R, R. O. w unless you can convince the guy who has Aundre to give it up because he is a lovely, like high 45 year old man, his sweet spot, the Cowboys, and I've offered him money and he said no, and I'm just like, your 40 followers will be happy.
Jon Sorrentino: [01:02:58] Aundre, thank you so much for joining me today.
Aundre Larrow: [01:03:00] Thanks man. Hopefully I didn't make this too boring. No, not at all.