On Being The Underdog

Michael Carrillo at Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, TX during the recording of Deer Vibes' first LP

After finally calling out a local San Antonio magazine/blog on IG for using photos of Deer Vibes without any credit or permission for the past few years, it had me reflecting on a few things.⁠

One of which is that I’m an underdog in San Antonio, in photography, and in the wedding industry. The mainstream of anything always feels too easy, saturated, and not authentic. I’ve never felt a part of it and have never been accepted. But when push comes to shove in certain situations, I love the fight.⁠

When I got into photography back in 2010, I photographed bands. It became my way of staying connected to music when I was no longer in a band and unable to express myself. A camera gave me the opportunity to merge two different needs.⁠

One of the bands I photographed, was Deer Vibes. I’ve photographed them since the beginning. I even was photographing Mikey Vibe before Deer Vibes was a thing and I kept encouraging him to create that band. At one point, I was the second(ish) bassist of DV for a year and a half but had to leave due to my photography business being my priority.⁠

I have so many feelings that have come up. Stuff like the fact that I recorded DV’s very first EP in my dad’s apartment.⁠

One last feeling all this gives me is that I enjoy re-visiting forgotten work that hasn’t been shared before. It takes me on an entire journey emotionally. The photo above is of Michael Carrillo aka Mikey Vibe at Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, TX when Deer Vibes recorded their first LP. I came along to just document it all. And this is a photo that hasn’t been shared until now from that period of time.⁠

Mikey Vibe & I F**king Love SA

If you’re a regular visitor to this personal blog of mine or a stalker of mine over on Instagram, you know Mikey Vibe is my best friend. Aside from that, I think he’s some sort of muse of mine too.

Idk. But I’ve probably photographed him more than anyone else in my life and I’m sure I’m the only person who’s photographed him as much as I have. Literally.

He was one of the first people I photographed when I first picked up a camera. And during the same time, he was beginning to venture off to start his own band, Deer Vibes. Aside from him being my best friend, I think the one thing that keeps me photographing him so damn much is that fact that I’m documenting him.

Yesterday, I had the honor of attending his solo performance at Dorcol for the I F**king Love SA Podcast. It was such an intimate show. He played Michael J & Foxes songs, Deer Vibes songs, and some new solo stuff. The night totally had that VH1 Storytellers vibe, but without the storytelling and just cute little banter from Mikey.

Mikey Vibe’s DV B-Day Show

It’s been a long while since I’ve been able take time for myself to snap photos. I talk a lot on Instagram about how I NEED to create for the sake of creating. It’s therapeutic for me.

When I have no end result in mind or any need to deliver anything, it frees my mind. I get to experiment and forget about anything going on in life. It takes me back to when I first picked up a camera. It fuels me.

For me, it’s a reminder of why I continued to use a camera after picking it up in 2010. It’s my expression and voice that I put out into the world. And even at that, it’s not for anyone. It’s for myself.

So far, this blog has a large amount of photos of my best friend, Mikey Vibe. One day, maybe I’ll release a book of all the photos I’ve taken of Deer Vibes. They’re the first band I started photographing after I picked up a camera.

Music was a part of my life before photography. Once I failed and failed trying to keep music going, photographing bands became what healed me. It kept me out of severe depression.

I missed writing and playing music, but I still got to create something for what used to be close to my heart.

Here’s some snapshots from Deer Vibes’ B-Day show for Mikey’s 30th birthday over at VenturaSATX.

For the photographers interested, this was all shot on a Fuji X-Pro 2 with a 23mm lens. That’s it.

Pro Tip: Get as close as possible. Never use a zoom. Get on stage if you can. And in my case as you’ll see, have a whiskey shot with the entire band on stage during the show.

Deer Vibes Photos

This past weekend I finally got a chance to see Deer Vibes perform after not seeing them for about a year or so. That day, I had been assisting another photographer’s wedding. Luckily, it ended early. And since I didn’t have a camera bag or memory cards to worry about, I managed to make it just in time to see them. And like always, I snapped a few photos with my Fuji X-Pro 2.

Afterwards, I had a beer with everyone and even met someone who has been following me on Instagram. I handed her my camera and asked her to take a few photos of me. And I also handed it over to another friend of mine. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if I’m in the photo, I didn’t take it. Lol. I just wanted to share these memories from that night.