Michelle Castillo (@neonicreative)
Michelle Castillo (@neonicreative) is a self-taught concert and portrait photographer. Originally from a small town near Fresno, California, Michelle has been living in the Bay Area for about three years and is hoping to return there after the pandemic. Although she just started taking photography seriously a year ago, Michelle has already achieved impressive success, securing the position of house photographer📸 at both The Independent and DNA Lounge. She also started her own magazine at the end of 2019, called Cut It Out.. In this article, we highlight some of her achievements, photography, and she gives some advice to younger generations. Enjoy!
Cut It Out publication started back in November as a solo project, mainly for her photography. Then, as it grew and gained more recognition, she opened it up, to allow those who wanted to grow their portfolios gain some experience on the publishing side of the industry. The goal of the magazine is to recognize artists who are going against the norm. This can be through the artist’s works, creativity, or through the impact they’ve made on the industry.
Career: Past, Present, & Future
Michelle has been a photographer📸 for about two years, but it wasn’t until her first semester at Cal, where she transferred as a junior, that she started getting more into music photography. At Cal she joined 3 clubs, including a TV network called Cal TV; which gave her the opportunity to review and photograph a concert. At that point she knew nothing about concert photography or even how to set up her camera for that specific situation, she went in completely blind.
“That experience is what actually catapulted me into doing concert photography later on. I met so many people and learned so much in just that one experience!”
During the interview, Michelle also shared her thoughts about the future of her career.
“I have so many goals for the future, but I feel like the main goal would be touring with a band as a photographer. I’ve been talking to a lot of concert photographers and touring sounds so cool! The thing that I most look forward to is traveling the world. That’s always been my career goal even when I was not into music yet.
To young girls and queer people starting out in the music industry:
"Sometimes it’s hard to go up to someone and ask for advice and mentorship to learn more about what they are doing in the industry. If you’re just starting out, jump into it! Don’t be afraid to network with people and ask for help and inspiration. You will have to face rejection, but if there’s a will there’s away, and that way will most likely be out of your comfort zone, so don’t hesitate to step out of it"
Michelle says. If your goal is to have a career in a creative industry, being able to fully express yourself and to share your passion through your work is the key to success. “The concept of me being able to be creative and do what I want to do is what motivates me the most. People seeing my work and telling me how cool they think it is. That’s my inspiration. Remember to always stay true to yourself and your values. That’s what will make people appreciate you as a person and as an artist or industry professional."
The Women & Non-Binary People in the Music Industry series is out every other Friday, with new inspiring stories and advice for aspiring music industry professionals.