If you regularly follow up on daily music news, you must have seen one of this photographer’s incredible shots. The name is Dana (Distortion) Yavin, a native Israeli from New York that travels the world capturing the biggest, most fascinating artists we know, on and off stage. As a photographer for magazines like Rolling Stone, Spin, BrooklynVegan (and many more), And while working on her own projects, young Yavin has become a trending name in the music photography world. Lately, you could also spot famous artists online wearing her own tees brand, with the writing: ‘Who The Fuck Is Dana Distortion?’
It’s obviously not luck that Yavin has been doing very well. Her photos are good, very good. Just click to her website and witness the magical moments she captures of the artists we all know and love.
How did it all came about? “Music photography was decided for me”, Says Yavin to utab Magazine, ”I didn’t even think in that direction. Music and photography was always a part of my life as long as I can remember. I actually started with films. I graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York and was working on films and videos. I went on tour with ׳Gogol Bordello׳ and couldn’t shoot video at one of the festivals we were at, so I picked up a small point-and-shoot camera I had with me and just snapped some shots. I can’t really describe the rush and excitement I felt at that moment. I knew it right then and there that this was the biggest passion I have ever experienced. I haven’t put the camera down since. Some things are just meant to be.
“To this very day I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to do what I love and make a living”, She adds, “Making a career of it wasn’t my plan and I never thought about making it big. I came to New York without plans and without big dreams. It just happened. I just went full force as it’s a part of my personality, and I was so passionate about it but ‘making it’ was never on my mind. I didn’t even realize it could be a possibility”.
Can you recall your first big break?
“Did I have a big break? I’m not sure. I guess being respected for my work and inspiring people like the artists I photograph, music fans, and photographers, is my big break in a way. I get hundreds of emails with kind words of appreciation and questions and it’s really heartwarming. I take a lot of time responding to messages and answering questions. Feeling me and my work matters to people means the world to me. There is really no greater feeling than that; it’s priceless. And I guess yeah, having the opportunity to shoot and work with great artists and amazing magazines and having them interested in my work felt like a huge break for me. But I never take anything for granted. it’s important to keep working hard even after your work is noticed”.
What is it about shooting musicians and artists that you like the most?
‘Well, the music of course. I live for music and I’m a huge music and live shows fan. So that always comes first. I feel lucky to be able to be in the music world and see all these amazing shows. I also love that you never know what you’re gonna get, just like any other form of documentary photography.
“I’m a person who needs a lot of excitement. I’m very adventurous and I’m not scared of the unknown, so apart from the creative aspect of photography, I love the element of surprise of each show I shoot. Even portraits; when it comes to working with other people, you never really know what you’re gonna get, so having a vision and then bringing it to life is super exciting for me. In this field there is always room for spontaneity and creativity and possibly a twist of fate. And of course, I’m also a huge fan of the artists I shoot. I have so much respect for musicians. I just love rock ‘n roll, what can I say?”
Of all the artists you shot, do you have a favorite?
“Shooting Paul McCartney for the first time was a night I will never forget. He is my number one and if it wasn’t for The Beatles I don’t know how I would survive this world. I photographed him at the very beginning of my professional career and didn’t know what I was doing. I was so nervous and excited. At this particular show he played ‘The Night Before’, a song he had never played live and it’s one of my favorite Beatles songs so clearly, I was in heaven.
״One of my favorite photos is the Coldplay shot I have in my portfolio. One of the best things in music photography is that as time goes by and you get to shoot a band more than once, you can see your progress since the last time you shot the same band. Getting better shots and improving is a great feeling. I got almost the same photo the first time I shot Coldplay, but the second time was so much better. It was exactly a year later and I got that shot perfectly as I saw it in my head. I thought to myself that I finally know what I’m doing, and felt so happy when I saw that shot”.
Describe me your day-to-day life
“I’m on the go non-stop. I’m either traveling, shooting local shows, or shooting portraits. I love the summer; it’s always hectic and full of travels, festivals, and events. I love being busy and I always look for more projects to be involved in.
“I’m also working on a merchandise and jewellery collection called ‘distortion unplugged’ with my very talented business partner Alex Ginsburg. A lot of great things are in store for me in the next year and I’m very excited about that. I’m also trying to find the funds for a new music-related documentary film that’s been cooking in my head for a few years now. There’s never a dull moment”.
Is there an artist you still haven’t shot and would really like to?
“The last two names I have on my bucket list are U2 and AC/DC, both bands are touring this summer so hopefully this dream will become reality. They are two of my favorite bands of all time and they both give outstanding live performances. I would love taking photos of Jimmy Page, I haven’t met him yet. Other than that, I’ve pretty much shot everyone, But I do more portrait work now and there are many faces I haven’t worked with off stage yet, so hopefully I’ll get more of those”.
For any young photographers out there that dream of making it, what would be your first advice for them?
“Just do it! Go after your dreams. This industry is not an easy one. Failure and disappointment is all a part of this game and you didn’t choose an easy field. Work hard, and when you think you’ve made it, it’s not enough – work even harder. Don’t take anything for granted and enjoy the ride. Be professional, kind to others, show up on time, and be humble. And most importantly, never give up! Great things come to those who wait, but even greater things come to those who don’t”.