Estevan Oriol is a Mexican-American professional photographer, who has also achieved success as a music video director and urban lifestyle entrepreneur. His artistic style amalgamates the glamour and gritty aesthetics of Los Angeles, earning him an impressive two-decade career. Oriol’s extensive portfolio features famous athletes, artists, celebrities and musicians, including the likes of Eminem, Robert De Niro, Kim Kardashian, and Danny Trejo.
Estevan Oriol’s interest in photography was sparked by his father, renowned photographer Eriberto Oriol, who equipped him with an old camera as a teenager. Oriol Junior’s career began as a bouncer in a hip hop club, then as a tour manager for popular LA-based rap groups Cypress Hill and House Of Pain. During this, he started to document life on the road, specifically his fondness of lowriding. Oriol established a name for himself working with various bands, with access to parts of the rock and roll lifestyle that some photographers can only dream of. His passion developed further as he travelled with these bands across 56 countries, constantly taking photographs along the way.
Oriol’s photographs portray the streets of Los Angeles in a uniquely raw and gritty manner, offering glimpses into the daily lives of city natives who are often overlooked by mainstream media. Oriol has a striking ability to capture the livelihoods of Latinx, urban, gang and tattoo countercultures, showing their lives in a more positive, natural light. However, aside from highlighting the realities of life on the streets of LA, he has also delved into celebrity culture, photographing 50 Cent, and Kendrick Lamar.Having taken over half a million photographs in his career, he has published several books of his artwork, including LA Woman, LA Portraits, and most recently, This Is Los Angeles. The first of these was a huge hit, completely selling out within two years, and copies now fetch between $400 to $1,000 online.
Estevan has collaborated with Alex Kizu, another LA-based street artist, creating a black and white piece titled LA Fingers. This represents where Oriol is from, although he states he isn’t the original creator, simply the first to photograph it. Oriol also created a similar piece with graffiti artist Risk. LA Fingers became a trademark for Oriol, acting as both a blessing and a curse to his career. After suing H&M and Brandy Melville for recreating the sign, a judge ruled that the sign could not be trademarked.
As well as shooting campaigns for companies including Nike, Cadillac and Rockford Fosgate, Oriol has worked with Adidas, curating their first installment of the originals ‘NMD’ Immersive Photo Gallery Experience. Oriol said: “It was a great experience. I never really curated a bunch of photography that wasn’t mine.”
Oriol has produced shoots for internationally recognised photographers Ellen von Unwerth for Sang Bleu and Luca Babini for GQ Italy. He also directed new media projects for My Cadillac Stores, MTV and Apple. Alongside hanging out with musicians, he created album covers and directed
music videos for artists such as Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Blink 182 and Xzibit.Oriol’s work has been showcased in galleries and institutions including The Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Mesa Contemporary Art Centre, GQ and Rolling Stone are among popular culture hubs which have taken note of Oriol’s work. LAmag have labelled him “the king of capturing LA’s lowrider and street cultures.”
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