As a child I have always been into taking photos and recording short videos. I remember always using the Polaroid camera my parents had along with using disposable cameras to capture whatever and going to the store to drop off the film to be developed. At around age 12 I was given my first video camera by my Grandmother and immediately put it to use. Making small movies with actual scripts and making short news segments became a regular thing. A couple of years later when I was in Junior High I took a video journalism class where I learned some basic editing techniques and starting using a real broadcasting camera. In my video journalism class we were responsible for filming, editing, and broadcasting the school news on a weekly basis. At the time I didn’t really want to do anything like that for a career so I only took one year. Flash forward a couple more years while in high school I took a web design course at East Valley Institute of Technology for two years. Being in web design got my hunger for editing going again while utilizing programs like Adobe Photoshop CS2, Macromedia Flash, Fireworks, and Dreamweaver. At the time I was planning to get a degree in web design but ultimately opted out and got myself a job right out of high school doing energy management for a controls company. I have worked in the controls industry since 2008. From 2008 to 2012 designing anything was in the back of my mind and photography/videography was essentially none existent.
In 2011 I was in a local band and I wanted some live shots of us taken. My wife Megan took some photos of us performing with her phone and the photos were decent but not exactly the quality I was looking for. We decided to get a camera so she can shoot while we play and then we can use the photos online to promote. That was the plan. I ended up parting ways with the band shortly after and we ended up not buying a camera. Not too long after Megan went to a rave with one of her friends and had some photos taken of her by a local photographer and the photos were sub par. She also noticed the photos were not that great and also wanted me to go with her so she convinced me to buy a camera and go with her to an event and shoot.
I ended up buying a Canon Rebel T2i for my first camera. Since I really knew nothing about photography, that was all I bought. My first event I brought my camera to was Dancemission on February 24, 2012 featuring Tritonal and 12th Planet.
My first photo i ever took of a DJ. Although the photo is terrible, I still love it.
After that event I started taking photos for fun at local events for promoters in exchange for media passes. I covered nearly 100 events in 2012 alone, while simultaneously learning how to use my camera. I was taking photos mainly at raves throughout 2012 and the beginning of 2013, both legal and illegal parties. Though i had fun attending the events and garnered a pretty impressive fan base I wanted to do much more with my photography, so I reached out to Steve Levine Entertainment. I was quickly picked up by them and started covering their events at Axis Radius and The Mint in Scottsdale. Once established with SLE for a few months i covered a show for them and R3hab was headlining. That night i took some pretty memorable images of Fadil that he was pretty impressed with so he brought me to Beyond Wonderland a few weeks later. That was my first major EDM festival and I was absolutely blown away. While at Beyond Wonderland I was able to talk to Steve Angellos manager and they also let me shoot for him on the main stage. This grew my hunger for photography more than i could ever imagine and I knew from that moment standing on a stage behind Steve Angello with 30,000 ravers in front of me, that this was going to be me career. After Beyond I came back to Arizona and continued to shoot events at Axis Radius and The Mint until shortly after when Maya Day and Nightclub opened. Maya Day and Nightclub opened in Scottsdale April 2013 and I became SLE’s main photographer for every event at Maya. I photographed over 40 shows from the grand opening until the beginning of 2014 including artists like Calvin Harris, Deorro, Above and Beyond, and many more. Around the beginning of 2015, After departing from being a resident photographer at Maya i decided to focus on getting my own gigs without the help of a publication.
Before August 2014, I was shooting under the alias “Shutterbug Photography”. I built a massive fan base around this name but I felt like I wouldn’t be taken as seriously shooting for big name artists under that name. After debating about it for a week or so i made the decision to scrap the Shutterbug name and change my company name to “Tony Cottrell Photography”. My first solo gig without any publication was an event thrown in Mesa by local rap star Futuristic who was still blowing up at the time.
After shooting that event and having full support from my fans on the name change I went full force as a freelance photographer. From August 2014 til December I shot for multiple huge artists in a few different states at multiple venues. The start of 2015 was amazing and work was pouring in from all sources. I shot multiple festivals throughout the year and worked with countless artists in both the electronic music and the heavy metal scene. 2015 also marked the year that I crossed off one event that was on my photo bucket list, Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas. I shot for 4 artists including Seven Lions.
EDC was a life changing experience for me. Not a life changing experience like most have at EDC, but at this moment i knew that photography was going to be my career until i die and i absolutely embraced it. 2015 ended on a great note working for some new clients; Knife Party, Above and Beyond, Tchami, Wiwek, and so many more. Since January 1st, 2016, i have covered more legitimate festivals and events in all the years previously, even while working as a resident photographer at various nightclubs. It has been the most stressful, profitable, but overall amazing year and I am looking forward to 2017 where i take my photography to the next level and make it my full-time career. Ending 2016 on the best possible note working with an amazing team of individuals at Relentless Beats shooting their annual Decadence festival in Arizona!
Thank you for taking some time to learn about me!