By Desi Rubio, May 2015 Issue.
From behind the lens of his camera he masterfully brings each of his subjects to life, revealing just enough of their character to evoke both curiosity and respect from any one who sees one of his final masterpieces.
And, once you’ve seen his work, you’ll never forget his brand.
His name is Scotty Kirby.
At 27 years old, Kirby’s work is regularly featured in local magazines, he’s developed a cult-like social media following, he has an enviable portfolio and he recently celebrated the two-year anniversary of his business, Scotty Kirby Photo – but this hot, young professional is just getting started.
According to Kirby, photography first became an interest during high school. It came easy to him, he recalled, and after only three days of being in the introductory class, he was transferred into the advanced class, and his new hobby was born.
It wasn’t until Kirby was a few courses away from receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology from Arizona State University that he realized his hobby could actually be profitable. And, on graduation day he proudly accepted this diploma, but didn’t waste any time shifting his focus to photography.
The Shutter Stopper
In the years that followed, Kirby gained experience photographing weddings, portraits and family photos. Then, four years ago, he stumbled upon an Instagram post by local drag queen Coco St. James. That photo changed everything.
Kirby reached out to the Arizona-based drag queen who had become known for her Lady Gaga impersonations.
“Being a huge Gaga fan, I wanted to shoot her right away,” Kirby said. “I just messaged her on Facebook asking if she’d be interested, and she said ‘yes.’”
According to Kirby, that was all it took for him to be captivated by the aesthetics and the challenges of drag photography. After his first session with St. James, his name whipped through the community like wildfire.
“Little did I know that after my first session with Coco, 90 percent of my clients would end up being drag,” Kirby said, adding that he has since held more than 35 sessions with drag queens from all over the country.
Kirby has also photographed many contestants from Logo’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” including Coco Montrese (Season 5) and Tempest DuJour (Season 7).
Through each drag queen photo session, Kirby said a new style is developed or a new theme is born.
“There are no limits with drag photography,” Kirby said. “I love that they bring their own concept with them and I get to feed off their creative energy just as much.”
The best part of his job though, Kirby said, is turning what was once considered a fetish into a work of art. But that takes time. A typical photoshoot session with Kirby lasts anywhere from two to three hours and clients have the option to bring up to four different looks.
“Often times I never know what to expect when we arrive for the session,” Kirby said. “But that is what I love about drag, it is ever-changing and they are truly their own canvas.”
Whether Kirby’s drag clients opt to hold the photo shoot at his home studio or elsewhere, Kirby said his biggest challenges are perfecting the lighting and feminizing the clients – both of which he hopes to master.
A Shooting Star
With nearly a decade of photography experience and a brand that was becoming highly recognizable locally, Kirby celebrated one year of fruitful self-employment by taking his brand somewhere unique. He had his business logo, ScottyKirby.com, tattooed on the left side of his chest.
“I love my logo and decided to brand myself,” he said, “but one of my goals is to have people recognize my work without even having the logo on there.”
The tattoo proved to be a positive omen of what was to come for the brand.
Kirby’s work, coupled with his credibility in the drag world, captured the attention of Shooting Star Management, an entertainment management company that represents prominent drag stars. In need of an official photographer, they reached out to Kirby a few months ago and asked him if he would like the job.
Kirby enthusiastically accepted.
“I will have a lot more access to big names and I get to join them as they go on tour later this year,” Kirby said.
As Kirby transcends the local scene and finds his place on the national stage, his goals are evolving along with his work. This year, he said, he’d like to get an official studio space, travel more and attend the first-ever RuPaul’s DragCon – which he’ll be able to check off the list May 16-17, thanks to Shooting Star Management.
“I am just super thankful to everyone who has worked with me and supported me,” Kirby said. “And I hope that my enthusiasm always pours through as I’m shooting.”
Stay connected with Kirby as he embarks on the next chapter of his career at scottykirby.com, facebook.com/ScottyKirbycom, @ScottyKirby on Twitter or ScottyKirbyPhoto on Instagram.
RuPaul hosts first-ever DragCon in LA
By Desi Rubio, May 2015 Issue.
For the first time ever, drag queens – as well as their teams, supporters, families and enthusiasts – have the opportunity to gather in one location to interact with the industry’s finest from around the country.
Celebrating “the art of drag, queer culture and self-expression for all,” RuPaul’s DragCon will debut May 16-17 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Needless to say, this won’t be your average convention, honey.
“I am thrilled to bring this one-of-a-kind event to Los Angeles,” said RuPaul via rupaulsdragcon.com. “DragCon is not just a showcase for the most talented drag queens in the world. It’s a chance for all lovers of drag culture – young and old, gay and straight – to come together, to inspire each other, and to let their freak flags fly high.”
This one-of-a-kind event gives attendees the opportunity to exchange ideas with exhibitors, browse more than 100 vendors, snap selfies with their favorite celebrities and drag stars, participate in various Q&A sessions about fashion and style, engage in panel discussions with prominent names in the business and shop the best drag apparel and art.
According to the event website, DragCon serves as a platform for “fans – gay and straight – to meet and interact with world famous drag queens and other celebrity guests in a fan friendly environment.”
Shooting Star Management, along with and their newest teammate drag photographer Scotty Kirby, will have a booth set up as one of the exhibitors.
Shooting Star Management represents prominent drag stars that are scheduled to appear over the course of the weekend.
“I am just so excited that drag is becoming more mainstream, but not so mainstream that it kills it,” Kirby said. “The fact that there is a whole convention now is one of the coolest things.”
Kirby is expecting to see a lot of former clients and possibly meet some new ones.
Famed drag queens and celebrities scheduled to appear at the convention include Bianca del Rio, Chad Michaels, Raja, Lady Bunny, Chi Chi LaRue, Alec Mapa, Jason Carter, Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (G.L.O.W.), Brendan Jordan and, of course, RuPaul.
For more information, tickets and a complete list of guests of honor, visit rupaulsdragcon.com.
Los Angeles Convention Center
1201 S. Figueroa St., LA