Rocky Rivera "Best Shot" Video BTS

Photo by Kate Dash

Photo by Kate Dash

Hey All! Rocky Rivera here, giving you the scoop on all the details behind my newest video, “Best Shot” directed by @Been.Milky aka Kate Dash. When I first saw Kate’s photography, I was so fascinated by the composition and color of her shots, not to mention that they are film - and unedited - in a day and age where we can’t tell the difference between reality and virtual reality. I came across her handle @BombMomClub and instantly fell in love with her sense of humor and sisterhood via Mom memes; and when I found her personal photography, I was floored by the editorial quality. So when I thought “Who can make the mom of a four month old look BOMB but also make her feel beautiful and REAL and accessible?”, I naturally thought of Kate. Since we had never worked together before, we communicated our mutual goals for the visuals as well as our mutual challenges of shooting a music video with two kids apiece. When I proposed the CRAZY idea of shooting the entire thing on my iPhone X, we both entered a risky creative space that scared us just enough to make sure every detail and angle was covered. Bringing @HyphyWyphy aka Chelsea Calalay on board as a producer helped immensely, as she was familiar with Kate’s shooting style and overall aesthetic - plus she was my hype woman on those Mission-Street-in-my-bra shots! Many thanks also to @OlDirtyAsian aka Benny MF Hana, who made sure it all pieced together to reflect our collective vision.

I’ve never experienced such a cohesively-styled and creatively communicative process as this, so I wanted to share more behind what it took to put this artistic project together. Peep an interview with Kate, some BTS shots from the video shoot, and the video for “Best Shot” below…

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Rocky Rivera: Can you tell everyone how we first linked and how this project came about?

Kate Dash: On Twitter, when it first started poppin’ off. I was eighteen or nineteen years old and I ran a blog called Female Gone Rogue. We were about seventeen contributors deep and posted anything we fucking wanted to. That was literally the attitude so, when I came across @RockyRivera one #followfriday, I was deeply inspired by this bad-ass mom/artist/journalist/pinay(!!!) from SFC. My intention was to have a fun feature of you on the blog, but then I cancelled the whole operation. I wasn’t able to communicate exactly what I wanted out of that project, so I moved on. I stopped using Twitter and found you on Instagram.

There are certain folks I know I’ll work with in divine timing and you were on that list.

A week before you contacted me, I was thinking,

“Ohhh, it’d be pretty sick to shoot a music video.”

and then of course,

*one week later* DIVINE TIMING(Rocky) said,

“I’d love for you to shoot promo shots for my first music video from my unreleased new project. Oh, and btw have you ever thought of directing a music video? You could totally do it.”

Challenge accepted.

Not verbatim, but how I read it. Lol

Full f*cking circle yall!!!

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What’s your artistic process for a photo shoot and how was it different this time around?

When I first brainstormed ideas for this project, I went into hyper-creative mode and came up with all these different concepts. After a mild anxiety attack about HOW I could deliver these ideas, I calmed my a** down, got myself grounded and started to pull inspiration from a familiar space. Then I decided to use the same process as I do with my photos.

When I collaborate with other people or businesses, I have a conversation with them. I ask a variety of questions to really understand the intentions of the project and to see if I can pull inspiration from them.

What do you look for in a great shot?

A great shot is being able to communicate what I saw in my head to my subject(s) and then execute. I make sure I’m grounded first and foremost, then I make sure my subject is grounded. It really starts with me and pushing myself to go for it and trust my eye.


How did the concept for the colors come together - in styling & location?

You had mentioned a memorable story about the Excelsior and how much of a home it is to you, how you would run around from your house to Roxie’s to auntie’s house to Super Star to the homies’ spot. I couldn’t get away from that visual. This music video is a homage to the bright and colorful Excelsior and to lil Rocky Rivera.

As far as colors, it’s really a spiritual process for me and to explain it feels funny. All I can say is, I saw royal blue and then I started pulling the color story from there.


What was the moment you took your craft seriously?

It was when I took a picture of [my daughter] Isis during bath time. I remember I caught a vision and I got up and sprinted to find my camera. I poured water on her then snapped the shot. When the photo came out, I was soooooo juiced because it was exactly what I saw in my head. I was able to really see the process of me envisioning a photo and seeing it come to life.

How did you push yourself outside your comfort zone? How do you plan on continuing to do that?

A lot of deep breathing and active self awareness. I’m really getting to know myself and every time I push myself outside of my comfort zone, in even the smallest of ways, I celebrate it and/or reflect. To keep it simple, I just go for it. When I’m grounded and my gut is telling me to make moves, I listen and then do. Also, I practice. Before I called myself a photographer, I put in the time and effort to really understand my eye.

I know that any and every path I take, there’s a lesson to be learned. Being comfortable with making mistakes really built up my courage to just go for things I want in my life. I control how I respond to life. This mind state is so fucking liberating.


What was one memorable thing about the shoot?

There isn’t one thing because it was everything. #signsofalignment like a muthafucka!!! But if I had to choose… lol. It would probably be when Rocky and I thought of folks we could bring in to make this project happen. First person that came to mind to produce this project was Chelsea! There wasn’t a doubt in my mind because she’s a hard worker and a compassionate friend. She’s one of my main muses and knows exactly how I work when I’m in work mode. When I asked her, she said yes before I even finished my sentence and I’m soooo happy she did. I couldn’t have done it without her! When we shot on day one, we still didn’t have a person to edit the video until we showed Rocky some skateboarding edits of Benny (Chelsea’s crush lol) and it just fucking clicked. I looked at Chelsea and said, “Dude, Benny’s going to edit.” Hahaha. Of course, he was so stoked to do so. BIG LOVE AND APPRECIATION TO Y’ALL!!!!

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What’s next for you?

I’m putting my second book together. It’s a collection of photos from my favorite shoots within the past five years. Most haven’t been posted on Instagram and I’m excited to see them in a physical form. I’m hoping to release this coffee table must-have by Summer ‘19.


Check out the video for “Best Shot” below! If you’re in the Bay, get to the album release party for Rocky’s Revenge at The Uptown this Thursday, October 25. Swoop your tickets here: