Photographer helps bridge gap between sneaker culture

Photographer helps bridge gap between sneaker culture

Daniel Aziz,

Is talent a suitable replacement for a traditional form of education? Rolo Tanedo Jr. believed so when photography went from his hobby in 2005 to a part-time career in 2008. When he was a nursing student at California State University East Bay, Tanedo decided to drop out to pursue a career in photography.

“Some said I should’ve stuck to becoming a nurse while others said I should go for it,” Tanedo stated. By not pursuing a degree, Tanedo put all his time and effort into building his self-named photography business, Rolo Tanedo Jr. Photography.

Tanedo took the chance and believed that he could become a successful photographer without a college degree. He first gained attention toward his work when he merged his passion for sneaker collecting with his interest of photography. Through photographing his sneaker collection, it allowed for his work to be seen by a larger audience. His work has been featured in multiple publications including Sneaker Freaker Magazine, Solecollector and Complex Magazine, even landing freelance jobs for Nike San Francisco.

“I’m huge into sneakers and I have a passion for it and working with Nike, which has been one of my greatest achievements,” Tanedo stated.

As his business began to grow, Tanedo started to shoot weddings. He began photographing weddings in 2012 and told The Pioneer, “My homie never photographed a wedding and he asked me to shoot it with him. I never photographed a wedding before so I was nervous, anxious and the fear of messing up because of stories I read online and heard. I ended up photographing that wedding and it was a lot of fun.”

Even with a consistent amount of freelance work under his belt, he explained that photography is not his primary source of income. Tanedo still works a 9-5 job with photography being his side job for now. But has hopes to eventually make it his full time job and main source of income.

“Like any other business, you believe that you will make money right away, but that’s not the case,” he stated. Tanedo struggled for years to figure out why he was not getting the business that he expected. He further explained that it took more than three years to kickstart his business to where it is today.

“I had to learn to do things differently along the way I presented myself,” Tanedo said. “It took some time, but it worked out for the better.”

Tanedo explained he wanted to maintain the same passion and drive for the art as he gets older and to always have fun with it because it keeps him going.