We got ‘In the BUFF’ with award-winning Los Angeles-based photographer and creative director, Irvin Rivera! Shedding light on his inspirations, style, and more, Rivera shares with us his influences, creative process, and why he uses Paul C. Buff, Inc.

What sparked your interest in photography?

The innate desire to tell stories sparked my interest in photography. Before I got myself a camera, I used to draw a lot and create art using oil pastels. Afterwards, a college friend lends me her camera and introduced me to the endless possibilities of creating through photography. That’s what did it for me. I never stopped since.

What made you choose Paul C. Buff, Inc. for your studio strobe needs?

A few years back when I was starting and finding my way into photography, a good friend introduced me to the versatility and practicality of Paul C. Buff, Inc. strobes. Through the strobes, I was able to practice and hone my skills and was able to further understand all the various elements of light and lighting.

Photographer Irvin Rivera of Graphics Metropolis photographs actor Richard Cabral
Actor Richard Cabral by Irvin Rivera

 When did photography turn into a business for you?

Quitting my day job was the turning point for me. After taking the crazy leap of faith and leaving my 9-5 office job, I had to force myself to turn photography into a profitable business.

 Do you have a “Go To” lighting setup?

A one light source with a huge, soft modifier would always be on the top of my go-to lighting set-ups.  I just love how simple and versatile one light set-ups are.  

What’s your creative process leading up to a shoot?

It varies. Sometimes it starts from an idea. Sometimes it starts from watching a film, hearing music, or seeing another photo and being inspired by it. Sometimes, when the shoot is pitched, the ideas and the creative direction were already there for you to execute. And as with any shoot and production, I have to make sure that all the elements involved (team, assistants, equipment, set-ups, mood board, food, location, wardrobe, contracts, etc) are all set and in place. And when it’s time to shoot, I let go and tell myself and my team to enjoy the process and have fun. 

What/who influences you and your work?

Music, movies, books, stories, paintings, art, and a lot of things influence my work. I’m like a sponge when it comes to art. I absorb and curate the elements around me and eventually create something with my own spin on it.

What would be your dream photo shoot?

This is a question that I get asked a lot and I still don’t have any specific answer yet. But it would be a dream to do a project that would take me around the world, document something special, and create a series out of it. That would be a dream. 

Is there a photographer, either past or present, that inspires you?

Irving Penn, Peter Lindbergh, Nick Knight, Erwin Blumenfeld, Tim Walker, and many more.

Do you have a favorite photograph you’ve taken so far in your career?

Right now, one standout favorite is probably this black and white portrait of model Adeng wearing a chess piece dress by designer Rocky Gathercole. This photo was exhibited in several countries, opened doors for me and took me to places. 

What advice would you give a photographer that is just starting out with off-camera flash?

Be bold. Don’t be afraid to experiment and play. Keep learning. The most important thing is to always enjoy what you’re doing. That should be the heart of whatever you do. Also, as you move forward in your learning, try to understand light. Light will be your best friend in your photographic journey. It’s never about what light or brand or modifier you use. A light is a light. Befriend your light, collaborate with it, make it your best friend, and your light will do wonders for you. 

What are your goals for the future?

Goal is to be able to connect to a greater audience. Build a bigger network of creative people, set-up my own studio and production company, and establish a non-profit that is aligned with photography.

PHOTOS BY: Irvin Rivera

About Irvin Rivera

Irvin Rivera - fashion, portraits and celebrity photographer.

Irvin is an award-winning Los Angeles-based photographer and creative director specializing in fashion, portraits and celebrity photography. His colorful style mixed with occasional black and whites, are the results of his love of fashion, films, music and art in general. He is a problem-solver and an image-maker rolled into one. For Irvin, the story and the narrative rules.


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