This week on the No Tracers podcast I am recycling an episode from my other podcast Project Freelance, about freelancing. Chamo came on to share what he does as a freelance content creator and an urban explorer. He's explored all over Southern California and he's also helped me create some promos for my book, No Tracers. Chamo also has created a limited run of his book, which is sold out, but keep up with him on IG to get info about his new drops!
The podcast you've been looking for on the step into the world of urban exploration with guests or around to No Tracers.
And with that, we have an intro. Do you like the new intro? I think it's pretty great. It's also quite spooky and I like spooky and creepy things. So welcome to No Tracers. If you are just now joining us, if this is the first episode you're listening to please go back and listen to the previous episodes. There are tons of guests. There's tons of insight on how to get into urban exploration gear. You should have to have recommendations for shoes, backpacks, all kinds of cool stuff. Also, there's a bunch of links to gear that I think you could use as an urban Explorer down into the description. Amazon affiliate links, get your stuff from Amazon. There you go. Invest in Amazon, do all the things with Amazon. Thank you, Amazon.
So this week on the podcast, I'm talking with, my friend Chamoisdead and Chamo and I go back to, I think, 2016, we met through mutual friends at a photography meetup, and we started talking about our love for exploring abandoned places. And we started to explore abandoned places together almost immediately. We've done quite a few explorations together and he actually helped film some of the promos for my No Tracers book. By the way, I have a book called No Tracers and urban explorers diary. And it's all about my stories and full of my photographs from my exploration. So if you do want a copy of that link will be down in the description, or you can go to NoTracers/shop over on NoTracers.com.
1 (1m 40s):
You can also see my blog posts, which are basically more in depth stories of each of my explorations over the years. So if you want to check that out, No Tracers dot com. So I have another podcast actually called Project Freelance. And this episode was actually an episode of Project Freelance and it kind of sparked me to want to create a podcast about urban exploring and now I'm doing it. So I figured I should bring this episode over from Project Freelance to No Tracers. So without further ado, Chamo please introduce yourself. And what it is you do to the No Tracers audience.
2 (2m 15s):
My name is Ian people call me Chamo. I am 24 years old. What do I do for a living? I work for bait. And what do you do for them? I do warehouse. I also do event photography for them, whether that's their parties or like their actual like cons that they participated, which his enemy expo wonder con comic con all that type of stuff. That's what I do. Yeah.
1 (2m 44s):
And what about like freelance photography? Like model photography, stuff like that?
2 (2m 48s):
Yeah, I do that to, so, so it's funny. Cause like the warehouse is my actual nine to five job and then my side job is the event and all that type of stuff that bait needs as well. And in the side side, stuff that I do is I actually do like the content creating and all that type of stuff. Kind of like what you do, but on a smaller level, I did it on a smaller level. So on sometimes work on music videos or beat a lot of BTS for products or promos or anything really. So yeah, it sounds really boring, but it's really not. I, I don't even know how to really explain it.
2 (3m 28s):
Yeah. That's what I do as well to do about that type of stuff.
1 (3m 32s):
Got you into photography. Like what inspired you to pick up a camera in the first
2 (3m 36s):
Place? If this is a I'm going to just give it, so this was, this was like a high school. This was 2013. I'm going to save 14 to 2013. I had ex-girlfriend now it's on record, but like I broke up with her and she was like the best thing in my life, you know? So I was just fucking depressed. I was depressed as hell. And what happened was, is that like I was so depressed, I was just moping around about her, you know, and I just got to stop thinking about her. So everyone's like, Hey, why don't you just do something to do to take your mind off of her?
2 (4m 17s):
And I was like, all right. You know, like, like what? So I tried a couple of things, you know, and I'll take, it's not really working. And in one time, and then I went to Oregon, I went to Oregon and this is one, but like Tumblr was super popular back in the day. So, you know, and over there in Oregon, everything's just nature. Everything was just beautiful. So still here I am in a car with my sister in the back of the car and I'm still moving around my ex-girlfriend and, and for some reason I just look outside and I'm like, wow, this is really nice. You know, I'm going to download this app called Visco or whatever. And this was on my phone and I told my sister, Hey, you know, why don't you just go stand over there and I'll take a picture of you.
2 (5m 1s):
She was like, cool. And I don't know, I just edited that photo. And it's probably still on my Instagram to this day, but I was like, Hey, you know, this is really cool. I liked taking this photo. I liked to editing it. Maybe I can use to do it as a hobby and sure enough, you know, I just go do it now on my phone and ended up getting more serious until like me, like couple of months later about my first camera, which was a Nikon D 3,200. Yeah. This was like late 2013, early 2014. Yeah. So depression, I guess you could say really bad depression. Yeah. That's that's
1 (5m 42s):
So photography, like got you out of your depression. Yeah. In
2 (5m 44s):
A weird way. Yeah, it did. It made me forget about a lot of things actually made me forget about college and obviously heard that my ex-girlfriend and like a lot of this stuff that I was going through with my parents, all that, it made me forget that I was kind of alone also like in a weird way. Like I had this camera that I can just take pictures of anything I ever wanted to. And I was so busy and occupied with the next thing, like, okay, like I took a picture of this, to this car now to take a picture. This train are now this, like this, this flower, like little things here and there. And I was just so busy and occupied with that and editing that, like, I just,
1 (6m 22s):
You just didn't have time to dwell on anything thinking about it. Anything else
2 (6m 26s):
About, I mean also sad. Sure. But I think this was a good tool to like help process what happened, I guess, or like whatever I was trying to go through and just forget about whatever it is. I was trying to forget about it, but yeah. Yeah, that really helped me just forget about her and a lot of things and I just going with it.
1 (6m 49s):
So for listeners Chama and I met at a photography meetup in Los Angeles, I
2 (6m 55s):
Was like 20, 20 16, 16. Bryce was about three years. Yeah. Three years.
1 (7m 2s):
So how did you find out about the meetups?
2 (7m 6s):
How'd I find it. Oh, okay. So I had a friend whose name is Jake, shut up his ass G-code visuals. And we used to wear to church together. We used to go to church together and he was like, Hey, you know, I'm a photographer too. I'm a photographer too. I can teach you how to do some stuff. And I was like, look, whatever, you know, like I was like, whatever, like screw this guy or whatever, but like, yeah, yeah. Whatever, teach me whatever. And he taught me a lot of stuff, composition and all that. And, and you know, and I guess when I, when he thought I was ready, he was like, Hey, do you want to go to this photography meet? And I was like, yeah, but this is before I even had a camera. This was, I still had on my phone.
2 (7m 47s):
And it was twenty thirteen, twenty fourteen. It wasn't even his street meat. It was like just a photo. Me. And it was all you familiar with blue bottle cafe? No. Okay. It's just a cafe place, but they had their actual, I actually had a meet and it's right there next to the sixth street bridge will, what was once the sixth street bridge? I don't know. Blue bottles, their, but they just hosted to me. I went there to my iPhone five and
1 (8m 16s):
Oh, I think I know it. I think I know the place it's like right around the corner. I know a place
2 (8m 22s):
It's, you know, where they're like little warehouses for true religion is like, it's like right there. Okay. It's like right there. And they had to me and we went under the, under the bridge under the sixth street bridge and were just taking pictures and the end, those photos, you can also find on the bottom of my Instagram. And I was like, this is really cool. You know, like seeing all these people with their phones and just hanging out with each other and all that stuff. But not as straight to me though, it was like a hipster meet like this with the sun hats and the white dresses and stuff, you know? But it was cool though. I liked it. It was awesome. It was, this was late 2013 or early 2014 too. So I've been doing meats for about five years, five years, five or six years.
1 (9m 7s):
How do you think that the meats have helped you develop as a photographer?
2 (9m 10s):
Oh, Jesus dude. I guess once I started to get more serious about it, but my camera right, Nick on 3,200, started to go into these meats even more. And that's where you start picking up. So many things you started picking up. I started picking up how to do long expositions. And when long expositions you can shoot trains, you put your card, you can shoot lights, you can shoot steel wool. So I started doing that too. And I learned how to, to, to steel wool, I embarrassed to share it on myself. It was funny. I just, it really teaches you a lot. So these photo meets also kind of got a little bit competitive. So what a really taught me, which I really think off of these meats, his to set my settings really fast without even looking, without even looking like I knew my camera, that the back of my hand, you know what I mean?
2 (10m 1s):
So it was just a rush. So, you know, you're shooting at the shooting at night. What can go on to Canada with a Nick on 3,200 S it ain't working. You know what I mean? So I had 35 with a 1.8, so shooting on and I was kind of hard, but I would really like the composition and holding your breath while shooting at like 20th of a second to 1.8 on what I saw. But you never want to go more than 600 on that. And the Nikon. And like, I call it a sniper shot. Cause like one of my mother's shoe, I just hold my breath and go click and then be like, okay, I got it.
2 (10m 42s):
Like I pray to God, I had it. You know, I go home and edit it. Like, yes, I got it. So settings for sure was on one thing. And then knowing what I want it to shoot, because in the beginning you don't really know what you want
1 (10m 56s):
To shoot me. I'm going to go just to figure it out, right. To take a picture of this tree,
2 (11m 1s):
This mountain, whatever, you know. And then what I started to do was like, oh, I really want to like take pictures of people. And like the moment in these meats. And I want the craziest photo of the whole day, the fire and all that type of stuff. So it really helped me figure out what I wanted to shoot. And with that came an audience pretty much, or the supporters, the followers and all that type of stuff. So what I got from it was really just composition to settings and kind of what started my career. Pretty much all that type of stuff.
1 (11m 33s):
So for you guys listening, the photo meets basically what it is. If you've ever seen like fast and furious, they kind of like text you location and time when you show up. But it's on Instagram. So it's like a little bit less crazy than like fast to various. But that, that's what I compare to when people are like, what are these photo meetups? I'm like, yeah, it's fast. Various. They send you the location, the date. And then the time of the day of, and you show up and there could be 20 people there, there could be 600 people there. You just don't know, oh, that'd be so sick. They did take C like
2 (12m 5s):
This time to be here. Like, that's it like, oh, okay, come prepared. BYOV like, okay now, but yeah, it's pretty much like that. That's a good, that's a good way to put it. It's like, Hey, we're going to be here. Be here, be here. Don't be here. Yeah. I can't even tell you how many meets I've done. I've lost track of it. The first year. I probably did 70 to 70 alone. Well, this wasn't industry to me, this was like blue bottle. And like, this is really old group and I want it to give them a shout out too. And they were called all mediums, accepted, all mediums, et cetera, with these three guys. And they really just put on a show and one of the first ones, they kind of fell out though.
2 (12m 45s):
But they started doing a lot of meats and they did like, oh no, they probably did like five or 10 of them. So I went to all of those and then blue bottle cafe meats. And then just like random people just started doing their own little meats. So it was like five people. And I was like, yeah, let's go. You know? And that was, that was really cool. That was really awesome. Good time. Sorry. I'm just like reminiscing a little bit here. Yeah.
1 (13m 7s):
The meats have changed. Like they changed my life. Like,
2 (13m 11s):
Did they tell you? Right. Totally. You grow
1 (13m 14s):
So much as a photographer. Like, like what you were saying, like shooting, getting your settings faster and shooting in the moment faster. It just makes you a better like journalists, like documentary creator in that sense, you know? And that's like, that's totally my thing, which is why I think I vibe so much with the meetups. They're cool,
2 (13m 31s):
Man. They're cool. His being there at school. Cause like, you're just surrounded with people that just love to do exactly what you do. You know what I mean? Sometimes you get the wrong one. Sometimes you get to know whatever, whatever every scene is going to be like that. But like there's really cool people out there. And I want to just say like, I want to say at least 80% of the people I talk to every day are like, are like really good friends that I've met at at meetups. Like, like I'm not just like, oh yeah, what's up dude. Like I don't even see, I see them at their houses. I've met their families, their sons or daughters. Like we hang out, like we hang out. You want to? I mean, so like the meats helped me grow as an individual too.
2 (14m 11s):
Especially with the social anxiety, came back to like the whole depression thing in high school. I didn't even talk, like I just play video games, watch Netflix. I think that this was a thing back then. And then just like just, I don't, I didn't even talk, you know? And when I went to these meets, Jake would do most of the talking and he would, he would only speak Spanish. So like, it was really kind of hard, you know? And then just, it really just brought me out of my comfort zone. And once you get pushed out of your comfort zone, there's no going back. But yeah, you just know the original way and you could have his, like, it's a weird feeling. And you're like, oh no, I already talked to this guy. You know, I have to say hi. And you just say hi to one person, you meet the other guy. And then next thing you, you have thousands of followers and now you had to talk here to just like, oh, Hey, what's up.
2 (14m 56s):
But you would develop a personality to totally, you know, and you find out things about yourself that you really just, you never thought you'd know. I guess it's crazy, crazy life.
1 (15m 7s):
Yeah. I mean like we, you can say the same, but I mean, I've traveled around the country with all these people from these meetups, you know, like lifelong friendships from this stuff. Just because you have so much in common. I mean, you love photography. That's a huge part of our lives.
2 (15m 21s):
Photography is an amazing part because like you see things differently now.
1 (15m 25s):
Oh yeah. You totally see things differently. Everything looks like an opportunity,
2 (15m 28s):
Like anything. And it was like a brick wall
1 (15m 33s):
On that brick wall,
2 (15m 34s):
But I can change the color of that. Yeah. I can put something on in front of it. Like it's anything, like I looked at a tree and I, the first off I see when I see a tree it's I can change the color of that tree. Like instead of green, it could be orange or red and I have a photo actually. Why change everything to red? It was really amazing, but it's just like, you can do anything you want really? It's just a matter of Lightroom. I don't use Photoshop. I really don't use, but it's hard. Right. It's difficult.
1 (16m 2s):
Light rooms, very user-friendly and super easy to learn. I can't think in layers, I don't think
2 (16m 7s):
In layers, I think of like just normal stuff. I guess you could say like a painting kind of painting pretty much. Yeah. And so yeah, the photography, you just see everything differently, even when you're watching movies or just like another photo, you know, I used to hate photography so much. S K I K going back to my ex, I went to her house. Right. And she had a picture of like this eight by 11 black and white tree. It was this just in a room, just chilling. And I was such an asshole and I was just like, you know what stupid, you know? And she's like, and I was like that photo.
2 (16m 47s):
I hate photography legit. I'm trying to quote unquote what I said here. And I was like, I hate photography because like that photo, for example, you can take a picture, put a black and white and call it art or something like that. You know? And then she's like, you know, she was just trying to be nice to me, whatever, but I feel bad, you know, I always tell her that story. And then she was like, look at you now. And I'm like, I know, but like I used to hate photography now. I like it. I really do love it. It's it's amazing. And early pay, pay the pay, the paved pay pave paved. Sorry you pay the career path for me, for sure. Yeah.
2 (17m 28s):
1 (17m 29s):
Who are some of the like local photographers that you looked up to when you were starting to God shoot more meets, do all this stuff. It was just like
2 (17m 42s):
Just G really in the beginning, which was G like, it was just me and him from day one. He's my day one. So it was Josh and he taught me everything. I have to know. Like if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't even be where I am right now. I guess you could say. So it was G and that's it at that moment. But now like, if I want to say like, oh, like all the, like, they're really like, I think dope people around my area. Would it be Jake? My best friend, Josh mother, best friend. Her name is Michael. There's another guy named Menez. He's a really good photographer as well.
2 (18m 23s):
He does like lifestyle stuff. I think that's like the only like local, cause we're out here, like my area. So there's not a lot of like photographers. And if there are, it's more like professional, like, oh, we do weddings. Yeah. Stuff like that. It's cool. You know, but I'm not really down with that, but for like street stuff. Yeah. It's only like us really that we represent the I E really over here. Yeah, for sure. So
1 (18m 51s):
As far as these events go, that you're shooting. What is your process when you go in to these events? Like, what are you capturing? What are your, what are you like? What do you go into it with? Like, like mindset wise. It's a hell of anxiety. And
2 (19m 6s):
You still get that. Totally. Always. It's
1 (19m 9s):
Not as much now I feel way more confident. But if it's like a new gig or something, then yeah, for sure.
2 (19m 15s):
Okay. For me, I don't know about you, but I get to have anxiety the day before, right? Oh, totally. Sometimes I can't even sleep like, okay, do I have everything done to have everything ready? You know? And then when I get to the place, I'm like, why would I so anxious? Like this was so easy. Like to have the mentality I get into first, I'll get this text or that email, like, Hey, you know, we want this one day. OK, cool. Whatever. And I have to have to make sure everything is ready. Camera's SD cards, everything, everything. What I really look for first, I just asked them, Hey, they didn't give me a list. Hey, what do you really need? What do you really want?
2 (19m 57s):
Like, what do you need now? And type of stuff. And if they say, Hey, you know, just go for it. All right. I'm going to get the best shots. I think that are like, what you want to know what I mean from most events, this, this kind of how it is like, Hey, the person will be like, Hey, you know what? I trust you just, you have all access to anything you want to go for it to just do BTS. Cool. You know, and what I try to do is try to find moments where let's say a music video. I always try to find celebrities talking to other people. Or, or like when they're in a dance, move on to pose or smiling or laughing, like I would just try to capture that moment for other events kind of like just BTS or like promo and stuff.
2 (20m 45s):
I mean, that's, that's pretty easy to it. It's not, it's really not that hard. I just kind of just take pictures of like, whatever the focusing is or whatever the product is or, or anything really.
1 (20m 56s):
So you guys, you guys do a lot of product stuff.
2 (20m 58s):
I do a lot of products off. Yeah. But lately I've been doing more of the music videos and shooting the rappers type of stuff. I feel like product is harder. No, I agree. I think it's harder.
1 (21m 9s):
I think it's hard products. Yeah. Because they don't really do anything. You know, they don't do anything.
2 (21m 14s):
It's kind of easy but hard sometimes. Okay. So I'll take a picture of like, let's say like this cup and it's easy. I'll just take a picture. Yeah. But I'm like, I overthink it like, oh, maybe I should like have it in this lighting or like this dramatic, like tilt or something. I don't know. Like I just kind of overthink it, but it's just really depends on the mind state really. I guess you can say, but in the beginning it's just a lot of anxiety. And at the end it's a lot of anxiety too. Cause it's just like, all right, do they want to, they want me to edit them and do they want to edit them? Should I edit the way I edit them such as to the black and white, it's just like, oh God, sometimes it's overthink it. But it's still fun though. I'll give you that. It's very fun.
2 (21m 56s):
1 (21m 57s):
So let's shift into talking about my favorite thing to talk about his abandoned places, which is what I do when I'm not freelancing, you know, came from me now. We just spent like four hours trying to get home from, I was so sat in traffic for literally two hours. My God, it was so far we went off roading. We went off in a Toyota Corolla.
2 (22m 27s):
That was so sick, but it was so scary at the same time. We actually high-fived and it was really cool. It was great about Alberta and places. So yeah. So abandoned places. So I hadn't, at this point, I've had my Nikon 30 to 235 millimeters stock lens was like 18 to 55 or whatever. Well, here's the thing I had never even knew what abandoned place was. I knew what it is to kind of likes to see on a free ride.
1 (22m 54s):
You didn't know that like exploring abandoned places was like a thing. I didn't even know that that was
2 (22m 58s):
A thing, but I was like, people do this. That's weird. And so I had a friend named Jose shadow, Jose who also went to my church was why don't you, his friends and all that. We all knew each other. And he was like, he was like, Hey, you know, you're a photographer juice to photographer. Do you want to hang out? I was like, yeah, sure. What do you want to shoot? And he's like, there's this abandoned place around, around this area, you know, like probably 15 minutes from here. And he's like, do you want to go check it out? And I was like, abandoned plays. So I was like, I mean, I guess, I don't know, like whatever, you know, and this point I haven't even seen like abandoned places on like Instagram or flicker or 500 PX or anything. So I was like, all right, like whatever.
2 (23m 38s):
Okay. Wasn't even nervous about trespassing, nothing about abandoned places. And then I went to that and I was like, you know, I was like, okay, this, this school, a lot of glass on broken things, you know? But like the weird thing was the first time I went to, I didn't take any pictures. Oh. I was just like, oh, this is kinda weird. But when I w but after that I came home and I was like, nah, I could have taken a sick picture here. You know, like I could have done something here. So I went back, I went back like, like the next week. And I just took a couple of pictures and I was like, oh, this, this, this is sick. This is cool. Like, you don't get to see this that often, you know?
2 (24m 19s):
And like, you don't, you don't see abandoned places that often. And I was like, okay, this was cool. You know? And I just, and I kept going into that same band in place. I kept practicing there, like lights, composition, shadows. What about a lot of abandoned places are shadows and light. So you really asked to lighting. Yeah. And so it's really weird. So
1 (24m 37s):
It's like, you get what you get photograph
2 (24m 39s):
It. Yeah. Pretty much, you know, but I'm sure I'm still shooting JPEG. I don't even shoot. It is what you get to know. The colors are already in there. And I was like, oh, this is a cool, you know, when I started posting them and then I started getting a little bit of a detention from the local people, they were like, oh, you should have been in places. You should take me. And I was like, only no one. You know how to take a lot of people there. I took a lot of people, probably like 30 people there. We probably, we don't even talk anymore, but it's cool. But it took a lot of people there. And then I just kept getting better at it. I just got to go into the same place. And the cool thing about Bando was that every to three weeks new things would come up. Like, like now there's probably like a stripped down Beamer, stripped down, no wheels, no nothing.
2 (25m 25s):
And there's like skating things in there, like ramps and stuff. So people skate in there and you get to a party in there. It's cool. So that was pretty much the gateway for sure was that was like abandoned that, that first abandoned building. And also like this one was a time where like, I was still like, you know, the whole depression thing when my ex-girlfriend and I felt like I was just really depressed. And in being in these abandoned buildings was like, Hey, you know, I really relate to these things. Cause like, they're just broken, you know, like,
1 (26m 1s):
This is how I feel like this sounds really
2 (26m 4s):
Like, so cliche and dumb, but I was like, I am just as broken on the inside as his abandoned building. Like it was, it's really sad. It's just really sad. Like it looked broken on the outside, look on the inside. It's cold. It's raw is just like destroy people to step on you all the time. People just come in and out of it. And I was just like, but not to me, like sexually out on my life, you know, like out of my life, he would just come in and out. And I was like thinking of every little detail. And I was like, yeah, I can, I really do. Just like, I compare myself to abandoned places a lot. I was like, yeah. Like I, it, which is one of the most like one-on-one connection I've ever had with anything in my life.
2 (26m 44s):
Like not a tree, not a, not a rooftop. Like it was just a band in places like this. Like I, I literally said I was sleeping in abandoned. Like I was sleeping abando if I, if I could, if I wanted to know Airbnb, bring my sleeping bag and just like sleep in, abandoned off. I could. Yeah. So like that, which is so crazy. And now, you know, I've probably shot more than a hundred bandos. I've been caught. Like I've had a gunpoint on me maybe once or twice, but getting caught, like maybe like four or five times is not a lot. I'm pretty good at like sneaking around. I'm a skinny guy. So I'll always just like fit in like some weird, like, not door, but like hole in the wall or something and wait for the cop to go or something like that.
2 (27m 33s):
Yeah. I've, I've, I've hit bandos only in California. Actually. I've only had been, was in California. Yeah. I hate traveling. It's only, I love traveling, but not on time. I don't do, I don't do plan. So I'm probably never going to hit like the Chicago or Chicago at bandos or whatever the M and a abandoned was or sick.
1 (27m 52s):
So talking about some of the other places you've explored that are in Los Angeles that are, you know, are or were abandoned and you know, like the, the art you created and what came from that. Oh man, like the church,