Photography jobs

Sydney Welch’s photography showcases the latest wave of Bay Area talent

Sydney grew up in Fremont and after studying journalism in high school and at San Francisco State University, Sydney is now behind the camera at concerts and community gatherings. She is often seen with multiple cameras strapped to her person, in full-shot mode.

This week, Sydney Welch talks to us about her ultimate career goals, how she relies on grace to navigate the notoriously treacherous music industry, and why she’s so passionate about representing the Bay through photos of the artists currently providing the soundtrack of our time.

Read the podcast transcript.

Below are slightly edited excerpts from my conversation with Sydney Welch.

Pen: In May of this year, I stumbled across Sydney at an event organized by Urban Peace Movement, an Oakland-based non-profit organization. In the crowd of a few hundred gathered around the Lake Merritt bandstand was Sydney: moving through the crowd, with three cameras strapped to her person. I had my handy digital camera with me. But Sidney? She was in full shooter mode.

Sydney: Cinema has always been my favorite form of photography. It just gives history like that, like that dope atmosphere. When I was in high school, I literally shot with the film camera before shooting with a digital camera. So I was in a dark room with my teachers at lunchtime. Growing up, my mother was also a photographer. She was doing film photography on the side, she always had her camera on her.

Pen: During her freshman year of high school, Sydney landed an internship at the San Jose Mercury News as a writer and photographer. It was his official introduction to the industry.

Sydney: But also during that time in high school, I was really into music a lot. Like I listen to HBK a lot. Kehlani, G-Eazy, literally every artist in the Bay Area. And so it really gave me kind of an inspiration, I feel like, where I am today.

Photographer Sydney Welch in action. (Joshua Lee Kennedy/@Sadfiphotoz)

Pen: There’s a big variable behind that, it’s you and your identity as a black woman. What does this bring to the table?

Sydney: It really just brings my voice, you know, not being afraid to really express who I am through my work, but also, you know, inspiring another black person like me to step out of their comfort zone and to try something new, no matter how scary or intimidating it may seem. Sometimes with like, you know, people’s intentions and stuff like that, you have to be on your toes more than ever, especially as a black woman. Like people are trying you. They will try you, especially if you are this good looking. And it’s like, ‘I’m here to work. If you can’t respect me while working, then I’ll never work with you again. Like, it’s, it’s so serious. I’m never going to, you know, be obscuring and disrespecting myself to put someone else at ease.

Pen: What story do your photos tell?

Sydney: My photos tell the story. They tell of passion. They tell about art. Some may talk about struggle, but you may not see it from your perspective. But also, just like they show love too, you know, I hope my photos tell of the love I have for the Bay Area.

Rightnowish is an arts and culture podcast produced at KQED. Listen wherever you get your podcasts or click the play button at the top of this page and subscribe to the show on NPR One, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.