Questions regarding canceled events? Click here to learn about our Buyer Guarantee Canceled events: Learn about our Buyer Guarantee
Concerts Rap and Hip Hop

Bylines and Bokeh: An Interview with Music Journalist & Photographer Andres Tardio

November 12, 2019 by Vivid Seats


A hip-hop fanatic-turned-industry professional, Andres Tardio is living every music fan’s dream. Following an unconventional path to multifaceted success, Tardio has worked hard to stake his claim in the music scene, utilizing his engaging writer’s voice and artistic eye to rise to the top – gaining access to superstar artists like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and more in the process. In a conversation with Vivid Seats, the L.A.-based writer and photographer reflects on the challenges and triumphs of his career in music journalism.

Vivid Seats: You’ve crafted a career as both a writer and photographer. Have you always been both?

Andres Tardio: I started out as a writer. Eventually, that led to press passes at music festivals where I tried my best to shoot worthwhile photos for my written recaps. I had an emerging interest in photography, but I wasn’t merging those worlds too often until I started working with Rob Markman, a well-respected music journalist, who took me under his wing at MTV News. He encouraged me to blend those talents more frequently. I went on to work at Rap-Up, where I was able to showcase that even more while freelancing for other spots as a writer, photographer, and sometimes as both.

VS: With bylines living on Billboard, Complex, MTV, and Rap-Up, your past work often features rap and hip-hop artists. Have you always been a hip-hop fan?

AT: I’ve been a hip-hop fan for as long as I can remember. My mom says I used to breakdance as a 3 or 4-year-old in Bolivia and there are some photos of me dancing as a kid. It’s been the soundtrack to my life, and I can pinpoint some transformative songs, artists, and albums that really helped shape my perspectives, my knowledge base, my influences, etc. It’s a constant force in my journey. That’s why it’s been an honor to help document portions of this culture, which I respect so deeply.

VS: How does photographing hip-hop shows differ from other genres?

AT: I think I’m more in tune with the timing of it all when it comes to hip-hop. I know when a punchline might hit, when a rapper might jump triumphantly, or when a moody song may call for a different approach. I also understand each artist’s personal aesthetic a little better and I think my editing style falls in line with that simply because hip-hip informs so much of what I do. That being said, I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed stepping out of that comfort zone and photographing athletes or artists from other genres. I’m grateful whenever I get to do that, and I can’t wait to do more. 

VS: While music seems to be a focal point of your work, you’ve branched into other beats, like working with Nike. What originally drew you into the music scene, and what made you explore other avenues?

AT: Social media has opened a lot of those doors for me. I started working with some companies a few years ago, back when social media campaigns first started popping up on Instagram. Liz Eswein, who’s one of the greatest and most influential minds in that space, truly helped me come along that path. My ad work has grown since those early days and I’ve gained a deep appreciation for that side of things after working with so many different brands. I just hope to continue expanding on that in the future.

VS: Walk us through your first time shooting a live show. What was that experience like?

AT: I photographed a couple of local shows for fun in high school. But my first time shooting a live show as part of my work was filled with confusion and creative freedom! It was a music festival that I attended mainly as a writer so there were no expectations about my photography. I just went out there with a camera and did my best to capture moments that I thought were cool. I remember loving every second of that first photo pit experience, shooting in front of the barricades, die-hard fans screaming behind me, shooting from the side of the stage, being up close for iconic performances, it just felt like I was in a dream. It was surreal. Looking back on that, I’m enormously grateful that I still get to do that every so often.

VS: What has it been like working with some of today’s top artists, like Kendrick Lamar?

AT: It’s been gratifying to interview and photograph artists of that stature. Capturing and documenting Kendrick Lamar’s opening pitch at Dodger Stadium was incredible. He’s a once-in-a-generation artist and understandably doesn’t grant too many interviews so that was special. I’d interviewed him years prior, and I’ve been able to photograph him often in the years since. I’m always struck by how thoughtful, creative, and poignant he is. It’s always an honor and always inspiring.

VS: Looking ahead to 2020, what can we expect from Andres Tardio?

AT: 2020 is going to be exciting. My wife and I just welcomed our second son so we’re cherishing those familial milestones. On the professional side, I‘ll be launching a new podcast that I’ve been brainstorming for some time. I also plan on managing more print sales, social media campaigns, and showcasing my photography in a gallery. Hopefully, there’s some travel involved across the board. Beyond that, I’m just happy to keep interviewing artists and telling their stories.

VS: With only two months left in the decade, what are some of your favorite music moments from the 2010s?

AT: This is the toughest question yet! It honestly feels like this decade zoomed by. Looking back, you have to marvel at the way artists like Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, and J. Cole have dominated and defined this decade through music, live performances, and cultural impact. I’ve also been personally inspired by the way acts like Atmosphere, Black Thought, Brother Ali, and Evidence have reinvented themselves while staying true to what’s always made them great. Most importantly, it’s been an honor to document all of this in one way or another.

VS: What's the best live show you saw this year? Best show you photographed?

AT: This is another tough one. I’d have to go with Soundset, which is kind of a cheat code because it’s one of rap’s most consistently diverse festivals. I got to watch and/or photograph a slew of artists at Soundset this year, from Atmosphere to Lil Nas X, from Black Star to Lil Wayne, from Royce Da 5’9” to DaBaby, from Tech N9ne to DMX. That’s not even mentioning everyone else on that lineup. It’s like that every year, though. It’s become an annual highlight for me because of the curation but also because of the people who make it all possible.

VS: Who are some artists we should be paying attention to?

AT: You should be paying attention to everyone. This decade has shown us that anything is possible. Artists can go from obscurity to chart-toppers in no time. But if I had to shine a light on some rising artists who I think are dope, I’d point to the likes of Destiny Rogers, Eddie Zuko, YBN Cordae, That Girl Lay Lay, Wynne, Dem Atlas, Roddy Ricch, Chika, and D Smoke. They’ve all got some serious potential. This is also where I’ll try to shout some other artists out because there are acts who’ve been making noise for some time but are now finally getting more shine like Benny The Butcher, Illmac, Sa-Roc, Shawn Smith, and Geechi Gotti. As the genre continues to grow, I’m also always paying attention to established greats like Kendrick Lamar, Evidence, Brother Ali, JAY-Z, ScHoolboy Q, Rapsody, Murs, Atmosphere, Black Thought, J. Cole, Dessa, Royce Da 5’9”, and so many other artists like that. Just love seeing their evolutions. Paying attention to that variety — the talented newcomers and the seasoned champs — has made music more fulfilling to me. I plan on continuing that through the next decade and beyond.

Never miss a show!

Sign up for savings, info, and more!

Please enter a valid email address.
Please enter a valid zip code.