I’ve been photographing rappers for a handful of years now, but have almost always stayed in the studio with them or tagged along with them in their condos, in their cars, in their neighborhoods. I’d never been on set during a rap video until this shoot.

FADER sent me to sunny Miami for a feature on DJ Khaled. My job was to tag along with Khaled during the shooting of his “No New Friends” video.

It was incredible.

It was over-the-top.

Not only was Khaled in the video, but Drake, Rick Ross, Birdman, Fat Joe, and Lil Wayne.

There are three things I’ve learned from photographing rappers over the years:

1. Nothing starts on time.

2. Rappers are some of the most collaborative artists I’ve come across. They’re always supporting each other and dropping each other’s names. (Photographers could learn a thing or two from them.)

3. There is real life and then there is a rapper fantasy world. This video represented the stereotypical idealized rapper fantasy. This isn’t how rappers live–with moats and helicopters and countless cars. Every rap shoot offers glimpses into this made-up world where beautiful women and rosé flow freely, but it’s all a show, for the most part. (I’ve photographed a rap producer who got out of his Honda and into the Escalade before a shoot.) Even after the scene with Khaled and the women in the hot tub, he went to Rick Ross’s trailer and told Ross how amazing the women were and how incredible the scene was.

It’s all a dream.

I appreciate them taking me along for the ride.


Watch the “No New Friends” video HERE. Read the feature on DJ Khaled HERE.

What’s better than a great photo shoot? A great photo shoot with even greater design and play in the magazine. If you get a chance to see FADER Issue #86, take a peek. I was amazed at how much space they gave this series of photos, lots of double-trucks and pages.


And at the end of the night I did a shot of grape vodka in Birdman’s trailer with Khaled, Swizz Beats and Birdman.

Posted on
July 22nd, 2013
Kendrick Brinson
Filed under

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  1. Eric Kayne

    July 24, 2013 at 10:54 am — Reply

    Really great work, Kendrick! Is that golden light sunlight or from a gelled hotlight?

    • Kendrick Brinson

      July 24, 2013 at 10:56 am — Reply

      It’s a gelled light and then a fog machine to soften it. Thank ya!

  2. Alex

    July 24, 2013 at 12:32 pm — Reply

    Great work Kendrick, high quality shots! I liked your comment about the collaborative attitude from rappers, something to learn about them!

  3. Josh Levine

    July 26, 2013 at 8:12 am — Reply

    Extremely cool photos, insights & comments, tnx

  4. mhm

    August 5, 2013 at 5:52 pm — Reply

    this is amazing! i really like the one with the guy picking up the money

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