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Dim Sum Down-low

Dim Sum Down-low: Capturing emotions & moments with DJ Fingaz

An insider in the West Coast Hip Hop scene breaks down his love for photography

LiFTED | DJ Fingaz | 4 May 2021

What do you do besides music? LiFTED takes the long-loved afternoon talks at a dim sum joint in Asia to get the scoop of what artists enjoy besides making music in Dim Sum Down-low. This month, our spotlight is on DJ Fingaz, one of the dopest DJs to come out of California and his love for photography.

DJ Fingaz, also known as William Houseman, got hooked on Asia early. He first traveled to DJ in Singapore and Malaysia in 2001. It was onto Japan and Taiwan soon after. Since then, he’s been to Asia at least 100 times and lived here for five years, first in Hong Kong and then in Vietnam. “I could not believe I was actually going to DJ in another country and I just fell in love with it! Life is a beautiful trip like that.”

Besides playing music for the people, Fingaz has always been a creative person who was into technology. “I was the photographer of my high school paper once before I dropped out. I remember I bought a VHS camcorder back in the early 90s and was ‘vlogging’ before it was a thing. I also had a mini-DV cam, even the first Flip device that was like a small pocket recorder. I always kept some kind of camera with me.”

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A few years back, Fingaz decided to get serious about his photography game. “I had an itch to buy a real professional camera so I could step up more of my marketing and videos for my DJ stuff. So I went to look at them in the computer mall in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district with my good friend there, DJ Derek. After an hour of thinking about it, Derek said flip a coin. I called heads and walked out of the store with a new camera and lens.”

Fingaz didn’t want to just have a fancy camera and say he was a photographer. “I had the passion and the creative composition already, so I took a whole year really to study and learn about my gear and the fundamentals of photography. I did more and more practicing and felt I was ready to make things more professional so I started Lens Access.”

At a session with Xzibit at Dr. Dre’s studio while they were mixing a record, Fingaz was working on logos and brainstorming names for his new adventure. “I started thinking about photography and terms associated like ‘lens’ and ‘aperture’ then I was like ‘Lens Aperture Photo’ and started laying out some logos with an L and an A like the LA logo but with a lighting bolt look. The producer Focus looked at my computer and said, “That’s dope! I would rock that on a hat,” but I checked the internet to see if I could get the website and it wasn't available. So I knew I had the right logo but had to find what else I could name it with LA. I was thinking more and thought about ‘access’ because I always have access to so many cool situations my whole life. So I looked it up and the website was available and no one had that name so Lens Access it is. Now I have my identity. That same week I shot a music video for Xzibit and artist Problem that got millions of views online and things just kept progressing.”

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The photo I took of Chuck D from Public Enemy. That was cool. He let me take one of him after I had lunch with him and a few other legends. I grew up on PE and he's one of my favorites. It’s crazy because I got to open up for PE before also and it was amazing.

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Also, one photo I took of JuJu from the Beatnuts when we were in Ukraine doing a show. It just has a dope vibe and he and The Beatnuts are also my favorites.

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My first love and passion for photography is the human connection I get with people taking candid photos that tell stories by capturing emotions and moments. I really like this photo of a happy old man I took in Vietnam. We talked and he told me some stories. Then I asked if I could take his photo and he was more than happy I asked him. Also, the photo of an old woman feeding birds in Ukraine tells a nice story, you can tell the birds know her and that she comes to this spot maybe every day and feeds them.

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This is so hard to pick, but I'll choose this one I took of a San Diego rap artist Bloodstone. I wanted to make it look like a movie poster and artist but dramatic with depth and character because he wants to do acting also, so I incorporated those things.

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I decided to pick this photo because I remember walking around a park in one of my favorite places Taipei, Taiwan and seeing this man having a really deep conversation with himself. I watched him for a while and it seemed like a nice frame, colors, and story so I took this shot.

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I don't think I can give an answer or pick just one for this. My favorite photo could change from day to day just like music. I could have one favorite song for weeks and then another one comes along that takes its place. So the same goes for my photos, I click the shutter almost every day and that next click can be my favorite or even my best story ever. Here are a few of the photos that I really love!

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DJ Fingaz is here on IG and Lens Access is here on IG or the website.