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His best shot: Photographer with town roots in BMA running

Yazi Ferrufino, a 2013 Arlington High School graduate, is among 10 nominees for the year's top music photographer for the Boston Music Awards (BMA). 

Yazi FerrufinoRead the online interview below and consider voting. Do so here >> Note that voting closes at 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday, Nov. 1.

Yazi grew up near Turkey Hill and was an avid soccer player at AHS. He is working on several projects, including a collaboration with the City of Boston that aims to support Black/Afro-LatinX artists.

After learning from his brother, Randy, about the nomination, YourArlington reached out with questions.

Q: How long did you live in town?

I lived in Arlington from my birth, in 1995, up to 2013, when I left for college. I have been living in Dorchester since 2016.

Q: What about college?

I went to Drexel University, Bunker Hill CC and UMass./Boston as an environmental science major from 2013 to 2017 before dropping out right before my senior year began to take a chance on my photo career.

Q: How long have you been a photographer, and what spurred your interest?

I began taking photos in 2015, when I moved back home to Boston from going to college in Philadelphia. I had taken half a year off and was living with my dad stuck inside during snowstorm. I hadn’t found a job yet, and everyone I would normally hangout with were at school out of state.

Yazi Ferrufino

My dad had gotten me a cheap Fujifilm point-and-shoot camera at a yard sale a couple years back that had just been building dust. One day I was sick of being inside and sending out job applications, and I decided to go for a walk with the camera. I took photos of people walking through the clouds of snow, snow plow drivers and textures around me

I fell in love instantly and continued doing this type of environmental street photography everyday after that. My first job back home ended up being as a sales photographer at Fenway Park, where I was given my first DSLR camera, and was pressured to learn how to use it within one week. This was essentially my boot camp for photography when it came to lighting, direction, settings, etc.

While working, I got more into social media, and through that I learned about this community of photographers that held gatherings called Portrait Meets. This is where I made some of my first photo friends and began shooting street photography almost everyday after that.

My interest in music photography came into my life pretty randomly. I was at my day job in downtown Boston when Boston Calling was having its last festival appearance at City Hall. After my shift, I remembered I had my camera, so I decided to try and wait at the backstage entrance to try and meet someone and get a portrait.

Long story short, I waited five hours, met the drummer and manager for The Front Bottoms, they got me in, and I took photos of them Janelle Monáe, Disclosure and Brendan Reilly (who performed with Disclosure). I sent my photos to Reilly after the festival, and he offered to add me to his guest list for Firefly Festival 2016, Osheaga Festival 2016 and a New York stop of Disclosure’s tour. I was only able to attend Firefly, but from then on that was where I continued to pursue music photography.

Q: What kind of shots that you take do you most like?

I tend to gravitate more toward shots involving light flares and dramatic, harsh shadows. Most of my music-related work definitely covers my need for light flares, but street photography will always be my go-to for shadows.

Last fall, I went on my first full U.S. bus tour with 2019 Coachella performer Yung Bae that involved disco balls and light beams everywhere so that was definitely a perfect fit for my style

Q: Which shots do you believe put you in the running to win this BMA category -- and why?

I honestly don’t know – ha ha. Most of my favorite photos tend to be the ones that receive the least amount of love, but my editing style in general may have been a factor in that decision.

Q: Other photographers you admire?

The photographers who were my main inspirations when I first started were Kathryn Riley (@k__h__r) and Devin O’Brien (@ri_ft). The rawness of their editing styles along with the colors they used still to this day blow my mind.

My most recent years have had me admiring Greg Noire (@gregnoire), Travys Owen (@travysowen), Sarah Ohta (@sarahohta), Kenneth Cappello (@kennethcappello), the powerhouse team in Boston that has been covering protests this year (OJ Slaughter (oj_slaughter), Philip Keith (@philip_keith), Sam Williams (@nineacrephotography) and Harry Scales (@harryscales_). My list could go on.

Q: Describe in your own words what you feel when you get just the shot you're seeking?

It’s definitely an adrenaline rush, but in the music scene it’s tough to allow that feeling to sink in because of the fast pace of shows. If you take a moment to let your guard down, you could miss a moment.

Q: Last thoughts?

I am very proud and lucky to have grown up in Arlington. Being a Bolivian-American kid growing up in a predominately white, liberal town allowed me to gain a perspective that many don’t get the chance to have as a Latino or white kid, and I use that to my advantage.

Outside of my music and street photography, I have done photo journalism work for the El Mundo newspaper in Boston covering protests, and I would just like to say for everyone to please go VOTE! I think it is very important for anyone with a growing platform to use it to step outside their comfort zone and help educate others about what is occurring in the world. If we do not speak up for change, it will never happen.

I hope Arlington will continue to progress in a positive direction and will listen to what the youth want.

Ferrufino's website: YAZ Photography

This interview, which includes opinion, was published Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020.

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