Documenting the everyday life of the one of the greatest of our time, DJ Khaled, with a unique aesthetic and precision of execution of his vision, We The Best photographer, Ivan Berrios, has transformed the game while staying in his own lane. The manner in which Ivan interprets his subjects which range from DJ Khaled’s son and pride and joy, Asahd Tuck Khaled, to the likes of Justin Bieber, Nas, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, is uncanny and his dynamic and candid visuals serve as a reflection of his emphasis on excellence. I had the pleasure of catching up with Ivan to discuss a day in the life of being DJ Khaled’s right-hand man with a camera in hand, his go-to cameras and lens, playing ball in the big leagues, tattoos and more.
First and foremost, tell us about the first time that you decided to pursue photography and did you perceive that you would lead yourself to being in the position that you are in today?
Photography first started as a hobby to me right after I graduated high school (Class of 2010). I just really enjoyed doing it, and throughout the years I would meet people and they loved my work. Little by little, I would get hired to do shoots and started being asked to go on the road. I’m very grateful to be in the position that I am today. Never took anything for granted, it’s a blessing to be able to work with the greats.
Although I assume that it varies day to day, what are your daily responsibilities of being DJ Khaled’s right-hand man with a camera in hand and one of the We The Best/Roc Nation photographers?
Really just to document what's going on. If he’s at an event, concert, show, etc. My job is to capture moments with him interacting with fans, artists, and him being him when he’s not around anybody aka in his recording studio working on his album, playing with his son or popping 10 bottles of Belaire to celebrate his record going #1!!
Your work tends to be quite collaborative amongst a variety of musicians in the game. How do you influence the chemistry amongst the people that you are shooting?
Khaled is friends with a lot of people in the game and I’m always with him and always constantly shooting & documenting everything. So every time he’s working with artists or we’re out somewhere with them, I always get nice candid shots of them. I show it to all of them and they love it. A lot of times they’ll see me and pull me to the side and ask me to get some nice shots of them so they can put them up on their socials. It’s all great vibes!
Let’s talk tattoos. Do you have any tattoos of your own that have stories behind them that you'd like to share? If not, tell us about one of the most unique tattoos that you have seen throughout your journey.
Surprisingly I don’t have any tattoos, but my girlfriend is a tattoo artist! When I do start getting them, I want it to be realism. I want them all to have a meaning and a story behind them when the time comes. I’ve seen a lot of people with a crazy amount of tattoos. From Justin Bieber to Rick Ross to Wiz Khalifa & even Johnny Depp, who I had the honor to shake hands with backstage and he had a couple on his arm. Pretty cool! They all individually have dope and unique tattoos.
As you have traveled and experienced many different walks and ways of life as a photographer, has your perception of heading back home changed at all?
I always miss home, there’s nothing like it. But, I love being on the road. I get to see and do things that not many people get the opportunity to do. But most importantly, I get to photograph and record legendary people and come back with stories to share with my friends and family. That's what it’s really about.
If you could compare your photography skills to the superpowers of a superhero, which superhero would you choose and why?
I’ll choose Spiderman because I’m jumping all over the place shooting people from a distance with my spidey-web camera! Yes, anybody? No? Ok. nevermind.
Tell us about the gear that you are using while shooting. What is your go-to camera and lens for a big shoot such as the Coachella performance that you just photographed last weekend?
My Sony A7sii is my go to camera. I also have a Canon 5D Mark 3 that I use as well. My favorite lens would have to be the 35mm 1.4. I love that nice cinematic look that it gives. I was also using the 70-200 to capture far away shots.
What has been some of the greatest words of wisdom that you have received ever since you began your journey as a photographer?
To stay in your lane. Pick a style that you enjoy doing and run with it. It’s cool to be inspired by other people's work but never copy. Always stay true to yourself and keep raising the bar higher.
Are there any other artistic mediums that you dabble into? Videography?
I’ve actually been doing videos for a while. I’ve shot over 100 videos these past 6 years! I now shoot a lot of videos for Ciroc, Belaire, and I am working on treatments to start directing videos for songs off of Khaled’s new album, ‘Grateful’, coming out this year. So yeah, I’m gonna start switching lanes for good soon. I want to be the next Michael Bay! Martin Scorsese! Those guys are my idols.
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for admirers of your work?
Raise the bar higher every year, and keep networking! That's very important. I’m where I'm at today because of a lot of people gave me opportunities and I took them all and did my best with all of them. You never know who’s watching. Keep shooting and always show love to everybody, love is they key!