02 Apr A Moment with Houston’s Shooting Star, Josh Olalde
It’s only March, and 2020 has already been a heck of a year for Josh Olalde. His unique style of photography has gathered loyal followers and copycats, but it’s his generosity that built his name.
Josh Olalde and I met on Instagram.
Wow. I never thought I’d type something like that.
I also never expected to be quarantined at home because of some global pandemic, cautiously nursing my lower ABV beers and rationing toilet paper by the square… But here we are…
I saw his shots on Instagram, and I DM’d him to encourage him about how dope his photos were. Houston’s got plenty of creative talent, but before Josh, there wasn’t anybody trying to
capture create the visual narrative for Houston beer.
He seemed shocked at the praise. I was very confused, but I guess things were just beginning to take off for him at the time, so it kind of makes sense in hindsight. Either way, after chatting for a while and nerding out about beer, he asked me to join him for a few coldies.
We met at the Backyard Grill on Jones and West. I’ll never forget it.
My son played in the sandbox, while he and I chopped it up.
A Celis rep named Carlos was there passing out samples. He stopped by our table to offer us a few tasters of their White and their IPA. Josh and I had both already had both beers before, but we didn’t want to blow the guy off. After a few sips of the tasters, we both opted for a full pour of the white.
While nursing our Celis Whites in the midday humidity, somehow we talked about nothing and everything all at once. Beer, our families, school, creativity, on and on. We had a lot in common, but it wasn’t really a convo about anything in particular.
We each opted for one more beer before we bounced. While sharing a big bowl of chips, queso, and salsa with my son, we each went for a Platypus Grandaddy Purp before asking to close out the tab.
As we finished off our second beers and collected our Celis swag, I looked at him sort of confused.
“So that’s it?”
Very confused Josh replied… “What do you mean, dude?”
“You don’t have some big ask? No agenda? Nothing?” I continued, even more confused than he was originally.
He laughed. “Naah, man. I just wanted to get a beer with you. That’s all.”
It was that moment that I decided I’d be his biggest cheerleader, and the rest is history. I kind of expected him to ask for some sort of deal where he’d shoot for us, or ask me how to grow his followers on IG, or maybe to do some graphic design work to help him promote his photography business.
Nope. Nothing of the sort. Just a genuine dude that genuinely wanted to share a beer.
Fast forward a few months later, and Josh Olalde was on the Beer Chronicle team, and if you’re reading this, you’ve probably seen everything between then and now.
Josh Olalde’s Recent Big Accomplishments
Very quickly Josh went from taking freebie shots at local breweries to full-on paid gigs. SpindleTap was the first brewery to recognize that his creativity was worth more than a free beer, and they hired him to take a few shots.
One by one (and sometimes two by two) the rest of Houston’s finest beer makers began lining up for Josh’s photos. Southern Star, 8th Wonder, Galveston Island Brewing, 8th Wonder, B52, No Label, Klaus, Saloon Door, Eureka Heights, Houston Cider Company, and I contracted him to shoot a few shots of Ingenious when we redid their site and started designing all their labels… just to name a few.
The portfolio was growing, and Josh was getting to the point where his freelance photography was bringing in more than his day job.
Then Josh kicked off 2020 by announcing one of his photos would be on an I-45 billboard near Galveston Island. The Billboard drip was small fries compared to what’d come next, though.
He’d been working quietly on locking in a photoshoot with Houston’s triple OG, Saint Arnold. He must’ve sent a dozen emails working on that opportunity, but it paid off. He was finally able to announce that he locked in the gig, and it seemed like Josh was unstoppable.
Then… when we thought it couldn’t get any better…
This was Josh: *Hold my beer, and watch this.*
He hit us all with a bombshell. He got hired to do what he loves full-time thanks to No Label. Now he spends his days shooting beer, shooting the brewing and production process, and the passionate folks at No Label that have been supporting their community since 2010.
Freelancing has obviously slowed down a bit, but he still carves out some spare time to shoot for folks when the timing and budget is right.
Everybody knows Josh Olalde for being the beer guy, but with all of his recent success, I wanted to take a minute to let y’all know a little bit more about the man behind the camera.
20-Something Questions with Josh Olalde
How did you learn photography?
A bunch of YouTube videos haha. [I’m] so happy that we live in an age where information is available in an instant. I’m a huge advocate for online learning. If you don’t need formal education for what you working towards – the steps are on the internet.
What is the accomplishment that you’re most proud of?
Man. Getting one of my photos blown up in huge and posted up on a billboard. [It’s] still unbelievable that actually happened. I was shook when Galveston Island Brewing told me the news. When I started out, I told myself that one of my photos will be on a billboard. And here we are now. One of my favorite photos blown up and on a billboard.
What are a few things you wish you knew when you started shooting?
Honestly. Nothing at all. I’m so glad I went in this career knowing nothing. That motivated & still motivates me to continue learning things on my own. But if I had to list a few things, how to properly operate an off-camera flash haha those little things are confusing.
What is a secret talent of yours?
I can mosh like a MOFO. I love getting in the pit. Especially at a Ska-Punk show.
Once technology allows us to take pictures with our minds, what will you do for a living?
If that technology happens, I’ll probably move on to making cinematic memories. Gotta adapt and stay on top of camera tech as it advances. [I’ll] be irrelevant if I don’t.
If you could change the national anthem, what would you make it?
I’d change it to Daft Punk’s “Voyager”. That is a dope instrumental. [I] would love to hear that at every sporting events. Hell, that would actually get me into sports 😂
You had too much to drink. Who do you call for a ride? Who’s your second call if they don’t answer?
Man. I hate bothering people due to my irresponsible actions. That’s why Uber/Lyft exists 😂 I’ll call Anthony, though. I know he has the time to pick me up.
Favorite beer at a bbq?
BBQ or Carne Asada? If a Carne Asada, Un Modelo Especial. If it’s a BBQ, I’ll take some Saint Arnold 5 o’clock Pilsner.
Favorite beer at a crawfish boil?
Haven’t been to many crawfish boils, unfortunately, haha but I’d say any Vienna Lager. [I] had Fiesta Forever last week with some crawfish at No Label, and that was delicious AF.
Favorite beer to share with BMC friends?
Ooooooooo No Label’s El Hefe or Strawberry Blonde. They’ve all loved those beers.
Favorite beer to hoard?
Pilsners & Lagers. All mine. Not sharing with ANYONE. Not even the Beer Chronicle team. Living that Crispy Boi life.
Favorite beer style to hate?
H A Z Y I P A. They’ve become too hype for my taste, which is sad because I love hype. My tastebuds can’t take drinking really fresh/green hazy IPAs anymore. Why release a beer that’s not ready yet?! [It] doesn’t make sense. Gimmie a lager or something.
Favorite Photographer that’s not beer-related?
Oh man, that’s a tough one. But I guess my favorite non-beer-related photographer would have to be Alan Palander.
Favorite place to find inspiration?
Mi Mexico lindo y querido.
There’s SO many things going on and so many things to photograph In Mexico that is fascinating. I love Houston and where I came from, but the hustle is 24/7. I love hustling, but it can be exhausting. When I’m in Mexico, I’m able to slow down life a bit. I have more freedom. I’m able to walk around and observe life, admire the people, eat delicious snacks & food, and appreciate life more.
Man, real talk, if I didn’t have any responsibilities I’d probably live in Mexico for a while. I love that place. I am proud to be Mexican.
Most surprising beer ever – thought you’d hate it but loved it or vice versa. Why?
Hmm, probably Fruit with Friends from Ingenious. That joint was delicious. I mean, who actually likes fruit cakes?! And you put that In a beer?! Cmon man, on paper – sounds unappealing. That label sucked me in, though.
What’s your fav food to pair beer with?
Meats & Cheese, man. [There’s] nothing like having a beautiful beer next to you while consuming some delicious cheeses & cut meats.
Favorite album of all time?
OMNI by Minus The Bear. I love that album so heccin’ much. That album defined my teenage & early adulthood years.
Favorite album to listen to while being creative?
Man. Honestly anything. But if you want a clear answer, soundtracks from independent films. One of my all-time favorite movie soundtracks comes from Spike Jones’ Her. I absolutely adore that film. It’s on Netflix, go watch it. NOW!
Favorite album of 2020?
Yo Hago Lo Que Da La Gana – Bad Bunny.
Guilty pleasure, but “el flow” that he has is sick AF. I’m a sucker for anything Latin. Never knew Latin Trap would be so dang good.
Favorite song of all time?
Oof. Y’all might not know this one, haha, I love indie bands & music, they’re hidden gems. All-time favorite song & band, Pachuca Sunrise by Minus The Bear. That song got me through some rough times in my life.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to photograph?
Some beautiful Canadian landscapes, man. Some of my favorite photographers are from Canada and I see some b e a u t i f u l photos on their feeds that immerse me within the frame that triggers my FOMO.
What’s the first thing you’re going to buy now that you’re a celebrity?
Lmao y’all need to chill. I ain’t nobody. I’ll buy y’all a beer tho, haha.
You’ve got a ton of goals as it relates to photography, and you checked a big one off the list landing the big gig with No Label, but what else is on the ever-growing list of goals for Josh?
Oof that’s a tough one to answer.
I marked off my biggest goal off my list with my hire at No Label, super grateful for that opportunity.
At the end of 2019, I made a list of goals and put it out there on the internet to keep myself in check. But a new goal that I’m adding on the list is to make No Label exciting & hype again and show Houston that it’s not a place for the older crowd to hang out at. I don’t think I appreciated No Label or gave them a chance until I started working with them back in 2018. There’s so much variety there! No Label has the potential to be a Saint Arnold and a go-to beer destination in Houston, the quality is there! People just don’t know it yet.
What regional brewery is on your checklist to shoot for?
Man. I recently got my first photography gig from Saint Arnold from photographing their new year-round beer, Headliner. That was an amazing opportunity and humbling experience for me, to be able to photograph for one of the biggest breweries in Texas. Like man, cmon. What more do you want as a beertographer in Texas?!
But Spoëtzl, Real Ale, Karbach, and Parish come to mind.
What national brewery?
I would love to photograph for Spoëtzl. They have a fun brand, clean aesthetic, great marketing team, and delicious beer. That prickly pear beer is so delicious 😭
What’s stopping you from getting a gig with any of them?
In a way… I guess it’s just life… hahah! Everything revolves around networking & meeting different people. So if you know anyone from Shiner’s marketing team, send that email my way 😅
We (Beer Chronicle) have raised the bar for how Houston beer is discussed. You (Josh Olalde and your role in Beer Chronicle) have raised the bar how it’s seen. How do you intend to continue to raise that bar?
To keep pushing out quality content that people in the craft beer industry do not see. Take any idea or inspiration that I see or that comes to mind, and bring that into the beer world. Little by little, this a long term project.
What’s most important to you – what pushes and motivates you?
My parents & my loving fiancé Yazmin. They truly motivate me to continue hustling & juggling projects that comes my way. I want my camera to maintain me & my family. I want be a success in my family’s eyes.
I’ve never felt that I’ve been “good” at anything or felt that I’ve had a fulfilling life until I picked up a camera. I truly love what I do.
We know you like shooting beer, but very specifically, what’s most interesting for you to shoot? Specific style, type of shot, props, lighting, etc.
I am more drawn to more candid/street photography. People living their lives is fascinating to me, there is so much beauty in our boring & mundane lives. I feel like my best portrait photos have come from random candid photos. They just feel authentic, ya know?
Favorite piece of gear (other than body and lens) and why?
My external recorder Zoom Hn4 Pro. Having amazingly crisp audio is IMPORTANT & A GAME CHANGER for any video project. I’ve recorded weddings without it, I’m embarrassed to even show those 😂
Craziest thing you’ve ever done in post?
Probably my Saint Arnold French Press photo. That was like 4-5 photos in one. Masking is a pain in the ass, but the payoff at the end is totally worth it.
Favorite online resources to help you hone your skills?
Y O U T U B E ALL DAY! Been messing around with Skillshare too, so many things to learn from at such a cheap rate. [I] definitely recommend y’all to check that platform out, so much value there. I’m forever a student 🙏
Favorite piece of gear that you don’t have yet, AKA what’s on the Christmas list?
Here we go!
Another Sony a7iii, 70-200mm Sony GM Lens, 90mm Sony Macro Lens, Aperture Light 120D mark ii, maybe the new Canon EOS R5, a solid Gimbal, a great and reliable wireless lav system, boom mic, and lastly Arri Alexa Mini Cinema Camera. That’s all. Pretty easy ask?
Josh is a great dude, and he deserves every bit of credit he’s received. Brent had the idea for us to interview one another, and this is just the first of that series. I’m not sure how any of the rest of us could ever live up to this, though. Sheesh.
Thanks for reading. Go give Josh a follow, and instead of him buying you a beer, why don’t you buy him a beer when you see him out and about!?
As always, beers to you, Houston.