One of the Babes: Tess Cagle
Meet Tess Cagle, photographer, photojournalist, and writer. You can usually find Tess with a camera in hand or catch her writing in Texas Monthly or the Daily Dot. Learn more about how Tess got started as a creative below!
Q: What inspired you to start working in the field/Industry? Did you have any role models or learn from someone, in particular?
A: Growing up, my sister played a huge part in the development of my interests — which is kind of amazing considering we haven’t lived together since I was in fifth grade. She is also a journalist and has provided a shining example of the hard work it takes to thrive in this profession. While our interests definitely diverge within the field — she’s a broadcaster while I am a writer and photojournalist — she’s always been my biggest supporter and my best editor.
Since college, I’d have to say I also really look up to Pooneh Ghana, a Texan concert photographer. She’s a badass lady who did an outstanding job of setting herself apart from other tour photographers at a very young age. I hope one day I’m half as good of a photographer as she is.
Q: Do you have any tidbits of advice for people with passions, in general?
A: Don’t allow other people to tear down your dreams. I once had an editor who didn’t allow me to shoot my own concert reviews because my photography “just wasn’t there yet.” It was discouraging. I have days where I literally have to write in my planner “your work is worthy” over and over again because being a gig-less freelancer can be emotionally draining. At the end of the day, you have to know your own worth and you can’t allow one bad review taint your perception of your work.
Q: What have been your favorite moments of creativity (possibly a time when a burst of creative energy produced something you could have never expected, etc.)?
A: My favorite moments of being a photographer are when I’m at an event and things just click. So often, I feel like I’m just going through the motions. But when I find a band who just has a stellar stage presence — the kind that are jumping around stage and captivating the audience — that’s when I feel most inspired and that’s when my work turns out the best. Photography is supposed to be a way to connect with other people through a different lens (literally) and there is no better feeling than really feeling like you’ve made a connection.
Q: What have been your most challenging moments in your career, thus far?
A: Jeez, as a young woman, I am hardly ever taken seriously. Sometimes I feel like I just have to exist in this scene for a couple of years before anyone will even work with me — which is really frustrating. As a music journalist, it’s incredibly difficult to work in a sphere where women are seen merely as consumers and not as cultural producers. I constantly feel like I have to toe the line between “fan girl” and “know-it-all”– which is a line I don’t think that many dudes have to grapple with.
At the same time, some of my most challenging moments have been when I’m the one not taking myself seriously. I think societal norms caused me to internalize a lot of stereotypes about my gender that I didn’t realize were wrong until I moved to Austin. Every day I’m challenged with reminding myself that I am enough and that my work is good enough.
Q: What's your day job (if this business isn't your day job)?
A: I’m told all the time that as a student, “school is my job” right now. That’s hard to accept as a student who goes to school full-time and also works part-time. I’d say that aside from school, my day job is serving as a Writing Coach for the Moody Writing Support Program. Basically, I’ve been blessed with a flexible part-time job on campus that allows me to work with young journalists on their storytelling skills.
Q: When you're discouraged, what do you run to or away from?
A: When I’m feeling discouraged, I run to my phone and I call either my mom or my sister. Those two ladies are my biggest cheerleaders and always allow me to use them as my sound board. On the other hand, I also try to run away from social media. That shit can be toxic.
Q: Your favorite band at the moment:
A: Speedy Ortiz. I’ve got a huge girl crush on Sadie Dupuis, she’s badass.
Q: Your favorite book at the moment:
A: I just finished Love is a Mixtape by Rob Sheffield and loved it (but also had a ton of feels afterward.)
Q: Your local Austin gem (can be a product, place, etc.):
A: My special place in Austin is Pleasant Valley Park on the East side. I stumbled upon it by accident when I lived in Riverside. Some of my most inspirational moments in college have happened there. I’m partially convinced that place is magical, and I hope anyone who ventures to that spot on the East side feels the same.
Your social media handles:
Instagram and Twitter: @tesscagle