2016 Babe of the Year: Pooneh Ghana

In the first few months of the new year, we're celebrating the babes who helped buoy our community in 2016 with their inspiring ambition, work and success. 

We're kicking things off with Pooneh Ghana, an Austin-based music photographer whose work spans an incredible array of artists and whose clients include everyone from Vans to Tumblr to Billboard Magazine.

In 2016, she continued her hustle in a male-dominated field, photographing the first-ever Sound on Sound Fest and shooting her first-ever music video for Cage the Elephant's "Cry Baby" while on tour with the band in Europe. We can't wait to see what she tackles — and photographs — in 2017.

Here's to you and your new year, babe.

pooneh ghana photographer

Where does the drive to do what you do — even when the struggle bus pulls up — come from?

Being a freelancer as well as working in a creative field definitely has it’s fair share of ups and downs. I always have to remember that at the end of the day, I’m the only person who can push myself forward and drive my success, and I enjoy being motivated by that. Being my own worst critic helps too, haha. I’m always striving to learn more about photography and get better at what I do. It’s easy to be lazy, but falling behind is not an option. I love every aspect of this career, even when it’s a challenge. I wouldn’t have done this for so long otherwise.

What have been your favorite moments of creative energy this past year?

Day For Night Fest in Houston recently was a blast! It felt like a hyper-sensorial theme park put together by artists from all walks of life. On top of the music, they brought in some incredible art installations and different interactive aspects inside this 1+ million square foot warehouse. It’s definitely one of my favorite festivals not only to photograph now, but just to experience. Sound on Sound Fest was sick too. You can’t go wrong with a Ren Faire-themed music festival put together by Graham Williams and co. There was BMX jousting!

What have been the most challenging moments throughout your career and perhaps in 2016 in particular?

There are always challenges but I believe they’ve only helped me grow. When I first started out, the biggest challenge was just establishing a name for myself and convincing people to give me a chance and, on top of that, pay me, which in the creative field is always a fun process. Haha, er. Then there’s a more personal struggle which is kind of what I mentioned before — just wanting to constantly progress and get better at photography. Pushing myself to find new ways to shoot, practicing new light setups, playing around with camera tricks etc. etc. just helps keep things fresh, as well as keep me on top of my game. Also, being a female in this field can be a challenge because there will be those people who assume you got to your position any other way outside of just being a good photographer that people want to work with. So fighting that stigma is just something that’s always there. Not just for me, but for a lot of women in many fields.

What's the one thing you're most proud of accomplishing this past year?

Oh man, I’m not sure. I suppose off the top of my head, shooting my first music video with Cage The Elephant (for "Cry Baby") was really fun. I jumped on the tour bus with them in Europe for a couple of weeks and we filmed it over that time in different locations. Of course, winning a Boss Babe of the Year award was an awesome way to cap off the year too! :)