Life of the Partyrazzi: Dakota Fine

Sunday, June 28, 2009

In the top echelon of D.C. night-life photography sits Dakota Fine, photo editor and chief shooter for the Web site Brightest Young Things. The site attracts a good number of its estimated 65,000 readers with hyper-colorized pictures that capture concerts, parties and otherwise ephemeral scenes in which everyone always looks as if they are having an awesome time.

But for all his late hours shooting at the Hirshhorn and the 9:30 club, at inaugural parties and pool parties, and at the gun range (yes, the gun range), Fine is usually paid nothing. He climbed to the photo editor job by being dependable where few are (and frankly, there isn't any motivation to be). In exchange, he gets to pick his assignments and wield a little editorial power.

"I'm defining the style at BYT," he says. "I look for sensational images. I want people to look at the images and I want the world to stop." He calls it a "highly stylized version of photography" -- made with a camera, but also amped up with a computer, typically to bring out nearly neon hues and heighten the contrast.

"Ur pics are amazing," one commenter posted about Fine's series from the recent Peaches concert. But perhaps his biggest supporters are the blog's writers. At this month's Wale show, he coaxed his way onto the stage (a rarity) with a pleading glance to the rapper and some kind words to a bodyguard. Afterward, the core group of BYTers hovered around him to congratulate him on his coup: "Dude. Only white guy on the stage!" one exclaimed.

The exposure he has received through the site has led to freelance jobs and getting his work into print often enough that photography is now the sole occupation of the 27-year-old GWU international affairs grad. And you get the sense that the guy, whose career began with an assignment to shoot the first Sweden After Dark party in 2008, is getting serious.

"Personally, I'm pushing myself to do editorial. . . . I'm kind of over parties."

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