Behind the Lens: David Cabrera

By Dilara Tuncer

You won’t find Miami-based photographer David Cabrera at some local tourist-hub in South Beach. Always on the lookout for the esoteric parts of Miami, Cabrera uncovers and captures the hidden and the obscure. From photographing Wynwood’s Wood Tavern to following around Meek Mill for Complex, Cabrera creates these atmospheric and ethereal photos. He kindly took the time with Société Perrier to answer some questions on photography and the mystique that surrounds Miami.

Why did you name your site UPnUP Daily?

I started UpnUp Daily in December of 2006 simply as a blog where I would post music, clothes, design, art etc. that interested me at the time. Through having that blog I grew an interest in photography and bought my first camera sometime in late 2007.

After a while the posts about other things started to fade and my own photos started to take up the majority of the space on the page. That site is not around anymore,  I do however still keep a photoblog, there is a link to it on

What advice would you recommend to someone in interested in photography, whether it be film or digital?

Having the blog as an outlet to show my photography really gave me the motivation to constantly be making new photos and trying different things with my camera, as well as always making sure that it was by my side.

That would be my advice to someone, always have a camera with you and always always always be looking for new ways to develop your eye. Don’t worry so much about what camera you have or can afford, just focus on making the best photo possible.

Many of your photos are set in dim settings. What’s the challenge in photographing low-lit indoors scenes, places such as at Liv or Grand Central?

I prefer to shoot available light (no flash) whenever I can, as you can imagine doing so in these conditions isn’t always possible, but if done right and at the right moment I feel like these photos are the ones that best capture the atmosphere of most parties and  emotion in most performances.

Usually in these situations my main challenges are making sure that the subject is in focus and that the image isn’t moved, due to the fact I’m shooting with my aperture wide open and a relatively low shutter speed.

How long have you been photographing for?

5 years.

When you’re in Miami, what’s appealing for you to photograph?

I like shooting all that not so “Miami” parts of Miami, I’d rather shoot in downtown for instance instead of South Beach and if I am walking around the beach, I’ll usually be more attracted to photographing the alleyways than the rows of pastel buildings on Ocean.

Giving people a different view of a place that’s familiar to them is a win in my book.

Finish the sentence: Miami is like…

home/a great backdrop/at an exciting time right now.

Can you describe an ideal shoot for you?

A lot of what I do is documentary in nature, so it’s hard to say what an “ideal” shoot for me is. I’m used to pretty much going along for the ride and documenting what’s happening by making the best photos possible along the way.

I have recently started working on a Studio Visits project where I am documenting different artists in/and their work environments. These shoots have been pretty ideal in that it’s just me, my camera and the subject. No outside noise, no rush, no distractions.

What are some memorable projects you’ve done lately?

Recently I was sent on assignment from Complex & Puma, for their October/November issue, to spend a day with Meek Mill while he was on tour. I have been shooting A-Trak’s residency at LIV, Studio Visits with Johnny Robles and 131 Projects, a capsule shoot with J Nics for Rocksmith Clothing, captured performances from Kendrick Lamar, Janes Addiction and Cris Cab, covered a few Heat playoff games for Nike, as well as doing some projects with Yardbird and the great folks at 50eggs.

Photo Courtesy of David Cabrera: