Modern Visionaries: Rowan Liebrum


The large influx of photographers in Houston can be overwhelming but it's nice to come across people who sets themselves apart from the pack. One of those individuals thats been doing so is Rowan Liebrum. The young and talented photographer focuses on the area of film. The retro feel he provides in his photos give such a raw yet authentic feel when you see his pictures.

Not only does Liebrum has the eye for creating the perfect photo but he knows who to put in them. He has taken photos of Trey Nwankwo (Trey's Vintage), Maxo Kream, Ian Connor, Playboi Carti. His affiliation with these people has put him in a position to be labeled as one of Houston's deadliest weapons when it comes to photographers. 

We had a chance to speak to Liebrum on our Modern Visionaries interview about is upbringing in Houston, working with Ian Connor and Playboi Carti, and more. 

Read below. 

How’s Your Modern Life?

My modern life is exciting but its all over the place. 
I just turned 16, people are recognizing me for what i do and its so tight. 

What are three words that would describe yourself?

Ambitious, Consistent & Precise. 

Coming up in the Houston area, you have different influences than those who are from other cities such as New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. How do you think the city has influenced the way you portray your pictures?

Houston has always had its own look, much different from New York, Atlanta or LA. I've been influenced by my surroundings everywhere I go in Houston for my whole life. Growing up downtown around so many museums and galleries only makes me want to be apart of the culture more. 
The emergence of new artists, photographers, and visionaries in Houston is remarkable. How do you try to stand out and remain true to your roots despite the large influx of people who are coming up with bright ideas in the city?

Seeing everyone else make big moves definitely pushes me and helps me work harder. Not that its a competition or a race to the top, I'm sure everyone has the same goal of getting out of Houston. Im going to keep doing me and staying true to what i do no matter how much recognition I get. 

You’re a photographer who favors film more so than digital photos. What are three things that make you favor film over digital photos?

Digital photography has always come out too sharp for me, it almost looks unreal. I think film brings out the true color, light and texture of a photograph and brings it to life.

Another photographer who favors film is Cary Fagan, and he’s also someone who you are friends with. Describe your relationship with him and how he influences you?

Cary is the man. I met him at Treys Vintage a couple months ago. I've been looking up to him and been inspired by all his work for so long, and to shoot & kick it with him is huge. He inspires me to shoot more and to keep experimenting with my style of photography. Im looking forward to working with cary more in the future, no doubt about it. 

One of the most notable relationships you have is your kinship with Ian Connor and Playboi Carti. How did you all meet and how have they enhanced the way you shoot? 

Funny story, I actually ran into ian at sxsw and we ended up trading chains. After that, I shot a photo of him on 6th street in Austin, that he then posted on twitter. Next thing I know Ian and Carti are in Houston. I had been listening to carti by that time and I got to see part of his show in austin so i knew it was going to be a good shoot. I hit them up and they were down, so I skipped school and met them at a carnival in the South by Southwest and ended up shooting the cover of Carti’s hit “Broke Boi”.

As far as enhancing the way I shoot, I shot with them the same way I would shoot anyone else and the same way I shoot today. 

What are some key elements for you when it comes to shooting the perfect photo?

Concentration and patience are probably the most important aspects to me when it comes to shooting film. Film is known for occasionally producing beautiful flaws while also capturing the main subject. It can be stressful sometimes, not knowing exactly how the photo is going to come out especially when you only have one chance to shoot a certain photo of a certain model. While everyone has their own point of view and idea of what a perfect photo means and truly is, I will always be picky. 

If you had a chance to choose any model to do a polaroid spread with, who would you choose and why? 

Thats a hard question. Right now I'm going to go with Chynna Rogers. She has a very new unique powerful look & character that is perfect to shoot on polaroid. 

You’re coming up in a generation that’s fueled by social media and internet, how do you feel that plays an important role into the way you deliver your vintage inspired photos?

I'm showing my generation/ the people of the internet something that they are somewhat new to, knowing that the majority of us were not grown while film was booming. Most people only know digital photography because its up to date. So when they see something with a certain “vintage” look, it stands out and becomes appealing. You can tell that the look is in high demand by all the filters added to photo apps on our phones to alter photos and make them look “vintage”. 

Who are three artists that are taking over your playlist at the moment?

Carti, Skepta, and King Krule are my favorites right now 

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What are three benefits about being under 18?

I have time to progress and learn, room to grow and most importantly, exposure to this generation from a peer eye view.

What are three disadvantages about being under 18?

Still being in high school, not being able to travel as much as I need to, and always being classified as a "little kid".

What are three goals you want to accomplish in 2015?

- Temporarily getting out of Texas and visiting friends in New York. 
- Growing more experienced at what I do.
- Hopefully piecing together a successful fall/winter exhibition to end the year.

Stay updated with Rowan here and here