by Alexandra Hall
Like many eager students, Tennessee-based Lark Stevens entered college pre-med– until the idea of studying the field became unbearable. Unlike most, he was majoring in cinema studies.
“I was so bored,” Stevens said. “It was all just memorizing stuff. I already knocked out a lot of my gen-eds in high school, so I got to take the first cinema studies class a year early. Taking that at the same time as my other classes made it clear.”
Stevens found his niche when he switched to majoring in both Journalism/ Electronic Media and Cinema Studies at University of Tennessee, Knoxville. After interning for cinematographer Justin Cipriani his junior year, Stevens shifted from the classroom to freelance work.
Commercial opportunities and short films take Stevens all over Tennessee and Georgia. Back in January, Stevens worked with promoting Dale Earnhardt Jr. and wife Amy Earnhardt’s High Rock vodka for Sugarlands Distilling Company. But the crux of Stevens’s work lies in his work with musicians. Whether it’s with rapper Notty Taylor or Rocka Mag’s very own Connor Kelly & the Time Warp, Stevens shoots promo videos, concert recaps, and full-concept music videos.
“At a certain point, I got more comfortable working with other people and my skills,” Stevens said. “Someone can bring a video concept to me and I can bring what I come up with. I can then execute their vision and also work with what I do. My creativity is one of my biggest assets.”
With short-form content dominating most industries, music videos might seem like a lost art. But according to Stevens, the demand is still high.
“For some reason, people still want music videos– but I’m glad they do,” Stevens said. “I like to treat them like art. I look at music videos like short films or visual art pieces. I like lighting and composing the whole shot. I really love being able to control all of that and make it as good as it can look.”
Music videos don’t make anybody much money. What used to be a highly relied upon marketing tool has now become has shifted to something of cultural disinterest. As underdogs begin to make their way in the industry, music videos are seeing a resurgence as a tool through which these artists can tell their stories.
Stevens is also talented in the realm of photography and works on portraits for artists as well as cover art for albums. Much like many of the thematic elements of his music videos, his photography work possesses much of the same darkness. His use of colors is heavy in shade and has similar threads of gold and emerald in many of his images. Stevens’ portraits hold the same richness as his videos, while his live shots seem to capture the story artists are working with him to tell.
“I got into photography senior year of college because I had gotten a new camera. When I shot a show of my best friend’s brother, it came out pretty well. I just decided to keep messing around with it.”
Thankfully for those who seek his evolving style and cinematic eye, Stevens has continued to mess around with his cameras. Refocusing in Chattanooga and living in his hometown, Stevens is saving up for a revamp of his lights, camera, and action. You can find him in the pits of local shows in Tennessee taking pictures of his favorite artists (even with a broken elbow).
Until next time,
All images are property of Lark Stevens.