We had the good fortune of connecting with Ben White and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ben, other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
My decision to take photos mostly for free has been critical to my growth and recognition, and I think it’s important to have that mindset when first starting out as a photographer. By giving out photos to people for free, you really become endeared to them. People appreciate what you’re doing, they’ll share your work, you’ll make more connections, and as a photographer you’ll get more and more visibility (and paid work).

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m most proud of being involved with people and bringing visibility to what is happening in Houston! Houston’s punk scene is having a moment right now, there’s new energy and life being breathed into it ever since things reopened post-pandemic. More and more people are getting involved, more and more people are getting interested, and I am beginning to realize that I play a critical role in that! My photos are documenting everything that’s going on, they’re getting people interested in the scene, they mean a lot to people, and they are a record of the memories we’re making together. Capturing all of that is something I’m really proud of.

My skills have also progressed, and I think I can finally say that I have my own unique and identifiable style. This has come about as a result of a lot of practice, trying new things, and just making little incremental improvements over time. If you keep trying to improve bit by bit and you practice a lot, eventually all your progression adds up and you find that you’ve developed your own unique photographic style.

I definitely have periods of doubt, which has been an obstacle I’m learning to navigate. I get days where I’m tired, I get days where I don’t want to watch bands play, and sometimes I just need a mental break. I’ve found that those periods of doubt are temporary, and especially that my energy levels fluctuate. One week I might feel super excited, motivated, and driven. Another week I might feel like I just want to curl up into a ball and make art all day and never leave the house. For me, the key to moving forward is acknowledging how you feel, knowing it’s temporary, and not letting your momentary doubts impulsively dictate your decisions. You have to give yourself time off, give yourself time to chill, and take breaks!

I am also proud of how many people have found local shows thanks to my list. When I moved here there was no one central place to find out about local shows, so I started keeping a list for myself and eventually shared it. If you want to discover the scene and find out when and where shows are happening, you can the link on my Instagram bio @bensiive.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would LOVE for more people to come and visit Houston. Houston doesn’t seem to be a destination in a lot of people’s eyes, and it seems like people completely disregard the South because of it’s history with racism and slavery and all that. I have a lot of friends from California who have this view, and it’s like they never even consider the fact that there’s MILLIONS of different people living here, especially in diverse cities such as Houston where a lot of cool stuff is going on.

Montrose is definitely one of the first places I’d take someone! There’s a real feeling of art/culture there, but the overprices thrift shops honestly ain’t it so I’d take them to Agora to hang out and talk and have a coffee. Avant Garden has a really cool vibe as well, and when there’s music inside it’s a DEFINITELY vibe. I recently went to Numbers for the first time so that’s definitely a place I’d take someone! I’d definitely take someone down Westheimer and pick a spot to have a nice dinner at.

Rice University’s campus is beautiful, and it’s lovely to walk around there during sunset. The Menil is also pretty dope, and they have a nice lawn to hang out at! I love the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The Museum of Fine Art is another cool place especially since it’s free certain days of the week.

Houston has some cool parks, and you honestly can’t go wrong with Memorial Park or Hermann Park. Smither Park is definitely a unique little spot that I recommend as well.

Obviously, come on, you knew this was coming: I’d take them to a local punk show! We would definitely go to House of J, Trip Six, White Swan, Super Happy Fun Land, or Satellite Bar to see what Houston’s DIY scene has to offer. That’s where home is for me.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My grandma definitely has played a critical role in my success as a photographer, considering the fact that she gave me my first camera (a Canon Rebel t2i). This was the camera that I shot with during all of 2021. It’s the camera that shot the Houston Chronicle photos, and I’m never getting rid of it. So shoutout my grandma for letting me have it, and for always fostering curiosity and creativity in my life. You’re the best, you’re badass, you’ve always been supportive of me and I love you very much.

This goes without saying, but everything I do has been centered around my involvement in the Houston punk/D.I.Y. scene, and I wouldn’t be doing this right now if it weren’t for the support of all my friends in the scene. The whole scene deserves it’s own shoutout, but I’d like to name some specific people who have made a particular impact on my life this past year: my best friend Corin and his wonderful parents, Bozos, Ish and Kanaki, Derek Rathbun, everyone at HOJ making stuff happen, Cam, Summer, and everyone else at TripSix making stuff happen, Matt, Robin, Ivan, Sadie, Naya, Chris, and Dylan to name a few.

Y’all have brought so much enrichment to my life this past year and I am grateful for all of you <3

Instagram: @bensiive

Youtube: Bensiive

Other: Houston Shows List: https://docs.google.com/document/d/12RUNqKjEOGaQPEyFPWC8c45Bf7IQBO9nOwJ3HuTH2yM/edit?usp=sharing

Image Credits

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.