Tremulant – As Above, So Below

The thrill of adventure and exploration prompted Tremulant to pick up a camera to document his narratives. In doing so, he discovered he had a profound interest for the art, and now, the thrill for adventure and photography equally go hand-in-hand. Check out his story below.


Say hello to Tremulant:

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Where are you from?  Where have you been?

I’m from Las Vegas, NV originally, and have been to too many places around the USA to count. Soon, the rest of the world will be added to that list as well.


What’s your favorite place in the world?

Currently, I would have to say Seattle. It is a beautiful place with the commodities of a big city, but the overall pace of a small town. In it, you can find the hustle bustle, but it’s not difficult to escape if you need a quick breather.


What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?

I want to create a film documenting an adventure on the level of Indiana Jones or The Goonies, etc. Something culturally and historically significant, discovering something, or uncovering a long lost (or even new age) mystery. Adventure and exploration are key to my existence, so naturally, I want to take those absolutely as far as possible.


How would you describe your visual style?

If you’ve ever seen Blade Runner, that’s a good place to start. I love the cyberpunk aesthetic. It brings me great joy to apply visuals that induce a feeling of disconnect from the world, mirroring the disconnect I feel when looking over the cities I often shoot. I like to present the city as a giant, cybernetic machine, because in some ways, that’s what it is. I’m partial to darkness and dramatic, eye-catching scenes. I want the viewer to be lost in a wash of feelings, both ones induced purposefully, and dredged out of their own mind by the image.


How do you find your inspiration?

Anger and hate.


Do you get photographer’s block? If so, how do you overcome that?

All the time. Usually, I’ll just set down the camera for a day or two, and go on an adventure without it. It’s important for me to sometimes step back and look at things with only my own eyes for a while, so I can regroup and gather my will.


Tell us the significance behind the name of your photographic identity, Tremulant.

“Belched of lab-coated meat hooks caught on spinal column thorns… found within a planet surrounded by the grave rings of nervosa, with its mote floating on an axis suspended in time. Filled with the remnants of an earth bound portal triangular in scope; where defeated, Cerpin lay growing in some tattered pit of stomach; a convalescent home of croaking entrails, mangled by the pettiness of insignificant others. On this black and white planet roared boils upon its shores, nesting bedwetting for our heir to the throne.” – Cedric Bixler-Zavala. The Tremula-Metacarpi are an unforgiving race of sentient creatures that claim dominion over the Comatorium, a place where the most unfortunate Cerpin Taxt found himself thrust into, documented in the albums “Tremulant EP” and “De-Loused in the Comatorium” by The Mars Volta. Any further necessary explanation is covered in the lyrics to both of those releases.


What do you mean by “As above, so below?”

“As Above, So Below” is an age-old motto based in old Hermeticism (and Alchemy). An old scientist and alchemist known as Sir Isaac Newton once said, “‘Tis true without lying, certain and most true. That which is above is like that which is below, and that which is below is like that which is above.” The saying originally appears in the Emerald Tablets of Hermes Trismegistus. Since then, it has been adopted by many, as it is the most all-encompassing single phrase that can exist. It always works, whether referring to metaphysical cause and effect, the balancing of an algebraic equation, or even the output of a chemical reaction. You only receive, should you put in. As within, so without. As above, so below.


You made it on the news when you and your crew climbed the Paris Hotel and Casino. Did they end up identifying you, and if so, what were the consequences?

Excuse my language, but fuck Caesar’s Entertainment. No face, no case.


Tell us about your career.  How did you get into it?

I had been climbing buildings and exploring tunnels and the like for a very long time. At one point, the choice to pick up a camera and start documenting it was obvious. From there, I realized that I truly loved the art of capturing an image that could really move a person.


What types of photography do you do?

Obviously, my main focus is adventure and exploration. Aside from that, I love shooting models, and nature as well. Capturing the human form is challenging for me, and I enjoy it very much.


What was the moment you decided to become a photographer?

I wouldn’t attribute it to a single moment. It’s been a steady progression for sure.


What is the strangest situation you’ve ever faced as a photographer?

Probably just a few weeks ago, when on top of my favorite roof so far, my friend and I were caught. The security of two different tenants of the building almost got into a physical fight over who’s jurisdiction we were, and then one of them began to talk mess about the other, thinking he was on a separate radio channel (he wasn’t), and things got even more heated. Despite being worried for our outcome, it was pretty funny to watch.


What has been your biggest setback as a photographer?

Gear costs. Hands down. Quality glass is expensive.


Of the photos you’ve taken – what are your three favorites?

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This first shot is a collaborative effort with NYC’s Tom Durante. We had both wanted to shoot this location for years, and on a gloomy afternoon, we finally made it happen. We only had a few minutes to shoot before we were inevitably caught, but we were able to get incredible shots anyways.

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This next shot was something I had envisioned for a very long time, having been to the spot plenty of times, but I never had a lens wide enough to make it work. As soon as I bought it, that night I went and took this picture. It had to be done. The outcome was very satisfying.

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This final shot was the culmination of an emotionally tumultuous day in Chicago, where I lost a girlfriend, but solidified more friendships. Shown in the picture is my friend Kara, who is one of my favorite people of all time, enjoying the twilight over her city.

Photography is competitive.  How do you stand out?

I would say that genuinely nobody’s pictures look exactly like mine. I go to great lengths to capture not only unseen locations, but to also edit the shots in a way that doesn’t look like the status quo.


What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?

Never feel inadequate. You will only ever be as skilled as you are in the now. That may increase as time goes on, but there will always be someone above, and below you. Don’t let incredible images by others discourage you. Only let them inspire you.


What was your most memorable photoshoot?

Back in June, when myself and @vicarious.volition were in Seattle, we managed to get onto the roof of a building that’s seen in Aurelie Curie’s photograph, “Reckless Thoughts Abide.” This photograph was integral to my early development as a photographer, so naturally, getting there was totally surreal.


What’s the funniest story you have from being a photographer?

All of the funniest are much too potentially legally troublesome to detail here, but here’s one I can let you in on. When exiting an office building in Chicago we had just been on top of, my girlfriend at the time and I found ourselves covered in dirt, drenched in sweat from head to foot, stuck in a cramped elevator with multiple employees and security guards of the building (who were looking for someone that was just on the roof). Thankfully, a few floors of the building are a hotel. We told them we were doing hot yoga in our room.


If you could photograph anywhere in the world, where would it be?

The tip of the Burj Khalifa, Dubai UAE. Obvious reasons. One day.


Who do you want to give a shoutout to?

So many (about to drop some Instagram handles), shoutout to:

@tomdurante
@svvvk
@emltbll
@abbey.no
@thedevilsplaygroundd
@shaymaria
@vicarious.volition
@airwrecka_tyreeckus
@undercitysteve
@lucinda.grange
@jkwallphoto
@6millionstories
@sportynice11
@lielaine
@aureliecurie
@5.12
@jamakiss
@photoradizy
@carboncarmine
@tat.ventures
@andvalan
@dipsauce

And so many more.


What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great photographer?

Don’t follow the rules. If you have a way to obtain an image that you love that breaks the norm, go for it.


What’s a deal breaker for you when deciding to do a shoot?

  1. Is this person going to out me to the feds?
  2. Can I really vibe with them on a personal level. If I can’t have deep interaction with someone, I find it very hard to create quality images with them.

What do you think is the biggest thing holding you back in your photography?

The distance between myself and certain countries.


How do you express yourself through your photography?

Basically, every shot I take is a culmination of the events that led up to it, both directly and indirectly. I like to be 100% honest with my work in that way. You can get a clear read on the way I’m feeling through my photos.


What’s the most inspiring photo you’ve ever seen?

“Reckless Thoughts Abide” by Aurelie Curie.


What photography advice do you wish you had when you were first starting out?

I wish someone would have told me what an aperture was. This is embarrassing, but for the first like 6 months I was shooting, I didn’t even really know what the point of an aperture was. Oh well.


What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?

Break rules. Make mistakes. Don’t subscribe to the myth that there’s a right and wrong way to make art.


What kind of gear do you have?

I’m currently shooting on a Canon 5D Mark III. My favorite piece of gear however is the Canon 17-40 f4.0L lens. It’s wide, but not so wide everything looks crazy, and the edge to edge sharpness is insane. It’s also the least expensive wide angle in the L series, so I’d highly recommend it.


What’s one lighting tip you’d like to share with other photographers?

GET A SOFTBOX. For real. Just one, I promise.


What’s one post-processing tip you’d like to share with other photographers?

I don’t have any. Post-processing is immensely personal and variable.


Do you have any projects you’d like to show off?

Sure! Here’s the behind the shots footage of my recent trip to New York City: 


And here’s a video I helped with for a crew I work with, Indecline: 


For anyone who wants to get in touch with Tremulant, here’s some contact information:

FStop: Profile

Instagram: @tremulant_

Flickr: Profile


Tremulant, thanks for the candid interview! Looking forward to your ongoing adventures! 🙂

If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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