Everybody’s a fucking photographer these days; HB bros with an iPhone 8s who go to the beach everyday, your annoying yet kind-hearted niece who just got her first Polaroid and just about every damn hipster in the greater LA area. But when you stumble on the work of someone like Enkrypt Los Angeles (a 27-year-old Xicana photographer on the come up who’s so LA she rocks it like a last name) your scrolling will halt to take in images which draw you in as deep as the stretch of the shadows she captures.
Whether she’s aiming at her city skyline or an Angeleno, her photos are so detailed they’d probably taste delicious if you ate them, turning darkness into something as sweet as chocolate with her photos utilizing silhouettes to make the darker colors pop. The subjects themselves dive in the darker realms showcasing raw emotion through their eyes yet showing the hidden beauty even in those of a gangster. Enkrypt’s childhood best friend and rapper Reverie says “I’ve seen a million dope photographs like ‘Oh that’s a dope picture, oh that’s cool that’s cool, that looks pretty but the difference with hers is that every single photo that she posts, it makes me feel something,” she says. “I feel sad, I feel happy, I feel grimy.”
“She has a way of bringing you out of your shell and bringing your true colors to life,” rapper Gavlyn says. “She has shown me what it means to have depth and tell a story in a photo…Enkrypt has shown me that time is really of the essence when is come to art of capturing imagery…She truly is a rare breed and a vital woman in this game.”
Over the past three-and-a-half years, Enkrypt’s crafted a style through capturing the streets of LA like a vandal with a spray can, from it’s abandoned buildings and concrete cityscapes, to it’s hip-hop artists and underrepresented communities. Underground hip-hop legends like Dilated Peoples, Murs, The Grouch, Sick Jacken, Del The Funky Homosapien, 2mex, Slug of Atmosphere have all had their soul captured by Enkrypt’s lens and her portfolio would look like a damn IMDB profile. Her images even grace album covers for 2mex, Gavlyn, Vel The Wonder, Reverie, Hideandseekzoo and she’s directed numerous music videos including for the latter three artists.
While she will photograph anybody, her work has highlighted Latinos not only for the stories behind their eyes but also through photo-editing she’s specifically mastered to make browner-blacker skin tones pop. Her artistry deserves recognition with gallery amounts of photos who will put your favorite IG page to shame and her life is proof she’s worked a million times harder to be where she is now.
Born Rocio Paredes on March 7, 1991 in Lincoln Heights, Enkrypt and her sister had to grow up fast since their mom worked multiple jobs while the two watched themselves. Their physically abusive father lead their mom to escape with her kids when Enkrypt was only five-years-old and they would struggle financially as a result the rest of her childhood. All her mother wanted was for her to do good in school, so she did exactly that, obsessing over everything she got her hands on due to A.D.D. which led to a passion for technology in middle school. Her mother set the example for her that anything was possible through being a hustler, never begging for handouts and sucking things up when times got tough; a fuel which pushes her to this day. Enkrypt says, “never did I ever starve with my mother…no matter what, my mom would take care of me, I could never blame her for anything.”
After joining a tagging krew as a teenager, the gangbang lifestyle brought times where she got shot at but it didn’t bend her from focusing on her education. By age 16, she was a star student with college opportunities when her mom decided to move to Las Vegas, Enkrypt then choosing to get a job, move in with her father and stay in Los Angeles to finish school. But then she left her father’s at 17 after he gave her a homophobic ultimatum of either kicking out her girlfriend or no longer having a place to live. So she ended up homeless in her car while balancing work, school and now an internship at a major production company. Despite all the obstacles, Enkrypt met her goals and graduated with a 3.8 gpa with scholarships to go on to college.
“I was homeless for a year and a half,” Enkrypt says. “That’s why I consider [Highland Park] my place of being because this is where I started out my life and I became the person who I am because of this place…being here was a different view of reality, I knew what hunger was and I found out what it is to not have anywhere to sleep.”
While things were going good for a moment in Los Angeles, she made the decision to finally escape the street life and a toxic relationship by moving to Las Vegas with her mom. She’d work there for a real estate company for three years while finishing school until she landed her dream job at age 21 working IT at the same major production studio she interned at back in Los Angeles.
Things were going great for her, she was making great money at a huge company, living in her own apartment, dropping hundreds every night going out when one day in the fall of 2014, her company gave her a camera to start taking pictures of damaged goods. She started taking picture for her work and her fascination with the device slowly grew to the point where she started sneaking it home for further investigation. Enkrypt says, “I got obsessed with the electronic portion of it and the mechanical aspect of a camera.”
“It was more of a mechanical ‘Oh let’s see what I can do with it, let’s see how I can make it work’,” she says. “Once I had that camera, I looked up on google what the camera was capable of and I was just stunned, I was amazed like ‘is this real? Can people really do this with the camera?’”
Her boss kept catching her sneaking the camera and convinced her to buy her very first DSLR in 2015; a Sony A7rii. Then months of encrypting devices for her company with her coworkers yelling ‘encrypt this’ led to her thinking of donning the name Enkrypt to reflect her techy roots and later added the Los Angeles to rep where she was from. As if she was a superhero donning a fresh costume, she set out to master photography in 2015, taking photos everyday when not at work, experimenting with all aspects and beginning to attend photo street meets at night. What she lacked in technicalities at first she made up for in angles, shining an early eye on her ability to see things in a way no one else would. After six months, her approach of mastering the settings of the camera first before focusing on the actual photography allowed her to combine it with her creativity to finally create the start of her first stunning images. Enkrypt says, “I was able to tell a story of somebody, how they were felling through my lens but not precisely at me, just helping them come up with that emotion.”
“It was capturing someone’s deep thought or something they always wanted to express but couldn’t,” Enkrypt says. “Getting the look out of somebody that no one else has. That’s when it really started becoming an obsession…My goal is to capture feelings, emotions, that present the being of that person and how they feel at the moment.”
By the beginning of 2016, Enkrypt was pumping out images on level with people doing photography for years and the demand for her work started coming in. One night she woke up in a cold sweat, scared of a future at a job she no longer had passion for and she decided to make a leap chasing her now love of photography full-time in March 2016. Reverie hired Enkrypt as her photographer and went on tour to Europe with Reverie instantly in April 2016. From there, things skyrocketed, her follow account jumping to 10k plus, touring 11 countries alone in 2016, she built her clientele, a website, began selling prints then going back to Europe again in October 2016. She’s continued to pump out work over the past two years, with endless projects she’s worked on we could list but through it all she’s struggled hard to fight for her obsession with the image. Enkrypt says, “Everyone was around me was pushing me, I had all this support around me to where I probably couldn’t give up, they weren’t going to let me, that’s how I kept going.”
She plans on expanding her arsenal as a visual artist, moving into film photography, making short films and expanding into a whole new realm of bright photography. She has a vision of moving from dark painting-like images to images which actually look like photos which take you there to her subject. She’s currently planning upcoming art shows to showcase her work and says you can expect something in the summer. She refuses to stuff her creativity into a box, literally not even wanting to be stuck taking shots in a studio and if you ask her where she wants to be she says “I’m trying to make it big”.
“When you’re as driven as Rocio, she can do anything she wants with life,” Reverie says. “We struggle every month to do what we’re doing for a million reasons. It’s not like we’re one in a million or we’re lucky we got to do this, me and my best friend decided to do this for life, there’s commitment, there’s devotion and I’m lucky to have her doing that with me.”