Over the course of his four years in the Marines, Miguel Angel began a career as a combat photographer, chronicling his experiences around the world, from Japan to Iraq. Today, as he scopes out Austin’s nightlife scene, Angel’s approach to photography hasn’t changed much: “It’s different content,” he admits, “but it’s still about building relationships with people.” You won’t find Angel in the corner, snapping clandestine photographs of unsuspecting partygoers. Instead, he immerses himself in the crowd—one of the aspects he likes best about nightlife photography. “That’s why the photos come out the way they do,” he remarks. “I love being out there, interacting with others, showing people that Austin offers something a little unexpected.” In fact, much of Angel’s work celebrates the diversity of Austin nightlife, promoting underrepresented cultures and groups, from the LGBT community to the East Side and the hip-hop scene. “We’re overcoming barriers, just by talking about these things,” he says. And Angel doesn’t just talk—since relocating to Austin from Del Rio five years ago, he has taken up DJing, videography and promotion, in addition to his “grittier” style of photography. “It’s really direct,” he says of his aesthetic, inspired by his subjects and the chameleon-like quality that nightlife evokes. “When you go out at night, you can be a completely different person,” he says. “That’s why I do it.” For more information about Miguel Angel’s work, visit ulovei.com.
9 Questions for Miguel
What’s your idea of the perfect party?
A cold winter night with the people I love all together. My favorite DJ on the decks playing a mixture of hip hop and Future Islands. A martini in every hand. A tie around every man's neck. A blood-red shade on every girl's lip. We lose ourselves to the night, and in the morning, we go to Whataburger.
What is the most beautiful place in the world you have ever seen?
That would be the Island of Okinawa, Japan. I spent a whole year there and fell in love with the culture—so much that I had both my arms, full chest and back covered in traditional Japanese tattoos. Plus the weather was always nice…except for the occasional tsunami.
When and where are you the happiest?
When I’m with my mother at her house. I feel so at peace when I visit her—it’s so different from my nightly routine. She doesn't live in Austin, so I truly look forward to these moments.
What song makes you the most nostalgic?
Right now it would be Johnny Polygon— "limosexsuperstar." I like the way he rhymes, the lyrics, the beat. I'm a big fan of his music. The synths in this song are so powerful that I get chills when listening to it.
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
My time in the military. I spent four years in the Marines, from June 2003 to June 2007. People are really surprised when I tell them, especially when I mention I was in Iraq.
If you weren’t in your current career, what else would you try?
A chef. I like to cook. I like to eat. I like preparing food for other people.
What is your most treasured possession?
A teddy bear that I have had since I was two years old. It's my longest-lasting possession.
If you could see any musical artist, dead or alive, perform, who would it be?
Notorious B.I.G. He is the best rapper of all time and died way too soon.
What has been the most memorable night of your life?
My birthday this year was pretty special because of the people. The three most important women in my life spent it with me—that's all I really need to have a good night.