What do Drake, Wiz Khalifa, 2 Chainz, Lil’ Wayne, and A$AP Rocky have in common? Not only are they some of the most popular and in-demand hip hop artists on the globe, they’ve also all stood in front of 500px user S Dot B’s camera.

S Dot B is a celebrity photographer based out of Glendale, California, and his story is a testament to the magic of networking.

By offering his photography services in exchange for introductions, he’s managed to build a network of friends that have helped him build a thriving hip hop photography career that includes photo shoots with all the rappers above and more.

Wiz Khalifa by S  Dot B on 500px.com

His style is decidedly candid and personal. Occasionally his images fall into the studio category (like the header image of Drake) but for the most part he likes photographing celebrities in their element.

This has resulted in a truly impressive portfolio of images, and one of the most star-studded profiles on all of 500px.

We spoke with S Dot B over email recently, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. Scroll down to find out how he came to photograph celebrities, what the hardest part of this game is, and his most important piece of advice for newbies.

TY DOLLA SIGN by S  Dot B on 500px.com

500PX: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey into photography.

S Dot B: I’m a 27-year-old born in Armenia, who moved to LA when I was just 10 months old. I didn’t get into photography until I was about 21, when I got into cars.

I had just gotten myself an ’06 BMW M3 and wanted to get some photos taken of my car… instead of always having to find a photographer to take them, I decided I would go buy myself a camera and learn how to shoot on my own so I could photograph my car whenever I wanted.

I did just that. I went to Circuit City and bought a Nikon D60, and then went out and started playing around with the camera. I fell in love with it.

LIL WAYNE by S  Dot B on 500px.com

How did you come to shoot celebrities? That can’t be an easy market to break into…

S Dot B: Literally a month into shooting, I was introduced to an artist I really liked at the time whose name is “Ya Boy” out of the Bay.

My friend had called me up, telling me that he had met him and that he told him I had just gotten into photography, so he took me to meet him and I got a chance to spend the day talking about what I wanted to do with my life, which was take photos. I started shooting photos of him and uploading them to Myspace, and at the time he had a very big following on there for his music.

I started to gain a lot of friends… people started to take notice.

I was approached by a magazine that offered to have me go on all the red carpet events with celebrity rappers and shoot photos. I started doing that every week, and quickly gained a very heavy networking base. I started to meet a lot of rappers and celebrities, talk to all of them, and tell them that I want to do a photo shoot for them.

That’s how I managed to get their contact info, and started setting up photo shoots. When I uploaded those photos to social media, people really started to take notice of my work.

I would literally shoot a new celebrity almost every week or two. After that, I met more people who started introducing me to even bigger celebrities, and from there everything just kept falling into place.

ASAP ROCKY by S  Dot B on 500px.com

Who was the most memorable person you ever photographed? Why?

S Dot B: For me I would have to say J. Cole. He’s my favorite artist, so when I was asked to shoot him I was very excited and couldn’t wait. But in the days leading up to the shoot, I fractured my shooting wrist playing basketball.

I thought to myself, “I’m gonna do this shoot no matter what.” So I had a wrist cast put on and went on-set shooting with one hand…

J. Cole was like that’s crazy you’re shooting with a fractured wrist and told me to take care of it. He’s one of the most humble artists I’ve ever photographed… plus the photos ended up coming out great. That’s definitely a day I won’t ever forget.

2 CHAINZ by S  Dot B on 500px.com

What’s the hardest thing about photographing celebrities?

S Dot B: It’s not really hard once you get the formula down, I’ve come to learn that celebrities are very picky. They like to look a certain way, that’s the only hard part, but I haven’t had any issues because I usually capture them naturally without any posing. They seem to like that a lot.

Getting technical, what gear do you use?

S Dot B: I use a Canon 5D Mark II. I have a 24-70mm L series lens that I use a lot, but the lens I use the most is definitely the Canon 70-200mm series II lens.

Wiz Khalifa by S  Dot B on 500px.com

Finally, any advice for newbies wanting to break into the same industry?

S Dot B: Honestly, the industry has changed a lot since I have came into it. The best advice I would give is to go out and network with as many people as you can, because a lot of these young kids know a lot of people and have connections.

All you have to do is offer the right people a free shoot, and in return have them introduce you to their network—95% of the time they will be willing to do that. Social media is a great way to reach out and do this.

Drake by S  Dot B on 500px.com

A huge thanks to S Dot B for taking the time to answer our questions and for making 500px an even cooler community. To see more of his work, follow him on 500px, check out his website, or pay him a visit on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.