"I always wanted to shoot for a magazine,” Tiffany Salerno says over coffee at a Downtown café. “I haven’t had any luck there, so I thought I’d just try to do it myself.” So Salerno, 33, launched her own music photography zine, I’m an Alien. The black-and-white collection of photos dropped July 26 and is available at blurb.com as an $8 zine or a $6 PDF.
Having spent nearly two years shooting and interviewing bands as a passion project, Salerno created her zine to serve as a promotional tool for her friends’ bands, as well as her own portfolio. “I’ve met a lot of really cool and talented people, and I wanted to find another way to put these people up on a pedestal—to give them more visibility.”
Salerno isn’t a musician herself, but she just seems to get band life, like the similar struggles musicians and photographers face while trying to make a living. “I love musicians who are completely self-motivated and multi-talented—they designed their band logo and their T-shirts, and they’re self-recorded,” Salerno says. “They impress me, and they inspire me. They make me want to keep going.”
The I’m an Alien name, Salerno explains, comes from something that she jokingly says from time to time, a lighthearted way of saying she never felt like she really fit in. “I was a big nerd as a kid; I’m still a nerd, so I say that I’m an alien,” she says. “As a photographer—I consider myself a music photojournalist specifically—I feel like I’ve been sent to observe and document, but not to interact so much. So I’m kind of separated and a little foreign.”
The debut issue is 20 pages long, featuring Salerno’s photos of local punk, rock and indie bands The Pluralses, Jerk!, Same Sex Mary, Chainsaw Fight and Bounty Hunter Brothers, with some snippets of interviews strewn throughout the zine for context. For her inaugural issue, Salerno chose a black and white portrait of Walid Atshe, singer for the horror-punk band Chainsaw Fight, to grace the cover, while the back features a drawing of SSM and Quitters drummer Micah Malcom, drawn by Dan Hernandez of Unfair Fight.
“I love everyone I shoot,” Salerno says. “What these people do is extremely scary. It takes a lot of guts, and that’s what inspires me so much.”
To stay up to date with Salerno’s work—she says that a second, drummer-centric issue of I’m an Alien is coming soon—follow her on Instagram at @imanalienzine.