How did you get started? Tell us everything!
My name is Cina Rajai. I'm a Persian American and I was born in Atlanta, GA. During my freshman year of high school, I started taking this class called AVTF (audio-video technology and film). The class was focused on videography and I took it all 4 years of high school. I started taking it more seriously around my junior/senior year (2016-2018) and developed a passion for videography/photography. I eventually realized that I wanted to pursue a career in videography/photography. Senior year of high school, I started an Instagram account to showcase my work and to network with others. I shot my first music video, Finessing Hearts by LEXX NOVA. I love turning artists' vision for the music video into reality. I especially love all of the effects you can incorporate into rap music videos. Shooting Finessing Hearts felt like the 1st big step in my career, considering Lexxnova has 23k on Instagram and I gained some exposure from working with him. Afterward, I worked with a smaller artist named Denzel The Sage. I had a lot of fun shooting that one, because of all the various locations we shot at. I also put a lot of effort into the effects in post-production.
Recently, I have been getting into photography more and going out to snap pictures with some friends. I'm shooting a music video for Tony Fresco, and Pally Ray, so I should have some new music videos dropping soon.
What is your experience in the music industry? Do you have any formal training or schooling? If not, are you self-taught and how did you learn your craft? What is your learning style? What are your favorite educational resources (ex. college, YouTube, etc.)?
I took a film class for all 4 years of high school. Although we had a great program, the class wasn't solely focused on shooting/editing rap music videos. I'm currently a film major at Georgia State University, however, I still research and study my craft on YouTube. The more music videos I shoot, the more research I do on YouTube, from new effects to how to plan out videos in pre-production.
My experience in the music industry was that it’s not going to come easy and certain artists might try and take advantage of you: just know your value and stick to that.
What are some credits and achievements that you have? Who have you worked with? Who have you collaborated with?
I have shot music videos for LEXX NOVA and Denzel The Sage. I have also done plenty of photoshoots for LEXX NOVA. I also shot LEXX NOVA's cover art for his song, Candy Cane. I have plans to shoot music videos for Tony Fresco and Pally Ray soon so stay tuned for that.
What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered or faced in this industry?
For me, a big struggle was people not noticing me online or struggling to find artists to work with. I just pushed through it and had to work a little harder to find people to work with. Also, some artists can be sketchy when it comes to payment for my services. I have never been taken advantage of, but I have always expected a deposit on the day of the production.
What are some of your goals this year?
I want to grow my Instagram account and YouTube Channel. I also want to expand the number of people I work with. I would like to start an interview series with artists, producers, photographers, etc. I also want to invest more in my craft by upgrading my equipment.
Who are the top 3 artists, producers, engineers, videographers, or others you would want to work with that you haven’t worked with yet?
I would love to work with NAV, Lil Uzi Vert, and Lil Skies. As far as videographers, I would love to be on set with Cole Bennett, Marko Steez, and Nash Browin.
Who are your favorite directors? Who do you want to do a music video with?
Cole Bennett, Marko Steez, and Nash Browin.
What kind of equipment do you have and why?
I have a Canon T6i with a Sigma 17-50mm F/2.8 and Canon 50mm F/1.8. I also have a Manfrotto monopod—I love using my monopod on set. It makes shooting music videos a lot easier because I can easily move it around. It is also good to have a variety of different lenses to shoot B Roll and Performance scenes.
What is your creative process like?
I sit down with the artist and we bounce ideas off each other. Eventually, I will have a strong beginning middle and end for the music video. Once the preproduction is done, I will shoot the music video based on what I had planned with the artist. Once we are done shooting the music video, I edit it in Adobe Premiere and After Effects. At first, I piece all of the shots together and match the music up to the shots. Afterward, I'll add effects and color grade the music video.
What’s your favorite to-go order?
A Cookout tray.