John Cates found an interest in photography when he started going to punk shows in basements as a teenager. He began documenting D.I.Y. Punk, Metal, and Noise shows around the state of Michigan, rarely seen at a show without a camera and sometimes being the only member in the audience. His interest later grew from punk shows to documenting the everyday objects and people around him.
After graduating with a BFA in Photography from The College for Creative Studies, he moved to Chicago where he now lives and works.