One of the most difficult things about pretending to be a writer, for the sake of adding something to my no traffic blog, is coming up with a topic that, well, fills up space. And it sucks, because I feel I have tons to say but, where to start? I mean, I’ve pretty much covered most of what I wanted to express on my Instagram as of 2014, then again, I could only give the major points of each story, and never really diving in as far as I’d like. Let’s face it, I’m no one, who’s going to take the time to read anything I post, shit, I can hardly get five visitors on this blog, and I think three of the hits are mine! So, I thought, “why not post old work and talk about what I was going through at the time?”
From 2009 to 2014, I went through a dramatic shift in both my personal life and creative view towards the world and my photography. It was during this time I jumped back into photography after a what seemed like a five-year hiatus, on account that my ex-wife didn’t support my photography. Not only did I jump back into photography, but I made a personal commitment to use film almost exclusively going forward, to both support Kodak and local photo labs that’ll process said film. Of course, I owe this love towards film to three photographers and Ritz Camera, which no is no longer around.
When I first started photography around 2003, my Mom was buying me Kodak disposables and processing them at Sav-On Drugs. I would then cut the prints, scan them and upload them to our Geocities website called, Pancho & Friends. A bit later my Dad got me a Kodak digital camera, with a whopping three megapixesl, and as a high school graduation gift in 2005, my Mom bought me a Nikon N75 (which I still use today) from Ritz Camera, and few rolls of Fujifilm. However, after landing a job at the Beverly Center, with, you guessed it, Ritz Camera, I switched over to digital with the Nikon D200, and gave up on film all together. We then moved to Palmdale in 2006 and got a job at King Photo Supply in Lancaster. Then, one uneventful day while working the counter, browsing through a Rangefinder magazine, I saw the most beautiful wedding photos I had ever seen in my life.
Initially, I got into photography on account that in 2003, Men’s Health magazine stated it was the hottest job to have and women would flock to you without question. However, the major reason I wanted to be a photographer at that time, was the lack of aesthetics in Quinceañera photography and it was severely outdated. I wanted to bring something new, something fresh, something modern to Quinceañera photography, just didn’t know what it was I was looking for. Until said uneventful day.
It came to no surprise that upon seeing these gorgeous wedding photos, finding out they were shot on film, and shot by a fellow Mexican, I fell head over heels with analog photography and the wedding industry all over again. But what was it about these photos I fell in love with? Easy. The pastel color tones, which at the time, were unheard of in the industry. Jose Villa is the sole reason my faith was restored in analog photography and the reason I continue to use it today. However, because I lived in Palmdale, I didn’t have much of a client base to push my product, considering film photography was and continues to be more on the higher end spectrum of the industry. It was at this moment, Synthetic Color was born. This love however, was short lived, I got engaged in 2007, married, moved to Downtown L.A., landed a job with the best employer I’ve had to the day, in La Cañada Camera, and life happened. Gave up on photography all together, divorced, moved back with my parents around 2009 and that’s where our story begins. You’re probably saying, “what!? You haven’t even started the story yet!? Ah hell nah! I’m leaving!”
Still here? Great! Thank you! So where was I…. ah yes! I divorced and moved back with parents around 2009 and as you’ve probably guessed, sunk into a deep, two-year depression. It was at this time I would drive 120 miles round trip from La Cañada and Palmdale, giving me two hours to myself to ponder on my thoughts and figured shit out. Made feeble attempts to date, to socialize, but, nothing helped to fill that empty void. Then one day, just like that, for no reason at all, no explanation, I woke up, and I was fine. Yeah, just like that. What year are we in? Ah yes! 2011, so it was here, I dipped my toes back into photography after what? A good five or so years of not taking a single photo. I believe the last set of photos I took were of my Semiotic Nights project. Probably the sole reason I have such an emotional connection to said series of photos. Which thanks to my Photo 03 class this past Spring, I jump started the project and my love affair for night photography.
Heading towards 2012, I would watch YouTube photography videos, jumped on blogs, some photography, most of them personal blogs, with beautiful photos to accompany the writing, however, nothing really inspired me to dive in again. Until I bumped into a photographer named, Jonathan Canlas.
Picked up his book, FIND: Film Is Not Dead – A Digital Photographer’s Guide to Shooting Film. And after reading his book cover to cover, at least three times, I once more fell in love with film, and this time, forever. His book was exactly what I was looking for. It was the inspiration I needed to get back out there. It was Canlas that taught me to see my own neighborhood with the eyes of a tourist, to find beauty in my own backyard. No need to travel to remote, exotic locations to capture spectacular images. On top of that, he taught me to rely on a single camera and lens combination and to fully understand your gear, while pushing yourself to achieve different looks, with a consistent aesthetic with said gear. As I continued my self-taught education, I came across the [F] Network, which hosted a show called, FILM, with photographer extraordinaire, Tanja Lippert.
It is now early 2013 and after watching the entire season of FILM, I was desperate to learn more on the ways of directing my clients as seen on fifth episode, so gracefully taught by Lippert. It was by mere coincidence that one of the Facebook groups I was in, was hosting a mini, Art of Directing workshop in San Francisco by Tanja Lippert, for a fraction of what her workshop cost at the time. Only snag? Getting myself to San Francisco. I asked a friend if she’d go with me, rented a car and drove up there for the weekend. And it was during this one-day workshop I learned how to direct my models/clients by using Tanja’s ‘show, don’t tell’ approach. A skill that, with all honesty, requires a great deal of effort to perfect, but when practiced correctly, it becomes as easy as breathing. Thus completing my holy trinity of education, completing that what I was looking for and after eleven years, finally create photographs with a purpose, with soul, with heart and the photographs I wanted to create since the days of my Kodak disposable cameras.
Which brings our story to 2014, when I moved back to Los Angeles, East L.A. to be exact, got a job at Samy’s Camera, started my Instagram on the advice of my cousin and the rest, well, I think you know what happens next.