Friday, April 8, 2011

Inspiring Person: Photographer/Author: Jose Villa

In every creative field there are favorites. Being a wedding photographer myself- I have always loved Jose Villa's work... but he's not just your average photographer. American Photo Magazine named Villa top 10 wedding photographers in the world. PDN named him one of the most influential photographers of the decade! He's been in everything from Martha Stewart, Grace Ormonde, InStyle Bride... the list goes on and on. So when I found out he wrote a book- you better believe I ordered it immediately before it was even in print!

AND THEN, when he said he'd do an interview on The Project well, I was pretty excited. So here he is, Mr. Jose Villa- the photography legend.

Tell us a little about yourself and your journey into photography?
I was born in Mexico and at age 5 my parents brought our family to central CA, where my dad worked on a ranch as s maintenance manager for about 18 years.. I grew up in the most amazing of backdrops which has really inspired the way I shoot today. I graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA with a bachelors in fine art and portrait photography which led me to photographing kids for 1 full year right after my schooling. Last month will mark the 9th year that Ive been in business. It’s been the most amazing 9 years of my life.. I love photography, it’s the universal language, besides laughing.

What was the progression like from being a newcomer to an established, famous ;) photographer?

Oh.. I wouldn’t say famous.. hee hee.. I all about letting things shape up organically and that’s how it al sort of happen for me.. I credit Film photography to maybe this success you speak of… Of course it’s not just film, there’s my eye for composition, the emotional impact I can evoke out of my clients, or simply just being ready for real genuine moments.. but in the last few years the majority of wedding photographers were shooting digital and I stayed put.. Film is the way I learned the only way I know to shoot so when the movement was going digital people were seeking me out for the various things I speak up above, but also because I was shooting film.. today, there are so many film wedding and portrait photographers out there. I’ve seen the film shooting come full circle, all the while I stayed true to who I am as an artist.

Did you ever have discouraging times in your business? If so, how did you move past them?
Of course.. I can’t tell you how many times I was ready to quit photography school even before I started my photography business. I think most of it was financial, while everyone had all the money on the world at their finger tips. I didn’t even own a camera. My very first camera was one my parents bought me as a graduation gift. With this camera I decided to make all the pretty photos I could to pay them back one day.. When I started my business I always remembered to shoot for myself and the rest would follow.. Im living proof. The road was not easy let me just say that much.

If you had to do a shoot with one lens the whole time, which would you pick?
The first ever camera I ever owned was the contax 645 with the 80 2.0 lens.. that’s the cameras I made my first pennies with and that’s the camera and lens I still shoot 90% of my work with.

Tell us about your new book…
The book is called Fine Art Wedding Photography by myself and Jeff Kent who was my ghost writer. The call to join the list of Authors at Random House Publishing came as a huge surprise. I’ve been dreaming of a Fine Art travel book, a wedding book was not even an idea.. but when Random House asked I embraced it and ran with the idea. The book is a "how to" on Fine Art Wedding photography, technical, real life stories, timeline of the day, how I like to shoot etc.. Plus there’re more than 180 photos in the book.

What made you decide to write this book?
Truthfully it was not my idea, but once I ran with it I decided to write this book as if I was starting out... I asked myself.. what would I have liked to know 10 years ago about this business, don’t get me wrong this is not a short cut to success, but more of an inspiring book on one approach, now build your own approach and run with it. Be yourself and speak your own photo voice.

What do you think sets you apart from other photographers? (Since there are millions out there)
I think there is a lot of things that can set a photographer apart from each other.. for me there’s no 1 real answer. I can start with my personality set me apart from the other guy or gal, my eye, my emotional up bringing, my technical skills, my experience, my life, yes I shoot film, but that’s no longer a thing a few photographers do and I LOVE that.. I spoke at WPPI 5 years ago for the first time and I was the only photographer speaking on shooting weddings with film, this past year there were 5 speakers sharing film insight. I spoke 5 years ago on film because I love film and I wanted people to know that people still shoot film even 25 year old photographers do.

What do you do to stay creatively inspired?
I shoot for myself every day. The client comes to me to shoot how I think I should photograph them. I travel, and shoot with 1 camera on trips to refine my vision. I stay true to myself and that keeps me inspired.

What would you say to others out there who want to make a creative business doing what they love?
Stay true to who you are as a person and as an artist, shoot and show only what you’re passionate about. It makes sense right? It seems easy to follow this right? But it’s actually pretty tough to stay on this track..

What are some of your favorite things in life?
Oh, I love color, small photos, smoothies and days where I can just sit and do nothing.

To you, what is the key to creating art?
A camera, brush or pencil... that’s the key, now what’s stopping you?

What’s next for you?
Shooting what I love and teaching is what’s next for me. I hold a few workshops a year and they are the highlight of my year besides my weddings.. here’s more info.

You can order Jose's book at: Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble and almost all book stores in the USA.

I can personally say this book is a GEM to have for any photographer or wedding professional!


Anonymous said...

LOVE Jose Villa!!!!

Dana said...

Great interview!!! ;) xo

Jillian said...

His images are amazing. I almost felt like crying while looking at the photos!

Laura Murray said...

I really enjoyed this interview!! Thanks!! Jose is definitely an inspiration!