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JJ Velasquez

California based Photographer & Male Tattoo Model

JJ Velasquez got his first taste in photography from modeling for over five years and learning from photographers he shot with. He spent most of his childhood growing up in the small town of Wildomar, CA., playing sports and embracing his passion for art, tattoos and music. His recent travels landed him in Jamaica shooting over 15 models. JJ’s smile and fun attitude characterizes his playful, exotic images.

Can you tell us something about your hometown that makes it unique to you?

I spent most of my childhood growing up in the small town of Wildomar, CA. It wasn’t a huge city with a lot going on so I believe thats whats made me always curious about seeing other cities and wanting to get out and travel.

At what point did you discover you wanted to be a photographer?  What moment or highlight changed your life?

So before I got into photography I was a Tattoo model myself for about 5 years, working with great photographers over the years, seeing all the cool pics, locations, and the excitement when I would get published or see myself in stores and magazines was always exciting. Especially for a tattooed guy! Me and an ex girlfriend would always get sent clothing and other stuff to model for companies and wed have to find photographers. So one day I decided to try it out myself and once I was behind that camera and had no idea how to work it, it gave me something I was very curious about and wanted to get better at! So I began my journey on learning everything I could about it and constantly practicing. I had no idea it would grow into such a passion of mine and now I’m getting interviewed on my photography, its so awesome!

What is your go-to gear? Lens?

Im a Nikon guy, so #teamnikon and I usually love a lot of bokeh ( blur) in my photos so prefer something like the 80-200 lens.

What was your very first camera? How has your workflow changed from when you first started shooting?

I started on a basic Nikon, I think it was the 5500, it did everything I thought I needed and had wifi, so I digged it! until I bought a new lens and realized that that camera didn’t have the capability to adjust to my new lens ;( so decided I needed to upgrade and to a full frame, so that was the next step. Having a full frame and a lot more lenses to work with expanded my photography drastically!

What is one of your favorite photographs and why?

Some on my favorite pics I included in this feature, but were at the beach with Jessica Weaver, I felt it was one of the first times I nailed artificial light and natural light while outdoors. There’s the sunset, beautiful hair light coming in from the sun, and also a really pretty beach location.

Tell us about a shooting adventure you have had in the past and how did it help shape your portfolio?

Well I just got back from a trip from Jamaica. I was a photographer for a company and there was 15+ models and 6 photographers. I was shooting 2000+ pics a day, at all times of day, and for 6 days straight. It def helped me a lot, and challenged me in new ways. I learned new tricks, and also had to pretty much get the shot in any circumstance, so it was def a good experience, plus I got a free trip to Jamaica shooting models all day, so can’t really complain 🙂

What Informs How You Look at the World?

I don’t exactly know why I’m here, but I just try to do what I love and makes me happy, be around good people, live life to the fullest, and help people out and smile when you can 😉

What do you consider the most important breaks in your career and why?

You know I always live under the philosophy that I’m not there yet and gotta just keep on grinding! I just keep doing what I love, learn and try new things, and just try to perfect my craft as much as I can. Ya I’ve had publications, magazine covers, free trips, and have worked with some really great models, but I’m def not where I want to be yet and will just keep on going and see what happens! 🙂

You’ve been a photographer around the world for a few years. What are a few pieces of advice you find yourself offering most frequently to aspiring or emerging photographers who are looking to advance their careers?

You know I’ve had photographers who started before I did or that I’ve met and haven really seen succeed and I believe to really succeed and enjoy this business you have to have a general love and passion for it. I see some photographers shoot maybe once a month, take months to edit photos, and or just don’t care much about it. To me that’s not really gonna help or get you anywhere. I’m editing almost every day whether its new sets, old sets, or stuff to practice on, so I say if you want to advance or are just starting you just gotta stay busy with it and keep grinding! Just like you would anything else.

Finally, do you have different metrics or criteria in mind when on location when shooting? What can emerging talents do to stand out from the crowd in the context of submissions and building their portfolio?

You know I pay a lot to the background and whats behind the model but that’s just from spending hours in Photoshop trying to remove or fix stuff lol. I make it easy on myself and try to get anything I don’t want in the background out of there. Oh and make sure nothing looks like its sticking out of their head lol. I love shooting outdoors though that’s my favorite so you can find tons of awesome spots. I think to stand out you just have to create your look and stick to it, most of the good photographers I know have a certain style or niche they stick to and keep at that. Create your art the way you like it! Someone is bound to love it 😉

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