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May 6th, 2020 3:30pm

by: Jose Izquierdo, New York, NY 

“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol

First of all Thank You for you support. In the middle of this pandemic and with a lot of time available while brainstorm about productive things to do I came up with the idea of starting a Blog. My goal here is to bring my perspective on different topics in the photography business,  events and conventions happening in my area and some product reviews amongst other things. Once I did my research on the topic of blogging and came up to the conclusion that a blog is where people shamelessly write whatever they want and come up with their own opinions. Therefore I present to you "My first blog":

A little bit about me: I've been a professional Chef for exactly 22yrs (in July). At one point in my career I was layed off from a restaurant in the city and in my introspective I realized that my body is not going to handle 20 more years of abuse working in a kitchen. As I was looking for ways to make extra money to get by, one of the pages I saw mentioned "Photographer" and I thought to myself wow this is something I can do.

I've always liked taking pictures and messing with edits in my laptop and at that point I had recently purchased a Canon 6D (an upgrade from a Canon Rebel T1) so I started doing my research on how to market myself, how to start getting gigs and making money. First I had to find a name to my company, open an email account to make it official, open all types of social media pages to have a presence. I quickly realized that I needed a portfolio to showcase my range of what I can do, that led to opening a website (this very website) where I could have a home to show the world that I was in it for real. 

After doing those things I was still not getting noticed so I had to get out there and start telling all my friends. My first gig was a Drag Show in the city. It was more like a hangout but I made my first $60. Then I downloaded an app that finds you gigs but it was more like a ripoff (lesson learned). I started offering  free work (not knowing then that it is called TFP or time for pics) I talked to a friend who is a fashion designer and is constantly working with models if I could shoot with his models and he liked my work and we did a few more shoots after that way I started building my portrait portfolio.

As for cosplay well this happened by destiny. I've always been a comic book collector and in 2014 I happened to have my camera with me (at that time it was that Canon Rebel T1) and while walking near the Javits Center in NYC I found a four day badge on the floor. It was a Sunday afternoon so I went to the door and the pass worked. I was inside the famous New York Comic Con, wow I was speed walking because it was the last day and I wanted to experience a whole weekend in a couple of hours. At one point I remember stopping and just noticing how cosplayers were modeling and wanted their photo to be taken so I got my camera out and started shooting. What I realized that day was that cosplayers are the stars of the convention. I loved the photos I took that weekend and couldn't wait to take more but I had to wait until the next year to buy a pass and fully experience NYCC. The year after (2015) I discovered the Photographer's Tunnel and all the free models I was getting to shoot. It was a bit overwhelming but fun and I confess I am guilty of stealing other photographer's shots (which btw is very rude, always ask first or wait until the photographer is done with the model to grab a shot of the cosplayer).

From there on NYCC was my yearly event to let loose meet people, network and take some great cosplay photos. Fast forward a little I worked with some models here and there and attended the first Anime NYC in 2017. I did other TFP jobs with models through mid 2018, but at some point I had enough cosplay photos and wanted to do more so as I was saying goodby to cosplay at NYCC in 2018 I finally met a guy that was a follower on Instagram that always had kind words for my work. He was a photographer who I've been following for a while who was doing some really cool lights and color effects with his photos and opened my mind to OCF (off camera flash photography), gels, lenses and even Sony mirrorless cameras. I had recently purchased a Flash Neewer flash unit from Amazon and I was getting the hang of it, getting some nice photos but this guy blew my mind with his creativity. You may know as Francisco @graceandshinephoto (on Instagram) He was very friendly and we hit it off from the start. He told me "bring your light tomorrow and set up in a corner and start pulling people". I followed his suggestion and it was the beginning of a great friendship and a new chapter on my cosplay photography journey. I was so pleased with the photos I took that day that I started thinking and planning my next business moves.

Together with Francisco (@graceandshinephoto) we've done other cosplay and fashion shoots and I've learned so much from him, but yet I was trying to understand how cosplay and fashion go together because I had a mix of both styles so I decided to separate my them into different Instagram accounts in order for people to understand that I don't only do cosplay or fashion photography I can do both. That's the reason why I have two brands and logos.

Fashion is highly commercial and could even be very profitable, but cosplay is where that creative side let loose. Getting into the characters, making your model do the poses and gestures for your lens is surreal. My style of photography and editing is a mix of both. I like the simplicity and beauty of a portrait but I also like the colors and the effects that can make the photo lots more interesting. It has all been a learning experience for me and it has helped me learn my craft and have a passion for it.

I'm still cooking full time in case you're wondering. I'm a sous chef for a Cafe in Midtown Manhattan and I am learning about photography, editing and content creation in general every day. My goal is to one day live off from this and leave the Restaurant Business to the younger ones. Maybe retire as a wedding photographer in warm weathered island and be able to create beautiful portraits until photos become obsolete or holograms or something else. Who knows?

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