Hands-On Photography 148 Transcript

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Ant Pruitt (00:00):
Today on Hands-on Photography, I am sitting down with an amazing photographer that has a great story, a ton of passion, and quite honestly, he's just telling you, get up off your butts and go take photographs. I'm speaking with Alexis Charisma, I'm hoping I'm getting his last name correct, <laugh>. But it's gonna be a lot of fun and it's a great conversation. Y'all stay tuned.

Leo Laporte (00:28):
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Ant Pruitt (01:08):
Hey, what's going on everybody? I am at Pruit, and this is Hands-on Photography here on TWiT tv. I hope y'all are doing well. I am unbelievable as always, each and every Thursday. I am blessed with the opportunity to sit down here at my awesome studio and desk to do a show that's going to help make you a better photographer. It's gonna help make you a better post processor, and heck just help you learn this whole craft. And every now and then, I get an opportunity to sit down with some amazing photographers in the community, and they dropped some knowledge and just sometimes it just blows my mind. And that's what we got going on this week. I have a guest joining me. But before we get to our guests, I want to just welcome to What, say, welcome to all of our brand new listeners.

Ant Pruitt (01:54):
Hey, welcome to you. Now since you're here, go ahead and subscribe and whatever podcast application you're enjoying us on, you know, we're on Apple, we're on Spotify, we got a YouTube channel. Yeah, a lot of you folks watch the YouTube channel. Thank you for that. Means a lot. So yeah, just subscribe to whatever, um, podcast application that you're using, or if you just can't quite figure out the whole subscription thing, just go to our website, That's p for Hands-on photography. And you see all of the subscription options there, and you'll see all of the previous episodes and show notes, especially all of the little nuggets from people like today's guests. So, without a further todo, let me go ahead and bring on today's guest. Uh, this man is pretty daum stellar in the world of photography. He's from Nicaragua, but he is now here in the Bay Area doing a, a lot of work for the, the likes of Nike.

Ant Pruitt (02:49):
He's doing sports photography, he's getting in, he's got a little bit of fashion here and there. He's got a bunch of passion projects and he's not just doing photography. There's also some cinematic stuff going on too with the film. And it's just an amazing story. And I saw him on, um, on Vanessa Joy's, uh, budget camera, uh, shootout on her channel. And you all remember Vanessa Joy, she's a Cannon Explorer of Light that was on the show previously. And I watched that episode and I was totally intrigued and say, Hey, I, I hope to get this man on the show to drop some knowledge for all of you to Hands-on photography listeners. So without further ado, let me welcome my man, Mr. Alexis Cuarezma. How you doing, man.

Alexis Cuarezma (03:31):
I'm doing great, man. Thank you for having me, <laugh>.

Ant Pruitt (03:33):
Hey, thank you for being here. And again, I hope I don't butcher your last name too much. You know, me and my southern draw, we tend to struggle with some of these, these, uh, interesting last names. That doesn't just sound like Smith. I'm sorry, <laugh>.

Alexis Cuarezma (03:47):
No, you're good.

Ant Pruitt (03:50):
So my man, thank you for joining me today. I I wanted to bring you on because I even, I've enjoyed looking through your portfolio and just looking at some of the work you've done. I mean, you have a pretty wide range of, um, content there. And, and then there's an interesting style that I've noticed, and we'll touch on that here momentarily. But can you tell the listeners a little bit about yourself, you know, where you're from, how you got started. I'm not asking you to tell me when's the first time you picked up a camera. I'm not asking you that cuz that's the most boring question ever. But tell us a little bit more about you so we can get some background information.

Alexis Cuarezma (04:25):
Uh, originally, I, I'm from Nicaragua. I came here when I was six, um, with my mother and my older brother. Uh, so I mean, I've pretty much been raised in the Bay Area in the US most of my life pretty much. But, um, being, um, originally from Nicaragua, those first six years of my life, I would say just influence and inform my, my, my work and my drive and my, my inspiration cuz I have those, um, you know, memories as a child in, in Nicaragua. And then not having my father there. Cuz my father had to leave Nicaragua about a year and a half earlier before to try to get political asylum here in the us. Ah. Um, and I took him, like I said, nearly about a year and a half, uh, to save up enough money, get a political asylum to then bring my mother and my myself and my brother over.

Alexis Cuarezma (05:10):
Um, and then just like, just the memories of that and, you know, as a challenge just always had me curious on the history and my heritage and Thera went and why, you know, we had to move and all that stuff. So I studied my history relentlessly mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and I think that, um, that's reflected the, the history of Nicaragua and everything like that is reflected visually in one way or another on my work. Right. Um, and that enforced my work. So, um, and then just to get into photography, I, I, um, I've always loved drawing and in, in the arts and you know, in college I had no idea what I wanted to major in and, um, like I like computers and drawing and art, so I thought it would combine those two in study graphic design. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and that was my major.

Alexis Cuarezma (05:55):
Originally it was an art major with an option in graphic design. And I've always kind of had an interest in photography, but I never took a course in high school or anything like that cuz I, I made the mistake of listening to people <laugh>. And I would ask my friends, um, Oh, how's that photography class? How is it? And they would say, Man, it's great, but it's a ton of work and it's so much work. And I'm like, Oh man. Like, okay, I don't wanna, um, you know, this, this, I don't wanna do something like that. Time consuming. And, uh, so I never took a class in high school on photography because of that. And, uh, but in college when I was a, uh, a graphic design major, it overlaps a lot with photography, uh, with, you know, the courses you take to, to graduate.

Alexis Cuarezma (06:31):
And then as soon as I took a a class there, uh, photography class, I absolutely loved it. And then, uh, kind of dove into photography. Um, and I was gonna initially do a double major double BFA on graphic design and photography mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then I, I just ended up dropping outta college because I was just like, I had so much things I wanted to do and shoot, I'm like, I didn't need an instructor to like tell me what to do or what to shoot. Wow. Um, and then also around that time it was around 2004 ish. Um, so that was kind of, um, when it was switching from film to digital. Yeah. And in my opinion, I would say it was already like the digital, you could see the right end on the wall, that that's where things were going or, or were already at that time.

Alexis Cuarezma (07:11):
Yep. Um, and it, particularly in my school, there were still a little bit behind and there were still like pretty hardcore into film. And, um, I just, um, being a graphic design major, I knew Photoshop really well mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, and, uh, and all that stuff. So I ended up, um, you know, kind of helping out and teaching a lot of the classes and I'm like, Why am I paying to like basically be a TA and do all this and, you know, I have stuff I wanna shoot and, and all that stuff as, so I ended up unfortunately dropping out with like a, like a quarter or two left. Um,

Ant Pruitt (07:40):
Oh man, you were that close, huh?

Alexis Cuarezma (07:43):
<laugh>. Yeah. Um, but that's, that's how I got in, in into, uh, photography and, and then, uh, the way I started shooting and, um, uh, I, I started, um, shooting little league. My, my younger brother played that and that's what I had access to and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I started shooting. And then initially, you know, photography, I initially thought that it was, uh, you make good images by like putting in some fancy settings in a nice camera, in a nice lens. And, and I thought that's how you got photos. So I kind of dove into the technical side of things, um, until like, uh, so I, I, that made me kind of learn the craft really well, um, and all that stuff until I realized, I was like, Oh, damn, I, I gotta go out and talk to people <laugh> and I'm awkward to hell. Um, and then, so I kind of say I studied backwards in there, but that helped me, like know the, the technical side. And then after that I kind of started working on my interpersonal skills and, you know, my, my EQ skills and all that stuff. So.

Ant Pruitt (08:36):
Wow. Okay. So you, you just threw me a curve ball because I, I knew the, the photography and that the, the video side, which we'll get into a little bit later on, but graphic design didn't, didn't know that. Um, with, with that, in, in your mind, knowing you have all of these amazing Photoshop skills, uh, do you ever feel like you lean back onto the graphic design world from time to time in your work?

Alexis Cuarezma (09:02):
I, I, I think, I mean, it definitely helps the more informed you are and the more knowledge you have, the, the more it helps. Um, and it, it certainly does with personal work that I do and designing stuff and lean stuff out and, um, and I mean, some people could say, they could see it in my work, uh, their graphic design, uh, background on it with the lighting and the photography that I do. Um, Wow. And, uh, um, like I said, just the more, you know, it helped, what helped me out the most in college was actually studying art history and the painting classes and draw drawing classes. Um, and, um, I, I'm extremely glad I went to to college cuz um, and study art cuz otherwise I would've, I know for a fact that I never would've been exposed to a lot of things that I was exposed to cuz you're, you're, you're forced to take certain classes mm-hmm.

Alexis Cuarezma (09:44):
<affirmative> like art history and in drawing. And I had a, a drawing one teacher that was real deep and real amazing. Then he, uh, just absolutely like, uh, like what I learned in that, that class with him just, just like helps me out to this day and being informed like that in all those classes. And like I saying, uh, going back to our history and painting and drawing mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think is what helps me creatively and what I see, unfortunately a lot of like self-taught photographers lack, you know, when they run out of like creative things to do and everything like that. And, and I'm just like, I go back on that and, and that helps me out, uh, immensely with

Ant Pruitt (10:16):
Regards to art. Right. With, with regards to art history, who is one of your, your big, do you, who do you think is one of your larger influences when it comes to sparking a bit of creativity in the work that you're doing today?

Alexis Cuarezma (10:30):
Uh, look with the, I mean art history

Ant Pruitt (10:33):
Cause it's broad, it's a lot in, in in the history, arts, so many different styles and genres and different approaches, you know, but I know in photography a lot of people throw the, the r word around a lot. Rembrandt, you know, but there was more <laugh> there's more to me funny than that. You know,

Alexis Cuarezma (10:50):
They say that, you know, but I guarantee you, you know, if you ask a hundred photographers, they just know him cuz of the lighting pattern. They couldn't name a single painting that he's done. Uhhuh, Uhhuh, you know, that's the only the reason they know his, uh, his name. Uh mm-hmm. <affirmative>. The, the paintings that I like the most or the influence originally mean different now than, than, you know, I, I would say I, I I've changed over time, but the initial, uh, art was neoclassical paintings. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and those were more about like, you know, um, uh, I'm gonna butcher his name. Jacob Lewis Davi, I wanna say was the, one of the paints I loved. And then, uh, it was more, uh, the reason I was drawn to at work is it was kind of more about the sacrifice and the greater good was just the whole theme of neoclassical Yeah.

Alexis Cuarezma (11:30):
Meanings. And that just reflects back again to kind of, you know, everything that happened in Nicaragua and the political, um, situation there and the people I admire there. Uh, so that's what influenced me the most. And those, those were kind of realism, um, super realism, you know, paintings. Uh, but I would say I've evolved more over time to do kind of more, um, like if you look up here more expressionist mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, uh, and like, uh, abstract lighting and, and paintings and stuff like that. So, um, I just need, you know, kind of my flavor I would say and what I liked involved over time.

Ant Pruitt (12:01):
Wow. I love that. Now far as the, the, the tech involved, you, you know, you've been doing this for several years now and you, I know what cameras you're using this day and age. I know the lighting kits that you use this day and age, but what was it that, was there a particular piece of gear that really just hooked you back in the days that really made you want to dig more into that technical side to further build these stories that you could see in your head? You know, for some people it was their first dslr. For some people it was, you know, maybe their second or third camera that they got was like, Oh, this is the one, this is, this got, this is the, the device that's got me locked in to my art. Was it something like that, uh, for you?

Alexis Cuarezma (12:45):
I always say particular, I just know one particular time that I, I, uh, I remember thinking on there cuz I used to be, um, a all natural light photographer and I had an instructor, uh, in college that was a professional and then he preached, you know, oh, people look best in natural light. And I bought that and I believed that. And then, um, he actually, the, that instructor actually took me to a system, you know, uh, on the few shoots, uh, that he had. And then I, I quickly learned a few things that the reason why he preached that cuz uh, that person in particular was the laziest person ever <laugh>, uh, if, you know, if you didn't have to, if he, you know, they didn't wanna take out like anything extra, like they didn't wanna take it, you know what I mean? Because it's just the convenient and like, um, when you're, um, and then in clients weren't argue with you. Like, you know, if you're the professional and you preach that they'll, they'll agree with you, right? Yep. Um, and then that, so that, that was one thing when I worked with them. And then the other thing was like, I, I got a call, um, when I was still in college randomly, and, um, it was to do portraits of a local bera rapper named E 40. Oh

Ant Pruitt (13:50):
Ho boy. Yeah. Wasn't no E 40 Yeah.

Alexis Cuarezma (13:54):
There, there yet. And, uh, I got that call when I said like six or seven that night. And I remember when I got that call and I remember thinking to myself, Oh my God, uh, I don't have any lights. How could I even call myself a photographer? You know, it's gonna be a night shoot, it's gonna be indoors in the music studio in Hayward. Um, and I remember I called up a college friend of mine named Brenda Smith mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Um, he had lights, he had knowledge of lights. And I, I'd asked him, Oh man, are you available? Could you, um, could you, uh, come and help me out and light this? And he did. He saved me. Nice. Uh, and then from that point on, I remember, uh, telling myself never again, Well, I rely on someone else to do that for me and me. And then after that point, um, after that I bought, uh, four lights, um, yeah. L b lights. Um, and I just started, um, teaching myself lighting. And I just knew that was really important because I'm like, it's six, seven, you know, we then ended up shooting to like nine, nine or 10 at night. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, you know, in the music studio we just fluorescent lights and it's just like, what are you, there's no beautiful, the

Ant Pruitt (14:57):
Worst lights

Alexis Cuarezma (14:58):
Like Right. And, um, you know, you can't just shoot everything black and white, make grainy. I mean, you can't, but that's not what I wanna do. Right, Right. So, Right. So after that, after that point I would say I got those lights and then I just, I, I taught myself lighting and, um, make sure that I, that I knew it really well because even in college we had a, um, I went to Cal State Hayward, um mm-hmm. <affirmative> and we had access to portfolio lights and everything like that. And I even remember thinking like, you know, I don't even feel comfortable using that in putting that in my portfolio because I'm like, Yeah, I could do that in, in school with mm-hmm. <affirmative> with access to that gear. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But I remember thinking, I don't have access to that gear outside of school, so I don't even feel comfortable saying I could put work like that cause I can't get, you know what I mean?

Alexis Cuarezma (15:38):
I can't get that gear outside of, uh, you couldn't take it outta the school. Right. Uh, but then, so after that, that point I bought I would say four lights and then, um, I bought four lights, a bunch of modifier, soft box. It was like $3,000 worth of, uh, lights that I bought and accessories from, from Policy Buff <laugh>, which is from that company that's, you could get a lot, you know, from that goes a long way. Um, and uh, I would say after that point, that's where I, you know, I'd learned lighting in the stop. Um, I didn't wanna rely on someone else. And, and I would say that was definitely, um, a situation where it, it, you know, to chas your question a long way that that that kind of, I had a aha moment or a realization that, okay, cool, I need to learn lighting and that and that, that the whole, um, spiel of, Oh, people look best in natural light is basically just a bunch of nonsense.

Ant Pruitt (16:22):
You know, it's, it's funny you bring up the natural light argument because I know I've said it several times on the show. Um, because again, the audience here are, are beginners and intermediate folks, uh, get your, get your subject near a window because that natural light coming through a window is, is, is like gold. It's, it's really, really hard to beat that from a dollar per dollar standpoint. Um, so I, I will preach natural light, but at the same time I'm one that says, you know what? You should be able to control your lighting. So you need to get yourself a, a a some, even if it's just a speed light, get something to where you can control the lighting. And that's just gonna take a little bit more effort. And it's funny that you said said photographer was a bit lazy because I know that takes an effort to figure out using, you know, different power levels or heck just moving and placing the, the different lights in the set to work for EA image. So I find that pretty, pretty funny. And it's unfortunate it's a common, um, conversation. I've heard people say too, it's like, uh, I just rather use natural light cuz it's easier. Uh, I don't have to carry stuff around, blah, blah, blah. <laugh> just get too light.

Alexis Cuarezma (17:35):
You have to certainly read the situation and, and it, and it certainly depends like if you need to be running gun mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, and doing all that, and it's better to get the shot and get something than to not, you know, than to waste a lot of time setting up. And then, and then you don't have that much time where, where your talent True. But when it's a situation where it's something planned and you know you're gonna be, you know, uh, ahead of time, like, it, it's, it's something that you should definitely pan out. Cause I know a lot of people like, you know, tend to use like, oh, um, Chivo, the, you know, three time Academy award winning cinematographer who, who likes to shoot mainly natural light. Uh, you know, some people bring him as a reference. Um, but like it's planned. It's not the same as a photographer.

Alexis Cuarezma (18:13):
Like he plan everything is planned out. Um, and even then shooting natural light when you're shooting, when they're shooting in those budgets, they bring out 20 by 20 negative fills Yeah. To control the lights and do all kinds of stuff. And they, they plan out the day, they check out the, the where the sky is. The, he has the power, uh, to delay a shoot and wait till the lighting is right. <laugh>, uh, to do that when you're doing, you know, when you're shooting a hundred million dollar, he has that point. He could do that when, when you're a photographer, um, you, you, from my experience, you know, I don't know any photographer that could do that, don't

Ant Pruitt (18:45):
Know anybody, <laugh>, they better be an appointment time

Alexis Cuarezma (18:49):
<laugh>. Yeah. Uh, so it's like, uh, you know, it's definitely different, you know, his situation, stuff that, so, uh, but again, it's always a thing situation where you have to, you know, uh, where you have to read the, the, the situation that you're in and, and, and be able to, um, assess it and, and say, Okay, cool. Like, Will, I'll be able to do anything. Um, but to just purely say like, like some photographers like to brag and say, Oh, like this is show all natural light no reflect, there's no nothing. Right. And then they shoot it and then they just Photoshop the hell out of it. I'm like, if that works for you, well that did <laugh>, um, just do it. Like, you

Ant Pruitt (19:18):
Know what I mean? Why'd you have to Photoshop the hell out of it then, you

Alexis Cuarezma (19:21):
Know. Yeah. Um, and you know, and that's, that's also a situation where like, um, you know, the whole thing where like, uh, people say again, the writing camera, um, and again, I always like to say it is not so black and white, uh, for me because it's like when, you know, when you're on set, like right, for example, if you have a big crew of like 20 or 30 people, like right on a 10 hour day, you could, you could do break down, break it down and do the math, like Right. If you have a big crew sometimes of 40 or 50 people and uh, for an eight to 10 hour day, you can literally break it down that it comes out to like, you know, 200 or $300 a minute. Right. So when you're shooting stuff, you have to be able to assess that.

Alexis Cuarezma (19:59):
Like, Okay, cool, like the lighting looks X, y, and Z Right? Right. Yep. It takes 15 to 20 minutes Right. To, or let's just say 10 minutes Right. To make it easy mm-hmm. <affirmative> to, to get to fix the lighting and, and get it right. Right. And it's at $300 a minute, that's $3,000. Right. To, to fix that and get it right in camera. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So what would be cheaper Right. To either get that right for that one setup or just shoot it if it's good enough. Right. And then impose, you know, pay a retouch or $200 to fix, uh, that look and then you could, you know, and save it. So like that's things that you gotta consider mm-hmm. <affirmative> when you're working on a big sense. So that's why it's not always black and white. Yeah. Uh, when you're doing it. And, uh, um, it's a, uh, you know, something that I, that I, I just, you know, like I don't, I don't fall on either side. Um, I don't fight for like one side, you know, really well. It's like you gotta do, like, in a situation like that, like Right. You gotta, you gotta make a call and, and decide, Okay, cool, do you wanna like get a writing camera? But if you get a writing camera there, like right mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, and you spend all the time doing that, it might cost you more money than to do that in camera, whether to fix it in post, you know.

Ant Pruitt (21:03):
Oh man, The battle continues. The battle continues. Now I wanna look at some of your images, you know, as again, you, you've been working with the likes of Nike and working with Sports Illustrated and, and a lot of other prominent athletes here. Uh, so let's, uh, switch gears here. I'm gonna see if I can pull you up on the screen with some of your photos on this screen here. I have one of your images from a Nike campaign, and

Alexis Cuarezma (21:31):
That's actually, I'll correct in that real quick. That's actually a a, a test shoot.

Ant Pruitt (21:35):
It's a test shoot. Okay. All right. Well, I thought it was actually from a, from a campaign, because I mean, it, it clearly has Nike all, all over at one. Look at it

Alexis Cuarezma (21:45):
Shoot to all the photographers that are out there. Like, um, one of the things in this business that is very direct, like Right, if you want to shoot athletes and fitness mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you can't just tell people you, um, you wanna shoot that, you actually have to have it in your portfolio book. Yeah. Uh, no, nobody's gonna believe you. So it's like, this is how you, this is basically the, the, the foundation of my career. Like Right. I started shooting Little League mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I treated it like I was shooting for Sports Illustrated. I did portraits of like little league and high school students and I treated it like it was a Nike campaign with the lighting and everything like that. So on this one, this is a professional model from an agency. I had a really, really talented stylist on this and professional hair and makeup.

Ant Pruitt (22:19):
Yeah. Okay.

Alexis Cuarezma (22:21):
And that, that's what you wanna show when you go to Nike. You wanna have everything, you know, equally everything, you know, looking good, everything on point. And then you wanna have that in your portfolio book because they wanna see what you, what you'll do. You know what I mean? In the, having all those eyes on, on, on your shoot really helps, Right. Uh, working with a team and a status. Cuz I think the biggest things that I've done before where I made a mistake where photographers just, you know, look at, um, at like the photography standpoint and the lighting and the moment and stuff like that, if you're like a mistake, I've done that. I had a basketball shot years ago in my, um, was a decade ago when I say in my portfolio book, it was a great shot of a basketball player dribbling mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I remember someone when I did a portfolio view that looked at it, they were like, he's wearing, um, uh, what was it? I think Nike shoes with adida socks.

Ant Pruitt (23:06):
Oh yeah. That's a detail

Alexis Cuarezma (23:08):
At that point. It doesn't, uh, doesn't matter how good you think the photography is, the lighting this, if it's like that right, then that image doesn't work. Right. Right. And don't look good like that. So you have to pay attention to those details. Right. Uh, it's not just the technical photography things you get, um, assessed on. It's also on the talent you have in front of your camera. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Uh, and that's something that I taught a lot with students, you know, when I speak at universities or, or colleges, um, you know, they wanna shoot fashion and um, they'll put all the effort in the lighting and you know, and renting out the phase one cameras from, from their, uh, campuses and then, uh, and spend hours in the retouching. And it's like they got their French model, like Right. Yeah. And it's like, you can tell right off the bat that's not a professional model and it doesn't matter how good you think the clothing is, the lighting is or the, or the retouching or whatever mm-hmm. <affirmative> it, it, it doesn't look right. It's like saying for example, like, like if you wanted to do like outdoor writing photography, like Right mm-hmm. <affirmative> like, like, like, um, like a marathon runner or a long distance runner and you get your friend to, to, you know, post for that and you get 'em in the right you and everything like that. Anyone that sees that image could tell right off their bat if the person's not gonna be a marathon runner. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, you

Ant Pruitt (24:20):
Know what marathon runner when you see one.

Alexis Cuarezma (24:22):
Yeah. Um, so it's like, those are things that a lot of, I think photographers that are building their books or are trying to do stuff like kind of don't think about or overlook mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and that's, that's the, you know, cuz you're, we're all usually like busy on the technical aspect, Oh, let me get the lighting right, let me get this in the retouch and Right. That you don't pay attention or you don't think about the casting and who you actually have in front of that camera, which is much more important actually than the lighting and, and, and the cameras you're

Ant Pruitt (24:47):
Using. Now with this shot here, uh, this is you directing her, Correct?

Alexis Cuarezma (24:52):

Ant Pruitt (24:53):
Okay. Because this, this is a pretty interesting pose. It clearly says fitness, but I know that some people, um, that I've spoken with in the past that are listeners of the show, they've always sort of, um, beat themselves up because they don't quite get posing or understand how to direct someone to, to make a shot work. You know, whether it be trying to show off a piece of clothing or show off a particular, um, sport or action or what have you. They always, they know in their head what it should look like, but it's something about directing someone else to say, Hey, I need you to go over here and uh, put the camera to your left, but I need you down and get your feet up 45 degrees and into a push up pose here on this concrete block. You know, they can't quite just say that because it looks like in this image you clearly have told her, I need the camera to your left. I need to look in, out and down and then I need you to just have this hold, hold your pose here and flex just a little bit because I need to see some fitness here. You know, something along those lines.

Alexis Cuarezma (25:56):
No, actually I don't micromanage that much. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I mean that's pretty specific on, on what you're saying and I said, you need to micromanage that much, um, or explain it that much. You probably don't have actual talent in front of

Ant Pruitt (26:08):
Need a better model. Yeah.

Alexis Cuarezma (26:09):
So when you have, um, I would say that one of the biggest things I realized in my career was the first time I worked at a professional model mm-hmm. <affirmative> on, on how much that helps you. Like the, the talent that you're working with should be that talent like, Right. Yep. And I think that if it's to a point where like you do need to like, uh, explain that much to them, um, you need to, you need to work on who you could get to to model for you. Right? Yeah. Uh, yeah. And, and it is probably not the answer. People are looking for it, but, um, uh, what, what, I guess what, what what I'm saying is, is like if, if you know, like, like, like I was saying who you get in front of your camera, it's much more important than the camera you're shooting with the lens and the line you're

Ant Pruitt (26:46):
Oh, yep. Right.

Alexis Cuarezma (26:47):
If you're able to get a, um, you know, like a professional model, uh, or a professional athlete that knows what they're doing mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, you know, like, like, like I don't, I didn't tell her like, Oh, the camera's gonna be camera left. You're gonna do that on there. Literally it's just like, um, um, are you gonna do, uh, the exercise there, just do pushups and there like, like, like this? Yeah. And then that's how I'm like, pull it there and, and then I set up the lighting and I shoot. Yeah. You know what I mean? And I just tell, you know, gimme, you know, gimme six wraps. Yeah. And then I'll shoot boom, shoot it. Yeah. And I'll show it to 'em to make sure that, you know, they, they like how they look, they like how their technique is executed. And then when it's good, like we go on to the next one.

Ant Pruitt (27:19):
Nice. Nice. I love that. Um, cuz I, I asked that question because we've had Miss Loretta Houston on before and she's, she does, uh, fashion and I remember talking to her about just trying to guide the models on the screen on on and the set far as what the, the client was looking for. And she pretty much said the same thing. She's like these pro models, they, they get it. It's almost like you can just sort of look to a certain spot on the set and they get it without even type any type of guidance or direction or what have you. Versus a friend that's just wanting to get into model and hasn't really been fully trained on that. So I appreciate you just reiterating that point that these are professional models, you professional photographer and you're working with professional talent there and it's really just making this gel and go hand in hand. Now I wanna look at this next image here. So let me flip this one here. There we go. And again, it's just, just classic fitness. Uh, I love the way that you have the shallow depth, the field, the lighting. It's just perfectly chiseling her face at, I'm assuming you, you, you said you had a makeup artist there, right? Correct. Makeup artist. Just, just nailed this one. And again, uh, this is portfolio worthy to me. Uh, anything you'd like to share about this shot?

Alexis Cuarezma (28:38):
Uh, not she's lit it, uh, a shot to get the, the, the, the sweater, you know, cuz we had that pulled and then, um, and uh, I mean she just looked with, uh, I think Octa box, you know, for <inaudible> lighting on the, you know, upper right hand side mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and um, and then she just nailed the look, you know what I mean? So it's absolutely classic. Nothing, nothing real great, you know, Nothing, nothing fancier,

Ant Pruitt (29:02):
Nothing fancy, but it's timeless. You know, I totally did this one. And then there's this shot here. We're going to move into a soccer project here. And I wanted to ask you about this because it's, I know you have your graphic design skills, um, but this could also have been done with some practical smoke bombs. Um, so did you use, did you use smoke bombs in this or is this all uh, post-processing to get this beautiful haze of the red and blue uh, smoke coming there?

Alexis Cuarezma (29:35):
Yeah, I mean, so this is a situation where like, it, it doesn't make, at least for me, it doesn't make sense to get it right in camera Uhhuh. Cause that's why with that holy powder, uh, that's really fine and really, um, it's actually not good to breathe in. Oh, okay. And, um, it wouldn't make sense to do that in a hotel when I was shooting, you know, world class athletes mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I don't want the liability that if that spoke or that, sorry, that powder gets in their eyes or their ears or anything like that. Mm-hmm. It doesn't anything that's the end of my career. Yeah. Yeah. So, um, I shot that, this is a composite. So I shot separately, uh, that shot her, um, specifically her for this one I actually flew to, um, Kansas City.

Ant Pruitt (30:10):
Oh, nice.

Alexis Cuarezma (30:11):
Her, um, in the studio backdrop and then all the smoke was, uh, with the air cannon and the prop stylist. Yeah. Um, and I rented a parking lot in Los Angeles and, and shot a bunch of plate added and composite it together

Ant Pruitt (30:23):
<laugh>. Nice. That's, that's how you do it. That's how you get it done. You just use whatever you got and piece it all together. And now this next shot here, it was, it was clearly a little bit more obvious that yes, this was deposited here, but I love this. I I love the energy on this and the fact that the way you added the smoke to sort of accentuate the, the energy coming out of her, uh, here, uh, walk, walk us through this. What was, what was the thought process behind this shot?

Alexis Cuarezma (30:53):
So for this, for, for the, the cover images for, for Sports Illustrated and then, so it's hard to do, I think it was six, six or five covers. Sorry. Um, and then the, uh, what they wanted to do was represent, um, USA without using the flag, cuz we did that the year before with the men mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and then, uh, the, one of the creative directors, um, wanted to use, uh, you know, the exploding powder with the colors red, white, and blue mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, um, they wanted, so wanted to have that element on there like that. And then what they wanted for each cover was their celebration. Uh, so I just asked the, each each of the athletes that were, you know, for that was shooting them for the covers, uh, to go through their celebrations and how they do everything like that. So, um,

Ant Pruitt (31:34):

Alexis Cuarezma (31:34):
Man, I just asked her on that and she did that and she did, you know, a really great job of doing that. And, um, when I was directing her in the studio, um, and then after that it was just, you know, this is my version of it, composite in it on the spot and it's the one I like. Um, and if you look in the cover, it's, I think they use a different shot for her to use the one where she's a, um,

Ant Pruitt (31:51):
Yeah, she had like, I wanna say I saw it on your website to where it sort of looked like she was saying, or Yeah. Yeah.

Alexis Cuarezma (31:58):
You just, that's one of her celebr rating. And then, um, yeah. And then, what do you call it? Um, Sports Illustrated did their own post production on that. And then, um, and, and they did that and I always like to do my own version, at least show it 'em mm-hmm. <affirmative> or have that in display on there. But, um, when you, you shoot for Sports Illustrated, they have, you shoot raw plus small jpeg and they like to see the entire take and then they request raw files and then they do their own postproduction.

Ant Pruitt (32:21):
Oh, that's cool. Interesting. Interesting ti tidbit there. All right. Now this next image is going to lead into our final topic here. Um, at least in my opinion it does. And this, this, this boxer here.

Alexis Cuarezma (32:34):
Juan Funes. Yes.

Ant Pruitt (32:35):
Oh my goodness, dude, the mood on this one, the lighting that you, that you put in here, just Oh, just, just so beautiful. And I'm not the biggest boxing fan. I sort of fell out of boxing back in the, you know, early two thousands or so. It just, I just lost interest in it. But I could remember just watching back in the days and just the energy when you saw a, a, a boxer's training footage or saw them, you know, post boxing match and just the emotion and energy you got from 'em. And then you see 'em in the magazines and it's just so raw. And this here is just another beautiful personification of energy and just, I love this one. Tell me a little bit about this shot.

Alexis Cuarezma (33:21):
Yeah, so this is, uh, Juan Fu, he's actually, you know, uh, he's really cool. He's actually a, a trainer now down in van, uh, Vanni. And this is a, you know, we're doing just for photos to help promote his, uh, fight he was coming up. But, um, this is a, a fairly simple setup is, uh, uh, three lights. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, if you look at flare, just a boom light mm-hmm. <affirmative> being hidden, um, by the punching bag, uh, the red punching bag on the, on, on camera. Right. And it's shooting right on the lens. And, um, he's lit with two lights in front of, I believe on the top. Usually I think I, I believe I had a 20 degree grid mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then underneath, he's just filled in by a two by three, um, soft box, um, going in there. And then the colors that you're getting like that is, cuz I had a, um, this particular one was shot. One of my favorite lenses, which is a, a older lense is the Cannon 7 8200. Uh, F two eight is version one.

Ant Pruitt (34:09):
Oh, the version one?

Alexis Cuarezma (34:11):
Yeah. Because, um, I, um, I've been trying to get that lens again, but I have a, a ton of lenses. I'm not sure if I, if I that another one. Um, but I, I, I like that lens cuz it has the, the Fluor flu fluoride in it, and then the coatings on it, when you hit hit it with a light, it, it gives you a really beautiful flare That's beautiful flaws on it that, um, I, I like better and I like the way it looks like in version two, they fix that on the lens and it doesn't look like this.

Ant Pruitt (34:37):
I was gonna say a lot of people like version one and version three of the 7,200 and didn't necessarily like the version two of the 70 to the 200.

Alexis Cuarezma (34:45):
I, I've never played with version three. But generally what they tend to do on your versions and people think they, they're better. It depends what your definition of better is, but they usually put more codings on it and, and you know, more things on it so it has less flaws on it and there's more clinical. Yeah. Um, and a lot of that depends on, on your, on what you're trying to portray. Right. You know, if you need a clinical image or you need something with character. Right. And the older lenses tend to have more character, um, to 'em. And, um, and, and again, that purely depends on, on the goal, your image and what you're trying to do creatively. Uh, so that one, that's what I was doing that last like flaring right in, in the lens and given those nice colors. And then, um, definitely like pushing their contrast in post. Um, you know, um, that's, that's how that was

Ant Pruitt (35:27):
Done. I love this style. Absolutely love it. Now what we're gonna do now is transition into some images here on the website, but it's a particular project. All right. So here on this project, this one on your website, Alex Alexis Grema, gosh, I can't say your last name, so sorry. Uh, that's good. <laugh> on your website, alexis, you have a project here called Destin for Greatness, which is, uh, you did this a couple of years back. And can you tell me a little bit about this? Because it, the images are all of a ballerina, but there's more to it than just images of ballerina. What is, what is the story behind the Destin for Greatness project?

Alexis Cuarezma (36:11):
So this is actually an ongoing project I've been doing for the past four years. Oh, right. And I'm still working on, this is still a work in progress. Um, and um, specifically this is on the Destin for granted its own principal ballet dancers. Um, which if, um, uh, if for people who don't know about ballet is there's three separate ranks. There's, um, core ballet soloists and principal principals like the top mm-hmm. <affirmative>, top, top, you know, the highest level you could reach in, in, in ballet. And it's something, it's like basically making it to, to the NFL or nba, um, like literally like a small percentage of dancers make it that far. Wow. Wow. And, um, and they're just a amazing to work with. And the first ballerina, uh, principal ballerina that I worked at, at, at Caliber was Christine Shep Shanko. Um, and I connected with her cuz uh, her fiance found my work.

Alexis Cuarezma (37:01):
Uh, he saw one of the behind the scenes videos that I did for, uh, the a sports illustrator cover shoot. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and then he reached out to me and, uh, he was say, Hey, you know, you should work with Rick Steam, You know, she's a, you know, you an accomplished dancer. I looked her up and I was like, Oh damn. I'm like, she's like one of the best, you know, that you asked. Yeah. And, um, um, I said to myself, I'm like, I normally wouldn't have access to somebody like that I heard Caliber unless I was being assigned by the New York Times or, or you know, a client or a magazine. Right. Uh, so I, I definitely jumped on that opportunity and, um, I FaceTime with her and uh, um, for about two, three hours she was in Hong Kong and, uh, performing, traveling with ballet and I was here in, in the Bay Area. And, um, you know, it was, uh, this great talk with her and hearing her story. Uh, Christine, you know, was originally from the Ukraine Uhhuh and she moved to her mom to the United States at the age of six. Um, and I was like, Oh, wow. Like,

Ant Pruitt (38:00):
Oh, sounds familiar.

Alexis Cuarezma (38:01):
<laugh>. Yeah. I was able to relate to that. Um, you know, I, I moved to the age of six here too as well. Um, and um, you know, I, you know, I said she was gonna be in LA on, on vacation, you know, quote unquote. Um, so I was like, Okay, cool. Let's just like, uh, you know, five hour drive for me. So, you know, we've figured out, um, uh, you know, some days to work and it ended up being, um, Easter. Easter weekend. The, uh, you know, I went down to LA when she was there and the reason why I stay quote vacation is because every day she was on vacation. She was working, you know, with her ballet master from like, I think seven or eight in the morning until like 10, uh, every day. And then when she decided to work with me, um, the first day we worked together, we shot for 12 hours.

Alexis Cuarezma (38:43):
Yeah. The second day was like another eight to 10 hour day. And then the third day was, you know, shorter or six days. So, um, I wanna say that was career changing for me cuz that was the first time in my career that I ever worked with somebody on the top of their field. Yeah. That was equally dedicated to creating the best possible work as I was. Yeah. Cause working with professional a, uh, athletes, um, you know, it's really great, but it, it is what it is. It's a 10 minute shoot, you know, you're lucky if you get 10 to 15 minutes mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, definitely it's less than that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Uh, but it's a whole different, you know, fulfillment when you get to connect with some, with collaborate someone and work with them, you know, for, for 8, 10, 12 hours and, and create the best possible work together.

Alexis Cuarezma (39:19):
Um, you know, so I started that with Christine and we did photos that day. Um, we did, um, I directed a, a short film with her short narrative film. And then, um, after I got done working with her, I wanted to continue that work. Um, so I started reaching out to dancers here. Um, and that's how I connected with Sasha Des Solo who's, um, you know, principal at San Francisco Ballet. And I worked with a few other principals here, but with Sasha, I've been working with her, um, for four years mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I'm actually, um, publishing my first photo book with the work we've done. And on next year I'm working on doing gallery showings of the work that I've done with her and possibly the other dancers. But right now it's just, by the time being it's just, uh, as Sasha, um, and I was just in Chicago, um, and I found a gallery that wants to show the work there and I want to do do it in New York too as well in San Francisco. Um, so it's just, uh, ongoing personal work and this is what I lead off whenever I have a portfolio meeting with the potential client. Yeah. Cause I tell 'em that's, this is how my, this is how my work looks when the only person who have to answer just myself, um, and the dancer. Um, and, um, and that the people, that's what people wanna see. You know? So that's a, uh, this work that I've been doing, you know, past four years in counting and, and I just, uh, wanna continue involving the shooting.

Ant Pruitt (40:31):
So this, this shoot with her, that first time, that first day you said it was, you know, roughly 12 hours or so mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, from a collaborative standpoint, I, I like to assume that it was a little bit of give and take for both of you far as figuring out what you're trying to present, what you're trying to capture and so forth. Or was it more of her just saying, you know what, you, you're the photographer, you tell me what to do.

Alexis Cuarezma (40:56):
Um, not necessarily. Well that one, I started out shooting her repertoire style, like training. Um, and then after that we did go to, um, Santa Monica College to, to shoot like the, the list stuff. Yeah. But like all those, like I, all, all those were done. Um, I didn't plan any of those shots at off <laugh>. Um, if you go to, um, if you go to on my website, um, uh, if you scroll all the way to the top and you go to projects, um, and then you click on Christine's, uh, like the, the one below Floyd, that one Christine Hanco, these are all the portraits or shots we did that day. Uh, most of 'em, some of 'em were the other days, like all these shots were done. Um, they weren't planned. They were kind of done on intuition and Oh, nice. As a matter of fact kind of way.

Alexis Cuarezma (41:40):
So I like to say that's when I, I do my best work, uh, cuz my main attention and my main focus was the short film we're doing mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I was working with a cinematographer and trying to figure out lighting and how to do all that stuff. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I actually didn't plan out any of the, the shots and we just kind of just did 'em on, uh, on the day of without any like, pre-planning. Like I didn't set out that day to say, Oh, I'm gonna make a portrait like this or I'm gonna shoot that. It was um, kind of just kind of going with the flow and you know, and doing the work and, and I, I love how it came out. Cause I like to say that's work that's the sincere and um, is done on intuition, um, versus just like, you know, trying to like plan that out or do anything like that.

Ant Pruitt (42:18):
These shots are unbelievable. And I wanna focus on this one here in particular. So let me click on this shot here. So the kit that you're using, I I, I'm taking a wild guess in saying that this is not a, an APSC camera, this isn't a full frame camera. Um, is this medium format sir?

Alexis Cuarezma (42:44):
No, this is a, um, this was a can fives,

Ant Pruitt (42:47):
So it is Oh, okay. So it Oh, it's the ultra. Okay. It's the ultra. I got it. That makes sense cuz there's so much detail in this image here and you're, when I see these high resolution images all over your website, they all have a, a very particular style when it comes to the lighting and when it comes to the post-processing. Um, is that pretty much like your, your your thing because I'm looking at her skin, The skin is just beautifully retouched. Yes. There's, you know, we have makeup artists that are gonna do their thing to make everyone look great, but I could still see in a lot of your images, not just hers, but it's just you have a certain way about post-processing. Uh, is that, is that fair to say or is it just more of a, you know, you do it based on the scene kind of thing?

Alexis Cuarezma (43:33):
I mean, I, I'd like to say, I mean my, my style again has changed from that time. When I shot that image, it was a, um, when I was shooting with the five Ds and that was usually my go-to for the longest time, even before that. Yeah. Um, I generally shot a ISO 100 and I'm usually lived around F 16, so I pumped a lot of light.

Ant Pruitt (43:53):
Oh, okay. You wanted to control the light yourself, right?

Alexis Cuarezma (43:55):
Yeah. I mean if you look, I would say 90 plus percent of my images are 100% lit by stroke. So in other words Yeah. Meaning that the lights didn't go off, uh, it would just be a black frame.

Ant Pruitt (44:05):

Alexis Cuarezma (44:06):
Yeah. Um, and on on for that shooting in particular, I was still shooting with the five Ds. And, um, generally one of the things that I don't like to, um, worry about is kneeling the focus mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, so like example, like, you know, when you shoot all these athletes and stuff, like I have five to 10 minutes or less Yep. And I don't wanna worry about kneeling the focus, so I would shoot, I saw 100 s 16 to get a clean image. Yeah. Uh, and that's how I shot for the longest time until recently, uh, where I switched with the R five mm-hmm. <affirmative>, Uh, and that has the eye track detect. That was really, really good.

Ant Pruitt (44:37):
Yeah. It's super fast. Super fast.

Alexis Cuarezma (44:39):
And then, and it's really accurate so that, um, so I, I made a few, uh, switches, um, on, on the way I shoot because those were plugged in lights by packing heads. Um, and now I shoot more with battery power ones cuz uh, with Pro Photo B be one for

Ant Pruitt (44:57):
Can access.

Alexis Cuarezma (44:58):
Okay. Yeah. And, um, I shoot now, um, now I, with the technology, how it comes, it's like I I I'm not afraid to shoot wide open, Wide open for me is a four, a five, six <laugh>. Um, I don't need to shoot ridiculously at uh, you know, at F one two or any of stuff that people do cuz I'd rather, uh, get more, more stuff in focus, um mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But, um, so now I, with technology like ISO 800 is the new 100. Yeah. So, um, I don't mind shooting now at F four, F five six at ISO four to 800. Um, and again, when I'm shooting on battery powered lights, you know, it lets me, you know, recycle faster and, and you know, set up and breakdowns a lot faster cause I don't gotta worry about cords. Yep. So that's how my style has changed. And now I changed from an R five to a GFX 100 s Ah.

Alexis Cuarezma (45:47):
And even then on that, on that camera, um, even F four or five six is still pretty shallow on some shots. Um, but like, again, the out focus on that is pretty, you know, pretty, you know, like I would say pretty good that I'm comfortable enough to shoot at F four, F five six. Um, and, um, so I, I rarely shoot these days that I have 16, um mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, uh, other stuff that I do too. Now with the way technology has allowed me with the mirrorless cameras, it's um, I shoot that. Um, and then also shoot with vintage lenses that have manual focus. And you can nail that really good too now with the, with the mirrorless cameras. And, and, uh, so if you look at the latest workout, which actually if you look, um, I have a little bit of everything, but if you look on the, on the project with Sasha De Solo mm-hmm.

Alexis Cuarezma (46:28):
<affirmative>, uh, on that one, I have stuff with vintage lenses and, and other stuff. So that's, um, actually updated this one lately. So if you look on that, it has a combination of, uh, everything that, um, I photographed Sasha with actually like nearly every format out there, four by five, eight by 10. Um, who some, all the blur, all the flare stuff with Sasha is with vintage lenses. Um, that's a GFX 100 s 35 millimeter, uh, film, um, and everything like that. So I've, um, um, that, like, the way again, technology just progressed is just like, it, it kind of opens up the door

Ant Pruitt (47:01):
Started. Oh, these are gorgeous. Good. Thank you. Oh, I love the flare.

Alexis Cuarezma (47:06):
Yeah, that's what the old school lens, that's the Cannon FD 70 to two 10. And then flooring that,

Ant Pruitt (47:13):
Look at that and this whole ethereal feel with these just, just beautiful. And this is just varying embodies that you have for this particular project, not just one vary varying camera bodies. Right. What,

Alexis Cuarezma (47:28):
I'm sorry, say one

Ant Pruitt (47:28):
More time. You have various camera bodies used on this project, right?

Alexis Cuarezma (47:31):
Yeah. So that's, uh, the black and white ones that are shot with a four by five camera. Uh, it's a zone's called Zone six, so that, that's film. Um, and then, um, yeah, I mean, like I said, I photographed slash it with like nearly every single camera out there that, that every format, uh, I photographed in.

Ant Pruitt (47:47):
This is just awesome. Unbelievable. So this project, the, the, the determined to be greatness is just continuing to go on. Um, what's the next step for

Alexis Cuarezma (47:59):

Ant Pruitt (47:59):
Yeah. What's, what's the next step in that project? You know, what's, what's the next step for y'all? What are you, what are you wanting to work on next with it?

Alexis Cuarezma (48:07):
Oh, so it was the same on that one. I'm publishing a book mm-hmm. <affirmative> with fas coming out next year. And I'm looking to do gallery openings in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles to show the work. Um, cause I put a lot of effort in into these, uh, to making those images. Yeah. And I want 'em to be seen outside of the three inch screen on the,

Ant Pruitt (48:24):
The, Yeah. Yeah. Um,

Alexis Cuarezma (48:26):
And doing that. So I, uh, um, on that one next to that project, I'm doing portraits of Sasha, uh, this Sunday actually. Um, and doing that I'm doing portraits of her and her mom. And then I'm doing kind of a day in the life and following her, um, doing some of the training that she does. And then we have a few more sheets to do, um, for I could, you know, wrap everything up for, for the book cuz the entire book is just gonna be on Sasha. Initially I was doing that book, um, and I announced it last year and I was initially gonna do it with three principal dancers that I worked with mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Uh, but a, after I laid out that whole book, I designed everything and did all and wrote all a copy for it. Um, one of the dancers that I photographed only did one session with them and it was only a four hour session.

Alexis Cuarezma (49:06):
And what really bothered me about that is I didn't have a lot to say about that, that person, cuz only ended up doing one session with them. And the other dancer was Christine, Jeff Shanko, the one where, where I did, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative>, the short film and everything. Yep. And, you know, I had a good amount of things to say with her, but with Sasha, she was also in that, in that, in that book. But with her, I had done, cuz she's local to me. Um, Christine is in New York and Sasha's local here in the Bay. I had done with Christine, sorry, with Sasha, I had done like nine, 10 shoots and I was just thinking, man, like I, uh, with her, I have enough, you know, images for her to do the entire book on her own. And so when I was looking at, at the layout, I'm like, great if I removed the, the dancer who I only did one shoot with mm-hmm.

Alexis Cuarezma (49:47):
<affirmative> for Christine and Sasha, which they both have a good amount of work, but then I'm like, why split the, you know, do a book on both of them when with Sasha, I have so much work that I could do a book just on her. So I decided to just actually change that book and instead of doing it on three dancers and doing that, I'd rather go deeper and more vertical in one dancer, which is Sasha and, and do that book just on her alone. And, uh, so that, that, that's what I'm doing, um, on, uh, with that project. So I'm working with Saha alone to do an entire, uh, photography book just on her. Um, and then I'm hoping to be able to do that with Christina as well. Cause I have a great start with her. Um, and if I could, you know, if I did just like four or five more shoots with Christina, I would have enough to complete an entire book just on her alone.

Alexis Cuarezma (50:32):
And, and again, I'd rather do that when I'm doing an entire, uh, book on somebody, which is, um, uh, the, the last thing I want to do is, um, just make a book of pretty photos. Yeah. Uh, that's, it's really easy, in my opinion, to create pretty pictures is difficult to create work that's meaningful, sincere, and has a purpose. Yeah. And I think that when you go deeper with somebody and, you know, and just explore one, one person, I'd rather do that than to photograph, for example, 10 principles and just have, you know, a few pretty shots of each and, and make a collection about it like that. I'd rather focus on one person their story, who they are and share that, uh, individually and, and, you know, going that route.

Ant Pruitt (51:09):
Well being, being someone that's, that's doing these books and doing these, these short films. You know, if when you look through the credits, they clearly say written by Alexis Cara, uh, that process of actually getting those words to paper, if you will, what is that? Like? Are you leaning on some of the resources to sort of help you, you know, get what's in your head out and onto the page? Or is this just something that comes natural to you? Because I look at someone like Mr. Rick Salmon, that man has written like 40 some odd books, just a ton of them because it's just in him. He's a hell of a photographer, one of the one in the world's best, but when it comes time to write, he can just spit a book out. Like, it's like, it's nothing. Um, for you far as writing a book and writing at these movies, what is it, do you feel this is something that just sort of comes to you?

Alexis Cuarezma (52:02):
Well, I, I, I don't know what that person in particular writes, but the stuff I'm doing more, um, uh, I wanna say biographical mm-hmm. <affirmative>, so it's based strict on that, on that person. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, so I interview 'em and all that stuff is drawn that, um, what I like to say with these projects is that essentially I, I'm just a, a, a mirror right. And I'm reflecting.

Ant Pruitt (52:24):
Yeah. Well, even with the biographical, um, subject matter, it's still, it still has to intrigue people. It has to be, because otherwise it's just a history book that you got in, in a classroom, you know what I'm saying? So

Alexis Cuarezma (52:37):
Yeah, I mean like for, so for that stuff, I like to say that I'm a mirror, but when with these ones I, I like to say I'm a broken mirror, Right. I'm plot in my flaws are what, like you see all the style Yeah. And all the stuff that I do on it when I'm allowed to, when I'm allowed to be that like Right. Yeah. When you, when you do stuff with your style and generally like the, like again, the more clinical something you know, has to be, the more you're removing myself and my flaws from it. Um, and, and like the stuff with Sasha, like right, that's just me with all my flaws and everything. I do like shooting her black and white color, large format, 35 millimeter digital, all that stuff. That's kind of just my, my a d and all stuff like that.

Alexis Cuarezma (53:15):
I'm putting right <laugh> on, on the shoot, and I'm just putting my flaws and everything I'm doing into it. Um, and, and, and, uh, like I said, it's my work that's, I like to say it's, it's sincere mm-hmm. <affirmative> <affirmative>. It's, it's, uh, it's genuine. It's expressionist and, and I'm not, um, I'm not worried about like, uh, uh, looking for anyone's approval or, or, or to make anyone happy again, except just being, being true to myself and, you know, making sure that I'm happy with the work and that, that she's happy with it too. And, and with her, I, it just been, been a blessing working with her. And, you know, I have a great, um, you know, a collaborative relationship, uh, with her. And, and it's an absolute pleasure to, to be able to, you know, it's been a gift, uh, to able to find, uh, to, and find her and work with her.

Ant Pruitt (53:57):
That's freaking awesome, man. Good stuff. Good stuff. Well, Mr. Alexis, thank you so much for hanging with me today. This has been just a, a lot of, of great information and, and just, just tidbits and things that, you know, some of us have never even considered. But what I got out of the most is just the passion that the, the passion and, and flat out love that you have for doing all of these projects and getting the word out and getting your message out as well as helping the, these subjects shine. You know, I I, I totally appreciate what you're doing in this, in this photography space and this creative space. Just absolutely beautiful work, my man.

Alexis Cuarezma (54:34):
Thank you, man. I appreciate it. Yeah, Good

Ant Pruitt (54:37):
Grief. I love it. Um, so if, if anyone's trying to contact you or find it more of your work, uh, where should we direct them to?

Alexis Cuarezma (54:45):
Uh, everything is, uh, my first and last, which I know is probably not the easiest to spell, but, uh, my Instagram and TWiTter, it's Alexis Charma. Uh, my website is alexis My YouTube page is, you know, slash Alexis Charma, uh, everything is my first and last name. So you could check out, um, uh, everything I do on, uh, on social media or on my website,

Ant Pruitt (55:05):
Outstanding. We will have links to all of his findings and, and, and connections there in our show notes so people can get access to those very, very quickly. I highly recommend you folks give him a follow. This is just good stuff. So again, Mr. Alexis, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate you hanging out with me.

Alexis Cuarezma (55:24):
And of course, man, thank you. Thank you so much for having

Ant Pruitt (55:26):
Me. My pleasure. All right, everybody that's gonna do it for this week's episode, man. Oh man. Oh man. I'm telling y'all, every time I get to sit down with another photographer, it, it just fires me up. I usually start sweating and just, just the bud blood starts flowing cuz it's just good energy coming from these folks. And his story is amazing. His work ethic is clearly just showing up in this work. Uh, and the message is getting out of just creating some beautiful, beautiful daum art. And I hope today's conversation will continue to inspire you, the Hands-on photography listener to just get up and start shooting. You know, if you're, if you're wanting, if you're aspiring to shoot for a brand like Nike or what have you, grab some stuff and start shooting it. We've talked about this before. You know, you wanna shoot for brands and shoot for different companies or what have you.

Ant Pruitt (56:14):
Just do your practice right there in your own home. Just start right there and just work your way up and get better and better and put it out there. Put it out there just as he said, uh, because they're gonna be looking for it. And if it's out there and it's looking good, you just might get an opportunity. You never know. So just try it. All right. Again, thank you all for watching the show and sharing the show each and every week here on Please do me a favor and if you're using like Apple podcast, they have this star rating in there, give five stars. Okay? If you, if you wanna do four stars, fine, but gimme five stars, I'd really appreciate that. And also leave a comment on that review so it can help push us up into Apple search engine and all of that good stuff.

Ant Pruitt (56:58):
You know, all that algorithmic stuff. Just, just, just help with brother and I appreciate that. And be sure to subscribe in all of the other channels, um, whether it's Spotify or YouTube, if you'd like to use that as well. If you have questions, comments, feedback, feel free to shoot an email to hop Again, it's hop I love hearing from you all. Uh, we do image critiques. Um, just answer general questions and if there's an image that you don't mind me showing on the show, please say so in the email and you know, potentially I'll put it up there. Cuz a lot of that stuff is good learning opportunities, not only for you asking the question, but everybody else watching the show. Uh, it's probably asking the same question that you're asking. It's quite helpful for the community. Thank you to my man, Mr. Victor, the most wonderful editor out there. He makes me look and sound good each and every week. And yep. I'm gonna make you work this time. I man <laugh>, no, sorry. You know, I love you brother. Thank you everybody for all the support. Hey, I shall catch you all next time. So continue to create and dominate and be safe out there. Y'all take care.

Speaker 4 (58:07):
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