Chuy is an intimate elopement and steamy photographer based out of Los Angeles, CA. He got into photography shortly after getting married. He was inspired instantly by the creativity and ability to create and storytell with photographs. When he creates, he thinks of everything as a blank canvas. He is turning nothing into something. He has a special collaborative relationship with his couples where creating together has no limits. They think outside the box and tell stories together that are so uniquely tailored to them specifically. The passion comes with telling the stories. The photographs are a supporting tangible memory that describes what they felt when they all created together.
1. One of the many things that stand out in your portfolio is the wide range of diverse couples that you showcase in terms of race, sexuality and body type. This is not very common in the wedding photography industry. Can you share your thoughts about why that is and how it can change?
First off, thank you so much. I take pride in having such a diverse portfolio. I’ve always strived to be different. Not worry about what everyone else is doing and focus on my craft. I would like to think that this industry has sort of painted an image of what the perfect picture should look like or should be. As I got into the industry and started getting exposed to other people’s work, I noticed there is something odd. Every couple looked the same. don’t get me wrong, the photos and special moments happening within them were so beautiful! However, it was so different than the work I was creating and began thinking it was my work and style I had to change in order to “make it” and get my name known out there. I think that’s also a big problem as well. Too often I hear, “I find myself trying to copy what others are doing in order to get the results they have: styling, location, couples, etc.” I truly think that by trusting what you believe in and this vision of an artist you want to become is the right step into changing industry standards.
2. Was it a conscious and deliberate move to make sure that your body of work includes different types of people? Did you actively seek out under-represented couples in order to advocate for inclusivity?
To be 1000% honest with you, I wasn’t conscious at all about it. The first couple I ever photographed was a same sex couple. I was just photographing couples who truly enjoyed my work and respected the craft and attention to detail that I put into creating a special moment for them. Like I tell all my couples, “if you funk with me, I’ll funk with you.” Meaning, I’ll create with any couple as long as we are the perfect fit for one another.
3. In an Instragram post from April 2019, you share a story of a girl who reached out to you with a photograph asking if you would be okay taking pictures of her and her fiance. She had already been turned away by another photographer because they are an interacial couple. What can we, photographers, do to combat this kind of behavior and discrimination by other photographers?
That story is one that I hold so close to my heart. NO COUPLE should ever feel that pain of rejection. It gets me fired just thinking about the feeling my couple must have felt hearing that. Like I also say, “funk them!” Send them all to me, because I’ll cherish them and tell their story like it deserves to be told! I think the first step is, stop worrying about what others are doing. Focus on your craft. Ask yourself, what made you continue this journey as a wedding/elopement photographer? What makes you passionate about the couples that inquire? Post what makes you feel good. Think about the stories you want to tell and why you tell them.
4. Some photographers claim that they don’t have the opportunity to expand their portfolio because they are not approached by diverse couples. What advice do you have for photographers who are happy to serve any type of couple and are looking for ways to have them enquire with them?
My biggest advice would be to have a vision of what you’re wanting to create. Because with no clear vision of the art you want to create, you’ll be wasting time and your couple’s time. reach out to a couple that fits that vision that you have and create with them. Buy them dinner, drinks, or pay them for their time for helping you make this vision come to life. Social media is a phenomenal platform to connect with people within minutes if not, seconds. Use it as an investment to your business. You’ll then have images to showcase on your social media and show other potential couples that you are the one for them!
5. There is debate surrounding if it is acceptable to actively do a model-call for people from minority groups. Some see it as using them as props/tokens for their own agenda to promote their business as being inclusive. What are your thoughts?
Ugh, I funkin’ hate that and truly hope their memory card gets corrupted or better yet, a beautiful swan comes flying down to the rescue and snatches their camera and flies away into the sunset. I can almost guarantee you that whoever those individuals are who do this, won’t make it far or will get burnt out so fast. There is no passion behind what they are creating. Those stories they are trying to tell won’t be authentic either. It’s a shame that this happens and got my blood boiling reading this question. Like I said, I don’t pay attention to what is happening in the industry. I create for my couples in a collaborative unique process. It’s like we are in our own little world and we block out reality when we are making art.
6. In some cases, couples that are from a minortiy group, may ask for their images to remain private in order to avoid potential criticism online. What can photographers do to reassure potential couples that they are actually willing and happy to photograph all types of couples although it is not reflected in their online portfolio?
Respecting the decision of your couples to have their images and love remain private is everything. It’s also very sad that we live in a world where fear tends to overpower love and therefore must hide it. But, by respecting it — you protect it. I’ve photographed numerous couples who wish to have their love as private as possible. celebrities as well. this is where contracts is everything to reassure that everyone is on the same page.
I think referring back to question 4 would also be an essential tool to apply here as well. Creating for yourself is so important. Portfolio building, experimenting with camera settings, or practicing poses and how to communicate that with your couples. If you create for yourself as often as possible, you’ll have more than enough content to present to your potential couples while still respecting the privacy of your couples who wish to keep everything private.
7. What role do you believe photographers play in perpetuating classic beauty standards through their portfolio?
I sat on this question for a hot minute but then got to thinking, to each their own. If photographers solely want to photograph couples of a specific race, gender, shape or size, etc — good for them. They have their vision on what works for them and the couples that seek that kind of art. I just don’t want and would hate for people to think it’s okay that just because people are now aware of what is happening in the industry, to target minority groups as props or tokens to make them an all inclusive photographer. You should create with couples that you genuinely connect with and can truthfully document their story like no one has ever seen before.
8. To wrap up, what is your opinion about the responsibilty of photographers, wedding blogs, feature accounts, workshops etc. have in terms of representing minority groups?
It’s only right that the king of steam or as people now call me, “the butt guy” make a reference about butts. One of my couples recently told me, “opinions are like buttholes, everyone’s got one.” After wiping my tears because I laughed so hard, they’re right. No matter what I say, people will continue doing their thing and not wanting to change their ways. But I will say this to those who seek change, do it out of love. put yourself in your couple’s shoes and treat them like you want to be treated. Represent them like you would want to be represented and I guarantee you, your art and passion will skyrocket like you’ve never seen it before.