Juan Dominguez is a fashion/portrait photographer based out of Temecula California.
He creates highly stylized work with model/wife Alexis that ranges from couture, to edgy and raw.
I love watching artists that continually challenge themselves. Juan’s style, while well defined, is continually evolving. You never know what to expect next from him, or his work.
In our conversation Juan dicusses his artistic beginnings, diverse range of influences, and what makes makes him reach for his camera.
Juan was kind enough to participate in the following interview:
How long have you been a photographer? I have been a photographer for about 10 months
What kind of gear do you use? I use a Canon 5D Mark iii with a 85mm f/1.8 lens, a 24-70mm 2.8 and a Sony A7ii with a Distagon 35mm f/1.4 lens.
Canon 430ex speed lights, natural and a cheap pair of continuous studios lights, that are being replaced soon by a pair of Alien Bees.
How did you discover photography? I discovered photography back in 2005 when I switched my major from Psychology to Graphic Design and Photography. I’ve been a musician since the 7th grade starting first with trumpet, then guitar, bass, and after my amputations the piano and drums, so I feel I was more of an artist than someone destined to wear a suit and sit at a nine to five job.
At the time my plan was to pursue graphics, and well photography was just something that was attached to it. Turns out I hated graphics! It probably had to do with my first professor, she was a real you know what, so I just quit like most things in my life at that point. I didn’t even start the photography portion.
Long story short I joined the Marine Corps, went on a float my first time around, then went on a combat deployment stepping on an I.E.D in Afghanistan which resulted in the loss of both of my legs above the knees, and right arm above the elbow.
After I medically retired I was guided to take a course called FSTOP when one of the SgtMaj. heard I liked photography. The Instructor’s name was Terrance Ford, and turns out it was Harrison Ford’s brother. It was through him that I was reintroduced to photography and where I gained my love for it.
How would you describe your style? I don’t know how I would actually describe my style. Terrance Ford introduce me to Irving Penn and I was visually overwhelmed with bliss. After I graduated FSTOP my cousin Nando Esparza who is a Fashion|Portrait Photographer introduced me to Helmut Newton, and again I was visually inspired!
I said to myself I want to do something like that I want to capture beautiful subjects.
The third person who I feel helped shape my understanding of what direction I should take with my photography was David LaChapelle, and my wife Alexis (who is a Mixed Media/Illustration Artist). She is the one who showed me his work.
I feel that the more that I take photographs the more I will blend different things that I enjoy together. So again really don’t know what my actual style is, but I will continue to photograph the things that I find visually stimulating, and what I deem beautiful.
Where I’m heading now in my work, well you’ll just have to stay tuned…
What does photography mean to you? The ability to tell stories from my view sitting in a wheelchair, the ability to have people focus on what I see as beauty, to maybe agree, or to respectfully disagree. But never to limit me.
What makes you reach for your camera? It’s therapy, it has become a familiar way to speak without saying anything.
Is there any subject matter that you off limits to you? If so, why? Art has no limits in my opinion so If I choose to not partake on a project, the reason will probably be that I’m just not feeling it.
What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos? Not that I’m a master of my craft by any means but that I at that point had no clue of what ISO’s were.
What is one question nobody has ever asked you—that you wish they asked you? Unfortunately I’m a walking billboard for questions because of my injuries, so as of right now I can’t think of one that hasn’t been asked about myself or my work.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?I was told it didn’t matter how I captured a photo, or on what equipment I captured it on, as long as it was framed well and interesting that’s all that really should matter.