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Meet Austin Quintana

Today we’d like to introduce you to Austin Quintana.

Austin, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started making videos with my friends when I was nine or ten. We would walk home from school and go straight to my friend’s house and begin shooting little skits and then uploading to YouTube. I never owned the camera we used and I pretty much always acted in the skits, but I was always more interested in using the camera than being in front of it.

A few years went by, and we were still making videos all the time, but I was ready for a change. Around the time I turned fourteen I finally got my own camera and began my journey with photography, which in addition to making videos, quickly became an obsession not just a hobby. I knew of some people older than me that were doing a 365 project, so I decided to start my own. I made a new photograph everyday for a year. At the time, it was the perfect motivator to get better. No matter what I had going on in my life, I picked up the camera and tried to make something new every day. The photographs may not have been the greatest but it was great practice.

Making films is a major passion of mine, but I am more interested in making photographs these days. I knew I wanted to go to college and I knew I wanted to study visual arts, but I hardly even considered making photography my concentration. I studied film production, but I wasn’t finding much fulfillment in sets with big crews working on other people’s ideas. I took a different path than I thought I would and fell into the more experimental/personal filmmaking and photography route. It ended up being the best decision for me and for my work, and thankfully the program I was in at Emerson college offered this flexibility. I made a lot of great connections with people at this school. It was truly the people that made the experience worthwhile. I now have a network of friends in LA, NYC, and Boston that I wouldn’t have had otherwise and I am very grateful for it.

Has it been a smooth road?
Going down the path of working in the arts is always challenging, and not everyone even gets the chance to try. I am very fortunate in that I was always supported and encouraged by my family in my decisions. I would not have had nearly as many opportunities as I’ve had if not for them.

One of the challenges I constantly face has been trying to maintain consistency and balance in my work and life. There’s always pressure to stay productive, authentic, and financially stable. When I can balance these things It feels absolutely incredible, but that’s not always the case.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m a freelance photographer/filmmaker specializing in portraiture and documentary. Something I am known for in my work is that I shoot everything on film. I have found the process to be in tune with how I operate and how I visualize the final result to look. The only thing I am not fond of with working with celluloid is the cost, but you can’t always win.

A recent accomplishment I am quite proud of, with the help of a friend, is the self-publication of my first photography book— an ending a beginning. It is a 166-page portfolio book of the past five years of work (2014-2019). I printed 75 copies and sold out within a few months. It ignited a new passion for bookmaking that I am very excited to explore as I get older. I think there’s nothing better than opening up a book and seeing printed photographs.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
First and foremost, my family and friends are my biggest supporters. I can always count on them to help out or pose for a photograph. In school, I had several really great professors that opened a lot of doors for me. My film professor Peter Flynn always encouraged me, gave insightful advice, held a great conversation, and introduced me to people and topics that are now opening more doors for me. My experience interning and assisting for Ryan McGinley was incredible. The opportunity showed me a new perspective of working in a photo studio. It was inspiring seeing how one of the artists I look up to most makes his work and how I can apply his advice to my own work.

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