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Meet Hollywood Portrait Photographer: Leo Quijano II

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leo Quijano II.

Leo, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I think I started by watching movies. Paying close attention to framing and storytelling through cinematography. Relentlessly rewatching movies wasn’t for study, It was for fun. I’ve always taken note of what worked and what didn’t. If something the film editor did to take me out of the experience, it was mentally noted as how not to execute a plan. By the time I got to hold a camera, I was sixteen. My father had just received a new drop-in film camera and had handed over his Pentax K1000 to shadow him around the park. Everything clicked there and I haven’t stopped shooting since. I call myself a portrait photographer because that’s just how I shoot. I shoot portraits of everything and everyone. I like to tell a story with every one of my shots.

Has it been a smooth road?
If you live in Los Angeles then you know that there isn’t one smooth road anywhere in this city. You’ll find that these roads have all sorts of people driving on them. Some with which you appreciate sharing the road and some (as you all know) are simply content with being in the way. You have to know how to share this road with the good drivers and how to out-maneuver those that do their best to slow you down. Sadly, word of mouth means a lot more to some people rather than actual work. Things unsaid can sometimes do more harm than what’s actually said. It’s hard to not take these things personally when your work is so personal to you. You just have to remember that those whom try to slow you down are doing it for their own misaligned issues and have little to do with you.

When you look back, can you point to a period when you wanted to quit or a period that was really frustrating?
Oh, hell yes. Every creative type has had moments of self-doubt. Illustrators, photographers, musicians, chefs, and artisans of all walks of life that pour their hearts into something creative to make this world a more livable place, at some point in time, will ask themselves if what they’re doing is making the difference they had in mind… Feeling like you aren’t reaching the desired audience… Not knowing what your work looks, sounds, feels, and tastes like after hours of repetition… Fear that your skills aren’t advancing in the way you desired… Fear that you’re in a cycle of repeating the same work… Fear that if someone else is already doing it better, then why bother? Fear that at any moment you’ll be discovered to be a fraud, a phony, a charlatan. These are some examples of genuine fears and concerns I’ve heard and had being around creative minds for roughly the past twenty years. The drive to show the world itself through your own eyes is the passion that burns most of us to exhaustion. To the point where we question if it’s all worth it. Then we get “an idea!”, pick up our weapon of choice, and go back to work.

“What matters most is how well you walk through the fire” – Charles Bukowski

What advice do you wish to give to those thinking about pursuing a path similar to yours?
With however you earn cash, always make sure to keep your mind happy with itself. Keep your mind sharp with things not related to money. Photograph a building being built from the same spot every day during your walk to lunch then make a GIF out of it… Keep a journal with you. Write shitty poetry in there that nobody will ever read. Draw things you wouldn’t show your mother. Bitch about that a-hole from accounting that keeps asking questions at the meeting that overlapped lunch. A release of some kind is what we all need. Take your thoughts off the grid in this city once in a while. Because all work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

What are you most excited about these days?
Travelling 🙂

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    November 14, 2016 at 19:01

    Brilliant content and interview!

  2. Nick

    November 14, 2016 at 20:57

    I wanna bone you

  3. Renee Antillon Kinner

    November 14, 2016 at 22:58

    Very interesting, he said it all when it comes to creative types.

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