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Meet West LA Photographer: Alex Ramirez Canales

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Ramirez Canales.

Alex, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Ever since I was little, I have always been the one to capture memories in my family. When I was 8, my mom bought a camera for herself but I ended taking it without asking. Since then, I took it upon myself to immortalize the moments of our live’s that felt significant to tell through a photograph or video. I convinced my mom to buy me a Kodak digital camera when I was 12 which I then use to chase my little brother through our home trying to get a shot. They would run away from me whenever they saw site of my camera.

As an adult, it took me a while to realize that I have always been an artistic individual and a natural photographer. I never considered photography as a career and originally started college as a pre-med biology student because I felt that career path would certainly bring me a successful future and allow me to help give back to my community.

Two years into my program I felt a void, all my classes were heavily structured and information based and I was miserable. It wasn’t until I took my first photography class that I feel in love and began to study photography, taking all the photo courses available while remaining a health major. That’s when I discovered that I was a creative individual and that I was neglecting my creative need. From there on I began to freelance and decided photography was going to be my future.

Now I realize that photography is a powerful tool. I can give back and help underrepresented communities through storytelling, giving them a voice. Which is what I wanted to do originally through health. I am now an artist mentor for a nonprofit organization where I help teach photography and the principles of storytelling to children from low-income backgrounds. For the past 2 years, I have set up a Linked In Photo booth at a Federal Employment Fair put on by the Disability Resources and Educational Services at CSUN. Where individuals with disabilities get a headshot taken to use for Linked In to increase their chances of finding employment after graduation.

Photography has given me the ability to bring happiness to people from different paths of life. It has helped me find myself and hope that my work can make an impact in the future.

Has it been a smooth road?
The hardest part so far has been the risk of devoting myself in becoming a professional photographer. There is not guarantee that you will have a fixed income and have a stable clientele to keep our business going. In the current era of the iPhone, everyone has the ability to take great shots through their phones. People undermine or take for granted the quality of your work because they have the potential to take a cool picture with their phone.

Any predictions for the industry over the next few years?
I am excited to see how much of an impact social media will have on photography. All the apps are consistently evolving and centering their focus on the use of imagery. The world is realizing how important images are and how much information you are able to obtain from a single shot. We are also seeing the beginning of Virtual reality technology, I can see photography fully emerging in the use of virtual reality as well as other virtual mediums. The use of GIFs to show funny events or television shows are the rave at the moment. Usually used for humor, I can see GIFs starting to be used as a serious tool for photographers or journalists.

What has been the primary challenge you’ve faced?
Sometimes your biggest obstacle can be yourself. There was a period of time where I was shooting with clients and I still would not call myself a photographer. The title felt fake or unreal especially since I felt I had a lot to learn or was not good enough. Self-doubt sets in and you doubt the quality of your perspective and work. Especially when there are other people doing the same thing and potentially better. It has taken me a while to own my craft and embrace the power that comes with my camera. It was not until I began to see what I was accomplished as a photographer and the projects I had worked on that I realized that I was holding myself back. As the saying goes, you can be your worst critic and in my case that was true. I undervalued myself and my abilities when others would praise my work. I am proud of the direction life has taken me and the lessons I had to learn to be where I am now. It only builds the person you are today and the makes you stronger.

What would you tell someone who is just starting out?
Los Angeles is the city of dreams and fame. There are a thousand other individuals who are trying to get into the photography industry, It is competitive however as long as you do not compare yourself and try to do your own thing, you’ll be fine. Uniqueness is a very strong force and allowing yourself to be you and expressing that through your work is what sets you apart. Shoot subjects and themes that matter the most to you, people out there will love your work and some won’t. Focus on the audience that loves what you do. Be determined and even though you have moments where you have no artistic inspiration, go out and shoot things that can express your emotions or worries. Always keep shooting and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Contact Info:

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©Alex Ramirez Canales Photography

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