Interview with artist Juan Cortes

Juan Cortes, a passionate Travel Photographer for over 25 years, has been to many places and captured their beauty through the lens of his camera but his favorite subject is to take a shot of nightscapes. Juan started with a 35-millimeter film camera, developing black and white photos in a dark room until the digital era arrived. In 2001, he took a photography class at Suffolk Community College, located in New York, and attended the New York Institute of Photography and Nikon School of photography in 2002.

Juan, tell us about yourself.

I lived in this country for 30 years, in New York to be exact and I was born in Mexico City. My hobbies are photography, travel, and reading.

How did you get good at photography, and what inspired you to become a photographer?

I went to the school to get technical knowledge, but I guess I like to focus on my composition and see what others don’t see. I get inspired by travel picture books.

Define what travel photography means to you and how important is travel in your life?

Travel Photography is like a dream come true when I can do it. When you are born and raised not rich, which helps you to appreciate everything you see when you travel because you don’t know if you will return. I like to record on my camera.

You have a lot of really excellent photographs on your site. What place or destination is burned in your mind that you can't forget? Would you also recommend we put this destination on our bucket list?

I will never forget Venice when I visited. Venice will be on my mind because it has a lot of opportunities to capture nice images, and the canals can inspire any photographer to create art. When I saw my parents and wife so happy, riding a gondola and me taking pictures at the same time, it is almost impossible to forget.

I would like to visit Switzerland. I have never been to Switzerland, but as far as I know, it is very safe there and has a little bit of everything to capture, such as landscapes, mountains, cities, and lakes.

If someone goes on a holiday and takes a bunch of similar-looking photos, how would you spice up your traveling portfolio to avoid monotonous photos?

I try to look for different angles all the time. I like to walk around any subject to get the best angle. Usually, I like to capture from the bottom, so I can make all the subjects look bigger so they can shine more. I always remember that the subject is more important than the photographer.

What experiences would you say genuinely move you in your many traveling adventures and stay inked on the sleeves of your heart?

It doesn’t matter how far or nearby I go, and I always appreciate the opportunity to capture the beauty of this world.

How does the time of day and weather play a role and affect how you take photos when you travel? What tips do you have for taking pictures in less than ideal light and weather conditions?

You must sacrifice your sleep hours as a photographer, most when on vacation. I just came from Miami, so while my family was sleeping, I was already on South beach taking pictures of the sunrise. When the weather doesn’t help, you can focus on the details of the structures, like architecture, then convert them to black and white. Also, when it rains, it helps you get romantic and nostalgic pictures and capture the flowers when they are wet and look beautiful.

Do language barriers ever affect your work when you are photographing?

When I went to Venice, I went on a tour and they helped us with the language. Sometimes when you don’t feel safe or insecure in a place that you don’t know, it is better to use your phone instead of a big camera, so you intimidate nobody. The best advice if you don’t speak the language is to be humble and smile at people

Photography has its highs and lows. What keeps you inspired in life emotionally and creatively?

I try to believe in myself, and I try to not compare myself with others. Instead, I like to learn from them.

I’ve seen you’re using Canvy a lot with your photographs. Can you tell us about your experience with us?

Canvy is my favorite site to show my work because it helps to imagine how my images can look in different rooms. I think it made it easier for people to appreciate my work. The rooms have something in common with the people.

Let’s say I’m traveling solo, where would you suggest I go that is safe enough while also offering diverse photographic opportunities?

If you travel solo, I would like to recommend Quebec, Canada. Quebec is very safe, people are friendly and Old Quebec is very romantic where you can capture nice images.

Finally, can you give us a few tips to help us take beautiful photos like you in the future and are there any travel photography books or workshops that you would recommend to someone wanting to take better travel photos?

The advice I can give you is to remember that maybe you won’t come back to that place, so capture and capture many images, with love and it doesn’t matter how expensive your camera is, you can take a great picture with anyone. And about the books and workshops,

Find Juan Cortes and his artwork here.