Interview with Armando Espinoza | GBPW Episode 75

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Armando Espinoza.

It’s a great balance, I feel, to capture somebody in that sort of way. Without any of the technology, without any of the rush, without anything. It’s something that forces you to stay stable, to think again, and to connect.

Armando Espinoza

You can also listen to this episode on iTunes, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Castbox, and Google Podcasts.

In this episode, I talk to the fantastic Armando Espinoza. Armando is a fashion, editorial, and lifestyle photographer with an incredible story. At the age of 24, he traded his car for a one-way ticket to New York City to pursue his dream of becoming a photographer. 

Armando and I talk about:

  • How he uses the collodion process to take ethereal photographs of people
  • How he entered the world of fashion and editorial photography
  • A few important things that aspiring fashion and commercial photographers should know

& much more!

I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation. Armando had a lot of interesting things to share about analogue photography, editorial photography, retouching, and much more. This is an eye-opening interview that is bound to inspire you in one way or another.

Here is a preview of our conversation with Armando Espinoza.

Armando Espinoza: As soon as I moved, that was the intention. I scouted Craigslist looking for where I could learn real life photography. I wanted to see if I could get an internship with somebody, if I could carry somebody’s bags so they could teach me studio work in New York City.

So I emailed a bunch of photographers saying, “Hey, can I please do this? Can I do that?” I had a bunch of helping days here and there in different places. For the most part, I really didn’t get paid, but it got me to be in the environment that I wanted.

From then on, you have to get a perception of what it’s like from the lighting side, from the editing side, from the computer side, from the photographer carrying the camera, from the directing, etc. Shooting, dealing with clients, dealing with creative directors…there’s so much that you learn just by being there, holding something or not doing anything, and staying quiet.

My first internship was with Andrew Steinman. He had a studio in Tribeca. Thirteen or fourteen years ago, that was my first internship. Just helping with bags, moving stuff around, and cleaning the studio. Little by little, he taught me a few valuable things about the industry. I was just eager to learn as much as I could.

Q: What has been your biggest success so far?

Armando Espinoza: After a few years of working, I got to a point where all my motivation became internal. It’s all internal. It’s not tainted. A pretty face, how much money I could get paid, what client it is…that doesn’t move me anymore. Nowadays, it’s all internal.

It comes from a place of peace. You want to create something that has more value than you give. It’s a peaceful sentiment to have within yourself.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring fashion or commercial photographers?

Armando Espinoza: I never followed any guidelines or rules. Just take initiative. I would say take initiative to what it is – if you can recognize early on what it is – that moves you. In life, certain things shine in front of you. If you follow those things, whatever the genre, don’t let it die. Don’t let it like sizzle out, follow it, make it stronger, make it better for you.

You want to follow whatever it is that you want to try. If it’s fashion or commercial, do your research. Who is the best fashion photographer? Try to understand why it is that you like them. Try to understand that philosophy and then reach out to people.

It’s not a linear path. It’s a jungle. So it’s not following the school and getting your degree and going up. It’s just you. You put yourself out there. You look for jobs. After a little while, when you do all the work, all that work is going to come back to you.

You have to do all the initial work. All the legwork at the very beginning. Learn as much as you can. Learn and practice as much as you can. Repeat that and you will be set, you will be okay. Learn as much as you can and practice it right away. Learn again, practice again, learn in practice. It’ll cement everything in your mind and your body. You’ll have that drive to go out there and do things. I think that’s very important in this industry.

Check out Armando’s work:

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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.

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