I met Josh when my spouse and I first moved to Texas a few years ago. They had gone to high school together, and we finally got the chance to head down to San Antonio, enjoy some of the sights, and spend time with him and his family. When we were there, he was just getting into photography. Now, a few years later, I enjoy catching up via social media and taking a look at the work he’s doing. I invited him to come on the blog to talk about photography, and in particular, his work with Beyond the Canvas, a bodypaint-focused art project … but I’ll let him take over from here.
Q (Infamous Scribbler): Tell me a bit about your area of expertise. What do you do? How long have you been doing it? Where do you share or publish your work?
Q: Can you share with me some of the story of your journey? What first interested you in what you do? What were some challenges along the way?
A: I’ve always loved looking through photos, yearbooks, fashion & travel magazines, but most of all National Geographic; those were my favorite.
The first time I saw the NG cover with Steve Mccurry’s famous (Afghan girl), I can’t say that this was the defining moment that I decided “I would be a photographer,” but I will always remember how that image made me feel. It was sad, beautiful, haunting, it was so simple but captivating—the definition of a great photo.
I actually never planned on being a photographer. I was a music major—the saxophone & clarinet were my passion. I wanted to play Jazz & travel, I wanted to be a part of big ensembles & record movie scores.
But life doesn’t always pan out how you plan it. Not having a creative outlet, I spent years in a slump until I found photography.
Q: What in particular do you find most satisfying about your work?
A: To be able to create & capture a moment in time—”super cliché, right?—to be able to preserve a moment that may never happen again, to see someone smile or get emotional over a moment I captured is the moment I live for.
Q: What piece of advice would you offer someone interested in this field? What piece of advice do you find yourself giving over and over to people who are hoping to learn from you?
A: [If you’re] looking to get into photography, do a little research, talk to a few photographers especially photographers that are shooting the subject matter you are interested in.
Also, gear is not everything. You don’t have to spend thousands for top of the line when you’re learning.
Advice I’m always giving for someone hoping to learn from me is, “You have to study!” I’m constantly studying. I’m good, but I didn’t start out that way; I got a D in my first photo class.
I’m always working on composition & lighting, I study & analyze lighting in my favorite movies. I save images that inspire me so that I can draw inspiration from them for future shoots.
Q: What work are you most proud of, and why?
A: For the past 4 years I’ve been the lead photographer & Co director for Beyond the Canvas which is an art organization focused on body art, or body painting, which is one of the oldest forms of art.
A normal bodypaint can take up to 6 hours to paint & may last an hour, which makes a photographer an important part of the process.
I’ve not only documented the growth of the artists & artwork of this group, I’ve contributed to the growth & recognition of this community to an international level.
Q: Do you ever work with a team? What are some things you do to make creativity work when you’re working together with people?
A: I do from time to time work with a team. I always try & put together a story board from ideas I’ve pulled from either magazines or images saved on my phone.
I will share these images with the MUA [makeup artist], Hair & model before the shoot so that everyone can get a good understanding of what I want to create.
Q: Can you talk a bit more specifically about Beyond The Canvas – where it is, how long you’ve been with them, the people, getting the right shot?
A: Beyond the Canvas is both an Art Community as well as an Organization based out of San Antonio, Tx., & its primary focus is bodyart.
The people that make up BTC are comprised of Artists (ranging from beginner to advanced), models which we call Canvases (for obvious reasons), photographers & videographers.
I’ve been with BTC for five years & the Lead Photographer for four. In that time, I’ve also taken the roll of Assistant director & Brand Ambassador, helping to create a bigger platform & more awareness to the Art scene here in SATX.
BTC holds regular paint jams & workshops where we bring in famous artists from around the world to teach.
BTC is also the host of the Texas Bodypaint Competition, a yearly contest that has grown from just a few local artists to now an international event that brings artists & performers from all over the world to SATX to compete for the title of TBPC Champion.
Even though I don’t paint, this group has challenged me in so many ways as an artist.
My method to “getting the right shot” has been with a Creative Journalistic approach. I document the process from start to finish & cannot influence the scene in any way during the painting process.
I can’t move the artist or canvas to get the shot; I have to find that candid shot to tell the story.
Once painting is over, then it’s me & the Canvas. I push them to embody the story that has just been created on their body.
The pressure of creating a beautiful bodypaint portrait is a real thing. A full bodypaint can take upwards of 6+ hours & only exists for a short time, then it literally is washed down the drain. There’s NO GOING BACK.
Bodyart portraits are a balanced equation. (Artist + Canvas)time + Photographer = X
If one of those variables is off, then the final product is mediocre at best.