Monday, May 17, 2010

Anthony Vazquez

When I spent that day at the studio salon, I left with some great info. about West Village's neighborhood, and Anthony Vazquez's contact information. I had tucked his card in the pages of my journal, and had forgotten about it, until I found it while waiting for the subway. When I took it out I thought, no, I'm not going to contact him. Then I thought, wait, why not? So, I asked if he wanted to meet me in an e-mail. (People the most difficult challenge you will triumph over is looking at you in the mirror.)

                     Anthony Vazquez
     Anthony was conceived in Oklahoma
   Yet he didn't stay long enough to remember it
                Anthony studied at NYU
   He lived in Italy for months after his studies
O, and um, he started his own business at twenty-three
                          Shall We?

Where do you live? "I grew up in Queens, Bayside Queens, I've lived in Bayside for 28 years now. And I still live in Bayside." (Italy is included here.)

Tell me about Queens, any favorite places?  "I love Bayside. It's my neighborhood. I love going to this place Villaggio, that all my friends hate. They probably hate it because I make them go there so much, but I love it cuz the foods good.....I also feel like this is my neighborhood. I spend so much time here. I couldn't imagine my office being in another area in the city. I love Hells' kitchen, I love the West End, all the restaurants around here are amazing. Um, it's just I love it. It's not Times Square. It's not what people think it is."

So, this is just an office? "This is an office. I wanted to make it very homey, very relaxing, cuz most people come to me on week-nights after work, and I want them to feel like they're at home, so they can relax."

What does photographgy mean to you?  "I think you reach a point where you become one with your artistic medium. Photography means everything to me... It is who I am and I am what it is. If that makes sense?..."

How did you get into photography? "It was kind of coincidental, I needed a job when I was sixteen years old. And my best friend's mother ran a wedding photography company, and I took the job. Basically answering phones.......Yeah, I'm self taught but I stayed in the business with them for four years. And then, I was studying at NYU, and then, I moved to Italy for a little while."

Where? "Florence...It's a small big city. The streets, people, and love of life is unmatched....But I traveled all over the country, I did like thirty-five cities, I studied the Medicci Gardens and landscapes... And then kind of there, was where I discovered my passion for photography cuz I just traveled around with a camera taking pictures and meeting Italians. And then as soon as I came home my company fired me. And I opened up my own business that same day.

Let's go back to photography. How did you make this into a business? "Ah yeah, we opened up my first office in NYC when I was twenty-three. I literally just rented a little space in Long Island and started sharing space with somebody. I built a little website, and it was just word of mouth in the beginning. We had that for two years, and it didn't go as well as expected, so we closed. And I actually met people in Starbucks for two years. Yeah, a little note of experience. We kind of just, ya know, we had this huge overhead, and it really wasn't working out, so I closed the office. I just didn't wanna spend any more money. So, I would meet NYC clients at Starbucks and discuss the logistics of their weddings and book the jobs there.

For awhile we did that. It's been a crazy ride, ya know, up and down, but I mean, I love what I do. And things couldn't be better right now. My career has definitely taken off in 2009 in ways that I could never have imagined."

Which types of events do you work with? "Weddings, social events, Bar-Mitzvahs, but mostly weddings."

Can you talk about what sets you apart from the rest?  "I focus on shooting the most fabulous weddings. What I strive for is creating really provocative and innovative and fashion forward images at weddings. So we're trying to, ya know, to create a trend, to create something that's not your prototypical wedding image, and that really has a more L, Vogue, Harpers Bazarr feel to it, comparatively to some of the other stuff that's out there right now. We're really for the more discerning bride, for somebody who is looking for something really edgy and different.

I asked Anthony to send over a photo he was proud of, and to talk about it a little, this was his choice: "I love the feel of this image... It was about to rain and she booked.... So we did the shoot as we ran to beat the rain. To me, it says gritty New York..."

So, who have you worked with? "We've done a couple of really big deal weddings. We've worked with the the Jonas brothers, Beverly Mitchell from Seventh Heaven. We've worked with one of the METS, Paul Lo Duca, who's retired now. Ah, then a lot of socialite events, well known New Yorkers. My clientele is pretty diversified.

Does your passion for photography ever seem like just work now? "Fortunately I have a passion for photography in general. But my business has grown so much and I have so many demands placed on me right now that I don't really get to ....(Do fun stuff?)  No, I love what I do, what I do is fun. But I don't necessarily get to do personal stuff. My personal work is almost a at a zero, but my business is at 100 right now. But it's good, money isn't everything, but it helps.

How do you feel about New York? "I love New York. No matter where I've been in the world, there's no other place that has this vibe, and diversity of culture, and ethnicities, and people. It's just in my opinion the coolest city in the world....I've been all around the world to major cities, we just got back from Tokoyo, we've shooted in Argentina, and Italy, and as much as I love those other cities, um, there really is only one New York. It's great to go to Italy, but there's nothing like a Saturday in New York City shooting a wedding, for me.

Where is your favorite place to shoot in Nyc? "Okay, I'm addicted to the Meatpacking District and Soho. I hate Central Park. I can't think of anywhere worse to go. Everyone wants to go there, there's this whole affliction to it. Central Park does not represent New York City. Central Park is just like every other park, it's just huge, it's a really big park.....When you really wanna capture the essence of New York, that's the Meatpacking District, that's Soho. That's where all the immigrants moved into, that's who came here and really developed the city. The streets are so old and so indicative....And Madison Avenue. How else can you show the wealth of New York, but walk down Madison Avenue? I love shooting at Madison Ave. I love stopping the cars right across the street to piss everybody off. So, um, those are places, probably the top three for me."

What do I wanna look at, at Meatpacking? "You wanna look at the cobble stone, just the walls, the actual iron gates. I mean it's def changed, they got rid of a lot of graffiti, which I think is an injustice to it. I think what really gave the Meatpacking District it's original start was how gritty it was. But, you know Niro? The restaurant with the yellow wall? Where else do you get to shoot in front of yellow brick walls? I think there's a lot of color there. The high line is cool. That to me is like Central Park."

Any other projects that you're working on? Yeah, we have a new project that we just launched, it's a new company called The Click Nation. It's a spin off of what I do. It's an educational company. So right now we're traveling around the country helping other wedding photographers who are learning to do what we do, and how to run a business.

 I gave a talk last week, it's called, Get Passionate Now. It was about self evolution. The whole concept was based on the definition of the word 'passionate'. Which is a loving, and tender, and strong, emotional feeling towards any person or thing. Um, you're willing to endure suffering in many cases for it, so um, it was all about discovering your inner passions and getting motivated, how to tap into that energy. And how that energy will help you evolve as a person, as a business person, and to become a more successful, creative and passionate photographer. That was last week."

You have a blog. I know that you do! Do you want to talk about the blog? "Sure, I just started my Blog three months ago. I was writing on FaceBook as it was a blog, about recent events, but some people don't have FaceBook....Right now it's about who I am, how I got to where I am, what my beliefs and passions are about photography. It's about the work and the clients I work with, and a feel for who they are. And then it's also to help my clients to better understand the wedding industry. There's a pros and cons section, and a section for tips of the trade. I'm aiming for multi-faceted.

And it's something that's still developing. You know, I'm learning a lot about blogging, finding a voice on the Internet, a voice to be heard, which is a challenge in it of itself. But so far I think it's been going pretty good."

Okay, happiness, you're busy, you're making money, all this stuff is happening. Are ya happy? "I am. You know, I think ah, I'm finally in a place in my life, I'm living in every aspect the life I want to. I'm single, I'm traveling the world, I'm experiencing different cultures, I'm working with the clients who I want to, um, I'm more profitable. You know, I mean, could we change things? Absolutely. Could things always be better? Absolutely. But I think the glass is more than half full at this point. You know, and I've been blessed in so many ways, with so many different career opportunities. We wanted to work with celebrities, that's happened. We wanted to do all these different things, all those goals, one by one have kind of been tackled which is pretty cool. Now I have to give back to the community, and help other photographers grow and become successful entrepreneurs and artists as well.

So, was that a "yes"? Cuz I hear ya on the whole amazing stuff is happening, but are you taking it in? "I'm actually happy. Yeah, I think a lot of people are not, I agree. I'm busy, I'm really busy, and it's definitely a hard juggle between my personal life, and would I like to be able to spend more time with my friends and family? Yes. Would I like to be able to travel more for my own personal work? Yes. Would I like those things? But at the end of the day I have to look at what I have. And what I have is based on how busy I am at this point. Do you go through those feelings of, O this is really tough, I wish I had more time? Absolutely, but at the same time things couldn't be better for me at a professional stand-point, and from a personal stand point, like I said, I'm single, I'm turning thirty, and life is good."

You're Turning thirty? "In September." What Day? "The 2nd." I'm the 3rd. "Dope."

Any theories about life? "Yeah, that if you have a dream you can live it if you choose to, nothing can stop you from achieving that, if it's truly what you believe in. If you put all your efforts out there towards that, what ever that dream is you can definitely do it. And if you can't do it in the capacity you wanted to, you can do it in a different capacity. So you might not be able to play professional football, but there's no reason why you can't work in the NFL. You just need to decide what you wanna do. I'm a big believer in that. I think people sell themselves short way too often."

Tell me a funny story: (I'm pretty sure I was having too much fun talking to him) "A funny story? I had a bride about three years ago, look at me right before she was about to walk down the aisle, and her quote was: 'Fuck it. I'm already here, there's always divorce.' (Really?) True story. True story.

Also contributed:  "Ya know what, someone asked me a couple months ago if I'm successful, if I think I'm successful. I don't really know how to answer that. I think it's a tough question to answer. Because what is success?.....I think a measure of success is the ability to give back, part of achieving a certain level, comes with an obligation to give back, because you know, that's the real thing."

Are you lying about any of this?  "As for lying I am as direct as they get." (Loud Laughter.)

(Amelie's, "L'apres Midi," was on while writing this.)

No comments:

Post a Comment