Photographer Rolan Sanchez
by Oscar Perez
Rolan Sanchez, is a lifestyle and fashion photographer who captures the beauty of life with every photo he takes. He is an artist at heart that has tapped into creativity and believes you don’t need to get fancy about equipment to capture the moments. He loves telling stories with his photos and focuses on sharing the uniqueness of everyone and everything he “SHOOTS.” I caught up with him in late March to talk all about the art of photography, creativity, developing skills, and an insight to his journey so far.
Oscar Perez: Rolan! What’s up! Tell me what are you up to right now? Where am I catching you at?
Rolan: Oh man… I’m meeting a couple of deadlines right now for this monthly thing [Fashion Photography] that I do, as well as making final adjustments to some photos of a friend who is applying for the Hooters calendar. Also, helping out another friend with marketing material for the barbershop he just opened. And a bunch of other behind-the-scenes stuff like: framing prints, writing emails, and making sure I nap in between haha!
Awesome! Tell me, when was the first time you became aware of your creativity? How did you know photography was something you wanted to do?
I didn’t always want to be a photographer. I actually wanted to be a Marine Biologist. However, I remember I was online on the search engine, BING, and they had nature backgrounds [on their site] that I really liked. I was fascinated by them and wanted to find out how they were made. This is where it started. It was all about learning the technical side of photography first and the creative side of photography happened when I started working with Digital Republic [a creative studio] where I was given the “go ahead” by Jeffrey Castillo to do whatever I wanted when shooting behind the scenes. It gave me freedom.
Did you take any classes that helped with sparking your creativity?
As far as being creative, I didn’t take a class on it. Jumping back to being technical, I did take the basic art classes in high school and did learn a lot from that. I tied that in with photography, where they teach you about the color wheel, shapes, and lines. I learned the rules and then I learned how to break them.
Do you remember your first photo?
Yeah, a sunset at Lake Casa Blanca. Laredo has some of the nicest sunsets I have ever seen.
Nice! So, how long have you been a photographer?
Six years [Professionally]
What’s your photography style? What’s the one thing you are trying to capture right now?
My style constantly changes. For the past year, I have been sticking to the “raw” look on my photos. In my work you see a lot of reds. “Red and Edgy.” Right now, I’ve been into portrait photography. I shoot a lot of fashion stuff.
What are you shooting with right now?
I’ve been shooting with the same DSLR camera that I started shooting with. It’s a Canon 60D. Believe it or not, I shoot a lot with my stock lens of 18-135mm. I also just purchased my first L series lens, Canon’s 50mm 1.2!
What’s in your camera bag?
My Canon 60D, 50mm 1.2, 10mm-22mm lens, and stock lens. I can travel with everything.
With portrait photography, what’s your vision for each photo?
So, everybody is different. Every time I shoot somebody….
Wait. (whispers) You SHOOT people?
Yeah, I SHOOT people every day, hahaha. Everybody is different. I connect my style with their personality when I take photos. My style comes in through the lighting and camera settings. Their personality comes in [with the actual photo]. They are usually nervous so I usually start a conversation to break the ice. That’s when I get their natural facial expressions.
Does the thought that you are “freezing” time come to mind when you are shooting people?
It does cross my mind. Capturing what the person looks like today to what they will look like in the future [or even if they will be here a year from now] does cross my mind.
Is there a certain routine you have for creating your art through photography?
When I shoot for fun, I do have a routine. I write down what my goal is for a photo. I usually write down 2 or 3 photos that I want to get for the day. I take it from there.
When have you pushed your skillset as a photographer?
I can say I adapt to what’s going on around me. I don’t necessarily push my skill but rather adapt to the environment. For example, New York is a fast paced city so I’ll use long exposure to show movement in my photos. I guess where I push myself is telling the story of what I’m doing in the moment. Adapting to the environment.
Tell me, how have you developed those skills that you use to adapt to the environments?
It’s a little of everything. YouTube, online articles, mentors, and experiences too! I go to YouTube for technical stuff like editing. I read articles on different stuff: color tones, framing, etc. For mentors, I have had two mentors. One for video and one for photography. I shadowed Jeffrey Castillo (DigitalJeff) for photography since I was 15. As far as experience, it’s important not to be afraid to make mistakes and put myself in different environments.
So, have you mastered it? Have you put in 10,000 hours of work with photography?
I don’t know. How many hours are in a year?
Moving on… haha. What has been the most challenging project or obstacle you have had?
I had a photographer’s worst nightmare happen. One of my monthly clients’ photos were due and a day before the deadline I lost my SD card. I had to redo the photoshoot the day of the deadline in the morning. The client was understandable, but I was pissed at myself.
Wow! How does one fix that with a client? How did you do it?
Be straight up. Own it and communicate with the person who is in charge with the truth. Don’t sugar coat anything. At the end of the day, no one cares about the details other than “when will it be done?”
Truth. Thanks for sharing that bro! Tell me what has been the photo you’ve shot that you like the most?
A photo of my Grandpa that was taken a couple of months before he got Alzheimer’s. In this picture, he still recognized who I was. It’s a strong photo.
So, what’s one piece of advice you would give someone who wants to start with photography?
SHOOT. Hehehe. Go out and shoot. Super simple and cliché. If you want to learn photography, don’t worry about the equipment you are using. A simple stock lens and a DSLR [camera] will do the job. Also, don’t expect to get paid for everything. However, don’t do anything for free either.
What do you think of the photography community in Laredo?
There’s a new group on Facebook called Photographer’s Pit. I’m not too involved with the actual community so I can’t tell you how big it is. I can tell you that I have noticed there are a lot of up-and-coming photographers from high school.
How important do you think it is for a photographer to have a community of photographers around them?
It helps you because you learn from different people. It can also be bad because some people start seeing it as competition. Competition isn’t really important because everyone has their own style in photography.
Hey man, so tell me about social media. Is that something you are using to get your work out there?
I don’t really post but I do love using Instagram for inspiration. I follow my favorite photographers on there.
Where can we find your work?
I post a lot on my Instagram [Story] and they can follow my work on my website where I have my blog where I share life experiences, how-tos, and behind the scenes of my photo shoots. I am also shooting a personal vlog nowadays.
Is there anything coming up here in the near future that you are excited about?
Yes! Last year, I launched my business Flux Photo & Video. I am looking forward to a destination wedding that we booked and is coming up soon. Stay tuned for a behind the scenes of that experience.
That is awesome! Well Rolan, thanks for meeting with me today and for sharing your story with our audience! I’m sure your journey will inspire others to grab a camera and SHOOT some people… and places… and things!
Don’t forget to follow Rolan’s journey on social media: @Rolan_Sanch and keep up with his work on his website!