We had the good fortune of connecting with Luciano Paredes and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Luciano, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?

I am from Chula Vista, California born & raised there. I am the middle child of three brothers. My family full of love, cares for others, passionate about what we love to do and supportive to those always elevating in life. Being the middle child was a blessing because I could follow my brother’s example of being an athlete all while making my own lane after seeing the blueprint to his success. Once I found out my parents were having another kid, I knew I needed to set the standard for my soon to be little brother so he could have another blueprint to understand and follow.
Growing up I was put into all types of sports from football, indoor soccer, basketball & karate. Participating allowed me to learn many life lessons that I carry. Football was the primary focal point in the household, which was prominent from the moment I could process things into my own terms.
Playing youth football for the ‘Balboa Raiders’ was one of the best things that happened to me. I was able to learn at a young age about different people and areas around San Diego. Being around this family of coaches and players I quickly learned the value of people working together regardless of race. My dad going to work for our family and then going to coach to help others was a great example to me. This dedication showed me the value of volunteering and community involvement. Having him in my life and watching him mentor those who needed help was very inspiring.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

What sets me apart from the others is that I can really capture any type of environment that I am thrown in with ease because of how much knowledge I have gained over the years. A huge thing apart of my kit is that I don’t use Photoshop to make the image seem fake, no added effects, items removed/added which I think adds to the vibe of the photo itself. The outlook I have on photography allows me to capture the aura/emotion within the environment.
Another thing about me is that I am very teachable within all aspects of photography. There are a few things that I am proud of, the first being that I showcased some of my early work back in a creative event here in San Diego. The entire process of getting invited to actually setting up and then meeting so many people was nerve racking but well worth the anxiety. Another thing I am proud of is the fact that I branched out of taking photographs of just music and dabbled into a bit of architecture, food, product shots and now basketball. One of the goals for the end of the year is to have my work be put into a local art show.
Technically, I am still a freelance photographer trying to find a home that accepts my work ethic and my passion within this industry. I have come a long way and the journey has been a wild ride. From not earning money for shoots to now being hired for paid work. It is something I would do one million times over, no regrets. By no means was it easy to just show up to events and capture moments, but I loved it so much that I knew what made me happy. The one thing about this photography journey (without getting paid) is I got to choose when to show up to events and when to just stay home, on days where I mentally was drained, I knew it was a chance to recharge but also to brainstorm ideas for future opportunities.
There are so many takeaways from my journey alone and I will share a few, which I think are essential. The first for me would be, if you are a freelancer and don’t feel yourself then take the time to just stay home or somewhere you can just gather your thoughts/mental state for future events (unless it’s a paid gig or it might be one of the biggest opportunities in your eyes). Another takeaway, always study your settings, your original shot along with your edited product in order to make changes for next set of photos. Checking your photos during the shoot is key to ensure the images are coming out crisp (editing only goes so far). The last thing I want to share is to always be respectful to others; photographers, event staff, bands and even the people who attend the events. Word of mouth travels fast in this sort of field, seen it first hand and your name carries a lot of value. Personally, I always show love to those around me while pushing positivity through my work and interactions.

I want the world to know that I am always looking to work with others, as long as there is compensation for my efforts behind the lens. At this point, exposure isn’t anything I am looking for unless there is a long-term opportunity to make money. I value what I am capturing up until this point. Anyone that interacts with me through photography or even outside knows how genuine I am. I will always be outspoken with everything I do including photography. When working with me, I will always capture some timeless moments that will be remembered forever. I love what I do and will continue to progress in this field.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Personally, I am not going to express all of my go to spots in the city because why would anyone do that Haha. Instead, I will take you guys on a quick journey through San Diego for a weekend trip with jam packed things/places.

Food (in no particular order)
-Tacos El Gordo
-MJ’s Fusion Deli
-Humberto’s Taco Shop
-Family House of Pancakes or Hash House A Go Go
-Tajima/Raki Raki/Nishiki Ramen
-Beyer Deli
-Golden Chopsticks
-356 or Kogi (all you can eat Korean BBQ)
-Grand Ole BBQ
-Fish market

As for drinks I don’t personally drink much unless it’s a special occasion, but I do love wine on my off days from work. If my guest loved to drink I would just take them to a local brewery.

Places to visit
-Balboa Park
-Seaport village
-La Jolla
-Exhibits that are here for a limited time, example “Wonderspaces”
-K1 Speedway
-Kobey’s Swapmeet
-Farmers Markets

Hang out
-Mission beach
-If there is a music event going on; for example Hickies & Dryhumps is a local group of Djs who play at different locations with always great vibes
-Attend some sporting events (depending on what my friend likes)
-Local brewery to vibe while catching up
-Pinot’s palette
-Bowling/Pool

These are just some simple things I would do with a friend that is relatively new here, but I am person that can easily think on the fly as well. So if they wanted to do something specific, I could easily suggest anything to do with them.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

Honestly, many people are involved in my journey since I was young, up until now. I will be going in order from the start of me being interested, inspired and wanting to be a contributor in the history of photography.

Obviously, without my family none of these experiences, lessons and hardships that made me who I am today would be possible, so all of the credit goes to them. I love them unconditionally.

My first shout out would be to my Grandfather from my mom’s side. When my older brother started playing at Balboa Raiders my grandfather would take all types of photos of the team to document the talents, players, environment and passion for the game of football. He would give them to all the players for free, because he loved what he did; it was his passion. He did this up until my little brother was in high school (2017) so since 1994 he has been photographing sports for us because he loves to do it and once I seen him give the action shots to players for free was powerful. The best part about it all was the expressions of the players/coaches when they would open the envelope with all the prints inside. His passion & respect for photography as a whole just really resonates with me, without him I don’t think I would this locked into this creative field.
A quick shout out to my older brother for being creative since he was young from drawings, paintings, tattoo designs, web designs and photographing his trips/journeys to other cities and states. He has always been an out of the box type off creative and has dearly inspired me since I started this journey. I haven’t tapped into film photography much but he has given me a few point n shoots cameras to start understanding that side of things.
HUGE SHOUTOUT to myself; so this is really how my photography journey started by my own decision. I had bought tickets to Smokin’ Grooves in Los Angeles with no thoughts on how to document this day. Two days before the festival I went to Best Buy, opened a credit card and bought a ‘Canon G7x II’ through a payment plan. I purchased this camera for two reasons; the first being that at festivals/shows “professional photography/detachable lenses can’t be brought in unless you have a media pass” since I am a freelancer and am not partnered with any outlet I would need to abide by this rule. The second reason would to be able to document me enjoying my very first festival ever with some amazing acts that I wanted to see. If I never made the decision to purchase this camera I don’t think I would be deep into photography like I currently am.
In the beginning of this when I first started to go to the shows/local events there were a few people that were always there capturing these moments, down the road I would have a chance to meet these people. The first being Mikey Avila, I would always see his photos on the recap of the event showcasing the mood/vibe of the environment. He’s always helped me with the few questions I had coming up in this creative field and also giving his thoughts through his journey as well. There is another photographer who is known as ‘Shotbylee’ who really helped me understand some key points when shooting at those events with a lot of people, street photography talks and insight on higher end DSLR cameras. Last but not least, James Hunt who was at the first local event that I attended, he really instilled some great information about being a creative, understanding what you want to primarily shoot and how you want to portray the photographs you take.
Big shout out to my close friend/DJ Acefunk who played at several events here in San Diego and allowed me to capture him in his element while I was learning my camera through trial and error. With him asking me to come out and vibe out to some great music all while capturing moments, this allowed me to focus on my craft while listening to his. Within this, shout out Eric Olermo a local creative who asked me to take some behind the scenes photos for their video production that allowed me to experiment with some ideas of mine as well.
Outside of the local talent/events that I attended to capture moments, there is collective of DJs/producers who I have been listening to called ‘Soulection’ for quite some time. All of the shows that I attended within the last 5 years have allowed me to expand my shooting profile of events & people. Without experiencing different venues, lighting and sets I wouldn’t be as diverse as I am today. Some of the most amazing people I have ever met were at these shows.
There are a handful of photographers who have inspired me that aren’t from San Diego who do amazing work within so many environments. VZMaestro, Joseph Baura , Virisa Yong, Daniel Arceo just to name a few. All of these people have given me much insight and support when it comes to being a photographer, I am grateful for the game they gave me along with much to look forward to on this journey.

Recently I have been shooting some basketball moments, training sessions and games. It has been a new dynamic for me overall but each time I have learned new techniques with each session on the court. Big shoutout to Ryan Razooky & Justin Razooky for allowing me to come to ‘The Hoop House’ with open arms ready to capture some timeless moments for the athletes. Appreciate you people so much again. The past two weeks I was booked for my very first graduation shoot as well as a clothing brand look book, both of these opened my eyes to the different styles of photography which requires a bit more of precision and patience.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/behindthelens94/

Other: The website is coming along as you are reading this. Follow me on instagram for information regarding the website date and whoever is looking to book me for anything; reach out to me via DM or email.

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