Chaz is the type of guy that makes you feel at ease with a single glance. Possessed of a disarming smile and the type of relaxed air that speaks to his time in sunny San Diego, he brings a flair for the creative and quirky to Brooklyn and beyond. To look at his work is to know that this is a person who actively engages with his craft and the type of chance opportunity only life will throw at you, bringing a confidence that only comes from time on the job and knowledge hard-earned.
Read on to learn a little more about Chaz. Visit his website at www.chazcruz.com.
Why did you become a photographer?
I took a photo class my senior year of college in 2005 and fell in love with taking snaps. I realized that I wanted to become a photographer but was trying to find my passion within the field. I love photojournalism but am the worst at cold-calling folks to photograph or making people upset, so pure PJ (photojournalism) wasn’t the road for me. I decided to go to photography school to figure out what I loved to shoot and at the time I was engaged. Doing research for wedding photographers, I stumbled upon “The Image is Found” (who were ahead of their time back in 2005 and are still up there!) and saw the PJ aspects as well as the insane amount of emotion. Being a romantic myself, I knew that wedding photography was where I wanted to go. While the relationship didn’t last, my love for wedding photography did, so after going full time in 2009, I haven’t looked back.
Who are a few of your favorite photographers?
I love classic photographers, so my top 3 are: Irving Penn, Richard Avedon and Sebastiao Salgado.
What’s your creative process?
My creative process begins with music. I listen to songs and envision the photographs within them. I ask my couples their favorite songs so that I can research them as well if its applicable. Then the normal process kicks in, going into a wedding or shoot with a mood or idea and doing my best to execute. But still, during a shoot, the randomness of the environment is still my favorite. If my process isn’t clicking, just knowing that we can create a photo with a story with a random light beam or leading line is still the most exciting thing.
What’s it like to run a business between two states, and what have you learned?
Definitely moving to Brooklyn from San Diego in 2011 without any prep or putting out feelers before I moved was tough. I would never call it a mistake however, as without having a tough year in 2012 I would have never rebranded or re-envisioned how I photograph. Traveling back and forth between NY and CA has been the hardest aspect – it feels like I’m living two separate lives whenever I travel. I fall into my old life in San Diego very easily. But a cool side effect is that every time I come back to NY I feel the same inspiration that I felt when I first moved here.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
My biggest creative inspiration is movies. I love watching beautifully shot movies and studying how the cinematographer or DOP created the scenes. A lot of my lighting is based off of how I viewed the light in a scene.
Three words that define your style?
Quirky, clean & unafraid.