Interview: Photographer Nico Villanueva
What’s the story of how you got into photography and end up pursuing your passion?
Quite simple actually. I was introduced to photography by my dad as a child. I got my first camera during high school, shot lots of landscapes and slowly transitioned into photographing friends. I did both for a while but in early 2016 I wanted to dive into portraiture a little more so I started reaching out to models and other creatives. From there I’ve just been hooked into the whole process of planning, styling, shooting, editing, etc.
How would you distinguish your style?
Simple, intimate, and mysterious are how some people describe my work. I’m constantly moving back and forth between the Pacific Northwest and Southern California so I find myself jumping between cool, natural, and warm tones. So my colors and tones changes from time to time, but I always approach shooting with the goal of achieving a certain vibe that one expects from my photos.
What do you see and feel when you look at your photos?
I’m highly critical of my work so I’m always looking at the positives and negatives of each image. What could I have done differently? What works? What doesn’t? Asking myself these simple questions gives me confidence in my own work.
What is the best thing you’ve experienced by being a photographer?
Meeting very talented and interesting individuals. Building a great rapport with a model and just seeing the work unfold is always an awesome feeling.
Do you have any personal tips to other photographers?
Watch lots of tutorials. Work with other photographers and learn. Be receptive to criticism. Don’t be afraid of changing things up. These are basic things that go a long way.
What are some key elements in your work?
Light. I love to shoot for sunrise and sunsets but I do welcome overcast skies and the midday sun as well. I like to be versatile when it comes to locations so I often switch between nature, urban, and indoor. I like to crush shadows or blacks to highlight my subject.
What are some of your all time favorite hobbies other than photography?
Driving, Hiking, Camping, Road Cycling, and Eating. They all cancel each other out.
What was your last shoot like?
It was with my friend Baylie. It consisted of thrifting, scouting, taking one shot, getting kicked out, and hanging out. Sometimes you just need to relax and deal with life’s complications.
Is there anything, anything at all, we didn’t ask about that you’d like to share?
The photographers who influence me the most are Jordan Voth, Paolo Artymiak, Jessica Kobeissi, and Annie Leibovitz.