I would love to write how I came across Jessyel’s work but to be honest, I’ve been waiting for so long for his mug shot that i’ve forgotten. What I can tell you is that he has worked on some amazing commercial and editorial projects, but it’s his personal work that really stands out for me.
Tell us a little about yourself?
Name is Jessyel Ty Gonzalez. I’m 27, live in Denver, Colorado, and am a commercial and editorial photographer specializing in portraits and product. Also, I’m pretty good at rock, paper, scissors. (I win, like, at least half of the time!)
What made you get into photography?
I’ve always loved movies; it’s such a fascinating medium, and being able to capture a moment in time visually is simply magical. I knew I wanted to get involved in that world in some way.
How did you get started?
My photographic journey began near the end of college – where I was studying to be a screenwriter (much to my parent’s chagrin). Then came the day when I needed to take some production courses (actually make a film), which meant having to use a camera – something I hadn’t done (motion or still). My first movie (filmed on a Bolex Super 8 ) came out all black. I was discouraged, and out quite a bit of money. So my dad suggested I try learning on a still camera – 36 exposures (these were still the film days, people). Would be cheap in allowing me to know how to use a camera. It was then that I got hooked…
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I really enjoy portraiture. As of late, I’ve been trying to create portraits that have a slight disconnection to the subject. I want my photos to make you think – even for a split-second. On the commercial side, I really enjoy product photography. Each has its creative and lighting challenges, and it’s a thrill trying to figure it all out and deliver a great photograph.
What gear are you using?
Mostly digital – Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and a Hasselblad H4D-40. There’s a wide assortment of lenses (twelve in total). I still shoot with film (blasphemy, I know), although it’s all medium format – I rarely do 35mm nowadays. Finally, I use Profoto lighting.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
The Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II. Best lens I’ve ever used, and nothing has compared to this day. Everything about it – the dreamy bokeh, the sharpness, color, contrast – is near-perfect. The world changed completely after I used it for the first time.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
Yikes. Well, here’s something you should know about me – I’m never satisfied. I find it to be a trait among most photographers I know. I feel like I’ve yet to take a truly great photograph (even though people tell me otherwise). So although I don’t have a favorite, I do have a memorable one (attached). A simple picture – not good even – but it’s the first shot where I felt I knew what I was doing. And after hundreds of failed attempts, it’s the one shot that sort of gave me hope to continue…
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Apart from being up to snuff technically and aesthetically, you have to love photography. Photography as a hobby and photography as a profession are two VERY different things. It’s a stressful and difficult profession, but if you have that love, you’ll enjoy every second of it – even the tough ones.