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Meet Jonathan Garcia of Wekiwa Springs

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jonathan Garcia

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Photos and photography have always meant a lot to me. I’ve loved taking and looking at photos from as early as I can remember. I’d shoot anything from snapshots at home to family trips and events. In high school and college, I began to get more serious about it, investing in books and equipment, really trying to advance my technical skills in everything from the more advanced camera functions to retouching and color correcting. My background is in computers and IT, so photography for me started as something I pursued outside of formal settings. My classmates would give me a hard time when they caught me working on my portfolio website or retouching photos in class when I should’ve been working on IT assignments. Eventually, I bought some studio lights and my first DSLR and enlisted the help of friends to model for me or hold a reflector during a shoot. I still remember the first time I booked a wedding. I sat across from a bride and groom at a South Dakota coffee shop with a few sample prints of photos I was proud of at that point. I was upfront with them about my abilities (or inabilities) and explained probably a half dozen times that I’d never shot a wedding before. But somehow it wasn’t a factor for them. I was very lucky to have been given the opportunity. Since then, I’ve shot more weddings and added headshots, concerts, news, real estate and modeling to my photography portfolio. Each one has its own appeal and challenges. As a young photographer, I was just exploring and getting a feel for it all. I remember just putting myself out there at the dentist’s office and landing a gig shooting some headshots and office photos for their website. I would offer to shoot events here and there for my day job as a web professional. And along the way, I made more and more connections and explored more and more of this world I got myself into. Ultimately, I found that weddings weren’t really my thing, and real estate felt a little boring and lifeless. So I started to pursue portraits. But because it was almost impossible to have someone to shoot 24/7, I also challenged myself to just take photos of what was around me. I would carry my Canon 40D and some extra batteries everywhere and shoot whatever I could. This helped me get to know my camera better, and it helped me identify moments to capture. I spruced up my website, printed business cards and brochures, and ran some online ads. There were times where I’d book 10 shoots over a weekend, and there were times where I’d book nothing at all. But I kept at it as best I could. Now I have a little family of my own, which has renewed my passion for photography. I’ve documented the birth of my son, and five years later, the birth of my daughter. My wife loves to model for me when I want to try out ideas or test new equipment. And our beautiful home and back yard in a really woodsy neighborhood near Wekiwa Springs State Park makes the perfect backdrop for photos.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
When it comes to trying to turn a passion or hobby into a business, you take on way more than just the fun part. Like entrepreneurs in most fields, you wear a lot of hats — from accounting to marketing to sales to website and social media manager. And if you’re lucky, you have some time left over for what got you here in the first place: your love for what you’re doing. For me, a recurring struggle has been losing interest because of just how much effort photography requires to be a successful business. When this would happen, it was important for me to get back to the basics. Shoot for fun. Explore and experiment new styles and genres. It’s a cycle, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. You learn more about yourself and your interests. If it wasn’t for some of those low times where I’d force myself to just keep shooting, I would never have met some of the amazing people I’ve had the opportunity to photograph. It was also during those times that I’d challenge myself to learn more about those areas of business that I didn’t find so fun, whether that meant some light reading, joining online groups or even attending workshops. I’m constantly growing and the challenges definitely play a big role in that growth.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Lately, I’ve been working with some incredibly talented local burlesque dancers and models. I love Orlando and its art scene. The people I’ve met since moving here in 2015 are so inspiring and creative, and I love being able to help bring life to a vision or idea they’ve developed and tell their own personal story. We’ll work together leading up to the shoot, discussing everything from the theme, wardrobe, mood, lighting, etc. My wife has really become my partner in this adventure, and I’ve come to lean on her for real-time advice when it comes to posing and costume changes. It’s all very relaxed and fun. We talk about current projects, music, life. I always try to make sure the model knows she’s leading the show during our shoot, so she can fully express herself through the photos. Every finished product looks and feels different. One of the things I find fascinating about what I do is that I’m able to tell a story even in a single frame. I don’t do too much with props or busy backgrounds. I really like when it’s just my camera and the subject. I strongly feel my portrait work has evolved to a point where it now reflects my subject’s personality more than it does mine. And that’s become my goal.

So, before we go, how can our readers or others connect or collaborate with you? How can readers or others support you?
Booking is all automated through my website, but most of my clients reach out through direct message on Facebook or Instagram ahead of time. It’s nice to have that back-and-forth before officially booking a shoot to make sure we’re a good fit. After that is when the fun really begins. I look forward to each shoot like it’s the only one on my calendar. I’ll do a few collaborations here and there when I want to experiment more — like when I get some new equipment or a quirky idea.

The best ways to show support are to follow me on social media to keep up with what I’m working on, and refer friends and family you think would be a good fit for any of my future projects.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Jonathan Garcia Photography

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