24 May 2018 by Tali Ramsey Panama born photographer JC Candanedo has his own unique take on capturing images across the fashion and beauty industry, as well as taking striking portraits and expressing his vision through his own projects. Here he speaks of his journey into photography, his thoughts on the industry and his intriguing project ‘Catalonia: A Work in Progress’ that gives us an insight into locals opinions on Catalonia’s proposed independence from Spain. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A PHOTOGRAPHER? I have been a full-time professional photographer since 2014, but I’ve always liked photography. I used to be the friend/relative who always brought a camera everywhere, to every party, trip or get-together. My whole life is documented in photos! © JC Candanedo DID YOU EVER CONSIDER DOING ANYTHING ELSE? Before deciding to become a photographer full-time, I used to be an IT Project Manager working on Telecommunications. I did that for 20 years, but I never really fit into that industry. That’s why before I turned 40 I decided to quit my job and pursue this new path. I just didn’t see myself working in IT for the rest of my life. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR PEOPLE JUST ENTERING INTO FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHY? I think that as a photographer, and as a freelance creative in general, you should start your career not only by learning the necessary skills of the trade but also by creating a solid network in the industry. You do this by constantly testing with other creatives, by attending networking events, or by belonging to industry groups like the Freelancer Club. © JC Candanedo HOW DID YOU CREATE AND BUILD YOUR PORTFOLIO? When I started on this new path, I had recently moved to London and hardly knew anyone in town or in the industry. I knew that if I wanted to make a living as a photographer, I had to create a strong portfolio that proved that I was skilled at the craft, but I didn’t know where to start. So I started going to networking events, like the ones organised by Shooting Beauty (which in time became The Freelancer Club) and began making contact with makeup artists, hair stylists, models, stylists and other photographers who later on assisted me. It was through testing like crazy that I was able to build a portfolio in a very short period of time. In just six months, I went from not having a portfolio nor knowing anyone in the industry to booking my first two commercial shoots. It has been an exhilarating journey. DO YOU THINK A PHOTOGRAPHER SHOULD SHOWCASE A VARIETY OF WORK OR STICK TO A NICHE? That is the constant debate. I think that it depends on your target and your personal experience. On the one hand, if you show through your portfolio that you can shoot landscapes, portraits, food ,and street, some might think that you are an incredibly versatile photographer, while others might think that they are unable to tell what type of photographer you are. On the other hand, if you only shoot construction work stop motions, the construction industry niche will know exactly who to hire when they need someone to shoot their stop motions, but that is what you will be shooting for the rest of your life. I believe that there has to be a happy middle, where you can shoot different photography styles that go well together but then can target different niches at the same time. For instance, you can be a food photographer who also shoots lifestyle and travel photography, as these three types of photography usually involve narratives about experiences and they can easily have a use for editorial, commercial and advertisement clients. © JC Candanedo YOU RECENTLY HAD WORK EXHIBITED. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? TELL US ABOUT THE PROJECT. I am very fortunate to have had my personal project on the Catalan Crisis exhibited at Four Corners Gallery and shown at Photo Scratch, one after the other. I am part of the London Creative Network (LCN), a programme in part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme and delivered by SPACE, Cockpit Arts, Four Corners, and Photofusion, which offers creative practitioners in London free support to grow their businesses. Every few months, Four Corners exhibits new work by photographer members of the programme, and that’s how my work got exhibited. Through LCN I met the organisers of Photo Scratch, an event where photographers working on documentary projects can understand how their work is perceived and gain valuable insight into how to take their work further with the benefit of other people’s outside eye. For spectators, this is an opportunity to preview projects, offer feedback, and engage in conversations about photography. In both cases, I showcased my project on the Catalan Crisis entitled “Catalonia: A Work in Progress”, where I photographed people who live in Catalonia and asked them their opinion in regards to the Independence of Catalonia from Spain. You can see the whole project on www.greypistachio.com/catalonia WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A PHOTOGRAPHER LOOKING TO EXHIBIT THEIR WORK? Having your work exhibited is an amazing self-promotion tool, but it’s not something that should be taken lightly. Start small, showcase your work in group exhibitions and small venues to start building a brand and a reputation. Exhibiting your work doesn’t come cheap. By showing the work along with other artists you can share the expenses and also you will have to print and frame fewer pieces. Also, have a plan. Don’t wait for people to come just because there is an exhibition. Promote your work online or by sending invitations to peers, clients, prospects, friends, and relatives. And lastly, look for spaces or group exhibitions with work similar or related to yours. If you shoot food photography, you wouldn’t want to exhibit along war and armed conflicts photographers. © JC Candanedo TELL THE PEOPLE WHAT YOU’VE GOT GOING ON NOW AND NEXT. I recently updated both my online and print portfolios in preparation for Offspring Photo Meet. It is the first time that I am attending and I am really looking forward to it! See more of JC's work here!