What I Have to Say: Jose Villa


I’m often asked for advice on how I got to where I am, but thinking back to my own early days of shooting, I don’t wish that anyone had told me anything. I lived and learned through the tough times- no work, lots of work, too much work- and now today I’m at a place where I am choosing and picking my clients.

Starting out in my career, I was very insecure with my work (and I sometimes still am). Looking back at it now, I think sharing my photographs with the world more early on could have gotten me a better start in my career, but honestly, it’s okay. I like to let things happen organically. I don’t like to force my work on anyone. I like to produce and then share and let the work speak for itself- that’s how I have always been and will continue to be.

To be successful in this profession, you have to know your craft, shoot for yourself, and share your work and your vision with the world. I can say with certainty the best move I made in my career was to stick to what I know and what I truly love… and that is FILM. I have been shooting long enough to say that I have seen the digital cameras arrive and film dwindle and many years where everyone thought film was dead. In spite of that, I stayed true to what I love. I figured if it was not broke then why fix it, right?!

Now, I see the influx of wedding photographers either switching back to film or picking up film for the first time as young digital shooters because it’s “different.” It’s only different now because the world is so digital. Film has not ever gone away. It’s always been around and it will continue to be around, and that is what excites me- keeping film in this world! I get excited when I see that more and more photographers are shooting film again. And it’s this excitement that has brought me where I am. I never strayed away from shooting the way I am happiest.

I like that I didn’t have any magic answers at the beginning of my career and was not influenced by anyone telling me what was right or wrong or what I should or shouldn’t do. I didn’t like to hear the shortcuts- nothing against shortcuts in this life and in the industry, but I needed to live and breathe the ups and downs. It has made me a better photographer and a better person and I would not change that one bit.

Inspire the world with your beauty and the rest will follow. If you shoot what inspires you and only share the work that makes you happy, you will soon see that the work you most love and share will return to you and this time, with a dollar bill in hand. Enjoy it.

– Jose | Jose Villa



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(Image of Jose by Elizabeth Messina)

Our “What I Have to Say” Wednesday series features established photographers and artists with messages they just can’t keep inside. Authentically and honestly, our writers share words of wisdom to challenge, encourage, and inspire.

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22 thoughts on “What I Have to Say: Jose Villa

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  4. So true! Life is a journey and so is photography. When we are true to ourselves, then others will sense this and come to us for our vision. Sharing our vision with others releases our art. I am so happy to be 40 and to have grown up with film and learned how to shoot with it first with a manual camera. For young people growing up in a digital world, film IS different. They have to slow down to shoot it and not be a tantalized by the instant gratification of the screen on the back. I am so happy you brought people back to the beauty of film! Thank you!

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  6. Not only am I a big fan of Jose’s work, I wholeheartedly believe he is right on this matter. I often think the same thing when I see and read so many people asking top photographers how to edit their photos, how to do their work flow, how to direct a couple, how to not make this mistake and that. Sharing knowledge and an open photography community globally is phenomenal and fantastic, but whatever happened to learning by doing, it’s the only way to to truly be yourself. I struggle to NOT be influenced by all the amazing work out there and all the great advice, and it’s actually difficult…

  7. Excellent article Jose! You’re talent shines through, even in your writing! So glad you use film too! Warm wishes and the best to you!

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