Name: Alex Jaquez
Hometown: El Paso, Texas (residing in Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Years Shooting: 6
Years Riding: 15
How did you get your start in photography?
I would have to say it's all because of Sam Adams. Not only is it a good beer, but it's the name of a amazing New Mexico BMX photographer. Sam lives and works in Denver, Colorado now, but at the time that I got into photography he was top dog in the Albuquerque area--and not just for BMX. The guy can shoot a wide variety of subject matter and consistently produces amazing work. Just seeing that guy around and what he could do with a camera and some flashing lights blew me away. I had messed around with photography before that, but seeing someone out there actually making photographs that were awesome enough to end up in the BMX magazines brought it home in a different way. That's when photography started to go from a weekend hobby type thing to something that I spent every extra dollar on and I've been hooked ever since.
Quick breakdown of your gear...
I have a Nikon D300 body with a Nikon 10.5mm fisheye, Tokina 11-16mm super wide, Nikon 35mm 2.8, Nikon 50mm 1.8, and I just recently acquired a Nikon 70-200mm that I'm super stoked about. For lighting I have a quantum Q-Flash, a Sunpak 522, a Sunpak 120j, and a Nikon SB-26. I also have a 400ws Alien Bee and an 800ws, but I mostly use them for portraiture when I'm gonna be using softboxes or other light modifiers. For triggers I use good 'ol Pocket Wizards.
Equipment wise, what is one item you'd love to own? And why?
Right now I've been lookin' pretty hard at the Alien Bee Einstein 640 strobe. It has a super quick flash duration even at full power. Right now with the lights I'm using I've gotta stay around a 1/4 power to keep the flash duration fast enough. In the bright New Mexico sun sometimes even doubling or tripling my lights at this power isn't quite strong enough to compete and fill shadows if I can't get my lights in close. It would be nice sometimes to have a big light to blast at full power and still stop motion.
What is one piece of gear that you own that you couldn't live without?
I don't know? I guess I like to think that there isn't one. I have a lot of used gear and have had various pieces of equipment take a shit on me at inopportune times. I guess for me it's about adapting and making the best photo I can with what's available. I think you can end up learning something you wouldn't have if for some reason you can't automatically jump to your go-to piece of equipment.
How do you split up your time between riding and shooting?
I get my riding in when there's nothing much to shoot, like when we roll up to a spot and everyone is warming up or when people are takin' a breather I'll mess around. It doesn't take long before I start feeling sore. I would say more of my energy goes to photography rather than riding these days.
Does it ever get hard for you to put your bike down in the middle of a good
session to shoot a photo?
It can be, but I've been really stoked on shooting lately so I get pretty excited to shoot when something's goin' down.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
From a lot different places, but mostly from looking at other photographer's work, whether it's online or in magazines or whatever--just looking at other people's stuff and trying to figure how they made the images that appeal to you can go a long way.
What riders do you enjoy shooting with?
Anybody who is stoked on bike riding and understands that a good photo happens when you and your photographer are working together. I like when riders are thoughtful about the process and bring an attitude of cooperation to the table. I think it's cool when people suggest an angle or have some idea of what they want the photo to look like. It sucks shooting with dudes that make it feel like you're working against each other. Don't get me wrong, I know it can suck to wait for someone to set up flashes when you're ready to fire something out, but maybe stressin' over it ain't your best option--go pop a couple 180s and stay loose or something. I just know that I get consistently better images when it feels like me and the rider are helping each make a dope image.
What form of BMX do you enjoy shooting the most?
Probably street just because no two street spots are the same, but I'm down for anything that might make a cool photo.
Do you enjoy shooting photos of anything else other than BMX?
Yeah, definitely, skateboarding can be fun to shoot and our BMX crew mingles with the skaters quite a bit so it works out. I was also involved in small photo studio/ art space for a while that had a white coved wall for fashion/model shooting and such. Having that taught me a lot about light and working with people for portraiture. I want to keep progressing in all areas of photography and hopefully skills from one discipline can transfer to the others.
Do you dabble with filming at all?
Nah, never really have…I dunno? It's just never appealed to me as much as making still images.
Personally, I think Albuquerque and the just the desert in general is a great place for shooting--the open landscapes, blue sky, and just great light in general. What do you think?
I totally agree! I've grown up in the desert environments between West Texas and Northern New Mexico and it's hard to find anywhere that compares in sheer light quality and rugged natural beauty. It can be hard to describe to someone who has never been here. It's the reason that so many Hollywood movies have been filmed around here lately. Think of the opening scenes and much of the background in No Country For Old Men. All of that wide-open expansive landscape was filmed within probably a 50 mile radius of Albuquerque; drive a little further and you can be in pine forests or rocky waste lands. Add small cities with their own unique regional flare to the equation and you have a pretty awesome combination of things to work with as a photographer.
Where can we see more of your work?
Do you want to give any shout outs to your homeys and people who have helped you get to where you are today?
Yeah, definitely! First off I'd to thank my dad for supporting me in photography and understanding what it's like to work for yourself. Thanks to all my family for putting up with me and always being there. Also I want to thank all the awesome riders in Burque for being their crazy damn selves and being my friends. Sam Adams of course, also Tommy Betts and Dorian Blanco for living some of my favorite BMX memories with me in El Paso. Also thanks to Derek Dorame in Santa Fe for shreddin' like no other and still havin' time to fix my janky bike and hook me up with shoes. Daniel Coriz for teachin' me how to slap pack a lip and still holdin' down the trail scene in Santa Fe. And a big thank you goes out to Jeff Z. for the opportunities he has given the New Mexico BMX scene in general and helping me progress my photography.