Roberto Valenzuela is an acclaimed Canon Explorer of Light who specialises in wedding photography. He has snagged over 100 international wedding and portrait photography awards, including three 1st placings. He is also hailed by Junebug Weddings as one of the “Top 50 Wedding Photographers in the World”.
Read on to find out more about Roberto’s foray into the world of photography and find out a little more about him ahead of The EOS R Creators Workshop.
Hi Roberto, we love the photos you snap! Understand you were an Economics and Finance high school teacher, and a concert classical guitarist for 10 years. What inspired you to leave all of that behind to become a photographer instead?
My full-time career as a photographer began in March 2006 when I took time off teaching to attend the annual Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) convention in Vegas. During WPPI, I realized that my passion for photography was too strong to ignore. I loved everything about photography – the cameras, the lenses, the lighting, the software, the technical side, the artistic side, and my favorite, the business side. Knowing my wife, Kim, had landed a great engineering job upon graduating with her Master’s degree helped solidify my decision to become a full-time professional photographer. That following week, I met the principal to tell her that I would not be continuing after that school year and thanked her for the amazing opportunity. Before I left her office, she asked me if I was sure, and with a heavy heart I said, “Yes, yes I am”. Thereafter, my full-time photography journey began.
Roberto hard at work, snapping pre-wedding photographs of a couple.
Why wedding and portrait photography?
Although many people see wedding photography as the lowest possible barrier of entry into the photography industry, it is in my opinion, the type of photography that carries the highest weight and responsibility. You are responsible for taking photographs that tell the story of someone’s happiest and most important day of their lives, and honored with documenting the very first day of a brand new family. I’m always grateful to be entrusted to create a family heirloom for generations.
EOS 5D Mark III | 1/1500s | f2.8 | ISO 320
Which aspect(s) of your job as a photographer bring(s) you most fulfillment?
What I love most about photography is how learning never stops. To stay on top, I’m always learning how to use new software, new lighting techniques, how to push my camera’s settings beyond the norm for portraiture, etc. When I see the results of my practice, I get really excited!
EOS 5D Mark III | 1/180s | f1.8 | ISO 400
Please share your experience of the toughest shoot you had to do and how you overcame it.
Hands down, the toughest shoot I’ve ever had to do was the National campaign for the Canon EOS Mark IV SLR camera in New York City. The pressure was enormous. I was to unbox the new camera and photograph the whole campaign that very same day because they were going to print my photos and hang them up at my favourite museum – the Whitney Museum of Art, the day after. The problem was, the video team that was filming me took up most of my time doing takes of me ‘working’. The time I had left to do the actual shoot was only minutes. I was very stressed out, but I relied on my years of practice to do the job in a very short time. The stakes were very high, but your training will never fail you.
EOS 5DS R | 1/60s | f2.8 | ISO 320
The EOS R Creators Workshop is all about celebrating our latest EOS R. What are some camera-specific tips you would suggest for our readers to try, to snap great photos with this camera?
This camera opens up opportunities that are simply impossible with an SLR. For example, with the face-detection AF, I can take the camera off my face and engage with my clients while the camera tracks their faces, allowing me to snap candid photos of them. The ability to use a 1 to 5 stop neutral density (ND) filter that sits inside the lens adapter is one of my favorite features. This saves me from having to buy multiple ND filters for all of my lenses. The ND variable filter also allows me to achieve a beautiful cinematic look outdoors where I’m able to keep my apertures wide open at f/2.0 and still illuminate my subjects with my flashes as it stays within the camera’s flash sync speed. I am also excited about the new RF lenses, especially the RF 28-70mm f/2.0 that is incredibly sharp and offers a great wide aperture. But my favorite feature of these lenses is the ability to program the control ring to fit the kind of shoot you are doing. For example, I programmed my control ring to quickly change my ISO in rapidly changing lighting conditions.
EOS 5D Mark III | 1/250s | f2.8 | ISO 500
What is one advice you would give to all the photographers here in Singapore?
I would advise all photographers to never think they know something so well that they don’t have to learn anymore. Keep your curiosity as big as that of a child’s. Learn how to pose so your subjects don’t look posed. Learn how to light so that the lighting communicates emotions instead of simply as illumination. Embrace learning and new technologies to help you expand your capabilities and become an even better visual storyteller.
Catch Roberto Valenzuela at The EOS R Creators Workshop happening on 10 November 2018.