Juan Santillan is a Land Scape photographer based out of San Antonio, Texas. A true inspiration for all aspiring photographers out there, a real-life example of, “if you can’t imagine it, you won’t get there.” Keep reading to see what we mean!
How did you start photography and why Land Scape?
I started photography because I wanted to document my children as they were growing up. I started with a film camera, but of course that was before digital cameras. As my children got older, I wanted to pursue photography more seriously and Land Scape was my first love. My first camera was the D3100, and I told myself, if within 12 months, I can make enough money from photography to get a newer DSLR camera, I would keep pursuing photography. Within 12 months, I was able to get the Nikon D810. I got into land scape because I think photography, as an art really forces you to slow down and be aware of your surroundings, you’re not walking as fast, you’re not buried in your phones, for me, land scape is a great way for me to visually put myself somewhere I want to be.
What’s your dream camera?
The Sony A7 R III – I’ve learned so much about Sony in regard to their focal points, compared to my D810, it’s ridiculous! Also, the in-body stabilization and dynamic range on the Sony, I just love it. But, I’m going to hold on to my D810 forever because we’ve been through so much together.
How did you get to where you are today as a photographer?
The biggest thing in photography is you have to work hard, especially if you’re young, and you want to pursue photography as a career, you need to start working hard, picture yourself where you want to be, set out a plan on how to get there, and just work really hard along the way. For me, what really inspired me was about 2 years ago, I was walking down Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union, and they have art work mounted onto their walls, some paintings and some are photography works, so I thought to myself, how can I be that good where my work can be blown up and put up on walls, and I became obsessed with the idea of getting “that good.” Eventually a year later, I sold 20 of my prints to the Vistas at The La Cantera Resort, but I wouldn’t have gotten there if I didn’t picture it in my head, and work really hard towards it.
Would you say photography is a glamourous job?
I think it can be, but it’s more like grunt work to me. Because you do whatever it takes to get the shot, sometimes is getting into the water, the mud, and sacrifice that pair of shoes, or that pair of jeans because you want to get that shot, and I always think you should always make your subject look glamourous.
What are your thoughts on Photography as a full-time job?
I currently have another full-time job and also my photography business, I think photography is a pretty sizable income, but to really turn photography into a full-time job, I think you need to have 3 consistent good years where the money you make from photography can offset the cost of you leaving your current job. And you also have to think how you can make money from photography, my suggestion is to capture your images in a collection, so you can sell the collection and not just a single image. There’s always that notion of dreams vs. reality, but if you work really hard and have a plan, I think you can do it.