By Aliana Contreras
The newly renovated San Jacinto Plaza has not only received attention from El Pasoans, but also from many talented photographers – both local and worldwide.
“I’m a hobbyist. I’ve dropped a lot of money on photography, so I’m pretty obsessed with the whole hobby,” Jay said.
Jay, also known as “that1duder” on Instagram, is a photographer from Seattle who traveled to El Paso three years ago to pursue his hobby of photography.
“Coming down here, I didn’t know what to expect. I got a lot more than what I asked for. El Paso has literally been the passage to a lot of really great things in my life. I’m glad to be here,” Jay said.
Growing up, Jay took macro photography at the age of 11 which led him to a whole new perspective on things like bugs and plants.
“During my macro photography phase, I discovered a whole new ecosystem. We walk by this stuff everyday like it’s no big deal when in reality, it’s a whole new world. It led me to discover new things,” Jay said.
Local photographers, like Jay, have inspired 15-year-old Sebastian Barraza to pursue his photography dream.
“Three months before school was about to end is when I really started getting into photography. My parents had just bought me a DSLR, so I took advantage of the opportunity,” Barraza said.
Barraza, a student at Burges Early College High School, said he charges about $20 per shoot which includes 15-25 pictures.
“I had first started taking pictures of friends then moved to people contacting me for shoots. I had never thought I’d start taking photos for money. I just did it for fun, but once people started asking me, that’s when I moved on to starting a small business,” Barraza said.
Barraza’s love for photography began at home making family videos with his brothers.
“When I was younger, my brother’s and I made a lot of home videos and that’s a big factor as to why I started photography. Being able to capture the moment amazed me,” Barraza said.
Barraza started posting his photography on his Instagram, “elpasobeautyofficial” which boosted his recognition.
“Since you can have a feed on Instagram, I feel like photographers tend to choose Instagram to promote their photography, so that’s what I did. More people have access to it and it’s the more ‘trendy’ social media platform. Instagram also doesn’t ruin the quality of photos as much,” Barraza said.
Barraza recently got the opportunity to shoot with professional model, Ashley Mancilla signed with the agency, Ragazza Bazaar Models.
“She was a really nice person and it was really interesting to see how Instagram could bring people together such as her being a model and me being an upcoming photographer. That was definitely one of my most memorable experiences I’ve had so far,” Barazza said.
Even though there are different venues in the San Jacinto area, the new arena in Duranguito could cause some challenges for Jay and his photography.
“The history in El Paso is so awesome. To knock it down would be terrible because it’s always cool to photograph the buildings since they’re so different than the renovated buildings. In the end, just take what is given to you whether it’s what you want or not. You could end up with really cool stuff,” Jay said.
Regardless of the new arena in the Duranguito area, the recent renovations to San Jacinto Plaza have been helpful to Jay’s photography.
“Growth is always a good thing. It’s really nice down here in terms of the maintenance of the area. There’s a lot more people being socially active around here which also ties into photography. A lot more photographers are emerging,” Jay said.