Carlos Gutiérrez, Photographer
Queer Careers is an ongoing series featuring ‘out and proud’ professionals. We spotlight gay men who’ve carved out their own career path, and want to share their insights on how to get ahead in the workplace. We’re also interested to know what it’s like to be gay, where they live, and where they work. We’ve already interviewed Curtis M. Wong, Senior Editor at HuffPost, Queer Voices, Faraz Arif Ansari, a film-maker in India, among many others. This time, we speak to Carlos Gutiérrez, a photographer based in Medellin, the heart of Colombia.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
“I’m from Colombia, I grew up in Medellín, and I am currently based here.”
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What inspired you to become a photographer?
“I’m always trying to compose new images in my mind. There are some things that I just can’t express with words; the feeling I have when I see a painting or a beautiful film is indescribable. When I was younger, I caught myself imagining how the music that I listen to translates into images, so music videos were also an early source of inspiration. I remember spending whole bus trips matching images with the music playing on my headphones. I still do it while I drive, so I would say that also inspires me a lot.”
If you follow your dream, it will work out eventually.
You work with fashion, art, design, and travel photos, what excites you the most to create and work with?
“Well, I love traveling, but what I love most is to create a scene from scratch. I’m inclined to work with art and fashion especially. The capabilities to explore in art and fashion are broader than with any other media. So, that’s what excites me the most. Throughout my career, I’ve always wondered if I should become specialized in something (photography, video, or even in a topic like fashion, art, or travel). Recently I realized that they all could perfectly co-exist together. They are skills that enrich my work and that I enjoy, so why not be a visual artist in all of those topics? It makes me happy.”
What’s gay life like in Colombia?
“I’d say it depends on where you are standing. I mean, I have plenty of straight (open and tolerant) and gay friends from work and life in general, but that’s me doing what I do, and moving in my sphere. I can’t speak for someone who’s in the business of medicine, as I don’t have any experience with that. Anyway, I perceive being gay as gaining recognition in Colombia, and in general, I feel pretty safe. I am not much a party person, although there are some nightlife options. I think there is still room for improvement in that area, especially outside the capital.”
Are you single?
“I am. :)”
What would you like to be doing five years from now?
“Travelling, no doubt. Also, I’m moving closer to film with each day, so I’d like to think I’ll be more involved in it. I created a festival of fashion and film (Medellín Fashion Film Festival) with the help of my team and I hope to make it bigger. The best of all is that I’m not attached to any of these ideas, I see myself in constant evolution, change, and who knows, I also leave room for surprise.”
Can you talk to me a little about your business, how did you learn to promote yourself, target a particular market, etc?
“As I said, I consider myself to be in constant evolution, so I don’t have a magic formula that works every time. What I find the best until now is to surround myself with people of similar interests in the offline and online worlds. It increases the reach of what I do, and so the message spreads easily. I think you shouldn’t be afraid to do what you think is the best to express your ideas; it helps to establish a personal seal, and it’s easier to promote.”
As a young photographer based in South America, what is the hardest part of your job?
“With the amount of European and American images out there, it’s hard for us to convince our people to believe in our own aesthetic as Latin Americans. Sometimes it’s even hard for me to express it without relying on external inspiration. That’s something I want to be more aware of.”
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Enjoyed this story? Then be sure to read the previous Queer Career Interviews: