Photographer Enrique Vega: “Talent is talent, and you will be talented no matter what technology you have in your hands”

05 jul, 2012

Well, I was born in the north of Mexico, in a state named Sonora, just at the border with the United States. I grew up kind of in the middle of two countries. I was officially living in Mexico, but I had a lot of family in the United States and we constantly crossed the border to visit them, or just to hang out over there.

While I was in high school, I started working on projects like our yearbook and contributing to the school journal, so I was writing and taking photos on a regular basis. That was my first experience with photography.

Then, during my senior year, I went to a local photographer with some of my friends just to get some photos of us together. I liked her work so much that I ended up asking her for a job, which I eventually got.

So, I started assisting her with portraits and wedding sessions and she taught me a lot of what I now know about lighting and working with people. From there, I started college and during that time I became more and more involved in photography, taking classes in Mexico City and Paris to learn more about photographing people in general.

When I finished college I moved to NYC to start working in fashion and I have been here ever since, working with models, top agencies and magazines that have showcased my work around the world.

My style is very versatile. I think I can execute a wide range of styles: fashion, portrait, commercial, beauty, etc. The most important thing to me is to make beautiful things look even more beautiful.

I personally love the the work or Mert & Marcus, they love expressions. I also love Tim Walker, Ruven Afanador, Helmut Newton and Herb Ritts.

When working with models, my main purpose is to capture emotion. There is no point in having a pretty face if you don’t express anything with it.

The digital era: accessible to more and more people

I think it is part of evolution. We live in a system and that system evolves constantly to be accessible to more and more people. Digital photography is very practical to me and it is basically all that I know. Yes, I have worked with film and I have been in the dark room, but it is not my thing. For most of my career I have worked with digital. So, I don’t know if the digital era helped us photographers like that. Talent is talent, and you will be talented no matter what technology you have in your hands. For sure, photography is more accessible to people now.

Worldwide economic crisis on fashion photography?

I really don’t know how to answer that question, being that I think I actually began working in fashion in the middle of this crisis/recession and therefore don’t have a reference point with which to compare it. I hear stories from former models and they say that previously there used to be very large budgets for photography projects, and now all that is gone.

For me, it has always been the same. I’m incredibly thankful to be a working photographer in a city like New York, where there is great talent on every corner. I’m thankful to the universe for being paid for doing something that I love.

The perfect pic, the special moments

Most of the time everything is very spontaneous. It has to do with the chemistry you have in the studio with your creative team and the model. Also, it depends on the level of intimacy that you build with your subject. My favorite photos have been taken without any planning, any hair or make up arranged. And those shoots are the best. You create such an intimate moment with the model that suddenly the magic happens, and I’m not talking about anything sexual, it’s just that point where you feel comfortable with the person you have in front of you that you lose yourself in the moment.

Funny/unusual backstages moments: amazing job against all odds

Once, I was shooting on location in the middle of the desert in Arizona. I had a team of 6 models, makeup, hair and wardrobe stylists coming from LA. The day before, the car that they all were getting into malfunctioned. Therefore, they cancelled… all of them. Only 3 models coming from San Diego appeared. There I was, in the middle of nowhere with no creative team to execute this shoot, and I became quite desperate. At the end of the day the 3 models that showed up wanted to stay and shoot with me, no matter what.

They decided to go to Target to purchase some makeup and they started doing their own hair and make up. They pulled some of their own clothes and bought some accessories. And we did the shoot. The shoot went so incredibly well that you cannot even tell that it was improvised! We did an amazing job against all odds.

 Enrique and the models: partnership

 I really love that. The biggest reward is when I hear from them and they tell me that because of my photos, they booked a job, or they found a better agency, or because of my photos their career really took off. It’s amazing. It’s a great moment because they become very motivated. Once, I heard from a model say “Thank you for renewing my faith in modeling, you inspired me so much today! I was this close to retiring”. Recently, a model liked her photos so much that she just gave me a big kiss on the cheek. That was great.

Top places for a shooting

It has to be NYC in general. I love to shoot on the streets. There is so much you can do in a city like New York.

Image worth a thousand words?

Any images that showcases emotion.

The Projects

Lately, I have been working with plus size models a lot. And I love it. I’ve worked with them so much that I decided to create a new website just to feature my work with them. They are amazing. They inspire me tremendously.

Right now I’m trying to do more editorial and beauty work. Last year I really didn’t have the time to do that. So, this year I hope to do it a great deal. An extraordinary point in my professional life will be when I can travel all over the world doing what I do best. So far I have been traveling here and there, but once it becomes a regular thing I will be very happy.

In general, I think I love fashion photography because of the models. Straight, curvy, commercial, fashion, whatever they are. They are fabulous. They make me love my job because besides being beautiful, they are amazing actresses. They are able to overpower their own beauty with the power of emotion, of expression. I find that incredibly fascinating.


Ambition, perseverance and honesty.

And when you´ll come to my world?

I really don’t know. But I would love to in the future. I guess I definitely will be there at some point of my life.

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