Origin: San Diego, California
Sebastian Gonzalez captures moments through his work elegantly. And we were lucky enough to talk to him about his creative process, traveling, and plenty more. Check out the full interview below and don't forget to watch a snippet on our IGTV / Youtube of the live interview:
Who is Sebastian Gonzalez? Where are you from and what do you do? Who am I? I'd say I'm an enigma. No, just kidding. Just a photographer/videographer from San Diego, California. Besides photography and videography, I work part-time at Trader Joe's to help pay the bills. Other than that, I love being outside, surfing, skating, climbing, going on road trips.
You're located in California, correct? Yeah, in San Diego. So you're a photographer but also a videographer. Do you have a specific medium out of the two that you like more and why is that? That's a hard one. I'll honestly flip back and forth so much between the two. I honestly started doing video back in high school. My friends, skating in BMX, I'd always film them on this little Sony Handycam like a home video thing. I started there and then maybe a year later got my first DSLR camera, which was a Canon or something. From that point, I got more into photography because I had all this photo capability. So I was like super into that and after that, I was still progressing, flipping back and forth. But I think recently most of my paid work, I guess you could say is video.
I always noticed that skating had such an artistic kind of aura around it. I grew up watching skate videos and there were skate video games and pictures. So it's interesting that you said that. I like both of them of course, but I feel you can tell so much more of a story or to photo. Every little emotion almost you can kind of give that to the viewer through motion rather than just a still, which is cool. So in your bio on Instagram, you have Subjective Media tagged. How are you affiliated with them? What exactly does the company do? So that's actually my own production company. So myself, my friends Chris Mannix, Tyler and Andrew, we're Co-Founders pretty much. We are trying to do our own production company doing photos, video, pretty much any needs that companies might want. We're in the early stages of doing licensing and all the paperwork. But we've been pretty lucky so far doing music videos, branding for companies, social media content. That's our little baby pretty much.
You've done work for people in brands before. How do you decide on working with them whether that might be creative freedom, the brand itself, like what you'd be shooting? Just depends. If I reach out to companies, sometimes they'll have good positive feedback and be like, yeah, we want to work with you. Sometimes it's just whatever I get hired for the type of thing. One of the most recent shoots I did is, I got contracted out to do some film work for a commercial. Of course, it's rad, but it's not something that I was like, oh I want to go shoot for you. It was more something that I just came up so I went ahead and did it type thing.
Is there a certain creative process you go through, whether that's writing or vision boards, when you know you want to shoot a video or when you have to? Definitely, especially for film, storyboarding, location scouting, sitting down and brainstorming different ideas always helps a lot, especially if we're going to do a music video or something. We always take those extra steps beforehand getting dialed in because that just makes everything so much easier when you actually come to the day of the shoot. It makes the workflow way easier. Is that something that you had started from the beginning when you started shooting or was that over time you had a trial and error and realized? Definitely over time for sure. Back in the day, we were like, 'oh you want to go film today? Alright sure let's get-go'. And would come up with whatever we could and then slowly learn and ran through all kinds of different coverage. So definitely over time, it helped to learn how to storyboard properly and location scout and take those extra steps that go into production. Because when you do take those extra steps, you can tell the big difference in the quality.
This is a big question I wanted to ask this and I figured asking you it would be neat. If it was announced that you were releasing a feature film, what would it be about? We're actually working on a feature film. I'm currently working on a new film tieing in like skating, surfing, snowboarding, probably those three but we're going to do a documentary but a feature film showing how all those three sports are kind of the same thing. They are all shared by a board, the backstory those sports, and how they save people. Because a lot of times, it does. They go do that to escape. So I've had friends that that's like the thing that helps them express themselves. So we kind of want to tell the story of showing how important and how in tune those people are with that medium.
I think it's really interesting bonding with skaters too and even surfers are to share that kind of love for that. So I'm excited to see that. I think it'd be really cool. Other than that, I've always wanted to do a thriller film. The thriller, maybe not so much horror, but definitely a thriller. That'd be rad.
So you said it's going to be kind of like a documentary. Is it going to be less of a story but more of the way a documentary would be filmed as in you're interviewing people and showing shots of them doing the actual sport. Exactly. That's one thing with Subjective that we're trying to do. We love doing the documentary kind of style, but at the same time, it also provides the high quality, Hollywood cinema aspect. It's kind of trying to join those two together and then go from there.
Do you guys have any date that you're looking at releasing or is it really just in the works? We're still in the storyboarding stage right now. This is our little baby so I want to take as long as possible. As long as it takes to get where we feel it's perfect. Two years ago we came out with our first short film, which is actually a surf documentary about three dudes locally in San Diego from different age groups and showing them doing their thing and from their perspective from their walk of life. So that was our first one that kind of got us really stoked for this one. So this one, we want to definitely take time and do what we could've done better.
As a person and in your work in terms of photography and videography, what is success to you or happiness? Success and happiness can either be the same thing or it can be like totally different things depending on how you look at it. But for me, I think it'd be being happy in what I'm doing and still being able to provide for myself and eventually for my family. I don't necessarily want to be or need to be rich or famous or anything. I just want to be good off enough where I'm comfortable where I'm at and be able to do the things that I love to do.
If you were to assign or define your style of work in one word, what would it be? And why? Honestly, I'd say lifestyle. I think that's one of the main genres you could say that I try to aim for. Lifestyle kind of shooting, whether that's like video or photos. Definitely capturing those little stories not only every day but in little events. If we go out camping, showing what's going on, the process of what we're doing on a road trip or if we were in the front yard skating. All those little moments.
As you were trying to find yourself creatively, was there a point where you decided that's what you wanted to go towards? What about lifestyle shooting attracted you to it? Honestly, when I first started I had no clue. It takes longer to develop your style and even now, I say that but I still don't feel like my style is perfected. I think early on is all over the place. If you scroll down like super far on my feed, I have landscape, portrait, car stuff. It's all over the board. Within maybe the last few year or two, I'd find different inspiration and hanging out with a certain group of people drawn me to that lifestyle, you could say aesthetic. Who you are hanging out with, who you inspire or look up to, helps you to figure out your style. I thought about that within the last three months and came to the terms that I think that's what I wanted to do.
It's a cool feeling. Since Nite X is affiliated with a lot of music, what are you currently listening to? Do you find that music helps you in the post-production or editing process or do you prefer a quiet environment? Currently listening to probably a lot of indie alternative. I was actually listening to this band called Dayglow. I'm not sure where they're from. And as far as post-production, music definitely helps with inspiration while editing, taking photos when you're out and about. For me, at least, it sets my mood of how I'm feeling and how I want certain edits to be. The music itself, the lyrics, everything has good inspiration for what drives my art or whatever. It's weird because that's one of the biggest problems I have with editing, especially video is finding the right music for the video. I feel like that's with everyone, but when you finally get it, it just clicks and it's so easy to go in and flow and just edit to the music.
The score of the film could spark such emotion in somebody. So when you watch movies and you started getting better at video, was there something about film that drew you to it, whether it was the color grading, the story, the music? There are so many different aspects of video production. One is the creative process of actually filming it and then two, post-production is a whole other thing. The way you edit it, the way that it's colored, the way that the music they have, the sound effects. It's almost like putting together a puzzle, which is kind of cool. Adding all of these different effects to make it how you want it. Watching films and seeing how it's colored and stepping into their shoes caught my attention for sure.
Do you have favorite directors or favorite movies? That's so hard. For me, the Coen brothers are really rad. Quentin Tarantino, of course, is always good. Stanley Kubrick. No Country for Old Men. That's like one of my go-to movies for cinematography and color grading. What is next for you? Do you have any upcoming trips, work-life events that you can share? A few shoots coming up in the next one or two weeks just for local businesses and whatnot. I actually just got back from Boise, Idaho. I had some friends that just moved up there. So I was visiting them and I was lucky enough to work for a coffee shop up there then we did some content for a band up there. As far as trips, I don't know, coming back from Boise and getting back into things and trying to figure out where I'm going to go. Wintertime is one of my favorite times to go travel and see stuff. I think next week it'd be cool to do a lot of the southwest, like Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon and Grand Canyon. I haven't explored there. Do you think traveling has a lot to do with the product that you produce, with your work? Most definitely our music, especially living in San Diego, like there's a lot you can see in San Diego beach, you can go from like the beach to the desert to the mountains all within a day if you really wanted to. But I get kind of burnt out with the scenery here. Seeing new perspectives and seeing new cultures is just really huge inspiration for different work and just getting more a full circle.
Don't forget to check out Sebastian Gonzalez on Instagram.
Photography by Sebastian Gonzalez.
Interview by Madison Everett.