Jorge Quinteros: The Man Behind The Lens

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Jorge Quinteros is a 32-year-old photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He is also the man behind the lens of our incredible #ShowSomeLove shoot in Times Square last Friday. Braving freezing cold weather, bands of tourists, and even a couple of Disney characters, Jorge used his warm personality, Spanish-speaking skills, and photographic talent to capture the causes, and loves, of a number of individuals. Here, he tells us about the experience of the day, his favorite photography subjects, and the causes that mean the most of him.

Spending time photographing on the streets has led me to learn a lot more about human behavior than I would have ever anticipated. I’m a sociable guy, or at least I like to think so, and when given the chance, I seek to dig deeper. I express a genuine interest in a person, as long as they’re willing to share a part of themselves. It was this exact mentality that thrilled me about the opportunity to shoot the #ShowSomeLove Campaign.

It had snowed in New York a few days prior to shooting, and the remnants were stockpiled in the less congested areas of Time Square. But low temperatures did not demoralize us from connecting with people, supplying them with the prominent green heart, and inviting them to share with us a cause, a place, a person or anything that they feel passionate about. For me, the beauty of these type of assignments is the unpredictability of who you will encounter and what people will reveal to you which makes every encounter unique, fun and quite often inspirational.

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Photography is an incredibly important means for me to express myself creatively. It is the tool that gives me an excuse to venture out to places that I wouldn’t have explored otherwise; it gives me a license to enter people’s lives by taking portraits of strangers on the street. It also allows me to apply principles from my background as a graphic designer. Picking up the camera was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I don’t want to say it’s easy to photograph people on the streets; building up the required confidence can be difficult. But sometimes, language can also be your best friend. I photograph a lot of Hispanic people, and I think approaching them feels natural to me because there’s an invisible bond that exists between us through our first language. My goal is to get them in the most comfortable state as possible before shooting, and knowing their language is generally a good place to establish that ease.

If the camera had been flipped, I would have written “Education for Everyone” on my green heart in a heartbeat.

This connection led to one of my favorite photos from last Friday. There were many large demonstrations against the Venezuelan government going on that day, highlighting grievances that include high inflation rates, crime, and the shortage of staple products like milk, sugar and toilet paper. A group of four teenagers, originally from Venezuela, were participating in the protest and took a moment to step away for a photograph.

There were funny moments, too. We spotted a few ambitious entrepreneurs dressed up as Elmo, Minnie Mouse, and other characters. Most of the pop culture characters who haunt Times Square don’t speak much English, other than to clearly demand for a tip following a photograph. I explained the purpose behind #ShowSomeLove in Spanish, which they understood. Their response: “But, do we still get a tip??”

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If the camera had been flipped, I would have written “Education for Everyone” on my green heart in a heartbeat. I lived in El Salvador, and I recall visiting a town called Ilobasco which still hosts a wealth of beautifully colorful Salvadoran painted pots, plates and miniature figurines, that are traditional to the region. You can see the artisans at work, and witness the skill of their labor. What surprised me was that many of them had very little basic education. From an outsider’s perspective, it was wonderful to see the amazing work that they produce and the love for what they do. But the reality is that they don’t really have a choice. They’re limited by their lack of education.

 Inspiration is anything that pushes you, anything that stretches your limits, and compels you to step outside your comfort zone.

I’m very passionate about a non-profit organization called Pencils of Promise, which helps build schools and increases educational opportunities in developing countries. I lived in El Salvador for 5 years and was fortunate enough to have attended one of the best schools in our township. The experience of living abroad exposed me to facts and conditions that you don’t come fully aware of until you’re seeing it in person.

This kind of world awareness connects to qualities that inspire me most. For me, the definition of inspiration is anything that pushes you, anything that stretches your limits, and compels you to step outside your comfort zone. Inspiration is, without question, abundant, but only if the viewer learns the art of noticing it. I notice it in the books I read, the people I spontaneously meet while photographing, or the like-minded people I venture out with to photograph. I would be remiss if I did not thank my wife for inspiring me as well. Self-motivation is very important but sometimes there’s those moments when the steam just evaporates and that’s when you need that person reassuring you that what you do has a purpose.

Want more Jorge? Check out his website, and follow him on Instagram.

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