professional photographers

Our photographer member

Miguel Hortiguela



Interview withMiguel
“I like photographing people. I like walking around and photographing people just having fun,
in conversation, or reacting to the world around them.”


What does photography mean to you?

It’s a way of self-expression, but I find that it’s also a way of being able to talk to the world. Through the photographs that we take, we can share what we believe or what we think, what we consider important, or how we would like the world to be sometimes.


What inspires you?

When I’m photographing for myself, it’s different than when I’m photographing for somebody else because, then, whatever they need is what I photograph, whether that is a person, thing or a place. When I’m photographing for myself, what I’m drawn to are just shapes, patterns, and colours. As a photographer, light is everything, so how light falls on things.
Inspired can also be in a negative or a positive way. I’m also drawn to photographing things that I think will not be there much longer, and, by that, I mean I’m in a city, and Toronto is changing at such a fast pace that there could be a building standing at the corner today and be gone tomorrow. The character of a street can change from one year to another, so I’m inspired by trying to capture some of those elements in the urban environment.
I like photographing people. I like walking around and photographing people just having fun, in conversation, or reacting to the world around them.


What made you realize that you had a passion for photography?

I don’t think I’ve ever really had that sort of an ‘a-ha’ moment, but when I started photographing, we were still using film, so I think that, when you get your roll of film back with 36 photographs, and maybe 35 of them were terrible, and there is that one good photograph, you look at it and study it and try to figure out what worked and what didn’t, and then you want to perfect it, you want to improve on that. You want to get/make two good pictures from that roll, and then three, so I think that the passion came from just wanting to get better results each time.


How did you learn the art of photography?

I’m self-taught. Of course that means that you’re always paying attention to things, so you say you’re self-taught but you’re also being taught by the world around you. It’s both a passive and active education. You go to art galleries and photography exhibits. Even when you’re reading fiction, and an author’s describing a scene, you can visualize it in your mind, building an image that way, and building a world. So, you teach yourself how to build those images using a camera.


How long have you been a photographer?

A long time (ha ha). I would say I’ve been a photographer for about 30 years.


How has your journey as a photographer been like?

When I started, I was already married and I had one child, so (for me) the journey has been just me needing to earn an income. I always did whatever came along. Somebody asked me to do something, whether it was photographing a place, thing or a person, I would (as a freelancer) always say yes and then figure out how to do it. So, the journey has been very varied. I’ve done everything from wedding and school pictures to photographing artifacts at the museum. I’ve done a very wide variety of photography and it’s always been a bit of a struggle because I don’t have a lot of steady clients. It’s always someone new and I would always be looking for work. But, yeah, it is satisfying because you’re doing something that is eventually going to make someone happy or solve a problem.


What are your plans for the future in reference to your career?

I’d like to do more art, but it’s not cheap to do that. To exhibit your photography is expensive. However, I would love to show my own photography as opposed to just doing things for hire because in over these 30 years there’s a lot of work that never sees the light of day. There are photographs that I take for myself that I maybe show a few to somebody, but no one else sees them, so I would like to exhibit my work more. I’ve done a few group showings where the gallery would exhibit work from a variety of photographers as opposed to just mine, so I have to build that up more and I have to get to a position where I can apply for art grants that would help with funding of such projects.


How would you describe your photography style?

If I have to use a word, I would say ‘realistic’. Most, or I would say all, of my photographs are pictures of real things or real people. It doesn’t mean that I don’t go in post-production just like we used to do in the darkroom (we would print by adjusting contrast, exposure, and all sorts of things). I always do post-production on the images. But, I don’t get heavily into manipulating them or doing composites or anything like that. I’m fascinated by people who can do that well, how they can mix photographs together and create fantastic images. However, that’s not what I’m drawn to. It’s more about the emotions.


What were some of the challenges that you came across as a photographer?

Honestly, the greatest challenge was the fact that I already had a family, which meant that my focus always had to be on earning an income. I couldn’t just simply go off and play. You know, I couldn’t say that I’m going to the mountains of BC for a month to photograph landscapes. I could never afford to do that because I had to always focus of earning an income. So, financial shortcomings, I would say, would really be the greatest challenge.


What is the most rewarding part about being a photographer?

The most rewarding part is the satisfaction that comes from producing images that people appreciate. Again, whether it is someone’s portrait that they’re really happy with, because these portraits (as I try to tell people) are not for themselves. Even though they hire photographers to take a portrait of themselves, these portraits are for the next generations. So, just knowing that you participated in such a special event in somebody’s life and produced beautiful photographs that will be looked at by people, maybe (hopefully) a hundred to two hundred years from now. That’s always been very rewarding. It’s a legacy!

Miguel Hortiguela


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