An outdoorsman with a thing for lighthouses, Joe Garza has been into photography since the mid ‘90s. The outdoor photographer travels 120 days a year and loves every minute of it. And it shows–his photographs take you on a journey from the East Coast to the West and from tropical paradises in Hawaii to snow-capped mountains in the Himalayas.
Join us as we take a closer look behind the lens and zoom in on the latest ArtisanHD Brand Ambassador.
Joe on Finding His Passion
Born and raised in Westland, Michigan, Joe developed a love for the great outdoors early in his childhood, regularly camping with his sisters. Even back then, he was already running around with a small Polaroid camera that his parents gave him and he would take pictures of anything that looked good.
Although Joe’s always loved art and took a lot of art classes in school, his biggest inspiration came from being outdoors–going for a hike or a walk, rock climbing–anything that got him closer to nature.
“Outdoors is where my happiness is.”
– Joe Garza
Exploring New Lands and Starting New Photographic Adventures
Joining the Navy opened new doors for Joe as it gave him the opportunity to travel to new places, and his travels took him to a whole different level. As a veteran and an outdoor photographer, travel continues to be a major part of Joe’s life–personally and professionally. His most recent trip was to Mount Everest, where he joined a local organization in Madison that brought him on board to document the experience.
Taking People on a Journey through Photographs
For Joe, taking people on a journey through his works is very important. While he wants to inspire others to see different parts of the world, it’s also about taking them on an emotional journey.
“I love being able to go out and create photographs that not only help people relive a memory of their childhood or when they took a family vacation to the Grand Tetons and they stood exactly where I was at…it hits home a little more for them and I think they have a lot more appreciation for it.”
– Joe Garza
In the Artist’s Own Words…
When is your favorite time to shoot?
I love the early mornings when it’s quiet and peaceful. Sunrise is the perfect time…not necessarily for sunrise photos but because of the early morning light. An hour/hour and a half after sunset is another favorite of mine. Mid-day is great when there are clouds, because a clear sky is kind of boring.
How do you choose your portraits?
I look at the overall landscape, composition, and lighting. I also try to understand what’s going to be the best viewing point from different angles. And of course, textures. I love having textures. If you can see the texture, people can virtually feel what that image looks like even without touching it. There should also be something unique and inviting to bring them into the image. I love sharing the stories behind the images, which also takes it to a different level.
Was there ever a time when you were surprised & excited by how a photo or project turned out? Describe it.
About 10-12 years ago, my son and I went up to Pt. Iroquois lighthouse in Michigan and we were trying to see if we could capture the Milky Way. I was blown away by how much more possibility there was and seeing the unknown…it was pretty powerful. We had an awesome time that night.
What advice would you give a creator/artist who is just starting out?
I would say dedication, exposure to what they’re working on, and marketing themselves as much as they can. It’s important that they create a brand for themselves instead of following a cookie-cutter style. That was one of the things I had to do at the start. I captured things locally but I ended up with the same photo that 50 other people already had. I had to figure out a way to differentiate myself from the photographers in my area. So my advice would be to offer something unique, something that’s different. Most importantly, not to lose the love for what you’re doing.
What are the characteristics of a quality photographic print?
Composition, lighting, colors, sharpness, and proper exposure are among the key elements. There has to be something inviting and appealing to the eye even if it’s just a leading line. All these key components make up the grand view of it to make sure that things are put together cohesively for a quality image.
On Working with ArtisanHD
What led you to Artisan HD?
Although I’d always printed on metal, I’ve always liked acrylic prints. And that’s what really drew me to Artisan–they have a wide range of different products and aren’t set on just one particular thing. So TruLife was a huge stepping stone for me, and once I started printing with them, it was kind of a game-changer. I was just out in Arizona last week and got to meet with Mike. It was my first visit there and I got a tour that set it more in stone for me.
Why do you continue to work with Artisan HD?
The biggest things are the customer service and how easy it is to use their website and load files. They’re very price-competitive within the market and they offer lots of perks to artists. Quality is definitely a major factor. Plus, I’ve never had any shipping issues. If I have a question, I know I can get an answer in an hour once I send them a message so…definitely top-class.
What advice would you give to other artists who want to create and sell quality prints?
I’d advise them to photograph things that they enjoy and love to photograph and brand themselves so their work stands out.
Having a platform like Artisan HD is also essential if you’re going to sell quality prints. If you go to Walgreens or Walmart, the quality isn’t ideal. If you want something quality, you want something that’s going to stand out to your potential customers and even larger companies. Outside of Artisan, for acrylic prints, I don’t shop anywhere else.
Here are some of my favorite acrylic images: