For Guarionex Rodriguez, inspiration can come from “blasting techno and drinking my favourite mezcal”
The Brooklyn-based photographer talks us through how music and collaboration are two vital elements of his intuitive practice.
- Ayla Angelos
- 31 March 2021
It’s always useful to have a few inspiring mentors in life, especially if you’re a photographer who’s starting out in the industry. Guarionex Rodriguez, Jr., a photographer born and raised in Lynn, Massachusetts, and currently based in Brooklyn, cites a handful of influential figures who have supported him in achieving his goals. The first is his mother, who had a passion for documenting her surroundings with a point-and-shoot 35mm camera. After the family received a digital device – a Sony Cybershot – that’s when his own interests in the medium really started to grow.
Another of Guarionex’s supporters is his long-term friend Russel DeLeon who, during high school, helped him get into Raw Art Works, an after-school arts programme in his hometown. It was through this programme – specialising in film and video – that Guarionex got to know his teacher Chris Gaines, who “opened the doors for my creative practice,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Since then, I’ve had many mentors and many teachers who have shaped the way I create.”
While at the after-school programme, Guarionex adds, “Chris asked me if I wanted to step up my game in photography. He got me a Pentax K1000 and mentored me through the process by buying my film, getting it developed for me, and letting me experiment as much as possible. At the time, I didn’t know how expensive film was but I’m forever grateful for the amount of energy he spent on my growth.”
Guarionex went on to graduate with a BFA in Photography from Massachusetts College of Art. Today, he’s a full-time photographer, taking on various commissions for clients including the ACLU, Acclaim, Adidas, Bloomberg Business Week, Bodega, Converse, Deem Journal, Herman Miller, Nike, Mold Magazine and many more. And when not working on the commercial side of things, he runs a magazine called Between Global alongside visual artist Mohamed Suliman.
Each and every project Guarionex takes on begins with an idea and often these ideas originate from a bank of references from the realms of 2D cinema, music and performance. “I like to read about other artists’ creative processes; it helps me push to find ways to change how I should seek out new projects,” he explains. “If not inspired by someone else’s works, it’s usually starting late at night, blasting techno in my ears and drinking my favourite mezcal, Del Maguey. This gets me in the zone to find inspiration.” In fact, it was only when the pandemic took away live club nights that Guarionex realised how much this had previously helped activate his creativity.
Once he has found the kernel of an idea he wants to explore, the first step for Guarionex is to work out who to work with to bring it to life. “I’m big on collaborating, so the more folk the better,” he says. “Usually during a shoot, I need to be as loose as possible. Even if I’ve thought of all the details, I don’t let the thinking take over the work.” Instead, he relies on gut feeling and hopes that his muscle memory will do the trick.
Guarionex’s portfolio is replete with textural works, placing emphasis on light and capturing candid moments with his subjects. Special attention is paid to the finer details (“I’m very particular on how I want my colours,” he says), so the more you observe, the more you start to uncover. His subjects are often DJs and producers, specifically those making house or techno beats in the city. He’s a raver himself – or, in his words, a “house dancer and techno head” – so naturally he looks to the electronic music industry as his main muse.
An example of this can be seen in a recent collaboration with good friend and designer Jasmine Amandla, after she’d reached out to Guarionex to photograph the project and store AMP WATA. The two had realised a shared interest in techno and compared notes on how it influenced a lot of their work. “With the influences of Detroit techno, it was more apparent in our works,” he adds. “Because of that connection, the collaborative process became much deeper and fluid than just the photos we’ve created – which echoed across the scene and was very loved by all of our peers.”
Otherwise, Guarionex’s portfolio takes you on a trip through various collaborations and shoots, including a piece for DJ Morenxxx in summer 2020 (real name Jesus Hilario-Reyes); plus a shoot documenting Princess Peggie. Every shot and project is imbued with Guarionex’s devotion to his craft, not to mention his adoration for working with others (or, as his website has it, “the people I fuck with”). Keep an eye out for this name in the near future.
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Guarionex Rodriguez, Jr.: Princess Peggi (Copyright © Guarionex Rodriguez, Jr., 2021)
About the Author
Ayla is currently covering Jenny as It’s Nice That’s online editor. She has spent nearly a decade as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.