We had the good fortune of connecting with Jose Negrete and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jose, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking is necessary for growth. Pushing yourself to do something new or something you might be anxious or scared about will always lead to a new lesson. Taking calculated risks has helped me grow and learn and achieve new levels in my life. Not all risks have panned out the way I wanted them to. Some result in dead ends, some result in negative consequences, and some end up being completely worth it, but all of them were a learning experience. Every time I let myself get comfortable, it never ends well. I get stagnant, my drive, creativity and mental health are all affected.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I picked up a camera as a hobby. I was obsessed with capturing moments. My memory isn’t always the greatest, photographs were a way to look back on certain moments or feelings that would have otherwise faded. As I got better I decided to step it up and get some formal education in the craft. By that point I was already self taught and the classes didn’t really serve a purpose. I had a professor that really believed in me and presented me with an opportunity that changed my life. He put me in touch with some people over at Goldenvoice, the festival producer for Coachella. My first photography gig was shooting Coachella at the age of 20. That’s what introduced me to the world of music festivals. I stayed in that space for a few years and learned a lot of valuable lessons. I was young and driven. I knew that festivals were the space I wanted to be in. Capturing and creating an experience for tens of thousands of other humans is what gave me fulfillment in life. I made some mistakes along the way, pissed some people off, and learned real quick the importance of checking your ego and knowing the politics. I put down the camera and switched paths into festival production. I went from capturing the experience, to creating it. I decided I wanted to learn all the ins and outs of how to create that experience. I started off by working for a vendor. Went from simply operating a cash register to eventually running and managing on site operations. That opened the door for me in the production space. I’ve worked on several different teams for some of the largest event production companies. Ticketing, access control, perimeter operations, art departments, VIP teams, site operations, area management, just to name a few things on the tool belt. I eventually realized that I loved learning. I wanted to know as much as possible about as many things as possible in the event space. In between events I’d focus on my photography. Whenever I wasn’t traveling I was fortunate to jump on some music videos and was able to learn how that world works. The most important thing I learned about all these different spaces is to always move forward, no matter how difficult things get, learn from your mistakes. If something isn’t working out, move onto the next thing. don’t get comfortable.
Now that covid-19 has shut down large events, I’m focusing the majority of my time and energy into Photography. It’s always been my true passion, and every time I run away from it because of self doubt or challenges along the way, I always find myself coming back to it. A common question asked when meeting people is always “So what do you do?” I always had a hard time answering that question. After all these years I’ve finally cut it down to one sentence. “I like creating and capturing experiences, I can take your portrait while operating a forklift.”
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First stop on the list for any friends who aren’t in the area often is El Mercadito by the Evergreen Cemetery. Some of the tastiest Mexican food I’ve had in the city. After we’re nice and fed we could head over to Wilshire boulevard and have a museum day. Go see LACMA, the tar pits, and the Peterson Automotive Museum. End the day off over at The Little Bar. A beach day is mandatory when visiting LA. Start off in Venice, check out the street performers, maybe buy some art and watch the skaters. Make our way up the PCH and hop on some rides on the Santa Monica Peer. Finish off the day with a sunset somewhere up the coast. The rest of the week would be a mix of food and drinks. Some of my favorite food spots are Canter’s, Bloodso’s, M Grill, La paella, Wurstküche, and random taco trucks throughout the city. Drinks would revolve around The Dark Room, Spire 73, No Vacancy, and Seven Grand. The last night is always viewing the sunset from the observatory.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of people look out for me and take me under their wing, but a few stand out. Steve Brazill has constantly dropped knowledge on me for the past 10 years and helped me enter the world of photography. Vaughn Youtz took a chance on me and was my way into the festival world. Phil Nacionales showed me how the game works always presented me with countless opportunities. Chris Shapouri has always been a mentor. John Wayne my production mentor. Sterling Hampton, one of my closest friends who keeps me accountable and makes sure I keep up.