We had the good fortune of connecting with Justin Aguirre and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Justin, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I pursued a creative career by virtue of being exposed to photography at such a young age. Around 10 years old I started learning film photography with my dad’s old SLR camera and became mesmerized that I could capture the world around me and started to realize I could manipulate the image and create new realities for the images in my mind and bring them into existence.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art are my images. I’ve always been drawn to creating and how much fun it is building worlds within frames. It wasn’t until college that I realized that becoming a cinematographer is the path I wanted to explore. It was in a moment of clarity that it hit me that I had more fun playing with cameras and experimenting with lights over all other aspects of filmmaking that cemented my commitment to the craft. I started investing in lighting equipment on a fluke when I discovered an Arri light kit at a thrift store and started building out from there. I was technically a film school dropout from Chapman University so I learned on the job my picking up gaffing roles on indie sets and learned from DP’s who were more experienced then I was. With each set I learned something new and met new people who believed in me, filling me with the confidence I needed to make the jump from gaffer to cinematographer. The images I create are the results of that experience. It’s an experience that taught me to never stop learning and always be willing to try something new. I feel I bring that to my craft, it’s not my job to say no, it’s my job to figure out the solution to challenges in the script and to me, that’s the most rewarding element to filmmaking.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My friend’s know I’m the go-to person for things to experience in LA. I’m an avid outdoorsman as well as local history buff. I would take my best friend on a journey to discover the obscure parts of LA that get overlooked by the major tourist destinations. Our days would include exploring the diverse landscapes that surround LA and visit canyon’s John Muir once visited, explore abandoned Cold War era Nike Missile sites, and old mines that pre-date the California gold rush. We’d eat at the iconic restaurants that defined growing up in LA, from San Pedro’s famous Fish Market and getting the legendary shrimp tray to getting tacos from numerous pop-up road side stands. And the one place that would be a must do for anyone visiting LA is a trip to the top of Mount Wilson. Most people who come to LA visit Griffith Park for the views and the observatory but few venture up to nearly 6,000ft and see the sheer vastness of just how big the LA area truly is. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people, groups, and experiences that have helped shape where I am today and where I’m going tomorrow. But the biggest influence on my life would be my family. I have parents who’ve always been encouraging and supportive of my dreams and helped guide me on a path to achieve them. My mother thought me about the artistry and the importance of staying creative. My father thought me the values of hard work, trust, and accountability. Blended together they each instilled the foundation of a life of a creative with the knowledge to make it a livable career.