By Rachel Tyner
Chris Cardoza is an up-and-coming photographer based out of Boston. He began as a temp for Reebok International working in their video production department and quickly turned his new skills and connections into a full blown commercial photography and video production career, working with brands such as Reebok, NHL, Spartan Race, Spaulding Rehab, and ISlide.
I was fortunate to meet Chris at UMASS Amherst, where we both majored in Communication. Over the past three years since graduation he has developed not only professionally, but creatively.
Chris gave me the opportunity to ask him some questions about his career, as well as his advice for artists.
Rachel Tyner: At what age did you first pick up a camera? Have you always been interested in photography, or is this something that developed over time?
Chris Cardoza: I didn’t pick up a camera until I turned 20 years old and started a small production company with my best friend Keith Weiner (an extremely talented photographer and camera operator now in Los Angeles) called Pancakes 4 Life. We shot promo and event videos for small businesses in Massachusetts. Once I got my hands on a DSLR, which we were using for everything, I quickly became obsessed and filmed/photograped everything in sight. I have always been a tech nerd so that translated really well to modern DSLRs. Photography and filmmaking has really become the perfect fusion of creativity and technology for me which is why I am so passionate about the art.
RT: Who in your life has inspired (and/or encouraged) you the most to pursue your dreams? Who are your creative influences (writers, photographers, etc.)?
CC: Personally my parents have always encouraged me to pursue my dreams. They both owned and operated a pizza and catering business for over 10 years during my childhood and now my father is onto a new venture completely different and my mother is teaching at an elementary school. They have never settled for careers they did not enjoy or feel fulfillment from and encouraged me to do the same. From a professional level my greatest influences are photographers and filmmakers Chase Jarvis, Philip Bloom, Tom Lowe, John Loomis, Gary Land, Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger, and many others.
RT: What is the best advice someone ever gave you, and what would you say to any artist starting out?
CC: This is a very tough one. Some of the best advice comes from a quote my father loves to tell me about luck. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”—Seneca
I do feel like one of the luckiest people in this world with all the opportunities I have been given, so with all of this luck I try to really grasp these opportunities no matter how far fetched, outrageous or uncomfortable they may seem. I use to have a very negative first reaction to new opportunities, which was more of a fearful reaction, but now I take every new opportunity as a challenge. In terms of advice to artists starting out I would say be open to opportunities and do not let your ego or fear get in the way.
RT: On your website, you caption the photo below, “This one is what started everything.” What is the story behind the photo? Do you have a favorite photo that you’ve taken?
CC: I shot this while working for Reebok in the video production department. We flew out to San Francisco to film a piece about kids running in a new pair of shoes. Simultaneously there was a photoshoot for the shoes going on and one of the kids was tired toward the end of the day, so he decided to take a break and rest up against the wall. I was lucky enough to be right there in front of this incredible mural right when he leaned in. The photo gained a lot of attraction around the office and triggered something in me that said “Hey maybe I could capture these moments for a living.” This is one of the first photos I have taken with a professional camera and to this day is my favorite.
RT: You work with a lot of brands and commercial platforms. How do you balance keeping your own creative voice with portraying the brands' own message? Has this been a challenge?
CC: Luckily I have been able to work with some really talented people who notice that I work best when I am given a lot of freedom to get the right image or video sequence. Since they recognize my process and the results I get for them, most tend to allow me creative freedom. There are some shoots where I lose creative control but it is all part of the business. I try to balance those days with personal shoots or work with clients who give me freedom.
RT: On your website, you state that you are turning your multimedia studio in Norwood, Mass into a creative paradise. What exactly does “creative paradise” mean to you? And, can the Writer’s Bone crew stop by sometime…?
CC: Definitely come by! It basically means I want my studio to be as relaxing as possible with a plethora of inspiration. I have only had it for a couple months but so far I have filled it with adult bean bag chairs, a gaming desk, some art work, great music and photo books. My goal is to make it a place no one wants to leave and everyone wants to create. For my first year as a freelance photographer I worked strictly out of my apartment on edits which became very lonely and dull. I’m going for the opposite here, which has worked out great.
RT: You’ve had a lot of success in a short period of time. Something to be very proud of. What has been the most mind blowing part of your experience in the past three years, and what do you hope the next three years will hold for you?
CC: The most mind blowing experiences have to be my travels. Before starting my career, I rarely ever traveled outside of New England and now I have photographed in almost every major city in the United States. Next week I am headed to Rwanda to photograph and film for an amazing nonprofit, www.shootingtouch.com. The whole evolution and speed of my career so far definitely blows my mind and I am forever grateful for all of the people who have guided me and believed in a young creative so far. As for the future, I plan on traveling more, creating more personal photo and film series and working with even more amazing people. I would love to shoot for Vice and Sports Illustrated, too. That would be cool.
RT: Favorite beer? 5,000 Bonus points if it’s one from our “Happy Hour” page
CC: My favorite beer is Harpoon IPA but I do love a good Shipyard Pumpkinhead in the fall.
RT: What is one random fact about yourself?
CC: I can walk on stilts pretty well.