HotShots: Hugo V

While we love, love, love tattooed women, often there is a star on the other side of the camera. Meet Hugo V an inventive shooter who splits time between San Diego and Denver. We pick his brain in the interview below and show his ridiculously sharp eye in the gallery that follows.

What camera do you work with?
Currently I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark 3, but I did shoot with a Nikon D800 for about a year before switching to Canon all together earlier this year. No particular reason, I just get bored easily and wanted to try the competition.

What do you think separates “photographers” from “artists?”
This is a good question. I always like to dive into this subject with people because there is much more to just being a photographer these days. In order to become an individual in our industry, you have to be original, creative, and know what you’re doing. Photography is just a tool, a medium, to create art.

Keep diving sir.
For instance, a painter has paints, canvas, brushes and a subject matter… the rest is up to the artist to create a painting once he has all his tools and materials. Musicians have musical instruments, mics, speakers, etc… the music won’t create itself just because you have the tools—you have to create. Photographers should go about it the same way. You use your camera, your light, your subject, the location, etc., to create a piece of art: the photo. You’ve got to create that photo, don’t expect for a sick image to happen on its own. You have to be an artist for that to happen, you can’t just be a photographer. Photographers are those at the mall, Wal-Mart, JC Penny’s, whatever, where you go in, take the same damn picture that have been done thousands of times. Differentiate yourself, stand out, be an individual, become an artist.

What do you try to create when you look through your lens?
When I am shooting, I am trying to create an image that is powerful, sexy, strong, colorful and full of emotion—typically a dark, sexy, seductive, yet somber emotion. I like to do that by creating crazy poses, shooting weird angles or perspectives, playing with the hair, while keeping focus on the expression of the face. I like to use lighting techniques that create a darker feel with lots of contrast and color pop. I want to seduce my audience with the girl in the image.

What characteristics do you look for in models?
When I am looking for a model to work with or collaborate with, I look for lots of tattoos, lots of color, strong eyes, sexy hair and a good physique. I like to be able to create my style of images by keeping the characteristics pretty consistent. I shoot all types of models though. People think I only shoot skinny tattooed girls. That is just a fraction of what I shoot, but that is what I create the best images with.

Why do you prefer tattooed subjects?
I definitely prefer tattooed subjects because I feel like I can create even more than I could imagine. There is so much detail, textures, colors. Not only that but I have found that tattooed people are usually more outgoing, less stuck up, and easier to work with. They are more fun!

What makes a photo “great” for you?
In order for me to consider a photo great—in this case, talking about my own work—I need very strong facial expressions, whether it is done with the eyes, mouth, or hair flow through the face, I need a strong contorted pose, lots of popping colors and very moody lighting. I have to be captivated by this image, the person, in order to feel like I can captivate and seduce my audience with the image. If I don’t feel it, I can’t expect others to like it.

Does shooting in San Diego differ from shooting in Denver?
When I moved to San Diego, it was a little more difficult to shoot in town because it does not have a huge tattooed/alternative model community. But the moment I expanded to Los Angeles and Orange County I was able to feel right at home. It seem like most alternative/tattooed models that are good models, are all in that area. Luckily I had enough demand to have models drive down to San Diego or even fly across the country or across countries to shoot with me. Ive had people from New Zealand, Europe and other states within the US fly to me for shoots. L.A. is very accessible for travelers so it worked out that I was in Southern California to shoot these models.

And Denver?
Denver is a place for me to visit or reside as well. I started photography in Denver and have been lucky enough to be well known as a photographer in this area. I always find gems hiding in the most unexpected places, and Denver has been one of those spots that have had awesome people to shoot.

You have an extensive portfolio. Do you have a favorite style to shoot in?
I shoot a whole variety of styles that I love and enjoy, but if I had to pick one, I would say the alternative/sexy/grungy look is my favorite. Not sure if that is a style but it’s a combination of a few styles fused together… glam/fashion/alternative…

Some of your portraits are wildly colorful, are you conscious of this when shooting?
I definitely am conscious of color when I shoot. I like to look for locations or spots in studios where there are lots of color. If I am choosing a model to shoot, I look at the color of their hair, eyes, tattoos, and wardrobe. I try to match things up to make a little sense. I love the color in my images so I do focus a lot in colors.

What sparked your interest in photography?
Ever since I was a little kid, I was always the one with the camera taking pictures at events, for family or whatever. I guess I took over my dad since he was always behind the camera and never came out in pictures because he always wanted to capture memories. Once I took over, I was the one less and less in pictures. In fact, I actually lost a couple expensive cameras that my parents let me borrow when I was a kid, I haven’t stopped hearing about it from my mom…. Where it really all started though was when I decided to buy a decent camera to take professional pictures of my two little kids. That’s when it took off for me. Shooting with something other than a point and shoot camera sparked a flame in me and I haven stopped.

When did you start getting tattooed?
I just started this year actually. Always wanted, never had the money for it. These days, I do trades or collaborations with artist to get some work on me.

Do you have a favorite piece on yourself?
I love the piece that Cecil Porter did on my arm of my little sister who passed away from cancer seven years ago at 24. We were really close and it meant a lot to me to have a portrait of hers done in Cecil’s own vision and style. He created a blend of Tank Girl-Jet Girl-Viveros style and threw down a very special piece for me.

Do you have plans for more tattoos?
I want to get covered up… You get hooked and addicted quick…

Emily Dear Heart photographed by Hugo V (MEME).



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