Norbert Cruz is a bartender and photographer who has always been fond of art. He did not always know what medium of art he would pursue, but he was confident that art would be a significant part of his life. When he became a photographer, Cruz discovered a liveable outlet for his passion. Finding himself inspired by the portfolios of other photographers, Cruz bought a camera and began using his talents to capture not only the people in front of him but also the feelings that motivate them.
How did you start your photography journey as Blazin Visualz?
I started my photography career by helping my homegirl. She was a yoga instructor and I started practicing my photography at her studio. I took photos for her and then I met Anthony Nader who is a photographer and the owner of 52Chefs. I ended up working with him in a bar and he took me under his wing. He guided me and I got into the cocktail photography business. I’m into all sides of photography, but mainly the food and cocktail, portraits, etc.
Who/what inspired you?
Looking at other people’s photography inspired me but it’s not just one specific type of photography. I wish I knew their name but even during the Black Lives Matter protests, there was a very powerful image that spoke to me. It’s seeing things like that. A still image can project a lot of feelings. I used to just look at a picture and think it’s just a picture, but now I look at it and I’m looking at the details. I’m looking at the different things that create the composition of it. I look at it very differently. When I find something that sparks my attention, it never gets dull to me. It always stays fresh.
How would you compare photography and bartending?
Bartending has helped me a lot with photography. I’m able to break the ice with people a lot easier. I like to meet different people and learn about them. Either they teach me something new or I teach them something new. On the bartending side, bartending has helped me a lot with making people feel comfortable when I take pictures. If someone has never done a photo, I like to teach them new things. I also like candid moments so I am not someone who stages shoots. I am not staging you to be perfect––I like natural movements.
How do you capture a candid photo? What’s your process like?
Another thing that’s helped me when I do bartender shoots is that I’ve bartended myself. I look at the bartender that I am shooting and I can anticipate their next move so I can pretty much capture the perfect moment as opposed to someone that probably doesn’t bartend. Someone else might take continuous shots trying to catch the perfect moment but I can pretty much snap it right at the perfect moment.
What’s your dream event to shoot? What is your ultimate goal as a photographer?
I have creative ideas come to me but I would not say that I have a dream event to shoot right now. I do want to take a road trip and shoot a lot of landscape and nature photography.
My goal is to give people the chance to shine. People who don’t normally get the chance to shine. Or even local spots, like when I do food and cocktails. I like to shoot local spots that haven’t gotten that much attention or new spots that need help from the community. I want to give them the chance to shine and to make it easier to have a photographer help out businesses. I’m getting into the scene now and I’ve heard that a lot of photographers are pretentious and hard to work with. I am very humble and down to earth. I want to be someone that is easy to work with. I want to make time for people and give them a quality product.
How has COVID-19 affected you personally and professionally?
As far as being a bartender, I lost my job during the lockdown. I had to depend on unemployment which was very unreliable. That was the worst part for me. I’m someone who always likes to try to take the positive out of the negative so it didn’t really affect me so much negatively. As soon as I found out where we were locking down, I mentally prepared myself and told myself to be ready to stay busy and have a schedule for myself. I’m a workaholic. I usually like to have like five days bartending because if I have too much free time, I tend to either procrastinate on things or go out and just start spending money. The lockdown actually mentally helped me keep myself scheduled with the productive things. Honestly, right before the whole lockdown and everything, I was in the process of getting my editing together. I wouldn’t say that I was as good as I am now. Those few months gave me time to practice my editing and get it right. I did a lot of editing and Anthony Nader gave me his praise so that told me that I was going in the right direction. His praise meant a lot to me. I used this time productively. I’m taking off with my photography more so my experience has been positive.
What other services do you offer?
I am very open with my photography. I do portraits. I do yoga photography. I do event photography. I am not just based on one main thing. I enjoy doing food and cocktails and portraits. I like being creative and playing with light, colors, etc.
**Cruz also currently shoots for 2oz Magazine and is rapidly building an extensive portfolio.
To contact Norbert or follow his journey:
Website: www. blazinvisualz.com