Juan Jerez is a photographer based in Paris. For him, photography is "a way of seeing the world, of being in the world. In the same way as literature, photography is an instrument which allows you to have access to the essence of things, a ticket for the front row in a show. I have always dreamed of having the ability to create images capable of telling a story, the ability to become a kind of writer working not with words but with lights, shadows, shapes..."
It's a sentiment that transcends throughout his feed, where we view staples of Paris, and other cities around the world, in a new light. His work has earned him over 180,000 followers, his work has been featured in the Guardian, The Huffington Post, and the Telegraph, and he has collaborated with many brands including Nikon, Apple and Huawei. Find out more about Juan and his work below.
How and why did you get into Instagram?
I started posting photos on Instagram, in its early stages, almost by chance. At that time nobody knew how successful this application was going to be. I had been taking photographs for a long time and felt like showing my work. Instagram was one of the many sites where I published. I had a certain success almost from the beginning and I suppose that this was a strong motivation to keep publishing.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Well, I studied History of Art and Architecture. I think that period as a student influenced me a lot. I spent hours and hours watching paintings, sculptures, building plans and façades. I used to see many films too and, above all, I used to read a lot. I think that literature has had a strong influence on my work. When I was young, I wanted to be a writer. Actually, I never had the talent and determination to achieve it, but somehow this interest in telling stories still goes with me. My favourite pictures are those that tell something… In addition, I have been lucky enough to live in wonderful cities: Granada, Roma and Paris. The energy of the city has always inspired me.
How do you decide what to share and what to keep private?
Well, in my main page in Instagram I have an editorial line which I try to respect. I usually publish mainly street and travel photography. But my job is much wider! Lately, for example, I dedicate much time to portraits. For this type of images I use other channels of communication, such as my website or my personal account of Instagram.
What is the best kept secret in Paris?
Paris is the dream of many people. There are places in the city that are part of the collective imagination, such as Montmartre, the Eiffel Tower... But Paris is much more than that. There are many unknown districts full of wonderful places. I love my neighbourhood, the 11 arrondissement. There are some places I particularly like, such as the “promenade plantée”, a former elevated railway track transformed now into an urban park, or the romantic Parc des Buttes Chaumont, with its lively atmosphere, especially in spring.
Any tips and tricks you'd like to share with other creators?
It is not an easy question. If I had to give a tip it would be always to keep the passion for what you do and the desire to learn new things.
What camera and editing software do you use?
I use different cameras. Mostly the Nikon D850 and the Fuji Xpro2. I usually use lenses, especially a 35mm. I always edit with Lightroom.
How would you describe your aesthetics?
I think that light is the principal actor in my work. Whichever it may be, a landscape image, a report photo or a portrait, light always plays a fundamental role in my pictures. If I had to define my aesthetic it would be something like “stories united by light”.
Tell us something no one knows about you.
I can’t play any musical instruments. It’s my great frustration.
What's been your favourite piece of work to date?
I think that the reports I made in Indonesia in 2015 and in 2016. In total I spent 4 weeks visiting the country. It was a wonderful experience. As a street photographer, Indonesia’s cities are a paradise for me. Italian architect Aldo Rossi defined the city as "la cosa humana por excelencia". Well, when I walk the streets of Yogyakarta or Bandung, this definition appears clear for me.
Behind each corner, each coffee, square or market, you can always find a glance, a gesture, a dialogue. Contrary to what occurs in Western cities, where the street photographer is considered sometimes as a threat, as someone inopportune, Indonesian people do not try to hide the camera, and allowing to be represented in a natural an spontaneous way.
The best thing about being a creator?
That you always feel alive
Favourite people to follow on Instagram?
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
To do exactly the same as I did :) And to read more!
Follow Juan here.