Bryan Castillo (@bryanadamc) is a brilliant photographer busy carving out a niche of his own. His portrait work is dreamy and his landscape work is otherworldly. With a strong focus on uniqueness and creativity, Bryan has quickly developed a look and feel that is easily traced back to him and simply incredible to view. The blues and golds that are typically found in his work give his photographs a vivid and tangible feel that we are in love with. We were able to chat with Bryan recently, learning more about his approach to photography and editing, how that style developed and the role that Mextures plays in his editing process. Read on to learn more!
My name is Bryan Castillo and I'm from Tucson, AZ. I grew up in Tucson and still live here. I have a huge passion for photography and it actually happened slightly unexpectedly. I originally bought my first camera to use it for video. As I figured it out how to use the camera I ended up liking photography a lot more than video. From there, I began learning how to really use my camera and learn about long exposure shots and how to photograph light and, of course, golden hour (especially in AZ). I became enamored. Addicted.
A huge part of photography for me was the editing aspect. That's where Mextures came in. The manipulation of color, gradients and textures gave me so many creative options. There were infinite possibilities. Taking a photo and making it something magical is the most exciting thing for me. I love being able to create a scene that is cinematic and dreamy and the brilliance of Mextures is exactly that. Mextures gives you the capabilities to create magic. Unique textures, vibrant colors, silky smooth tones. It's something every photographer needs to use.
One day I would love to travel. To see incredible parts of the world and photograph them. My wife (@alexiistherese) and I have recently started a photography business specializing in portraits, weddings and lifestyle shoots. Eventually, I would love to do that full time. I am a very creative-driven person. Every day I am thinking of a new photography idea and how to make it happen.
What exactly was it that started your passion for photography?
At the beginning of last year my wife and I wanted to make videos of songs we wanted to cover (we are both musicians). We bought our first camera and began using it. At first my intention was not to take a ton of pictures with it, but as I learned how to use the camera I was drawn to photography and portraits almost immediately. My wife and I started to explore our city and discover cool places to take pictures. It was fun taking pictures of my wife and practicing my portraits with her, as I still do. She is my main model and subject for lots of ideas. If you would have asked me two years ago if I'd ever be in to photography I would have told you no way. It’s crazy how it all works out sometimes.
Your portrait work does have a cinematic feel to it. How did that develop?
I'm not sure that there is an exact thing that led me to a more cinematic style. I think I have always been drawn to fantastic and mystical things. Stuff that is dreamy and otherworldly. Personally, I love to use my imagination. I am enamored with being able to dream up anything I want to. If i can bring some of those ideas to life through photography and editing a new reality begins to take shape. I am obsessed with the infinite possibilities of creativity. There are no limits and no borders and no guidelines on what one can imagine and create. That is the endless addiction. This mindset is applied to the portraits I take as well. Sometimes it is a simple edit with just the right lighting and scene that can create that magic moment and express a whimsical wonderland. Other times it is hours of editing and creating a scene that transcends space or gravity that just makes your head spin.
How do you generally approach a photo when it comes to your editing process?
I will almost always start with composition. Having a key focal point is really important to me. Also, I want to make sure the photo is clean and crisp - that the subject(s) I want in focus are crystal clear. The cleaner the RAW image is, the better a final edit will turn out. I am always looking for that magical capture, as I think most photographers are. These kinds of captures are so often unplanned. A lot of the shots that I am most happy with usually happen in spontaneous moments. Of course, there are also plenty of planned and premeditated shots that turn out great too.
As I begin the editing process I consider all of the basic elements such as exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, temperature and so on. From there, I really try to enhance and bring out the magical elements of what is already there. Apps like Mextures can also really help in this regard by adding gradients of color and different textures and grain. This can really bring a photo to life. One of the biggest things I try to avoid is over-editing. I have a tendency to cram a lot of ideas into one edit. This can be detrimental to the overall integrity of the photo. Personally, if the photo can keep a strong focal point with just the right amount of edit and capture some kind of magic, I feel like I have done my job.
Recently I have also been using Lightroom. Lightroom is a great tool because it allows the user to dial in the luminance, saturation and hue of each color and also adjust the RGB tone curve. Knowing how to really use any editing app or program will really help a final edit. For me editing is all about creatively thinking. It's art. I think, for me, it's probably the most exciting part of photography.
When you edit a photo using Mextures what does that process look like?
Editing a photo using Mextures is always different for me. The options that Mextures gives you are so endless. I usually end up working with a number of different edits for a photo before I choose one I'm really happy with. I'll usually start with adjusting the basic elements of the shot, and work from there. Working with the gradients of color is usually the next thing I'll add. I may add a gradient that gives a frosted look or one that adds depth and warmth. If I want a part of the image darker or lighter, I will also use the gradients to work in that sense. From there combining light leaks, grit and grain and grunge effects can be tastefully done to really create a brilliant mood. I really dig the vintage/film feel these can give you. For me, the biggest thing in using this app is just experimenting with different options. It all comes back to creativity and art. The infinite amount of editing possibilities that Mextures gives you is insane. It really makes my heart happy.
Would you be up for sharing some of your formulas with the Mextures crowd?
Sure thing! Here are four:
Hidden - QVFBACM - For a subtle vintaged overlay
Mountain Warmth - UWEFJYG - For golden tones with a bit of grunge
Woods - HTEFYHQ - A magical, dreamy grunge
AZ Road - SBKBBAM - For some night vibrancy with texture
You mentioned that you and your wife are musicians. Can you share some of your own music and some of your favorite musicians?
Music was my first passion. Here are a few of my more recent listenings: Shy Girls, Aquilo, Mumford & Sons, Amy Rose, Passion Pit, Gorgon City, Madeon, Smallpools, Purity Ring, The 1975, Fickle Friends, Years & Years, Jon Hopkins and Haerts to name a few.
Who are the people who have inspired your photography the most?
There are quite a number of people who have inspired me. My good friend, Dylan (@dylmarphoto), has taught me a lot about how to use a camera and a ton about photography. He's a genius and takes incredible landscape/astro shots.
Honestly, there is so much talent out there. I could easily list hundreds of photographers that are doing something amazing. Instagram is such a brilliant community that connects so many people across the world to inspire ideas.
Be sure to check out more of Bryan’s stellar work at @bryanadamc!