Mistakes Make Magic

006: Jose Villa – Staying Genuine and Creating a Memorable Experience

October 10, 2017

I’m Catherine.
A New Orleans based wedding photographer and educator. We are excited you are here and cannot wait to connect with you!.
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Jose Villa is a phenomenal film photographer whose work has been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings, Grace Ormonde, Brides, The Knot…and the list continues! But what I love about this guest his generous approach to teaching, to photography…and to his relationships. He has been named as one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world! Having been recognized in multiple publications throughout the years, he really stands out in the competitive field of wedding photographers. I have been lucky enough to study under and get to know him and I am thrilled to have him on the podcast. On this episode Jose talks about this past 16 years of working as a film photographer and shares different stories and advice from all the lessons he has learned!


  • Where did Jose Villa begin?
  • How have things changed in the photo and wedding industry over the years?
  • How does Social Media affect a creative business?
  • What mistakes to avoid when shooting you are shooting film?
  • What are few practical ways to prevent those bigger mistakes from happening?=

Don’t Forget It’s the Real Moments that Matter:

If you love photographing moments…there is SO much good content out there today! With social media, workshops, and more finding good online resources (such as this podcast) J is a great place to start!
Guys, styles are changing! Today, brides want more than just a wedding, they want all of the parties the details and of course…for those awesome things to be photographed! This is great for photographers! Jose feels like some things are becoming over-styled and even agrees that it can be easy to get caught up in spending so much time styling! But at the end of the day, we have to remember that the wedding is about the people! If details are your thing, consider bringing some of them home with you to photograph after the wedding day! That will allow you more time to photograph the candid, real moments.

Pinterest and Handling Photo Requests:
With social media and access to imagery all day every day, it is very easy for brides to get caught up in what they see. Once she sees something she loves on Instagram or Pinterest, she may feel that she wants to recreate that on her wedding day. In reality, sometimes it doesn’t work like that. Jose takes the approach of “One for Me, One for Thee.” This means if a bride wants one of those shots she has seen, he will agree to photograph it for her…and will then move into a photograph that he wants to take! Typically, the brides will go for the latter but this way the bases are covered! It is important to be authentic for the client and to make sure their experience is the best you can provide!

Shooting Film and Potential Film Errors:
I think there is always that fear of switching over to only shooting film. The fear of something going wrong with the film or camera, leaving the client unsatisfied…is almost overwhelming to consider. Jose only shoots film and always has.

While he does have the fear of something breaking, he has learned to avoid these mistakes through preparation. If you are planning to shoot film, make sure to always take the time to test your equipment, even though sometimes weddings can be rushed. Once you have tested all the cameras and film, you can then have the confidence to continue the day only shooting film.
Jose shoots medium format Contax 645. It’s an older camera so he always recommends having a few backup cameras – just to be safe.

Weddings are so fast paced…anything could go wrong. When you are photographing, consider “overshooting” as a way to avoid as many mistakes as possible. Also…be sure to continue to check your aperture on the contax because having underexposed film is one of the hardest mistakes to overcome. But really, no matter what you do..mistakes will happen. You just need to learn from them and use these as a way of making yourself better and more prepared in the future.

How to Handle Your Mistakes:
Even if the mistake is not 100% yours (for example if someone you work with makes the mistake), it is still your responsibility to own up this and do whatever it takes to make the client happy! If you have to reshoot – Do It! You can’t run away from your mistakes.

Never ever ask the client to cover the cost for a mistake you have made. It is your job to take that ownership and make it right.

If there is nothing else you can do, be sure to have proper insurance. Contracts, General Liability Insurance, Professional Insurance, Studio Insurance, and Equipment Insurance (whew that’s a long list!) are just a few of the things you should have to make sure you are covered. Insurance can cover what would set you back for years or even put you out of business.

Jose’s Motto:
 “Keep It Simple.” Everything from the way he communicates with and photographs his clients is simple Be humble, genuine and true to yourself; this is the best thing you can do for yourself and for your clients.

Black River Imaging
Jose Villa Workshops

Website: josevilla.com
Instagram: @josevilla
Facebook: Jose Villa
Blog: josevillablog.com

Showit – User-Friendly Web Design Platform: Use code MAGIC for 10% off your subscription!
Black River Imaging High Quality Online Print Site: Use code MAGIC for 20% off your order!

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