BORN AND RAISED IN A DOCTORS FAMILY IN DURANGO, MEXICO, A LIFE IN THE CREATIVE SECTOR COULD PROBABLY NOT HAVE BEEN FURTHER FROM HIS PARENTS MIND. STILL IT WAS BECAUSE OF HIS FATHER THAT JORGE RIVAS EVENTUALLY FIRST CAME IN CONTACT WITH PHOTOGRAPHY. WHEN HE GOT A CAMERA OF ONE OF HIS CLIENTS HE PUT IT IN SOME DRAWER AT HOME AND FORGOT ABOUT IT, UNTIL LITTLE JORGE DISCOVERED IT. IT TURNED OUT TO BE A LIFE-CHANGING DISCOVERY.
In fact it became pretty clear to Jorge Rivas that medicine was not for him at early age already. He tried it though but eventually gave up after four years and turned his attention towards graphic design and architecture. Jorge moved to Monterrey and started to study both at the same time. A huge undertaking but Jorge managed and finished with highest honors in Architecture 4 and a half years later. Remembering how important photography was in his choice to take a different career direction, Jorge decided to also take additional photography classes. It was during this time, still at school, that Jorge Rivas embarked on male photography for the first time, shooting his good-looking friend David.
Jorge, your first time…
Jorge: I remember it was old school. Taking photos with film and living the dark room experience of developing them and not knowing how they come out. In this case, everybody I showed them to loved them. It was the first time I was told that I was actually good at photography.
Is that why you decided to pursue a photography career?
Jorge: Well, in fact, asides from graphic design and architecture I had always been interested by fashion. I admire good photographers and already when I started playing with my fathers camera I dreamed about making photos for high end fashion magazines such as harpers and Vogue. I got my first opportunity when my parents sent me to the United States to improve my English. I moved to Louisville, Kentucky for a year and while being there I went to Santa Barbara, CA to follow photography workshops focused on fashion. After that year I moved back to Durango where tried photography for a llving. You can imagine there was not much need there for fashion photography. Or male photography for that matter. So I started out doing kids and pregnant women.
Mmmm, seems like quite a step away from what you set put to do.
Jorge: Ha ha ha. Yes, indeed. But I did not give up on fashion. I followed some more workshops in Mexico City. I also boldly decided to share my work with my instructor. Mind you, I really didn’t have a professional camera and set up. One day my instructor called me and told me Paris Hilton was coming to Mexico City and Vogue Magazine opened a contest for fashion photographers. He told me he had signed me up. Can you believe I ended up taking photos of her next to guys who had more than 20 years of experience and with borrowed equipment? Even better, I ended up second place and got my work published. In Vogue. Eventually I opened my own little studio in Durango and filled my agenda with wedding shoots. It wasn’t my dream but it paid the bills. Besides that it was just really difficult to find guys and girls there willing to do a bit more and different.
Is that why you eventually decided to move back to the USA permanently?
Jorge: More or less. After one year of weddings I moved to Massachusetts to follow another 10 month photography program. I arrived with one suitcase and my broken English. It was hard but I managed and graduated with highest honors and an award in my pocket.
You do not seem to be afraid of a challenge…
Jorge: I always take on new challenges and put myself new goals. I push myself to my limits. One of my first assignments at school was to assist a professional photographer. A scary thing, but I realized that I came so far already. I left my family and business behind to try to get better in what I wanted to do, and so I accepted the job. The next 7 to 8 months I spent making calls and sending my folio around and eventually I landed a place at the side of one of the greatest photographer in New York: Joe Oppedisano.
How did that work out for you?
Jorge: Joe would call me every time he needed an assistant, and I would jump on the train and go to New York. It was such an opportunity. But I also learned New York is a tough place to work and if you want to make it you have to be there 24/7. When other photographers started to notice me and offered me internships, I realized I needed to relocate. New York turned out to be the most amazing experience and school in my life. I worked more and more with Joe and learned so much from him. He really was my mentor when it comes to male photography. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay as I was still on a student visa and it was about to expire. This is when I got an opportunity to work for NFL and with that a work permit. But since they are located in Dallas, I had no choice than to move to Texas. Here, on my own, I started to do more and more fashion and male photography. Again it was extremely difficult as I arrived alone in a city where I knew nobody and nobody knew me, but I made it and now, after 4 years, people have come to know me and I have had the chance to work on some amazing projects, such as Faces of Life, which supports AIDS associations. I have worked on this for 2 years now and an about to take it to Mexico City.
Let’s go back to the beginning Jorge. Medicine, graphic design and architecture. Have these studies influenced your current status as photographer?
Jorge: Yes, definitely. My medical studies have helped me to understand better the human body. Architecture and graphic design has given me a whole different point of view. It thought me how to look at things differently.
How would you describe your style?
Jorge: I think is very sensual it could be sometimes erotic but always with the sense of style.
You mentioned your interest in fashion. Still we have come to know you as an artist with an excellent eye for male beauty. Now, a few years in your career, what would be your ultimate goal? How would you like to be remembered?
Jorge: I love male photography. I love the sexual aspect of my photos though some think it is too erotic. It is difficult to do both male artistic photography and fashion. People tend to label you for what they know about you, but I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by some that see my work for what it is and doors are still opening for me. I don’t think I have an ultimate goal. I still have so much to do. I feel I just started. I think, when my career comes to an end, I would like to be remembered as someone who liked what he did and fought for it. I want to be remembered as someone who does not just make photos but who creates images that add to the beauty in our world.
Please respond to the short questions and comparisons:
Mexico or United States:
Jorge: “Or” doesn’t exist. Mexico is my life, the USA my success.
Men or women:
Jorge: Both but I love men. They are so easy to work with – LOL.
Jorge: I have two dogs: an Irish Setter named Lorenzo and Akira, my Shiba Inu.
Jorge: Ha ha ha… Mexican of course.
Jorge: Besides heavy metal I pretty much like all.
Jorge: ¿Quién soy yo? – Who am I… -BM-
JORGE RIVAS PHOTOGRAPHY | BEAUTIFULMAG