Conversation over Brews with Juan Martinez

09 September 2018

Juan Martinez and his wife are the founders of an up and coming to Instagram, and photographic community brand based in the San Diego area, Beers & Cameras. Beers & Cameras is a fun bi-weekly event that focuses around two main elements... Craft Beer and Photography. It is a fun gather that Camera West is proud to sponsor here in the San Diego area. We sit down for a brew with Juan to talk a little bit about his photography, how B&C got started, and what role it plays in the photographic community.

What initially got you into photography?

Initially what made me pick-up a real camera versus using my phone, was the birth of my first child. She was growing up so fast and although I was taking plenty of snap-shots with my cellphone, whenever my father took photos of her with his Nikon DSLR the quality of the images blew me away. That’s when I started down the rabbit-hole of gear acquisition and discovering my love for photography. My first real camera was a Canon G9 point and shoot, which was followed by G11, G12, Sony Nex 5, Sony Nex 5N, Sony Nex 6 and 7. Then I really stepped up my game with Sony A7 and A7R bodies. Eventually getting my longtime love the Sony A7S and my many Fujifilm, Leica bodies and film cameras. One thing was consistent though, and that’s what all my digital bodies have been mirrorless cameras and I now own the quite epic Leica SL.

How has photography impacted your life?

Photography has completely changed the direction of my day to day activities, what I dream about and the friends that surround me. It’s done everything to improve all aspects of my life except my bank account balance. It’s even provided goals to strive for that will hopefully allow a new career direction, one that will allow me to spend more time with my family.

What do you enjoy most about photography?

What I enjoy most about photography is the process of creating. First off, I’m not an amazing photographer, far from it. But I really enjoy using cameras and lenses to capture a moment or scene and I see it as a constant challenge. I regularly use different cameras that shoot different sensor sizes, mediums and thus requiring different and unique lenses. Swapping between these combinations not only yield different results but add another complication to the act of making a photograph that I will cherish forever. It is really amazing.

Tell us a bit more about Beers & Cameras. What inspired you to start it?

Beers And Cameras meet-ups and B&C LLC. itself started by accident. I met a guy on Craigslist in order to check-out and purchase a used Zeiss Touit lens he was selling for Fuji X-mount. After the transaction, we kept in touch and I became friends with Pocholo Francisco. Pocholo Francisco, at this point a cofounder. We kept messaging about gear, photography goals and would meet-up. We met-up a few more times at a local coffee shop and eventually, the meet-ups became located at breweries after moving into a brewery heavy area of San Diego. At that point, we had a small group of 4 of us meeting and after one such gathering I went home and started the Instagram account. I shared the login information and invited all to collaborate and share images from the night. Nobody but I took it seriously and that led to sharing our next meet-up via the platform. That meet-up had 12 or so folks that came. The meet-ups snow-balled from there. In November we’ll be celebrating our 3rd year, never missing one meet-up or canceling the gathering all under an LLC that my wife owns called B&C LLC. I’m pretty proud of that fact.

What is Beers & Cameras all about?

Beers and Cameras is a meet-up about building photography community within your city. Always free, and open to all skill levels and ages; as long as you are allowed within the venue. While at the meet-up, photographers network, get to handle gear, talk about different types of photography, practice photography, plus most importantly make new acquaintances and friends.

What is your goal with Beers & Cameras?

Truly our goal with Beers And Cameras is to first build strong, enthusiastic photography communities around the world. We currently have chapters in San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Seattle, Phoenix, Calgary, and London. Additionally, we have new ones starting in Duluth and hopefully New York very soon. This large network is something we can leverage in many different ways. Some of these ways are by using the network to take-on paid work by teaming with attendees, to build our reputation with large manufacturers and thus get gear at the meet-ups to share with the group via hands-on experiences and to continue building awareness of film-photography. Also, we hope to market our Pop-Up kits more in 2019. This kit allows anybody to host their very own singular meet-up with our official stickers, event day promotion, and permissions to call their events “Beers And Cameras” by B&C LLC. The kit allows us to share our format so other photographers can get a taste of their community without the work required to set-up official chapters.

Favorite Brew?

Oh, my favorite brew… that’s impossible for me to choose just one as this changes with new limited releases and the season. Generally, I’m an IPA and imperial stout kind of beer drinker, beer with flavor, smells and mouthfeel that make you excited to devour it.

We have seen some new gear over on the @beersandcameras IG. What finds its way into your bag nowadays?

These days I carry a Leica SL body, along with various Leica R-Mount lenses such as the 50 Summilux, and 35-70 f4 VARIO as well as a wide-angle M-Mount lens, my Zeiss 21mm f2.8 Biogon with a Leica adapter. Then, some sort of film camera. Often a Leica M6 or Olympus of some sort.

You do a lot more than beers and cameras including shooting for several brands. What projects are you currently working on?

We do take-on quite a few projects outside of our Beers And Cameras meet-ups but all are a direct result from our efforts within the photography industry. We are working with Cosyspeed camera bags as an official United States seller and sole distributor. We shoot photos for Monster Energy Company, Knockaround Sunglasses, and various camera gear companies. Plus, we’ve been experimenting with horology and watch photography for brands, a way for us to keep our love for watches alive and grow our brand within that segment. We also have very exciting events planned with Camera West which will hopefully grow both of our reaches within the photography community. Lastly, we have a yearly film photography event coming-up February 2019 with The Darkroom Lab.

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