In this day and age, art has become increasingly about the self. Creativity at large is moving in an individualistic direction. Unlike music, photography has rarely been a team sport. It’s pretty uncommon to come across any exceptions to this rule, but Joaquin Trujillo and Brian Paumier are that unlikely photographic dynamic duo. We managed to catch the pair moments before they hopped on a plane for an assignment in Mexico. TrujilloPaumier’s approach to photography has been a revelatory change in the creative processes for both of them.
Having met in the Art Center College of Design way back in 1998, Joaquin and Brian quickly realized that they could have a fruitful creative relationship. On a trip to Baja with a few other students, they saw how well they were working together. When remembering the trip, Joaquin told us that, “It was a study of light and long exposure. Only one shot for each image. There were seventeen images in total. We were shooting negatives with an 8×10 and paper negatives with an ASA 1. That was a true study of technique and how much we can get away with by pushing this material.”
A love of photography came early in life for Brian Paumier as his father was almost always “glued to the camera.” Seeing his dad caused him to become “fixated” with photography and he pursued that passion into his adult life. Coincidentally, Joaquin’s own creative arc somewhat mirrors Brian’s. Joaquin often hung around photography studios in Mexico when he was a kid, helping shoot birthday and communion portraits. Eventually, he asked his father for a camera when he was “eight or nine.” When reflecting on those early years, Joaquin said, “I didn’t think of myself as a photographer, I was just taking pictures.” After studying performance and fine art, Joaquin decided to enroll in a photography course where the teacher showed him that you didn’t need a camera to take a picture — he brought the students into a dark room and placed his hand on a piece of paper, dipped the sheet in the chemicals and the silhouette of his hand appeared. Joaquin vividly recalls this moment as an important one in his discovery of the magic of photography.
The team is meticulous in its approach. Shots are planned out far in advance in the ultimate chase for the perfect image. For them, this is where the collaboration is at its strongest. Still, they emphasize the importance of listening to each other and are always willing to test out new ideas on the shoot. Brian explained, “Sometimes Joaquin will tell me that something is not working and I’ll say, ‘Let’s just shoot this one and then we’ll shoot another.’” Joaquin jumped in to add, “And then I’m like, ‘I’m so glad you shot that!’ It’s not like we individually know everything.”
It’s pretty tough to argue with the results. Part of the reason these two photographers get to capture such great images is because of the passion they have for their craft. “We love what we do. We feel so lucky that we get to travel around the world, photographing, meeting people,” Joaquin told us. Perhaps this is the crux of why the TrujilloPaumier partnership has been so successful. In this era of careful brand management, these two feed off the energy of each other to form one ultimately greater whole.
With their highly refined creative process established, Joaquin and Brian have taken to trotting the globe and capturing the sights and senses of the world through a carefully orchestrated lens. TrujillioPaumier’s travel photographs approach the viewer with a sense of purpose. Tireless research is an essential aspect of gathering the essence of a culture and representing it. Part of what gives their work the flair for the dramatic is the attention that is paid before the shoot to conceptualizing and planning the image. Seemingly a reaction against the “street” style of photography, each picture is filled with painstaking detail. Elements such as light are used to display cultural attitudes or emotions in locations such as Italy, Mexico, and the United States.
The story of the TrujillioPaumier partnership is one that clearly proves the necessity for a strong perspective and critical eye in travel photography. After all, the privilege of representing another culture to a potentially unfamiliar audience comes with great responsibility. These images can shape the way we perceive and think about other parts of the world. By focusing on the people who bring any given place a sense of life, this photographic team shows us that no matter where you are, there is passion, love, and drama to be found if one just looks hard enough.
Click through the slideshow below for more from TrujilloPaumier.