San Diego photographer Justin Bartels is most intrigued by the captivating element of color in photographs. Be sure to RSVP for the next San Diego RAW showcase to view his works on display at the Se San Diego Hotel on Friday, July 30th! 


Tell us about yourself. 
Born and raised in Oregon, have lived in Southern California since 2000. I have a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from Cal State University San Marcos, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography & Imaging from the Art Center College of Design.

How did you first get started making art?
I started making art in middle school, taking photography courses over the summer. I continued with cinematography courses at colleges, digital video camp and various photo/film projects. I pursued my hobby as a career when I went to the Art Center.

Describe your aesthetic.
My aesthetic is evolving and shifting, but the key component that stays constant is my use of color, altering what we normally see. I use color to isolate, enhance, set a mood, or bring extra meaning to an image. 

From where do you draw inspiration for your work?
I draw my inspiration from a variety of sources, from current to past photographers work, to film, poetry, and other written media. I will typically research an idea or concept, explore how it’s been shot before and then find a new way to shoot it. 

What do you love most about what you do?
I love everything visual, I love coming up with unique concepts and executing them with my camera, lights and models. I enjoy showing people my perspective of the world I see, and hopefully they enjoy it with me. When I got my first Bachelor’s in Sociology, I found it very interesting, but didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk, so then I decided that photography would allow me to explore the world.

Do you draw inspiration, or engage in, any other forms of art?
Yes, I draw inspiration from a variety of artistic mediums, from film, music, poetry, fiction novels, historical novels, the history of photography, to paintings, etc. I could read a sentence, see lighting in a classic painting, and then picture a great image in my mind. 

Explain your process.
All my images start with a lot of research. I typically will go to a library, research texts, magazines and other forms of related media that is pertaining to the topic. I will then find correlations that our relevant and start brainstorming idea’s for the picture. I will then research the photography that has already been done on that topic and try to figure out if there is a new and unique way to shoot it, or at least some way to show it differently. Once I’m focused on the topic, I will typically get a vision of how the image looks. I then figure out the location, lighting, casting, etc to make that image a reality. My first-hand observation and involvement in sports brings another dimension of understanding of the athlete in motion.

Are there any artists or art movements, past or present, that strongly inform and influence your work? 
Carlos Serrao and Eugenio Recuenco, Nick Thorton Jones and Warren Du Preez all heavily influence my work. Their use of color, to innovations in editing pictures, lighting techniques, and the different ways they capture an image.

Any previous exhibitions/collaborations/projects that you are particularly proud of?
Since I just graduated in the winter of 2009, my grad show was my first and proudest exhibition of my work. The feedback and discussions about my work from the spectators was so rewarding. I really enjoyed sharing my methods for image capture.

Any aspirations for the future?
I have very high goals set in place for myself, I look to Carlos Serrao’s career and want to be where he is in 5-10 years. Shooting high-end advertising sport and fashion works.

Why showcase with RAW?
I think it’s awesome they want to help artists find a voice, and hopefully bring more awareness to art.

Any current rising stars within the art arena that you would recommend we look out for?
Clement Jolin