Color & Culture: Seeing The World Through The Lens of Photographer Jana Cantua

Color & Culture: Seeing The World Through The Lens of Photographer Jana Cantua

It seems like forever that we have been completely fan-girling over Texas based photographer, Jana Cantua. We have been captivated by her vibrant colors and phenomenal fashion sense she evokes though her lens and lucky for us, Jana sat down and chatted with us all about her career as a photographer in San Antonio, Texas and here is what she had to say.


Photographed above is Jana Cantua.

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SLTV: For those who may not be familiar with you and your work tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into photography?
JC: Coincidentally, my move to San Antonio was responsible for my love of photography turning into a career choice. I moved to San Antonio in 2015 and was immediately captivated by the city’s charm. I started taking photos here and there of things that inspired me: the Pearl, El Mercado, the skyline, among others. And that’s when I found the Free People San Antonio instagram account and started following them. A few weeks went by, and they messaged me asking if I could come in to interview for their Content Creator/Social Media position. It was there that I learned how to style things for photo shoots, location scout, and how to put things together in a way that’s pleasing to the eye!
Photography by Jana Cantua. Shop her photography here.
SLTV: Your photography is so fun and eye catching! What is the leading inspiration when choosing an outfit or location to shoot?
JC: Thank you! My inspiration is always color. And then I think about what feeling or message the photograph is trying to evoke. Color has so much power and I use it to tell many stories. For example, if I’m trying to show tenderness in a photograph, like the photo of the girl feeding the donkey, I will use more natural/softer colors.

Photography by Jana Cantua. Shop her photography here.
JC: If I’m trying to evoke a sense of strength, I’ll use a combination of bold colors, like the photo of the woman with the flower crown below.

Photography by Jana Cantua. Shop her photography here.
SLTV:  Those are AMAZING shots! How would you describe your photography? And what message do you hope to send with each photo you take?
JC: My photography can be described as vibrant. Even when I use soft colors, I think there’s a vibrancy that comes through, whether that’s in the emotion of the subject or in the color theory of the photograph itself. The message I try to convey with each photo is different with each project, but I would say overall I want people to feel inspired when they look at my work. Inspired to love, to dress up, and above all else, to be themselves.
Photography by Jana Cantua. Shop her photography here.
SLTV: I think you have definitely succeeded with that goal. When I see your photography I feel very inspired to think outside the box with fashion and to live colorfully, and I’m sure I am not the only one who feels that way! So Jana, tell us about your favorite experience thus far in your career.
JC: My favorite experience hands down was when I went to Provence, France last May with a client. We got to experience the French countryside and I saw so many things I never thought I would see in my lifetime. I grew up with little to no chance of ever traveling far. My mother was single and she struggled to make ends meet. So, to make it as far as France was beyond anything I ever imagined. I got to see fields and fields of flowers. I took photos in a historic mountain town that looked like it came out of a movie. We took photos in a rose garden with roses the size of my hand. There were fresh flowers and fruits everywhere. I got to eat at a Michelin star restaurant! I had never been surrounded by so much inspiration at the same time. Needless to say, I was able to take some of my favorite photographs to date on that trip.

Photography by Jana Cantua. Shop her photography here.
SLTV:  What do you wish to accomplish in the near future? Any new projects we should look out for?
JC: At the moment, I don’t know what the future holds. But assuming life goes back to normal, I want to continue my photo-series: Cariño. It’s a series that is meant to highlight women of Latin-American descent. To showcase their talent, strength, success and beauty. This project is very important to me because I work in an industry where brown women, especially women from Mexico, are excluded for the most part. We are excluded from both sides of the camera. Behind the camera, you will find that there are little to no Latinas shooting for big-time brands and magazines. In front of the camera, you’ll find a few more but hardly any there either. There’s this huge misrepresentation of our culture and our identity. I don’t claim to be the solution, but I want my work to speak for itself and convey the message that we are beautiful people with many talents and strengths.
Photography by Jana Cantua. Shop her photography here.
SLTV:  I’m sure as a female Latina photographer you have had to overcome many challenges in the industry. What piece of knowledge from this would you like to share with aspiring young photographers ready to dive into this industry?
JC: Nothing comes easy. I want to start off by saying that. With social media, things can seem like they happen overnight, but they do not. The thing that sets any photographer apart is their work. So, focus on perfecting that as much as you can. But that also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share your work. People love to see growth. Five years from now, I’m going to look back at my work and think it wasn’t good enough. It’s just a part of being an artist. Don’t hold back because you feel too imperfect. Also, research how to price your work fairly. Your work is worth something, your time is worth something. If you don’t charge for your work, you will only end up hurting the local art economy because clients will expect more work from photographers but they will want to pay less. In the end, this means a smaller paycheck for everyone.
Photography by Jana Cantua. Shop her photography here.
SLTV: As a professional member of The Texas Fashion Industry Initiative how do you see yourself in the growth of our Texas fashion community? 
JC: I truly believe that Texas is growing faster than we think, and I know the Texas Fashion Industry is going to continue to grow regardless of what I do. With that said, I hope that I can continue to create work that inspires others to not be afraid to express themselves through fashion and color.
Photography by Jana Cantua. Shop her photography here.
SLTV: I gotta say Jana, you have really left me inspired after speaking with you and I cannot wait for this stay at home order to be done so I can head out in a fabulous outfit and take some great photos! What has been your favorite location to shoot at and what is next on your bucket list? 
JC: Thank you, I wish for nothing less than to inspire all who see my work. It’s an honor to share them with you! This is such an easy question for me, my favorite location I’ve shot at so far has definitely been Provence, France in the rose garden. It felt like I was in a dream. As for what’s next on my bucket list, I’d love to travel to Mexico City or Oaxaca very soon to capture the beautiful Mexican culture.

Photography by Jana Cantua. Shop her photography here.

FALLEN IN LOVE WITH JANA’S WORK AS MUCH AS WE HAVE? SUPPORT HER ART, BUY A PRINT FOR YOUR HOME HERE. KEEP UP WITH JANA CANTUA BY FOLLOWING HER ON SOCIAL MEDIA!
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Kassandra Rodriguez
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Kassandra is a Trendsetter Member of the Texas Fashion Industry Initiative currently learning about online fashion media and content creation through its mentorship opportunity. Originally from McAllen, Texas, Kassandra is a fashionista at heart. She hopes to inspire everyone to dress outside of their comfort zone and use style as a form of self-expression. She's an advocate for plus size fashion, believing that fashion shouldn't discriminate on the basis of pant size. From working Alta Roma Fashion Week, to styling Milan Men's Fashion Week her experiences bring a unique flame to San Antonio.