We got ‘In the BUFF’ with one of Miami’s leading fashion photographer and retouchers, Tatan Zuleta! Recently named ‘Best Fashion Photographer‘ at the 2017 Vallecaucana Talent and Fashion Awards, Zuleta shares with us his creative process, what inspires him, and how he went from hobby to profession with Paul C. Buff, Inc.
What sparked your interest in photography?
I’ve always been a very visual person, and since i was a kid, I had always loved images. I was going to be a painter at some point but that dream got frustrated by a bad teacher when i was around 12 years old. One day, I had the chance to take some pictures of a friend who is a model, just for the sake of it, and loved the feeling of capturing an image the way I see it. Months later a friend asked me if I wanted to be his photographer for his modeling agency and after some serious consideration, I decided to give it a try. I purchased some photography books, studied them like crazy, and so it began. I’ve been a photographer ever since!
What made you choose Paul C. Buff, Inc. for your studio strobe needs?
I’m a perfectionist…I love working in the studio because I’ve got so much control with light and what I want to accomplish and I had to find a brand that would help me achieve that. I’m Colombian, so everything we get over there is twice the price, which means i had to find strobes that where both great at performance and fit my budget. So after reviewing all of the brands out there, I decided on Paul C. Buff! The size of the units, the material, and the performance were all things that factored into my decision. I purchased my first AlienBees and fell in love with it! I’ve been using the brand ever since.
Do you have a “Go To” lighting setup?
I do love the feel of a single light source. I love contrasty, moody, edgy images … so I tend to simplify my setup. For beauty photography, I love using a beauty dish, or a deep softbox. For fashion, I always tend to place my light on one side, normally feathered, so I can work with the fill on my shadow side.
What’s your creative process leading up to a shoot?
I work with a lot of talented people from makeup artists, to stylists, and models. Each one has an input in what we want to create together. So for starters, I always come up with a rough idea for what I want, lets say a photoshoot inspired by a 60’s vibe. Once i have that, I discuss the idea with the team and we all work build upon it. Other times, my makeup artist will come up with an idea and I follow her lead. Something i love about my work is that when you get an awesome team, the possibilities are endless!
What/who influences you and your work?
A lot of things influence my work including music, movies, my wife and kids, magazines, etc. I’m constantly looking for inspiration to polish and “perfect” my art and put my own stamp on it. I guess that’s always the goal; to let my body of work speak for itself without putting having to put my name on it.
Is there a photographer, either past or present, that inspires you?
Do you have a favorite photograph you’ve taken so far in your career?
So far, it’s a black and white image [see gallery below] that I took a few months ago when i bought my Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. Shooting with that camera was a dream come true and also very challenging. Technically, I can’t say that it’s perfect, but I’m proud of how good the image came out!
What is the most rewarding thing to owning your own business?
It’s a tough market I work in. The problem is that I am very romantic about photography; I tend to fight and defend the art to much. This gets me into a lot of trouble dealing with “clients” that sometimes don’t really understand or appreciate what we do. But setting those typical problems a side, I get to work and do what I love! I create images that are inspiring and I put my soul into every image. When i see the happiness in my clients face, thats the most rewarding thing that can happen!
What question didn’t we ask that you wished we would have?
Where do you see your self in 10 years tops? And the answer to that would be, working with some of the best magazines in the world!
Photos by Tatan Zuleta:
About Tatan Zuleta
Tatan Zuleta is a Fashion and Portrait photographer based in Miami, FL. Born in Colombia, but raised in different countries, he began his photography career in 2010.