Carlos Guzman: Kicking Ass and Taking Frames
When you look at Carlos Guzman’s moody, gritty and captivating film photography, it’s hard to believe the Salt Lake City–based photographer has only been creating impactful shots since 2019. Armed with a friend’s camera and a great deal of freedom during a road trip to Lake Havasu City, Guzman quickly developed a passion for the art form and hasn’t looked back since.
Guzman works with both digital and film mediums, but he mentions that there are elements of film photography that are unparalleled. “Film has that waiting aspect,” he says. “I like film for teaching you patience and slowing down the process.” Although digital photography can allow for more leeway with experimental techniques at a lower financial risk, Guzman finds that the process of capturing a beautiful shot on film is much more rewarding. “There’s more to gain from film just from slowing down,” he says. “You appreciate it more. It’s like when you work for something for so long and you finally get it, you’re like, ‘I worked for that. I worked my ass off, and this is the product.’”
“I was ashamed of my skin. I was ashamed of my curly black hair, and it wasn’t until the last 10 or 15 years that I was like, ‘No, you’re a fuckin’ Salvadorian dude from the hood who happens to live in Mormon Utah.’”
Guzman’s oft utilized black-and-white presentation of his work creates intensity. His use of high contrast combined with striking angles and composition produces an element of mystery, prompting viewers to dig deeper into the process behind the photos. “When I shoot black-and-white, I want that photo to be a little more dramatic,” Guzman says. “It feels like it has a little more story behind it.”
Oftentimes, Guzman’s photos do have stories behind them, making the images even more intriguing. One of Guzman’s own favorite photos features two people meeting on the Brooklyn Bridge while a third person carrying an umbrella walks just beyond them. A stunning photograph on its own, Guzman’s experience of capturing the photo while huddled under scaffolding to avoid the rain makes it even more breathtaking. “I noticed this dude who was just super smiley,” Guzman says. “I was like, ‘What’s going on with this guy? Is he drunk?’ And then I realized he was meeting someone on the bridge, and in that photo, you can see him meeting up with a woman. As they’re walking, there’s a [man] in front of them with an umbrella … just minding his own business.” Guzman was able to encase three peoples’ different experiences in one minute, intensified by his patience and determination to capture that exact moment through film.
“There’s more to gain from film just from slowing down. You appreciate it more.”
In addition to using photography to find beauty in other people and places, it’s an outlet for Guzman to understand and appreciate his own identity. “I had a really crazy identity crisis for a long time,” he says. “I was ashamed of my skin. I was ashamed of my curly black hair, and it wasn’t until the last 10 or 15 years that I was like, ‘No, you’re a fuckin’ Salvadorian dude from the hood who happens to live in Mormon Utah.’”
Guzman’s desire to embrace his culture began to spill into his work, and the styles of photography that are prominent in his Californian hometown deeply influence his own. “I want to bring back a little more of that gritty shit from L.A., from where I came from and what I grew up with,” he says. Guzman often incorporates into his work a style inspired by “Chicano goth” photography, one that is not too common in Salt Lake City. Apart from allowing him to share his culture with those less familiar, photography has given Guzman a passion, an outlet and a community. “Photography and making art saved my life,” he says.
To connect with Carlos Guzman and check out his stunning photos, find him @carlos_guzman on Instagram.
Read more on local photographers working with film:
Finding Light in Dark Places: The Film Photography of Yexenia Young
Making a Photograph with Ed Rosenberger
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