Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up and what first got you interested in cinematography and photography?
My name is Ian Gutierrez, I was born in Cotija, Michoacan, Mexico. After finishing the first grade, we left Mexico to make the big move to San Diego. My passion for photography and cinematography go back to elementary school. My mom would buy my sister and I the fujifilm disposable cameras. I have a shoebox full of photographs from 6th grade camp to skating with my friends in middle school and high school memories. I grew up with a camera in hand, I just loved capturing the raw moments. Every weekend from elementary school up to when I graduated high school I worked at my dad’s taco shop. It taught me to make my own money at such a young age which gave me the freedom to buy my own stuff as a kid. That ultimately lead to me purchasing skateboards, a PlayStation One console and best of all, my first video camera when I was in 7th grade.
That’s when my passion for video sparked. I would spend my weekends filming my friends and I skating and doing the air guitar to rock music. One of my other big passions, since I was a kid, is cars. I remember when The Fast and the Furious trailer came out and I was about 12 years old, I was blown away. I would hang out in front of my apartment complex and wait for fixed up cars to pass by so I could film them. I would also film my toy cars and moved them around as if they were racing. I wanted to make a racing movie at the time.
Fast forward to high school and on, my cameras slowly upgraded. It was always just a passion and didn’t think much of it as a career. Around 2012-2013 I was determined to dive more into photography to be able to make money so I could quit my job I hated at the time. Ever since October 1st 2016, I have been freelancing with photo and video.
What led you to co-found Futures Past and Gold Standard Studios?
Gold Standard studios was an idea my friend Eiman and I had shortly after we met. Gold Standard Engineering was the name he went by for years as an audio engineer so the name was already there. Our friendship grew quick and we got along. We started doing art prints together involving gold paint. That started leading the conversation of coming together for the studio. I always wanted a studio space for photography and he needed a music studio to work out of 24/7 since most studios close for the night. 15 months after we had originally met, we had the keys to our studio space.
After over 18 months of doing freelance photo and video work, I realized it was a challenge to sell yourself as an individual for bigger gigs. My girlfriend Alyssa, who worked at UTC mall doing marketing at the time had started a conversation about creating something bigger than ourselves. Shortly after she also quit her 9-5 to freelance doing social media management and marketing. For years she had vlogged and taken photos too but right before she quit her job she bought herself a professional camera and dove more into photography. After months of us freelancing and having good and bad months, we brought up the conversation again on creating something bigger, something that gave clients peace of mind on investing on their company, and that’s where Future’s Past comes in. We had thought of that name a while back but wanted to save it for the right idea. We officially launched January of 2019 and did not expect to have a studio so soon. The opportunity presented itself and we decided to take the leap and go all in. Now we have our space to work out of for our client's photo and video shoots and also an event space.
What's the most valuable lesson you've learned as an entrepreneur? Can you talk about your path to entrepreneurship and what struggles you faced? How did you overcome them?
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned has been that you can’t do it alone. Whether it may be a partner or asking for help within your network and finding the people that support you and want to help. There is so much to learn about entrepreneurship that it's overwhelming when you have to learn about taxes and finances as you’re trying to run a business. One of my main struggles has always been consistency. You have slow months and busy months and should save for rainy days. Entrepreneurship is harder than we make it seem. It’s working every day all hours of the day the first few years and if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you will get burnt out quickly.What are you most proud of in your professional career?
I am most proud of the Future’s Past studio coming along together. We have dreamt of something like this for years and we are still in disbelief that this is actually happening. We have had a few weeks of reflecting on the past 2-3 years and realizing that the hard work is paying off. We’ve had insufficient funds many times and even when things became very tough, we never gave up. We understand that we are in it for the long run so we know nothing worth having will be easy or will be achieved overnight. We are proud to open our doors to the community that welcomed us over the years to keep the cycle of inspiration going.What advice do you have for someone looking to pursue a career in photography or videography?
My advice for new photographers is to enjoy photography for the first 1-2 years. If you are just getting into it and want to make money right away, it’s going to be tough. Photography takes a while to fully understand. And even when we become really good photographers the business side of things is a whole different story. I would make it a hobby and learn as you go, experiment, find what you enjoy about photography.
Don’t add pressure to yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t worry too much on the gear too. I feel like we are all so caught up on the newest cameras and lenses that all the photographer vloggers are reviewing and talking about. The best camera is always the one you have on you. I still take photos with my phone and edit those. Photography is an art form and a way to express ourselves. If you want to take pictures or make videos but don’t have a camera yet, don’t let that hold you back from learning the skills. Use your phone! A film at the Sundance Film Festival has won best film award and was entirely shot on the iPhone 5s. That is my go-to example of working with what you have. The story and vision will always win over the best equipment.
I have met people that tell me they want to learn video and 6 months later they are still saying they want to learn video. I asked them why haven’t they started and they said: “I only have a Canon t3i.” I asked why aren’t you using that? Their answer… “I don’t have a stabilizer”. Moral of the story, if you want a career in photography and videography, you have no excuses to learn the craft.
Can you share anything about what's next for you professionally or any interesting upcoming projects you have in the mix?
For the rest of the year, my main focus will be to keep building our Future’s Past agency and studio spaces. As for upcoming projects, I will be showing some art on July 25th at POP studio, a local studio located in North Park, San Diego. But also I think it’s time to start planning my first solo exhibit. I have shown my photo work at art shows here and there but never had my own show. I want to give people an experience with photo, video, and art installations on how I see the world. As for video, I have directed and shot a few short films, but I would love to start writing my own and bring those ideas to life. With so much going on and prepping the new studio for opening, once that’s up and running it’ll all be about time management.