Brian Barraza is a photographer and video creator from Coachella, California.
Born two hours away from Los Angeles in a part of The Golden State that becomes inundated with music fans every April, Barraza shares that there is a lot more to living in The Valley than most think.
“I live in an agricultural side of The Valley where there are a lot of migrant workers. We grow a lot of dates, peppers, and mangos. It’s essentially an agricultural hub,” Barraza says.
For context, Barraza’s parents left Mexico in the 1980s and immigrated to Coachella, citing the employment opportunities and the tight-knit Latino community as reasons for the move.
It helped that the climate in Coachella was like that of Mexico’s, but living in The Valley isn’t as charming as some outsiders are convinced.
“Coachella is definitely glamorized,” Barraza says.
“It is desert life here, so it’s very hot during the summer. In the fall the heat dies down a little bit, but for the most part living in the valley is calm. We are a close community, and again that can be attributed to the fact that The Valley is predominantly Hispanic.”
As a kid, the artistic-minded Barraza loved watching movies, his favorite genre being superhero movies, in particular the popular Spider Man trilogy from the early 2000s.
“I grew up on a lot of the Tobey Maguire movies,” he notes.
Barraza also liked Christopher Nolan’s Batman films and the Marvel saga, and he says that all these comic book adaptations played a vital role in cultivating his love for cinema and video creation.
“A lot of those superhero movies inspired me to pursue photography and videography,” he mentions.
Beyond seeing Tobey Maguire and Christian Bale mesmerize on-screen, Barraza’s artistic talents were fostered at Coachella Valley High School, where the school offered a program called Digital Design Production.
In this program, teachers focused on harnessing the creative gifts of their students by exposing them to many different visual mediums, but most importantly, they also gave students space to explore their own imaginations.
“That program allowed me to acquire skills such as composition, framing, angles, and looking at scenes differently,” Barraza says.
It also helped that three months after graduating high school, Barraza met a fellow filmmaker who would go on to become his mentor.
To ingratiate himself to this man, Barraza took the approach of trying to be as indispensable as possible, offering to help on set or in any other capacity that he could.
“At the end of our conversation I gave him my business card, and two weeks later he called me with a job offer to be a production assistant on a music video,” Barraza says.
This tends to happen to ambitious and driven videographers, and so it was no surprise that as Barraza brought value to his mentor, other opportunities within the Coachella videography landscape materialized.
Today, Barraza is under contract with three different media companies to do photography and videography work.
He also spends what little free time he has building his personal brand, but unlike in other markets, Barraza’s personal aspirations don’t conflict with the collective goal of the companies he has partnered with.
“The Valley is not like L.A., where there are a ton of creators,” Barraza notes.
“The people I work with out here, we are building each other up creatively and professionally. Of course, there are inherent business elements to what we do, and I’m contracted to fulfill certain obligations, but I’m also able to have my other projects on the side.”
While the Coachella videography landscape is not as cutthroat as Los Angeles’, there are still an array of aspiring video creators in The Valley who are working tirelessly to establish themselves.
And even though the competition is cordial, it can still be fierce, which is why it is imperative that Barraza exemplifies noteworthy traits that differentiate him from his peers.
“What makes me unique is my ability to adapt to any situation,” Barraza states.
“I can come up with solutions on the fly. If something doesn’t work out on set, I can pivot and make sure we are moving forward.”
Barraza is also excellent at incorporating thematic elements into a narrative in a way that takes much of the creative burden off his clients.
“A lot of videographers focus on trying to tell a story, but I try to let the story guide me, to the point that the story feels organic,” he explains.
“I apologize if it seems like I am romanticizing the process, but the essence of what I do involves telling a story in a way that comes out naturally and doesn’t feel forced to the people watching the content.”
At present, Barraza’s clientele spans many sectors, from aspiring local politicians to men of The Standard, a rapidly growing community of high-performing men who help each other unlock their full potential.
Ultimately, no matter who Barraza partners with, he says that his best work comes to the forefront when his clients afford him enough creative license to produce a compelling story.
“My ideal clients are the ones that have a creative vision for storytelling, and then they need someone to tap into that vision, so they hire me,” Barraza reveals.
As for the future of his photography and videography endeavors, Barraza eventually sees himself transitioning into writing and producing feature-length films.
It should be noted that he is currently in the process of submitting a short film to a popular festival.
Of course, Barraza would be ecstatic if he won the contest and gained more exposure for his brand, but he also would cherish the opportunity to highlight the oft-forgotten Coachella videography scene.
“There are not a lot of opportunities out here in the media space, but my plan is to change that,” Barraza says.
“We have probably one of the best areas in the country to film a movie. We have great scenery, and Hollywood has been here a few times, but no one has taken the initiative to leave their mark here, which is why I’m committed to altering the national perception of Coachella by showcasing all that The Valley truly has to offer.” QS
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