We had the good fortune of connecting with Jesse Chacon and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jesse, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I’ve wanted to be a photographer since I was 15, I came across an excellent photojournalism class my first year of high school and got hooked. I took the class every year, I worked in a photo lab, I shoot every football game, hockey game, and basketball game I could. I went on numerous road trips with fellow classmates and photo teacher to photograph the landscapes of New Mexico and Utah. Back then I thought I’d end up working for a newspaper or magazine though, I never thought that I’d end up specializing in food photography.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think most successful commercial photographers assist other photographers before going on their own. It’s one of the only ways to really see the insides of a successful business and what a professional workflow really looks like. When I started assisting I brought something to the table a lot of my peers didn’t, a background in IT and Network support. So I had an advantage when it came to troubleshooting the computers and camera equipment whenever any came up.

I was a pretty big photo nerd and sports photographer back in high school, but I didn’t immediately pursue the creative field after, it wasn’t until a couple years of studying engineering in college that I decided to jump back into photography, but this time I’d be shooting digital 35mm and expanding my curriculum to studying design and art history too. I picked up an entry-level Nikon DSLR and a cheap lens with the help of my parents and started shooting again. Around this time I started to get really into technology and computers to be as proficient as possible with Photoshop and to manage all the new files I was creating. The interest in tech eventually developed into getting a couple of IT degrees and certifications.
I spent the next chunk of my career mostly shooting weddings, portraits, and doing freelance IT at a few small offices.  The first few years were rough, I didn’t know how to market or price myself, or how to generate new business. There was a lot of trial and error, but I eventually got more steady business through word of mouth, I played with different website tools and layouts and started using social media to show off my work, I learned to say ‘No’ to bad jobs and I eventually started to see an improvement in my bookings/profits and my photographic style started to develop.  I was eventually put in touch with Dick Patrick, one of the best food photographers around and was able to apply many of my skills working for his studio, I started as a retoucher/set assistant, then the in-house digital artist, and now studio manager/shooter. I’ve spent the last 7 years helping him shoot some of the largest restaurant/food brands in the country, not only learning very technical lighting and high level photography skills, but learning how to estimate, produce and deliver jobs to clients and working with some of the most talented agencies and marketing departments around.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Food Spots: Fuel City for their street tacos, street corn and unique location. Pie Tap or Cane Rosso for excellent pizza. Slow Bone for bbq. Town Hearth for a steak and atmosphere. Entertainment: (some pre covid-19) Mavs or Stars game. Try and catch a show at the Kessler or Granada. Check out some of the breweries like Four Corners or Deep Ellum.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My first Shoutout is to Jeff Grimm, the teacher that put a camera in my hand. Mr. Grimm taught photojournalism at Trinity High School in Euless, TX for 36years and inspired thousands of students to get into photography. He’s invested more of his own time into his students than any teacher I’ve ever seen and he gave countless students a place to go for help, advice or encouragement even after they graduated. He taught me how to use a camera, how to take a road trip, what good beef jerky is… and that I really shouldn’t have drank that gallon of root beer to not impress that girl. Shoutout two goes to Dick Patrick. Dick’s been my boss/mentor/friend for the last 7 years. I’d know nothing about this industry or no one in this industry if he didn’t take me under his wing

Website: www.jessechacon.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/thejessechacon
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/jesse-chacon-38616781/

Image Credits
Tadd Myers Melissa Adame

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.