JON DUENAS

Confidence for me is always a roller coaster. It's especially prevalent with social media and how easy it is to compare yourself to others. "Oh I've got a tonne more followers than them, I feel good about myself. But wait, I don't have nearly as many as that person, and now I'm losing a tonne too. Now I feel like shit." And it's not just social media either. Every time I land that job I really wanted or my submission gets accepted by a magazine, it gets counteracted by the many more times I get rejected. So I try my best to not base my confidence on the validation (or critique) I get from others, but on my own personal standards. I remember where I came from and see how much I've improved over the years, and that builds my confidence. I set goals for myself and feel more confident after I achieve them. But I also try and self-critique my work too in a constructive way. If I'm unhappy with something, I work to improve that weakness. When I see improvement, again my confidence gets built back up until I see where else I can improve. Having a third party you respect critique you is certainly a good thing to do, but if that validation is all you rely on, your work will start to go in a direction that no longer speaks to you and only speaks to others. And that's how photographers get burned out and unhappy with their work and ends up killing confidence no matter how many other people like you. That's why confidence and that fulfillment with your work has to come from within rather than from others.

 

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I struggle with communication when I'm unconfident about something. So early on, I definitely had a hard time communicating with models and was a very hands-off type. I wasn't really sure what I wanted exactly, and when you're not confident you always worry what the model or collaborative partner is going to think about an idea you throw out there and if they think it's stupid. My personality type also affects this, because I'm definitely an introvert and much more internal with my thought process than external. But over the years, I've just always tried to get better at it. You just have to do it over and over. There are still areas where I struggle with it, mostly in areas I lack confidence in my knowledge, like with makeup or wardrobe styling. But it is definitely a process that takes time to improve at, like any other skill. Once you've built up that self-confidence and worked at articulating your vision, eventually it comes out without having to consciously struggle with it and it becomes instinct what you need to say in order to get the photo you want.

 

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My favourite models I've worked with are usually the ones who need very little direction. I set them up with a general idea or vibe or just find the right setting for them, and then from there I feed off their energy and get inspired by their movements. And they feed off of me as well with the way I direct or just my general attitude on set and the kind of relaxed atmosphere I tend to cultivate. So it's definitely a give and take between both parties.

 

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In the physical sense, it's really hard to put into words what I'm drawn to. I love models who have some different or interesting feature about them. Personality-wise, I think I'm drawn mostly to models who are fiercely confident and have an energy about them. They don't necessarily need to be extroverted and bubbly, but they need to know themselves, be comfortable in their own bodies, move with intention, and be open to being vulnerable in front of the camera.

 

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Lately I've been really drawn to very minimalist designs with solid block colours, sheers, flowing material, etc. On the opposite end, I've always been a fan of really extravagant designs that are far from minimal and are works of art in themselves. I do a lot of model test shoots, and for those the model usually just brings something from their closet. I don't get to shoot a lot of high fashion, but it's the kind of work I'm more drawn to than anything else. The challenge with that is that you can't exactly go to the local mall and grab an Alexander McQueen. Even for my work that's not just model tests, I'm usually approached by and work with designers and stylists who do more ready-to-wear styles. And while I enjoy it and it certainly pays the bills, fashion as art is what really gets me excited, and I'd love to do a lot more of that.

 

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Before high school, I was mostly into athletics. Although I dabbled in some drawing; I wasn't very good and gave it up eventually. No one in my family is particularly artistic either (although they for the most part encouraged and supported my artistic interests). Once I got to high school, I think that's when I started to find my artistic voice. At first it was music. I played guitar and was in a few different bands. I ended up going to college for audio recording. I didn't even get into photography until midway through college, and it took a few years before it really overtook everything else.

 

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One of the most challenging aspects of my work, but one that I'm grateful for is: Getting paid to do it. Everyone wants you to shoot for "trade" or "exposure." I can't pay the rent or put food in my mouth with "exposure." But, despite how challenging it is to make a living off of photography, the fact that I can at all still blows my mind and I'm so grateful that I can say I love my job.

 

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I am an eternal optimist and idealist at heart, despite my many moments of pragmatic cynicism. There are so many challenges ahead of me, it's hard to say what exactly will happen in the future. I always try and set some goals for myself and always try and progress forward in my career, in my art, and in my life. But I'm also very much the type of person who lives in and enjoys the present. So, I don't really focus too much on the future.

 

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The end of civilzation will be caused by: (laughing) My money is on either global warming or artificial intelligence uprising. Hopefully we'll have some colonies set up on the moon or Mars by then so that humanity continues to exist.

 















01 // Shay Bjordahl // shay.bjordahl
02 // Hailee Keanna // haileebobailee
03 // Kseniya Sovenko // ksenyeah
04 // Olivia Rose // oliveroseee
05 // Alina Lee // ohthumbelina
06 // Uncredited
07 // Uncredited
08 // Shay Bjordahl // shay.bjordahl
09 // Alexandra Rabe // alexandra_rabe
10 // Nadia Mejia // nadia_mejia
11 // Terra Setzler // terrathelioness
12 // Nadia Mejia // nadia_mejia
13 // Kseniya Sovenko // ksenyeah
14 // Olivia Rose // oliveroseee
15 // Uncredited

 

Jon Duenas // jonduenas // jonduenas.com

 

JUNNNKTANK is an online zine which has existed in one form or another since 2006.
For over a decade, the focus has been on highlighting the efforts of inspiring individuals and artists from around the world.

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Submissions are always welcome to junk@junnnktank.com.