The Department for Culture and Creative Development has selected Michael Cirlos as the Creative of the Month for October 2015
Posted 3 years 64 days ago ago by Javier Flores (Arts)
Michael Cirlos was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1983. He discovered his passion for photography in 2007 when he relocated to Hua Hin, Thailand to study International Relations and Psychology at Webster University. He spent the next two years exploring Southeast Asia with his camera, and was awarded the university's World Traveler's Scholarship to continue his education and photography in Amsterdam. After graduating from the University of Texas at San Antonio, Michael began reporting on the diversity of inner city culture and founded Humans of San Antonio, a photojournalism project on social media that has grown to an audience of over 20,000 fans.
How did you get involved in photography?
I first started taking pictures with a small 12 megapixel pocket camera in 2007. It was a camera I purchased from one of my friends for $25 right before relocating to Hua Hin.
What are some of the most memorable moments/projects you have been a part of?
One of my most memorable moments was getting chased by an elephant in Thailand. I was riding my motorbike to the national park and we saw a small family of wild elephants on the side of the road. My ex-girlfriend and I stopped to take pictures and one of the elephants with massive tusks started coming after us. We quickly got back on the motorbike and took off for our lives. My ex-girlfriend managed to capture the whole experience on video. It was crazy!
About two years ago, I posted a photo story of a local on Humans of San Antonio who experienced a troubling event in her life. It was great seeing the HOSA community reaching out to her to support her in anyway that they could. I just finished up a documentary project with Adriana Garcia. It’s a short documentary series about her perseverance, and fight with Colitis Cystic Profunda, a rare colon disease that she acquired at the age of 21.
Why do you think the photography industry is important to San Antonio?
I think it’s very important for San Antonio organizations to utilize photographers who are passionate about documenting what is downtown. There is so much going on in our urban core, and a great way to showcase San Antonio’s progression is with great images. The purpose of my photography is to not only highlight urban culture for all of its virtues, but to try to help highlight urbanism to those who may not get to venture downtown as often as they would like.
What do you find most gratifying about the work you do in your current role?
What is most gratifying about my role as an urban photographer is being able to use photography as a way to express the opinions of others, and to help promote the interexchange of ideas of our urban community on social media. Humans of San Antonio is community representation. Downtown San Antonio is great, and I can’t wait to see it get even better.
Which photographers personally inspire you?
Lisa Krantz of the San Antonio Express News, New York Magazine’s and Magnum Photographer Christopher Anderson, Joseph Anthony Lawrence, Sophie Ebrard, and Alex Webb.
What advice do you have for young or up-and-coming creatives?
Your first 20,000 images are going to be your worst. All of us who get into creative work do it because we have good taste, but remember it will take years before we can start to close the gap between what is good and what is great. There is an awesome video on YouTube called Nobody Tells This to Beginners. Whenever you feel like you are not making progress, watch this video - seek out inspiration and spend time around people who can motivate you. Remember, this ride is an emotional rollercoaster. Stay up.
What would you say is one of the greatest challenges for the local arts community?
The greatest challenge is funding. I’d like to see the City of San Antonio and other private/public organizations invest more in special creative projects that help promote the image and creative community of downtown. Our art community makes up such a small area for a city with 1.4 million people. Many of our businesses don’t even have local art on their walls.
Where would you like to see San Antonio's creative community by the year 2020?
I see San Antonio’s art community having a larger role in creating new experiences for new and old residents. I’m not sure how much more of a role the art community will have in four years, but I suspect more marketing and promotion of our existing art community through photojournalism and other types of media coverage. By 2020, every Friday should be a First Friday.