Xpression International

Jose Luis Guardia Photography

February 01, 2011 — One of a bride’s most treasured possessions is her wedding album—and thanks to wedding photographers Jose Luis Guardia Vazquez, and his father Jose Luis Guardia Peinado, wedding shots, like one shot at one of the eight wonders of the world, can now be captured and enhanced to surpass even a bride’s wildest dreams.

In the relatively short amount of time since their company, Xpression International based in Granada, Spain, started in 2009, the risk-taking father and son team have won more awards than any other studio in the world. This includes more than 200 international awards on four continents (Europe, North America, Asia and Australia). Peinado was also the winner of the FEP European Professional of the Year award in 2009. They also received first and second place awards at the 2010 WPPI Awards of Excellence 16 x 20 Competition for a photo of a bride in front of the Taj Mahal [left].

The photo was digitally retouched with Photoshop in order to give a fairytale-like finish to the image. “When we went to the Taj Mahal, we quickly learned that taking pictures inside would be forbidden,” Peinado, 50, says about shooting in this military zone.

The pair of photographers had to defy security by hiding their cameras so they wouldn’t be confiscated. “We had to do this because the bride had always wished to look like a princess and go to the Taj Mahal in her wedding gown, ever since she was a little girl,” Peinado says.

“We go to any part of the world that the bride and groom choose,” Vazquez adds. “We have already gone to such places as Cancun, Paris, Lisbon, Turkey and 
Venice, Italy.”

Their portfolios convey the complete wedding package—from shots of the couple’s home to photos of the wedding day. They take the conventional close-up pictures, but it is their combination of realism and imagination that have caused a sensation.

“After a couple takes off on their honeymoon, we go on a separate journey to whatever destination they choose,” Vazquez says.

“While on [a] trip through India, we came across an elephant and his handler on the road,” Peinado, says, “We saw the opportunity of a lifetime to shoot photos of the bride and groom sitting on top of the elephant.”

The Spanish groom, who was not accustomed to climbing an elephant with a rope, wasn’t as thrilled to take photographs with a wobbly, giant animal at first. But Peinado quickly realized it was a defining moment to be able to capture an iconic animal of India.

“When we were in India, we had to get up at 5 a.m. when the sun rose,” Vazquez says. The heat in India was unlike anything they had to deal with before, shooting in 107 degree with 99 percent humidity. “The heat was unbearable at times,” Vazquez remembers. 

But to make a bride’s dream a reality, a good photographer must take in influences from not only still photography, but television and film as well. “There is no particular photographer or image that has influenced me,” says Vazquez, 26, who studied photography at E.S. Don Bosco. “I get influenced by everything I see.”

It is easy to guess where Vazquez picks up his love for art—starting with his grandfather, who drew as a hobby.
Asked if they ever envisioned such a rapid rise to success for their team, Peinado comments, “It comes from my son. He is just born with great ambition I guess.”

It might also have to do with the fact that Vazquez is from the generation experiencing the phenomenon of rapid globalization and technology. “We publicize not only through wedding photography directories around the world, but also through the Internet, including our Web site and Facebook,” he says.

Although most of their clients are from Spain, this pair of entrepreneurs are interested in expanding their clientele base worldwide. The price tag may be hefty for some but is also reasonable (prices may range from about $4000 to about $14,000 to a trip to India). The price depends on the time of season and what the couple wants to pay.

Their talent also transcends into original and award-winning masterpieces of architectural structures. They boast having won first, second and third place in the Scientific/Industrial category for Australia’sInternational Aperture Awards.
As is the case with most of their photos, they seem to challenge gravity, time and speed, and give life and motion to the structures they shoot. They do so by converging lines of buildings to look curved and bring focus to the center of the image. “Your eye focuses on the groom who lifts his bride up in a dramatic cloudy sky above,” Vazquez says.

A medieval cathedral also comes alive as a bride and groom dance inside a monumental-looking hall. Their photos are enchanting, luminous and modern. “We mostly look for that visual impact,” Vazquez says.

In their images, they convey a perfect blend of old and new tradition. One of their photos of Rome blends the historical backdrop of the Coliseum with the image of a sensual and daring bride aboard a scooter.

The dynamic duo bring along a combination of strengths that work to their advantage. Vazquez brings a modern theoretical approach, while his father brings along the business experience, having previously owned his own company, with knowledge of photography from working in television, advertising and animation since 1991. “We are never greedy with the camera,” Vazquez says. “We get inspired at different times and we even ask each other for advice.”

The family business is also rapidly growing as Peinado’s 18-year-old son is now on his way to becoming a professional photographer as well. “I never forced my sons to study photography, as it has been of their choosing,” Peinado says. “Of course, my wife now really wants to come [along].”

But it is a grueling schedule that they endure while working long days—from waking up at 4 a.m. to closing out their day at 10 p.m.

“Right now, our focus for the upcoming year is to create workshops for photographers all over the world, where we will provide information on our technique and build our name,” Vazquez says.

And there is no doubt that their name will soon become a household name.
To see more of their work, visit their Web site at www.xpressioninternational.com.

Freelance writer Nayeli Pagaza, is a 2006 University of California, San Diego graduate, and co-author of Impacts of Border Enforcement on Mexican Migration: The View from Sending Communities. She is an international relations expert, community and media liaison, and recruiter currently based in Huntington Beach, California.

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