It’s a huge responsibility to untangle ourselves out of the mess that other people drag us into, and oftentimes, we go crazy escaping the bounds and limits of these traps.
But with intention and diligence, Julian Camilo has slowly lifted from these strains of ideas, upholding his roots in Miami. As he hails from Florida, the visual artist recounts receiving his bachelors in 2016, and leaving his home to a crowded apartment in New York. He set out into the city’s environment with a camera in hand, ready to document each gritty moment. As he began sharing these photos with friends, people booked him to take party pics. In this hustle, he found himself going back to the basics. Back to origin. Back to a sense of self. Now, as a 27- year old, he’s shed years of uncomfortability so he can take on new aspirations like DJing.
Scrolling through his Instagram page will exhibit years worth of pics that portray him serving face, with loads of content that compose his stylistic identity in a subtle way.
Interviewer: What’s the key to serving face?
Julian: You have to know how to smize. That’s the main thing. Smizing is when you can smile with your eyes and not your mouth. I do this thing where I squint a little bit. You know what I mean?
Interviewer: How does Julian Camilo put an outfit together?
Julian: I usually have a thought in my head, but I always base it around my shoe. I think my shoe determines what kind of pants I’m gonna wear. You need all types of clothing for every season. Then in the spring or the fall you could do leather jackets [or] boots.
Interviewer: Not to pit three queens against each other, but if Barragan, Helmut Lang, and HBA pieces were in the same room, which would you choose to wear?
Julian: I love Barragan. I’ve known Victor for a long time before he was under Barragan. He used to be this other brand called ytinifninfinity. It was very internet, Tumblr vibes. He had a t-shirt of Leonardo DiCaprio crying Microsoft tears. This was 2012. Now, he’s elevated his work. I’ve gone to all of his shows. When I first moved to New York, I was modeling and going to his castings and now I know him as a friend. So for sure, Barragan.
Interviewer: Is there a community for Latinx people in New York?
Julian: Definitely a tight-knit community. I lived in the United States undocumented for most of my life and it was something I was super ashamed about. I was born in Colombia and came to the United States as an immigrant and was documented until I was 17. But coming to New York and meeting other Latinx people who have gone through it- it’s made me proud about that. We all support each other and give each other opportunities.
My first year, I was living with five strangers. It was a nightmare because I was living with this straight white boy. He was also selling drugs. We all split our bills. He was like, ‘I’ll be in charge of the light bill.’ We would send him money every month and then we got a shut-off notice. They were like, ‘You’ve never paid your light bill.’ He was pocketing our money. It was a mess. Luckily, now, I’m living with two of my close friends. It takes time to find your friends, but it will pay off.
Interviewer: Tell me about your work.
Julian: I want to branch out from event photography and shoot more editorial work with different stylists, designers, [and] hair and makeup [artists.] This is gonna be my first major [photography job] for Phlemuns. I’m shooting it next week. I’m gonna do a fitting with the stylist and the models. Right now, I just like photography because I’m storytelling and I have control over what’s being put out.
Interviewer: When you shoot parties, do you photograph with digital?
Julian: I only do film. I think that’s why people like to book me because it’s a different feeling when you’re capturing a moment. You capture that moment right then and there and who knows if the picture will come out good? You have to wait until you get it developed.
The party I took pictures for this weekend was called Papi Juice, but I had done their party before. The last time I did it, at the beginning of the night, everyone [was] posing. Towards the end of the night, when everyone [was] vibing on the dance floor, I got all these pictures of this guy getting his ass eaten on the dance floor. I didn’t even remember I captured this. I went and got the pictures developed and was like ‘Woah, I don’t even remember this happening.’
Interviewer: How do you allow yourself to take up space, without fear of being judged or policed?
Julian: I’m very careful about that because I don’t like taking up too much space. I’m still learning. I hate being too loud, but when I’m comfortable, I’ll take up as much space as I want. Going out, I’m still learning how to [take up space] with just learning the limits and boundaries.
When I’m partying, I love to be outrageous, but going to work, I don’t like to stand out. I hate running into people during the day. I think it takes time. Maybe mid-30s.
Interviewer: Tell me about your process with personal evolution. How have you evolved throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood?
Julian: I’ve matured. I’ve always liked to party and as of recent, I’ve learned my bounds. I don’t have to get super wasted. I’m trying to learn to stop being my own worst enemy. When someone gives me an opportunity, whether it’s photography or DJing, instead of doubting myself, [I] just go for it. If I’m confident, people are gonna feel it.