We can all relate to having a passion, having multiple passions also. But the passion that characterizes us the most is the passion for BJJ. It's almost like a contagious disease that once caught you can't let it go, and it doesn't matter where you're from or what you're doing.
Unai Arozena is a 40 year old Venezuelan photographer with more than 20 years in the photography business. He is just starting out with BJJ (in his now 40 years of age) but has a great story, a great passion and amazing VHTS pictures. We took the time to catch up with Unai and hear his story and what he had to say:
How long have you been in the photography business and why did you start with it?
It would be hard to know how many years I've been in this photography world. Since I was very little I've had influences because of my father, I was always snapping pictures and later viewing them in our home projector, these where some of the best moments for me. When I was 18 years, we started hanging out with friends on the beach and I would always take a camera with me so I could capture the day's best moments.
Photography for me is a way to depict memories and capture what you are feeling and what you see. I do not see a landscape; I see an opportunity to take a picture. That is why I'm so passionate about this beautiful art.
What type of pictures do you like to take? What inspires you to think "man, I gotta take this picture"?
To be honest I see great pictures everywhere, from when I sit down to eat a bowl of pasta to when I'm driving around in my car and see something unique that makes me think "I got stop and take this picture". I believe this is something you're born with, knowing when the right time to take a picture is and from what angle.
I don't have a clear preference for a type of photography per se. What I definitely do not like are pictures where people are posing. I like everything very natural, laughter and smiling, emotions, capturing a unique moment where people do not know I'm taking their pictures. I'm really passionate about Sport and Action pictures, capturing the winning moment, the final scream, the expression of the guy who lost; I believe this to be unique moments. Animal photography is also a great passion of mine, I love seeing animals free, running, flying... this makes me truly happy.
Once you've taken a picture, what is the first thing you check or fix in post or photoshop?
A picture can change a lot, depending on what you want at the moment, but I believe that the first thing I check is if the camera is focused and the brightness. After that comes some touching up back home, I'm a photoshop lover but I'm also a perfectionist so perfect sky tones, erasing/deleting something not desired in the picture, contrast retouching and coloring. I believe a photograph can be enhanced after you make some easy adjustments.
What inspires your art? Be it other artists or anything else.
I've never really felt inspired or have wanted to imitate someone else in all that I've been doing. I simply observe and learn from all that I see. To me it doesn't matter if I'm the most recognized photographer or just an apprentice, we all have something to contribute. Right now, to this day, my children inspire me a lot. I like to show them pictures of when they were 1 year old so that they can also see them when they're 20 years old, I believe this is unique.
Why did you decide to start doing Jiu-Jitsu?
Three years ago I met RAFAEL "GORDINHO" LIMA, BJJ world champion in 1998. I was living in Europe at the time and he was starting his adventure of getting a new BJJ Academy in Florida, so we started to work on the web page, graphic design, clothing design and publicity, all this from different continents. One day I decided to travel to Florida to meet him and from that moment I was blown away by Rafael and what he did with so much passion and how he transmitted his passion to children. A few days later I was traveling with him to photograph a seminar he had in New Hampshire. From that moment on I've been living in Florida, working for Rafael's BJJ academy START and practicing this incredible sport and discipline.
What is is about VHTS that you like?
VHTS is a brand with a lot of pasion, besides their Gi brand is incredible and they have remarkable athletes that really live and breath BJJ like Matheus Diniz and Mansher Singh Khera. It is a real honor to be able to work with VHTS.
What else would you like our blog readers to know about you?
In regards to photography, I've spent the last 13 years living in Europe taking pictures of everything related to "Mundo del Motor" like Formula 1, Moto, Rally, GT1, Formula Renault, etc. For more than 5 years I've traveled through Europe with the colombian pilot OSCAR TUNJO, the future of Formula 1, taking care of his graphics career.
On a more personal level, I'm a sports lover. I've practiced everything from surfing, skateboarding, martial arts, basketball, volleyball, soccer.. and with BASQUE BALL I competed in 5 world competitions and even won silver and bronce in the Argentine Panamerican games of 1995. This was a huge honor for me to be able to represent VENEZUELA. I've got 2 sons which are incredible and I enjoy very much hanging out with them and doing sports, they definitely take after their father lol.
Thank you very much to Unai and his great photos and passion. We wish him the best with his BJJ training and look forward to seeing more of his pictures. If you want to get to know more about Unai, go to his website at www.unaiarozena.com and be sure to follow his Instagram account @unaiarozena.