Cruz Valdez portrait Dazed 100
Cruz ValdezCourtesy of Cruz Valdez
“I would travel America photographing the amazing underground LGBTQ+ artists and entertainers making work

Cruz Valdez

Age - 27
 New York, United States
@cruzcvaldez
Cruz Valdez
“I would travel America photographing the amazing underground LGBTQ+ artists and entertainers making work

Cruz Valdez started photographing models in her apartment after she moved from California to New York. Since then, she’s shot Finn Wolfhard for Interview’s Winter 2019 cover, a New York portfolio for Dazed’s spring 2020 issue and Eckhaus Latta’s Pre-Spring 2019 campaign. “I want to create meaningful and powerful images,” Valdez says. “It’s important that my images reflect my point of view and attitudes towards culture.” 

As a trans woman, Valdez cares about trans rights and representation, and her portfolio features friends, models, and notable trans people who, both individually and collectively, make up a body of work which alters the gaze that so many LGBTQ+ people are often photographed within. Valdez’s work is understanding, never fetishising, and her subjects are (almost) always looking up. “I have a support system of close collaborators who have been an incredible influence in developing my practice,” she concludes, “which I think shows in the strength and singularity of my style.”

How did you start doing what you do, and what inspires it?

Cruz Valdez: My obsession with fashion motivated me to move to New York City and pursue photography. It was through the support of my close friends and creative community in New York that I began shooting models in my apartment to build a foundation for my practice. I’m inspired to create images that feel as exciting to me as reading a fashion magazine felt growing up. I try to apply this principle across all modes of my photography.

What issues and causes are you passionate about and why?

Cruz Valdez: It can be intimidating attempting to approach the myriad issues we face today, I start by trying to focus on those that are most relevant to my life. As a photographer who is also a transgender woman, trans rights and protections are a constant priority in my life and for those around me. Additionally, as someone who has a close relationship with nature growing up in California, fighting climate change to preserve national parks is an important cause to me. 

“I’m inspired to create images that feel as exciting to me as reading a fashion magazine felt growing up” – Cruz Valdez

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you, your work, or your community?

Cruz Valdez: Because of the quarantine order, this has placed myself and friends out of work. The US government provides very little support to low-income and LGBTQ+ people, so this puts us in a particularly vulnerable position. I do feel fortunate that I have access to equipment I own to shoot in my apartment, which I often do out of necessity in lieu of expensive studio rentals. I also live with my partner and best friend, who’s a stylist and model respectively. This has given me some hope in that this situation allows me autonomy to create work of the same level as before quarantine. However, I now have to come to terms with how the industry has been negatively affected and how this limits jobs and opportunities to work.

What creative or philanthropic project would you work on with a grant from the Dazed 100 Ideas Fund?

Cruz Valdez: I would love a chance to make work by travelling in America. There’s a lot of amazing underground LGBTQ+ artists and entertainers who have been making their mark on social media. Would love a chance to portray some of them through my lens. Would also love the chance to create more landscape photography. It feels like an interesting and poignant time to investigate the beauty of the natural landscape in the face of political and social unrest. There is an objective beauty in the landscape that has the potential to unify us. 

Tom Rasmussen

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