Fro Rojas: Photographer & Director
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Fro Rojas. I am a director/photographer born and raised in Miami. I’ve been directing and editing commercials/films for about 12 years professionally and doing photography for about 4 years. I’ve lived in LA and NY but came back home to Miami for family.
Have you always been creative? What did you want to be when you were young?
So I definitely had a creative mindset from a young age. As a kid I used to watch Sesame Street or w/e cartoon and have a paper and pencil with me and I’d try to draw out the characters I was watching on TV. My mom took notice of this and my summer camps were art programs for kids. During the school year when most of my friends were off playing baseball after school my mom had me in art school classes or programs because I truly loved it. As a child I was obsessed with drawing cartoons so at that point I wanted to be a cartoonist for Disney films.
How did you get into photography?
About 5 years ago….I was directing a commercial for a client and the producer asked me to do the stills campaign as well. I wasn’t really interested in doing it because at that point I really hadn’t looked at photography as a creative outlet. But I gave it a shot and did some tests and loved it. So started looking more and more into the craft and just fell in love with the whole medium.
How/when did you get into directing?
In high school I was really focused on graphic design and wanted to pursue that as a career after HS. My junior year in HS my friends and I took a TV production class because everyone said it was the easiest class to take. The professor noticed some of my drawings and sketches and asked me to direct a commercial for a bake sale or something. I did it as an assignment and truly fell in love with the story telling aspect of directing. So refocused all my energy on directing every campaign, news show and event our school had and then after HS went to film school. From there I just kept working on my craft until finally landing in advertising around 2005 or so.
What is it you love most about photography/directing?
For me it’s telling a story with every image or with anything I work on. If you look at my photography I’ve applied a lot of the my directing into my shots and I try to tell a story or find a moment so its not just some model posing. I just feel like there’s a story element to it all I love.
What have you done that you’re most proud of?
There have been a several projects I’ve loved, but some years ago I directed a campaign for Google that told the stories of 4 different young latinos and how they used Google products to better their community or themselves. There was something magical about being able to tell their stories. I’d say that’s one of my favorites and one I am very proud of.
What/who inspires you?
So much inspires me. Music, films, art, architecture. For directing, Wes Anderson, Spike Jonze, Christopher Nolan and so many others have been my influences. Photography I love stuff from the 70’s and 80’s. Warhol's polaroid work is some of my favorite. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of architecture books. l love incorporating vintage locations or interesting textures into my photography so I’ve been reading about how some architects design homes. And music is just the best to get the vibes going and get inspired. Future Islands is one of my all time fave bands that is always playing when I’m shooting or editing.
Does being Hispanic influence your work at all? If so, how?
I think the way it influences my work is being able to see things from two different point of views. I am able to experience two cultures at once and usually adapt when needed for my work.
What’s your process like? (Take me through your creative process)
For directing/writing it’s putting music on and thinking of how to best tell whatever story I need to tell. It’s coming up with shots before hand and thinking of all the possible angles of telling that story. Basically editing it all in my head beforehand so that it makes sense once I am on set.
For photography, it usually starts with knowing the location and then figuring out how to best find moments with the model at the location. I’m never a fan of a model posing for the camera…I prefer for her/him to just get lost in the moment and do their own thing and I try and find the right moments. It’s definitely different from directing where I know what I am going to shoot vs me looking for the moments.
Favorite piece of equipment?
My fave cameras are my fuji x100 cameras and my big shot polaroid.
Favorite photographer or director
For photography Warhol has truly inspired my work. I love everything about that era. For directing I put Wes Anderson, Spike Jonze and Christopher Nolan as some of my biggest inspirations.
Any words of wisdom for young photographers or directors?
Drop any ego you might have. It’s great to be confident about your work but also learn to never take anything personal. Early on I would get upset about not getting a job or being looked over by a client and quickly learned that so many decisions were out of my control. You just have to use that to motivate you to not be looked over next time. I also love having a great time on set and to make sure everyone on my crew is having a good time. They’re basically my family away from home so it’s key to give them all the same respect they give me.