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Ramble on with Jesse Contreras

Over the past couple of years, we have met some pretty incredible people. I mean, absolutely incredible. But there are a few of those incredible people we’ve met that we have the privilege of calling our friends. True friends. Friends that you call when you’re low, when you’re stoked, when you’re bored, when you found a meme that would make them upset. A little over a year ago, I received a bunch of ‘likes’ on Instagram and then an order from Jesse…and somehow, through the magic of instagram, text messaging, high fives, and motorcycle shows, Jesse is, what I would consider, one of my closest friends.

Today we’re talking about Jesse Contreras. One of the best photographers that I have ever been able to high five. You know the questionnaire. Here we go.

1. Please state your name for the record. Your full name. I want your middle name.
Jesse Oskar Contreras. By the way I hate my middle name. So thank you haha (HA! OSKAR! I LOVE IT)

2. How did you first find out about BlackCat? How did we meet?
I found out about blackcat through Nick Galaura. I think I liked a few of his photos on Instagram and literally a minute later Nick sent me a DM. I mean he Slid into them DM’s haha and thanked me. And after that I told him I’d like to buy some of his shirts and shoot the stuff for him. I still have those photos archived it was a a fun shoot with my girlfriend. (This is literally how we became friends)

One of the first photos I ever received from Jesse

One of the first photos I ever received from Jesse

3. Where you from? Where do you live now?
I was born in Huntington Park. And moved out to the Inland Empire when I was about 3-4 and I have been out here since. It’s away from all the noise LA has. Don’t get me wrong, I love Los Angeles, but nothing beats cheaper rent and less noise. Haha 

4. How old are you?
I will be 26 years old in March, but I swear I got the body of a 70 year old man…and a pretty bad digestive system haha

5. What do you do for work? Do you have a regular 9-5 in addition?
I work for a Trucking and Logistics company as their Safety Manager for the SoCal region. It’s too many responsibilities to list but pretty much I’m in charge of guys who are more than double my age who all have the, “Trucker Mentality.” I wish it was a regular 9-5 job, but it’s more like 12-14 hours a day job Monday through Friday sometimes a Saturday haha! It’s cool being able to teach others how to be safe out on the road and teach defensive driving classes. That’s what I enjoy the most.  

6. How did you first start getting into Photography/art/being awesome? What was it that made you go, “THIS. This is the thing for me”?
Ha! Being awesome, I’m far from it. I remember when I was a kid my mother bought me a dispensable Kodak camera and I loved hearing the noise the camera would make when you would wind the film for the next shot and then you click the shutter button! Ah man, it never goes away something about those noises just stood out to me and then waiting for the film to develop. I would have my mother take me to the drugstore to have it developed and we would hangout around and wait for our name to be called so we can pick it up.. Not sure where those pictures are stored I’m sure she threw most of them away cause they were pretty horrible!

I was in and out of cameras most of my childhood once in a while I’d pick one up, my friends told me I should invest in a good camera but I never did. It wasn’t till after high school I was going through some pretty tough times in my life, and I remember seeing amazon selling a canon rebel T3i, I think it was. And I bought it. I only had it for a few months, and after researching for a long time I came across my very first Nikon. A D5300-man did I love that camera. It was signed by Bucky Lasek from a Subaru racing event that I gone to and shot photos of.

I think my, “THIS” moment was when I went to the San Pedro harbor around 2am just by myself and I shot a long exposure photo. Everything leading up to that moment/photo from getting my keys to my car, blasting Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Led Zeppelin and singing my lungs out to finally finding that spot I pulled over, turned on my hazards setup my tripod and honestly I think it took about 10 attempts to capture that photo. I got back in my car and I smiled and said, “ I just drove about 60 miles not know what the hell i was going to shoot  and all I got was one f*cking picture?” It wasn’t even the picture that made me go “THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO,” it was that when I look at that picture it reminds me of that whole story about me driving late at night by myself listening to my favorite bands. To others it might just be a picture of a street and the harbor but to me it means so much more. And that’s what I strive to do is capture photos for others so they can keep those memories fresh in their minds. 

To be honest I’ve never been creative, I still struggle to this day with my composition of my photos. I give myself a hard time because I  know I can do better. I’m always going to be a student of photography. It took me a lot of years for me to finally start saying, “I’m a photographer” or, “I do photography.” I always thought I wasn’t worthy enough for that title. But that’s just it. It’s just a title nothing more. 

7. What is one thing that someone that is trying to do what you do should know?
One main thing someone should know if they want to pursue photography is to stay humble, man. Don’t ever think of yourself better than anyone else, don’t be an assh*le to people. Surround yourself with others who are willing to teach you, help others, and are constantly willing to learn. My buddies, Zack Buras and Josh Montez that I’ve recently met and have hung out with and had the best of times, are two great f*ckin photographers. I always try to learn from them, either composition or different edit styles. It’s about being there to help each other out, and I think a lot of people have lost that.  

8. What’s your favorite color?
My favorite color is of course Black haha. Yeah some people say “It’s not a color, it’s a shade,” you can f*ck off. It’s a color and it’s the best color. My mother always hated that I worse black especially back in my teenage years when I was a stupid emo kid haha 

You just can’t go wrong with Black, man! I mean come on. Black Cat Motorcycle Coffee! 

9. Tell me one thing you love about what you do?
I can give you a huge list of things about what I love when it comes to taking photos. But I think the most important one is being able to meet some of the raddest people this world has to offer. One of them you, I owe you everything. Because of you I got to meet The Biltwell boys: Otto, Ruben and Oscar just to name a few. Oh and my girlfriend thinks I’m pretty cool cause I take photos so like…there’s that too haha 

10. Tell me one thing you hate about what you do? Why? Is there something that could change about it so that it could also be something you love?
This is actually a tough one. One thing I hate is my editing process. It takes forever because I don’t make presets or copy and paste settings. I edit each photo. One by one.

I think it makes each photo unique-maybe to some, they look identical, but they’re actually different when it comes to the edits. Maybe one day I’ll make my editing process easier on myself haha 

11. What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever made/built/put out? Do you have one? Why? Why not?
Oh man my favorite photo? That’s a difficult one. It would have to be one of my dog, Benson, or a shot I got of my favorite musician, Peter Hayes from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club ha! It’s aweome seeing professional shots of my favorite musician. But knowing that I was able to capture one of him, knowing that I was there too. That means the world to me. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and I can talk about them for light years! (David Bowie) ha 

12. What else you got?  Anything I haven’t asked you yet? Is there anything else you want to say?
I want to thank so many people that have pushed me this far in my journey or whatever you want to call it. I especially want to thank my girlfriend, Nancy, for putting up with my busy schedule-I know it’s hard. I want to thank Cory, over at Trackerdie for putting in a good word with S&S cycle so I can start my Sportster build. (More on THAT later, buddies). I want to thank Jon Montgomery, from S&S cycle for giving me the opportunity, Tyler from Lowbrow customs for sending me an exhaust for my build, and a big thank you to Otto over at Biltwell for recommending me to others for more photo opportunities. 

Thank you Nick Galaura for everything! Black Cat ForF*ckingEver! 

It’s funny. I have known Jesse for a but over a year. I didn’t know half of this. People like Jesse don’t just show up in life for no reason. In fact, they don't really just show up at all. You have to find them…and I mean you have to dig. Friends that you can call when you’re low, stoked, sad, bored, or found a meme that you know would make them upset. I think that the universe kind of smiled upon me when Jesse found me…I don’t care if saying that is weird.

Get yourself a friend like Jesse. Actually, just become friends with Jesse.

You can find Jesse on Instagram: @RambleOnJesse

Happy Wednesday. BlackCat Forever. — Nick