MODEL VOICES: In Quarantine - Roberto DeLaCruz

By TADHI COULTER

A Q&A session with the 'HUES OF YOU' photographer on how the pandemic affected the talent behind the lens, and what lessons slowing down has taught him.

TC: As Hues Of You Art Director, what inspired or motivated the concept?

Roberto DeLaCruz.
During the pandemic, I felt it was important now more than ever to retain our sense of self-worth and to rekindle the fire within us every day. Jewelry and fashion have an empowering element that elevates us and helps us remember who we are even during a crisis. I changed the title and concept a bit--arriving at Hues of You--to reflect the styling more accurately. We ended up with some pretty amazing pieces that weren’t just gold [jewelry]. I wanted to highlight rich jewel-tones of the season, decorated with statement jewelry and accessories.


Tadhi Coulter. What has been your greatest “in quarantine” life lesson since the COVID-19 pandemic?


Roberto DeLaCruz.
One of my greatest life lessons "in quarantine" is 'there’s more to life than work.' I’ve always been one to romanticize overworking and saw burnout as a badge of honor. But the pandemic pushed me to a point of burnout where I began to take stock of what mattered most in life.


TC. How has your shooting been impacted “in quarantine”?


Roberto DeLaCruz.
I've had to start taking a much more focused approach to my shoots. Limiting my crew size as well as not being able to shoot on location as easily has made me be more minimal with my concepts, which I actually prefer. Less is more. Hues Of You was produced "in quarantine." I’ve come to appreciate the process of a shoot much more. I used to complain about the mundane aspects of photography--lugging equipment around, ordering paper, charging/prepping all the equipment before a big shoot etc...But now I just want to be able to do all that stuff without having to wear a mask, and to just wrap up the day with a big hug from the team.


TC.
How has tech such as Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Duo, etcetera played a role in your shooting and filming "in quarantine"?

Roberto DeLaCruz.
When it comes to presenting ideas, I feel like it has become easier to portray a concept via Zoom. I like to create visuals for my concepts, so it’s helped me sharpen my storytelling skills and pushed me to develop a concept more thoroughly in early stages.


TC. What have been some of your favorite go-to items to wear and groom yourself “in quarantine”?


Roberto DeLaCruz.
My go-to items to wear would be a tucked-in plain T-shirt with the sleeves cuffed, black wide-leg cropped pants, white socks and Chuck Taylors. And, of course, my accessories. As far as grooming, I wash my beard with some Kiehl’s shampoo and moisturize it with Lush R&B Moisturizer--nothing too crazy.


TC. What's on your bucket list, "post-quarantine"?

Roberto DeLaCruz. It includes a lot of traveling and going camping with my husband and dog.