Portrait 2: Julio


  • Portrait: Julio
  • Art: Photographer
  • Known for: street art photography
  • Age: 45
  • Location: Eastvale, CA
  • Instagram: @jozayez

Julio is seemingly omniscient (and omnipresent) when it comes to the local street art scene. He knows several artists and can recognize their work simply through photographs or signatures. He has always had a love for art and photography and is musically inclined as well.

Music was, in fact, his first love, and he plays the drums (using the same drum set that belonged to a beloved cousin). He spent a significant part of his early professional career pursuing music. Along with music, he has always found inspiration in magazines, pictures and moments. Julio is that person who, at every family event, takes candid pictures; he’s the de facto historian among both family and friends. Over time, it became clear to him that people appreciated what he had to share. While they were immersed in the event, Julio would be making sure to capture all of the special, little moments. This was and still is his gift to the world.

He’s always been told that he has a good eye. And photography was an easy segue for him from music. Just as SKA, reggae, funk and jazz served as influences for his music, LA’s street art – an incredibly diverse collection as far as style and subject – now serves as the primary influence for his photography. Street art is, in many ways, music to Julio’s eyes.This visual music is comprised of an insanely huge scene across LA and its bordering areas. Julio finds inspiration and excitement everywhere and in, “anything that someone created from their heart and soul.” He gets fired up by finding art and seeing artists in action. This is as true for his daily/weekly art sojourns as it is for his daily life. His kids are a constant source of inspiration for Julio, and he loves watching them grow, interact (with him, each other and the world) and learn. He also feels this way about the kids he teaches.

Family is, without a doubt, Julio’s biggest source of inspiration. His family has always been supportive of him and continue to drive him toward success. His wife is “almost too good to be true” and takes care of everyone in the family, especially him. His kids (he has three, the youngest being just two) sometimes accompany Julio on shoots. His brother and cousin (who he considers to be “like a brother”) consistently support and encourage his work. And his parents, now living in Hawaii, always valued his artistic leanings. Julio is also deeply reverent to the universal Creator, and the force(s) by which the world’s creations are subjects for him. The Creator was the original artist.

Although he has no formal training and didn’t have a professional camera until three years ago (a special present from his dad), Julio has a natural talent. (Editor’s note: I’ve followed him for a while now via Instagram, and he continues to be one of my favorite photographers for the simple beauty he’s able to capture from behind the lens.) Most importantly, his goal is to, “share LA art for those who can’t see it or have access to it.” He is intentional in sharing actual art along with the location and the artist(s) name as much as possible, and he finds art by simple exploration and following several artists’ social media pages. One of Julio’s favorite things to do is to spend the day wandering, discovering art and having the time to himself to create the pictured-stories he knows he’ll eventually be sharing with the public.

Due to his talent and love of sharing, he has been recognized in the community by being invited to special artist-only events and photo opportunities. Most recently, he was invited by Robert Vargas, a world-renowned local street artist, to sit for a portrait painting (in conjunction with the Downtown LA Art Walk) – to be someone else’s muse was a huge honor for Julio, particularly when that someone is an artist for whom he has profound respect (see cover photo).

He would love to do photography full-time but has also found another passion in teaching. Julio has served as a substitute teacher for years, working with all populations of students but with a personal focus on students with special needs. He is currently being certified to teach full-time and hopes to also work in a special needs classroom full-time as well. As is the case with his family and locally-grown street art family, Julio feels a special connection with kids, in general, and loves watching them grow. He learns from their purity of effort and loves being a part of their stories.

Connecting is a major theme for Julio’s life. Music, photography, teaching; all of these have allowed him to connect with other people, to spread beauty and happiness to others. The reward in the work (photography, in particular) is to know that he’s provided something to someone else for them to enjoy. He loves when his work is shared or reposted. Ideally, he’d love to make more of a business of his work at a professional level (i.e. commissioned shoots), but he is driven by his love for art and personal passion for giving. Julio is incredibly humble and doesn’t necessarily consider himself an “artist” in the traditional sense, but he believes in the importance of having an impact on people. He knows that his work has impacted others – from his street photography to the music he performs at his church. On a more global scale, Julio feels that we are here to serve. We are here to be serve humanity – through a smile, a small gesture, a kind act. Serving people, ultimately, provides Julio his greatest level of satisfaction.

Final Note: Julio has an eye for sharing the best of local artists and the talent to share his work beyond the LA market; his humility, reverence for family, and commitment to kids is incredibly inspiring and may be his true gift to the world … with his art/photography the beautiful bow.


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