How does a 22-year-old become one of the most well-known beauty product photographers in the industry?

Apparently, it starts with teaching yourself the basics and taking advantage of resources like YouTube and Google. At least that’s what Juan Cazares, the creative mastermind behind @juanskindiary says.

The young and humble 22-year-old has just celebrated two years of being a content creator and has gained an impressive 16.5K in followers within the skincare community since. We’ve followed Juan on Instagram for a while, admiring his amazing photos of our favorite skincare products and getting inspired by his craft. He’s a skincare content creator who ACTUALLY engages every day with his community by posting reviews, tutorials, wallpapers, and answering lots of questions.

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If you haven’t come across Juan’s IG, you’ve probably still seen his photos around the skincare community. He was the winner of Then I Met You’s art show AND his photos of Fenty Skin are plastered all over the internet. One look at Juan’s Instagram and you only have one jaw-dropping question: How TF does he do it?!

Skincare brands are FIGHTING to scoop him up to shoot branded content as of late. We sat down with the busy and driven Juan to talk all things photography, skincare, how to be an influencer, and more. Read below to get all the juicy deets. (You might even scoop up some new photog tips to amp up your own IG.)

How did you dive into creating your account?

I started mainly because I was using a lot of products at the time – like my skin was really really bad and I didn’t really have the best confidence when it came to my skin. So, I followed a lot of bloggers on my private account, at the time, and I was following them for a few years and I thought “this is something I could join in on.”

At the time, I didn’t really see any other men in the skincare community – especially men of color. I was like, “Maybe I should join and I can help fill in the gap.” Ever since then, my page has mainly been about skincare products but most recently, it’s been about sharing my photography. I’ve been doing a lot of work with brands, which I never really expected to happen.

When did you get into photography?

When I was in high school, I wanted to take photography, but I didn’t get accepted into the class. It wasn’t until I started my account that I started playing with photo editing and Photoshop. I didn’t ever expect it to become a part-time job of mine, because I didn’t really know anything about it. I really just started editing simple pictures, making drawings, and all of a sudden, I was editing pictures for brands, for my page, and stuff like that. It truly just happened out of nowhere.

You’ve created something that not a lot of content creators often manage. You respond to comments, you respond to DMs, you listen to what people want to see, and you post all of your behind the scenes. When did that start being part of your account, where it became more interactive?

I started posting the behind the scenes when so many people would ask me, comment on my pictures, “How did you create this? What did you use to make this?” That’s when I realized I should probably make it like a series on my story, and I have a highlight where I will add them all to. People really enjoy it and I get a lot of messages daily about how it inspires people and that’s what really makes it worth it.

How do you come up with your ideas?

When I’m doing shots for brands, they do give me a content brief where they usually have some of my pictures or pictures other photographers before have made for them, so I take that into consideration. But for my own account, I really just get inspo from pretty much everything, whether that be when I’m like out on a walk or something. Also from my friends on Instagram; they create some really amazing content and we all, in a way, inspire each other.

I recently watched a live of yours with Funmi Monet: a conversation about BIPOC’s being represented in beauty and within the content creator space. Can you share your thoughts?

I’ve noticed that it depends on pretty much how you look, what deals you’ll get. I know that a lot of my friends who are people of color, they’ll get a lesser offer. And we talk about it with each other, but we don’t really put it out there. I guess it’s up to the brands. They know who they want to work with and what their audience is, and if they don’t feel like we are part of it, then there’s nothing really we can do besides not support them. I feel like most brands are really trying their best to be inclusive, but I guess people would really want it to be [changing] faster than it is currently.

How do you make a full-time job of being a skincare content creator? At first, it was product trade but now you do big campaigns and paid posts. How do you take that step, and how do you know what to expect?

Most recently a brand reached out and they were like, “We really like your content. We see that you would like the brand, and we’d like to sponsor a post on your page.” That’s really something I was looking forward to. I was really excited but I didn’t know how to go about it. I’ve never done anything like that before, and for photos, I didn’t know how much to charge. I had to learn everything and have some photographer friends that I could ask to tell me about rates and how much I should charge, depending on the usage and all of that.

How do you navigate not comparing yourself to others and staying true to yourself?

There’s always going to be someone that comes out with a newer account that might have better pictures than you, or better reviews than you. But I guess staying authentic to who you are and if you’re doing what you enjoy, that’s all that matters. You can’t really compete with anyone else; you just have to compete with yourself to bring out the best content you can.

Never give up and never judge or be harsh on yourself, even though we all are. If there’s something you really want and you’re working for it, you will eventually get it and even more than you never thought would even be possible.

The things you love and do for a hobby are also your job. Do you ever experience creative burnout?

Well, recently that’s been really hard since I’m pretty much working, editing every single day now. I’ll wake up around 9, I’ll start shooting at 11, stop at 6, and then edit sometimes until like two in the morning. But that’s every single day. It wasn’t until like last week that it really took a toll on me and I didn’t do anything for like four or five days – that’s when I could actually reset. It all happened all of a sudden that I didn’t really have the time to think about it. I just kept going with the flow and accepting new campaigns, new offers, and I just didn’t really take a break or any time to think about what I was doing until the end.

Do you ever see yourself becoming a creative director for a brand?

I’ve thought about it, but I kind of like the idea of doing photography for multiple brands since I can do different aesthetics for each one. Like sticking to just one brand and one aesthetic to me seems kind of boring. But I’ve always been interested in the design aspect, like packaging. I would really love one day to design packaging. I’ve also always wanted to collaborate on making a candle because I love candles. Or a fragrance.

Most recently though, I’ve been doing product photography for an entire line. A brand new makeup brand is bringing out skincare and I’m actually in charge of photographing the whole line!

What’s next for you?

Next, I want to start my website where I can feature all the work I’ve done for brands and hopefully start some initiative where I can collaborate with some smaller creators. A lot of people have asked me to do an editing course. I don’t know how I would do that, but I’ve gotten a lot of requests to do that, so I might figure out how to do that somehow.

To keep up with Juan, follow him @juanskindiary on Instagram!

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