From New York runways to Los Angeles sunsets, meet all-round photographer, Craig X Sotres
New York fashion shows, over 50 Vogue Mexico covers, John Mayer and Bon Jovi studio concerts, swimsuit models, and travel logs in Cabo San Lucas, the list goes on and on for Craig X Sotres, a Meero partner photographer, with more than 30 years of experience.
Read on to know all about how this self-taught photographer found himself leading a life of fashion, travel, and incredible experiences.
From the West Coast of Mexico to the East coast of the states and back again
Mexican-American Sotres has had several home bases in his life, but he’s never been far from the action. He was born in Acapulco, Mexico, and raised between his grandparents' New Jersey horse stables and his mother’s Manhattan apartment. After studying economics at St. Lawrence University in New York, he decided to join his father Armando, “The King of Acapulco” in Mexico to help run the disco, restaurant, and beach club he owned. The golden era of Acapulco often found famous clients like Sylvester Stallone, Joan Collins, and Ringo Starr dancing away the nights. It was during this time in Mexico that he was ‘discovered.’ But he wasn’t discovered as a photographer, not just yet in any case.
In Acapulco, he met someone who thought he had a good ‘look,’ and before he knew it he was on a plane to Los Angeles to do a few test shots with famous Hollywood photographer Michael Childers. His being scouted as a model was the first step towards a career in photography.
Moving from in front of the lens to behind it, his non-traditional path to photography
Signing with model agency East-West he moved back to NYC and worked with clients shooting billboards ads for Salem & Newport cigarettes and commercials for Sergio Valente. His work was primarily for Hispanic advertising so he was offered to relocate to Mexico City. Being the new “face” he worked extensively with the magazine VOGUE Mexico and all the first-rate fashion photographers in Mexico City. Always interested in the art world, he began asking questions about the cameras, lighting gear, and the process behind the shoots he would do.
With some advice from his friends in the photographer network that he made, he invested in a camera and started dabbling with photos of other models in his entourage. One thing led to another and he found himself talking with the men’s fashion editor for Vogue Mexico.
“We became friends and he said ‘You know, you’re pretty good at this photography stuff, why don’t we give you a Vogue press card, 50 rolls of film, and when you return to NYC, you can cover the New York fashion shows for us?”
He remembers elbowing his way into the photography pit of Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein shows with the other fashion photographers. The experience developed (ba-dum, tch) into a 12-page editorial and him becoming a regular Vogue photographer.
Creating fashion editorials for Vogue and even doing their covers would have been quite a feat for someone who professionally trained for years, let alone someone who picked it up as he went along.
When he looks back, he realizes that he didn’t know what he was getting into, and this helped him all the more. The perfect mix of meeting the right people, an artistic eye, good timing, and a dash of blissful ignorance has led to a full and colorful career.
“So it was good that I was naive. That I was like ‘I’ll try being a photographer, how about that?”
How about that?
Experiencing incredible things through photography
In the following years, he didn’t just stick to the runway. He branched out in a big way. That’s why when asked what his favorite type of photography is, he finds it hard to choose.
From taking photos of a beautiful house overlooking the beach in Malibu to taking photos of renowned musicians on major sets up close and personal, to taking pictures for a swimwear catalog on a pristine beach in Acapulco, his portfolio is brimming with photos of places you want to be.
“So each particular type of photography I think is interesting and rewarding, and it’s a different challenge each time. I think it’s fantastic to not just do one thing.”
Even food photography, as different as it is from his traditional field, presents its own unique challenges. When a restaurateur brings out a dish that they’ve made as pretty as possible, it’s up to the photographer to really turn it into something spectacular.
Seeing the beauty in anything
“I just love capturing something—a photo, a point of view—seeing the beauty in something, pulling it out and freezing it.”
That’s what makes Craig so versatile: he doesn’t have any pretensions when it comes to style. His goal is to make a product or service as beautiful as possible, to evoke that ‘Wow’ factor for anyone he shoots for.
“I think that style is reserved for the 1% of photographers of the world, the heavy hitters, like some of these people of the past—Richard Avedon shooting for Versace and Herb Ritts for Calvin Klein—clients went to them because of their style.”
Working with Meero
Craig started working with Meero back in 2017 during some of the earliest shoots organized by Meero. Covering primarily real estate and food photography, he’s collaborated on hundreds of shoots for 12 different photo and video projects in the Southern California area.
On the day of our interview, he even actually had a shoot scheduled later in the day.
When we asked about any memorable projects with Meero, he told us about one specific short term rental project that took place in Big Bear, a few hours away from his home. He and his producer were able to line up as many shoots as possible so that he could stay local for a few days and get them all done in one go!
During these shoots, he would meet the real estate agent or host, walk through the home with them and make sure everything was in order to match the client’s guidelines. Once the shoot was over, he’d do a preselection of photos, and then send the RAW files to Meero for processing!
He enjoys working with Meero, and has even recommended photographer friends to sign up.
Where to see him next
Today, Craig stays busy and is currently working on shooting a calendar for Engelbert Humperdinck while working on the stock library of photos he has compiled over the years.
You may even have seen some of his stock images in the theaters (or home theaters) and he’s already had his stock images appear in blockbusters like ‘Minority Report,’ ‘Morning Glory,’ ‘American Wedding,’ and many more. He’s also exploring the possibility of creating a coffee table book of bikini-clad models.
And of course, if you’re based in California, you may even see his photos on your local short term rental or food delivery site.