Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Behind the lens

Cantu at Local Coffee. Isabel Camacaro/The Paisano

Janai Cantu is one of San Antonio’s most influential photographers. Her work includes shooting the lookbooks of Chiq’tique and GreyMoon Vintage, blogger Chic in the Heart of Texas and the singer Storm Calista.

Cantu believes one of the unique aspects of the San Antonio fashion scene is the ability to embrace Latino culture and effortlessly incorporate it into the local fashion scene. “I’ve seen people wear Frida Kahlo stuff. I saw somebody wear a Mexican flag bandana the other day and they wrapped it on their head–that was pretty cool,” said Cantu.

In addition, Cantu notes, “People here are very bold about mixing their patterns. For example, a military looking jacket with a pink spurt, things like that.”

Model Kennedy Marie featured in Cantu’s “Pre-Fall 17” Look Book. Courtesy of Janai Cantu


Cantu’s personal style has also evolved over the years; “I actually used to be more into dressing like a hipster,” she said. “I would wear beanies a lot, Free People, but lately I’ve been trying to do more chic,” said Cantu.

“I never like to feel uncomfortable in what I wear, but I also don’t want to feel too casual. So, I’ve been trying to balance (that).

“I also really like the desert,” said Cantu of her recent style direction. This statement is reflected in her work and her style: the name of her blog, Jana in the Desert, is the most obvious example.

“This summer I wore a bunch of bandanas and bolo ties. I haven’t worn them that much lately, but I really like wearing hats. I love jumpsuits too, even though I’m short. Sometimes I have to cut the legs,” explains Cantu.

In addition to the desert, music has also been a great source of inspiration for Cantu, one of the reasons she became interested in fashion in the first place.

“Music has influenced the way I dress, definitely.” She includes The Beatles, Fleet Foxes, Zella Day and other indie artists among her most important influences.

“I used to listen to ‘70s era, ‘60s music when I was younger.” In fact, one of her favorite ways to get her “creative juices flowing” is to find images of photo shoots from the ‘60s and ‘70s. She also mentions that male musicians’ girlfriends certainly play a hand when finding inspiration since they often have “the best clothes, ever.”

For those trying to put themselves out there, she recommends using Instagram as the platform of choice. Cantu has found that most of her work is actually accomplished through reaching out to models and brands through the image sharing app.

She also suggests staying active and using hashtags effectively in order to create and maintain a relevant audience.

“Try to look for local boutiques, photographers, models or bloggers whose style you like that way you get a feel for the local scene.”

Her social media presence is well established in the local fashion community, and we will be seeing more of her work throughout the year.

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