Born on the Caribbean Island of St. Croix, Luis “Pancho” Perez discovered photography early in life. He developed a passion for images that were able to capture people’s stories.
As a teenager he moved to the U.S. and began pursuing a career in creative avenues. Perez’s passion for the arts earned him a scholarship at Cooper Union, one of the nation’s most distinguished and selective institutions. There he studied photography, painting and drawing. His first serious art making was through still photography and he began to discover the aesthetic possibilities this visual medium could offer.
Upon graduation, Perez was asked to take publicity photos for VP Records, whose artists have included some of the top reggae musicians of our time, including Beenie Man, Sizzla, Shabba Ranks, just to name a few. During this time he received the opportunity to become a freelance photographer for Bad Boy Entertainment and Source Magazine. He then began exploring this medium in the music video venue as an “on set” photographer for Director Hype Williams. Williams recognized Perez’s organic talent and gave him his first big break working as the 2nd Unit photographer on Eric Bennet’s music video “Love don’t love me”. It was then that Perez became enamored with the motion picture camera and knew it was the innovative means of expression he was looking for. He found his place as a cinematographer.
Perez has proudly enjoyed the collaboration of many talented and notable directors such as Laura and Eileen, Jonathan Mannion, Wolf Haley, Rob Cohen, Erik White, Director X, Benny Boom, Juwan Lee and Melina Matsoukas.
Behind the camera he has captured the images of such artists as Jennifer Lopez, LL Cool J, Slim Thug, DMX, Young Jeezy, Black Rob, Busta Rhymes, Usher, Jay Z, Nelly Furtado, Jessica Simpson, Ja Rule, Usher, New Edition, Kanye West, Queen Latifa, Pharrell Williams and many others.
Some of Perez’s latest works as 1st Unit Director of Photography are “Okra” by Tyler the Creator , H.E.R’s “Focus”, David Guetta ft Charlie Xcx and French Montana “Dirty Sexy Money”, Leikeli47 “OMC,” along with commercial viral campaigns for “Brooks Running Shoes”, “Converse Golf LaFLeur, “Cazadores” and INTEL “Sponsors of Tomorrow” series. He recently also completed an independent film “King of the Dancehall”, which has received numerous positive and energized reviews and debuted at the Toronto Film Festival. As well as the short “Yoshua” that won best foreign short at the Manchester Film Festival in London.
Today Perez is one of the most sought after cinematographers. He understands the importance of developing and utilizing technical advances to broaden the aesthetics of the visual medium itself. Perez’s insight and awareness of pop culture allows him to transform images into something both impactful and fresh.
Perez continues to be in demand because his sense of design, eye for composition, framing, lighting, color, movement and originality brings life to every frame he shoots. It is Perez’s combination of this technical knowledge and the talent for distinguishing images in a way most people cannot that makes for a good Director of Photography.
Perez’s past projects have exposed his technological skills as one of his top assets, but his passion for the craft of cinematography is what sets him apart. Perez’s hard work, persistence and desire to master this craft is the reason he is steadfast in this industry and he is doing everything he can to learn from other greats in this field. In the future Perez hopes to achieve continued success in the arts and avenues of television commercials and motion picture.