Photographers have a gift for seeing the world from a different perspective. They aim their lens, adjust the focus, and capture images that represent the moments that make up a lifetime. While that is the nature of the job, it is a gift that not every person with a camera is blessed with. A good photo can last a lifetime, but a good friend can last for eternity. Maybe that’s why Jae Bueno’s gift for photography transcended the normal photographer’s boundary. He didn’t care about getting the perfect shot; he cared more about the individual he was shooting, and in doing so, captured the perfect shot every time. Before any of Jae’s countless Lowrider magazine photo shoots began, he would get to know the car club behind the person, the person behind the car, and the family behind the person. From the moment he greeted his subjects, he would befriend them and remain a good friend not only to them, but to their family, car club, and anyone in their social circle as well. Photographers make it a priority to bring images of people into our world, but Jae’s career can be defined by the way the people he photographed brought him into their world. Ask around. Jae’s greeting to the world was always, “Hey, friend,” and he meant it. And it was always said back to him the same way. Beyond the flashes of camera bulbs, the long photo shoots he spent capturing his subjects, and the hundreds of magazine spreads he was a part of; Jae was our friend, and for that we will miss him dearly. Jae lost his fight with stomach cancer this past year and we lost a friend in the process. I wish we had a few more like him amongst us, but we don’t because he was truly one of a kind.
We can take comfort in knowing that while he has gone to take pictures from a different angle up in the sky; his spirit and legacy remain with us forever. In addition to the countless lives he touched throughout his career, he has left us with thousands of photographs with his name on them for credit. Years of capturing car features with just the right backdrop, numerous picnic, car club gatherings, and tons of show coverage equate to Jae having shot thousands of images that ultimately define what our culture is all about. I will never forget when Jae dropped by one day and brought over packages of the different shoots he was assigned to and we sat there and discussed clubs, cars, events, and life in general. Jae went on to discuss the loss of his father, who had also lost his fight with cancer a few years back. After the loss, Jae felt all alone and found his father’s passing very hard to cope with. I think he wanted his dad to be around to see the hard work and friendships that Jae had built over the years and how well he was known to the world as an accomplished photographer. I think he wanted him to see how taking his own sense of perspective into his career had actually given him new perspectives on life, and along with that, many new friends who enriched his own life. It is rare in life that a person’s career affords them that kind of impact, and Jae appreciated everybody he met for allowing him into their world and they returned the respect and allowed him into theirs.
A few short years after that conversation, Jae had become diagnosed with cancer, too. His fight with the deadly disease came to an end in a very short time and within a matter of months; he left behind his beautiful family and the thousands of friends he had come to know. Life is unfair like that sometimes, and to lose a guy like Jae hurts for a long, long time. What he left us with will last more than a lifetime and I’m not talking about his photographs he took; I’m talking about the lives he touched when he didn’t have the camera aimed. Sometimes I miss just seeing the stack of the disks he would leave on my desk filled with multiple car features, events, club functions, and tributes. I sure could use his work right about now, but what I really miss is the camaraderie everyone felt from him in the name of Lowrider magazine! Thank you and God Bless You, Jae. We are all grateful for the happiness you captured and the memories you have left us with; memories that will never fade; memories, which also have your name under the photo credit—Photography by: Jae Bueno.
Heavens full of some pretty cool car guys you knew or will meet with up there, Jae. We’re all sure the background scenery is a perfect setting for your camera to capture as well.