Please state your full name and what you do.
My name is Kristian Cruz and I’m an iPhone photographer. I decided on iPhone photography because I want to be specifically known for that. I have an advocacy, I want to encourage people to realize that it’s not just about the gear; it’s about having a rich set of eyes to envision your pictures. I want to show people that creativity is all it takes to capture awesome pictures. Of course, there are limitations but in the end, composition wins. I started when I was still in New York, doing advertising for a big magazine company and was interested in exploring the editorial side of the business. Unfortunately, the management wasn’t supportive of my desire to shift. They said it was a lack of portfolio. I couldn’t reconcile the fact that I couldn’t have a career and build my portfolio at the same time. So I was determined to make a change.
What happened after that?
Around 2012, I took a chance and resigned. Though, my bosses were open to me coming back if I wanted to. I decided to visit my brother in Singapore. We travelled and backpacked for over a year. That’s what ignited my knack for picture-taking.
Back in Film School at UP Diliman, photography was really one of the courses that I enjoyed. It made me feel alive. I believe that change should always stem from a positive place and that isn’t easy. I tend to very pragmatic about certain things in life but, knew that I needed to do something different. With a good head on my shoulders, I started taking pictures then lo and behold, the picture which I took at my lowest point… from a borrowed camera… won a big contest.
What was the photo that won you the contest? Can you tell us more about it?
It was a photo of a toddler taking its first steps on a bridge in Singapore. You could see the sunset in the background. I took winning the competition as a sign and used the prize money to buy an iPhone. My life changed after that win. Then, I joined a Lufthansa Airlines Instagram Contest and won again. I was one of 5 people to tour with Lufthansa and visit countries that housed their airline. I was assigned to South Africa. I remember staring outside the window of my hotel room and just crying. I think it was gratitude and relief. Gratitude to whoever made all of that happen. I am an example that miracles can happen. I learned that you can never just assume what life has to give. Anything can happen and what I went through was something I could only dream of. After my stint with Lufthansa, which was from 2012 to 2014, I was contacted by a prominent cell phone company and have been taking pictures for them since.
I think the greatest luxury in the world isn’t money. It’s the ability to do something and earn from it.
How was The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® woven into your life? When was the first time you visited a store?
The First time was in New York. I went to this design exhibit and needed a place to backup files so I found myself in Coffee Bean.
How about here in the Philippines?
I was here around the tail-end of 2016 and I met up with a good friend at your Tomas Morato branch, at the time. Coffee Bean is memorable because it was there where I had one of our last conversations together before he passed.
What has your experience been like in the Philippines?
I have to say, here in the Philippines, they really take care of you, and people are very warm and present in what they do. They make every drink with care and precision, paying attention to every single detail. There’s a zen moment in making the coffee.
Do you have any particular Team Members that you’ve grown friendly with?
I’m not so good with names but, since I was always there, I love Team Tomas Morato! Our banter is always sincere. They’re always genuinely interested in knowing how I’m doing.
Have they done anything else that they’ve done to make you feel special?
They have really gone the extra mile to accommodate me as a customer. It’s also really nice that they pay attention and know what I like to order. Sometimes, I don’t even have to say anymore. They just know what I’m having.
What is your favorite beverage from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®?
I absolutely love your Matcha (I can bathe in Matcha!) but, I’m currently in love with the Vanilla Ceylon Tea. The quality of your teas are superb!
What are the qualities of the teas that you like?
I love that they are unique and exotic. I love the branding, everything from the names to the blends! It’s brilliantly done.
What is The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® to you in one sentence?
It’s home. The ambiance is really nice but, I think that it’s the people. There’s just something intangible about coming to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® that inspires people to create. Most creatives I know, they come here to write, to think, to dream. I come here when I want to ponder or have a conversation with someone important. Here, you can slow down, and that’s beautiful.
Last question, how will you Brew Your Best Year?
By working to become closer to the most authentic version of myself. To achieve this, I really need to define who I am and what I want to do, then create a roadmap with actionable steps. I believe the process will help me become better and more successful.
I really hope to settle down here, to pay it forward. This year, I’m really focused on giving back and teaching people to be empowered through photography, so they can see themselves in a better light. The greatest lesson in the tapestry of my life is that you should never lose hope, and that to see beauty is to experience beauty, and beauty can lead to hope.
What’s Your Coffee Bean Story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share your story with the community! #CoffeeBeanLife