Mexican-American Oakland born, grew up in San Rafael and attended Marin Catholic High School. I was fortunate to receive a scholarship to attend the University of Southern California that I could not pass up a chance to move to Los Angeles. I very much miss the beaches, weather and friends of Southern California.
The first camera I owned was in college – a gift from my sister Edna (one of my biggest supporters) – a Kodak film camera. I took that everywhere with me. The curiosity, surprise and excitement around waiting for the photos to come back provided me with patience, focus and a strong eye for framing my photos.
I interned at MGM Studios’ Photography department where I began my love of photography. The red carpet premieres I attended gave me glimpse for anticipating shots, working with narrow windows of opportunity and working in chaotic environments helped me understand what this profession would entail.
I spent 10 years working for Loopnet and other startups in cross-functional roles spanning strategy, business operations and product + marketing analytics. Having spent everyday in Excel files and writing SQL queries I am familiar with the business side of data and love blending the analytical and creative sides of my brain whenever possible. Understanding funnels, optimizing conversion rates, examining business models with a customer mindset and extracting insights from incomplete and disparate data sources is something I love and use everyday.
In 2011, I moved to the Upper West Side in NYC for a few years. There I took my first and only photography class (out in Central Park where we crossed paths with Woody Allen) and I quickly learned that I hated classes and preferred candid moments, unique personalities and composing photos by taking what is given to me versus forcing things. As a self-taught photographer, I hate the technical aspects of the camera, have a distaste for overly photoshopped, filtered images that could never be observed naturally and loath the self-absorbed Pinterest-ization and Instagram-ification of photos.
I am very much a self-taught photographer but the only class I took was in Central Park and it was there that I ran into Woody Allen. The only two photographers I have ever followed are – Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York) and the late great Bill Cunningham (New York Times). In 2013 I purchased a one way ticket to Europe and couchsurfed my way for 3 months exploring some amazing cities and meeting some incredible people. That experience led me to pursue photography as a career.
After much research, I noticed not only did people lack good, natural photos of themselves but also needed help with selecting the most appropriate dating apps, analyzing photos and body language, writing bios and being comfortable in their own skin. My experience capturing candid photos at large scale events (corporate holiday parties, festivals and fundraisers etc.) provided a natural segue to working with people in a more intimate setting. Additionally, the ability to provide guidance on wardrobe attire for photoshoots, communicate intimate customer experience of dating apps as well as practical offline advice on places in around San Francisco brings together many of my passions.
Today, I seek out individuals who are camera-shy, introverts, socially awkward, cannot smile, are new to online dating or who have had bad experiences with other photographers. While mostly focusing on professional business headshots and casual online dating photos, I do take on other types of opportunities on a case by case basis i.e. couples who don’t want cheesy, staged and cliche engagement photos, personal travel photos for people visiting the San Francisco Bay Area and unique events. My knowledge of locations, backdrops, murals, architecture and colorful walls is second to none. I am unconventional in my approach to photography and consider myself more artistic than technical. If you are looking for skin softening or embellished images, you won’t find that here. I prefer to capture people organically as possible.
Photography should be about authenticity, approachability and organic people, places and moments. I work one on one with clients – no makeup artists, no stylists, no location scouts, nor excessively filtered, edited images. Much of what people see in magazines, Instagram and advertisements are illustrations, not photographs – they are not visible to the naked eye nor are they attainable with just a camera.
My goal is to make photography approachable for all, change the expectations about what makes a great photograph and help people appreciate their appearance and be comfortable in their own skin.
When not behind the camera, I am out stalking the late great Jonathan Gold’s recommendations, road-tripping up and down Hwy 1, sampling the best sour, IPA and stout beers I can find, catching up on This American Life podcasts, anxiously awaiting episodes of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, watching USC Trojan football (Fight On!), adding to my unhealthy addiction of dress socks, Cuban salsa dancing, exploring street art, stalking Sade next tour dates and traveling aimlessly. My desire to explore hidden gems, sit at bar counters with locals and get outside of my comfort zone is largely inspired by the late Anthony Bourdain. Enough about me, let’s talk and see how we can work together!