Today’s Friday Feature is Victoria Trujillo DeMontrond, a current contestant in our Fall Photo Contest! Her submission, “Hair Scare,” shown above, has already qualified as a finalist within the competition. You can show your support for Victoria’s work by visiting her contest profile and voting on her two submissions. Based in Sonoma County, California, Victoria is currently developing her photography skills and working to build her professional brand under the name Shutter Pandemonium. You can learn more about her work by visiting her Shutter Pandemonium page on Facebook, and following her on Twitter.
FYAS:What is your educational background? Are you self-taught, or have you attended art classes in the past?
Victoria Trujillo DeMontrond: I took a basic photography course at my local community college, but nearly all of my photographic knowledge has been retained through repetition and getting to know local professionals. While working part-time next to starting my own photography business, I am also working as an assistant to a local professional photographer in a studio located in Sonoma County.
One of the most important things about learning photography is learning how to use your camera and equipment. Anyone can buy expensive gear, but knowing how to use it is most crucial. I am still using an entry-level DSLR camera, and though I do intend on upgrading, I have had plenty of time to learn in-depth about basic and more advanced camera functions that will help determine what I will need when I do upgrade.
How did you become interested in photography? What about photography inspires you to continue your work?
VTD: I have always valued self-expression and the freedom that art carries. Growing up, I was always into some form of art, whether it was sketching, painting, music, or photography. I didn’t consider honing my photographic skills until a few years back when I was in Culinary school. I wanted to be a food stylist. I would bring my camera into the kitchen and photograph nearly everything from food to knives. Eventually, I moved back to Sonoma County and built quite a liking to portrait and fine art photography.
My biggest inspiration really is all life in general. From the smallest wonders captured through a macro lens, to the vastness of Earth’s landscapes, to the many different expressions caught in candid portraits. There is a photograph for every moment, and beauty hidden in everything. The more photographs I take, the better I get at capturing each moment the way I see it.
The best thing that comes out of being a photographer is making people feel good about themselves when they see the photographs I’ve taken of them. It is often that I photograph an individual who may be uncomfortable with their appearance, or they may be uncomfortable posing in front of the lens. After the shoot is finished and I show them the photographs they helped create, they can see that they are their own individual beauty and their self-esteem is completely uplifted.
What are your ultimate goals as a photographer?
VTD: My goal is to succeed behind the lens and learn everything I can about the photographic world. Ultimately, I would LOVE to venture into the world of cinematography and shoot film stills.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work as a photographer and as an artist?
VTD: The most challenging aspect of photography for me is being too critical of my own product. There have been several times where I find myself reshooting a project, looking for any areas to improve the quality or the message of the photograph.
Would you like to share any advice for fellow aspiring photographers?
VTD: The best advice I can give, aside from never giving up, is not letting all the fancy gear get to your head! Exercise your professional aspiration while remembering not to over-compensate your abilities – don’t get too cocky! Remembering your current position plays a critical role in learning and improving your work, as well as networking with other people. Anyone can be a successful photographer….It just depends on what you define as success. Though I do make some money, a majority of what I shoot is done for free so I can gain experience. I rate my success based on the fact that I am very happy doing what I love, as well as the fact that people have shown interest in my services.
Patience is a virtue: Start with the basics and learn all you can about pushing your camera to its’ limits. Figure out how it functions. Talent is a part of success, but from a technical aspect if you know nothing about what you’re doing, there will be no returning clients and you may not build a good professional reputation.
Learn different techniques and find other photographers you can be inspired by (without copying of course).
Socialize and get to know your local professionals and fellow photographers. Go to events, shoot for free, photograph anything, and everything. Bring your camera to as many places as you can! Try to get experience as a photographers assistant and learn the ropes of the professional world.
Utilize social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, BlogSpot, Flickr, etc.
The moment your dreams fail is the moment you give up: Always try to stay motivated! The photography is industry is very tough to get into because it is very popular and the professional world is highly demanding. You will face many moments of uncertainty and/or discouragement, but stick with your passion and you will get as far as you want to take yourself. For building myself from the ground up with very little financial flexibility, I do consider myself successful, but I am still quite a novice. There is always something to learn, and any feedback must be taken as an opportunity to make your photographs and/or your business stronger.
Photography, for me, is not just a job, or a dream, it really is a lifestyle. Though at most times it’s an exhausting lifestyle, at the end of a project when I see what I’ve captured it makes every ounce of energy I exerted towards my projects completely worth being burned out!
I try to encourage my fellow photographers as much as I can! I am someone who has worked very hard and earned everything I’ve got to get where I am and I take much pride in that. I know how hard it is to stay motivated during rugged patches, especially when you’re just starting out with not much formal education. Sometimes it’s easy to get intimidated, but hard work and determination always pay off! I can’t stress how important it is to do what makes you happy no matter who says you will not succeed….In doing so, you will likely be successful!
These are all great tips! It’s great to be able to learn the tricks of the trade, and share them with others. We really appreciate your time, and want to thank you for this excellent interview! One last question, though….If chosen a winner of the Fall Photo Contest, what would you like to do with the prize money?
VTD: If I am chosen as a winner, I would definitely invest in my photography. Whether that be for a camera upgrade, or saving for a more advanced education. Possibly even both!
If you are interested in entering our Fall Photo Contest, don’t wait! There’s still time to enter. We’re accepting submissions through November 8th, and will be announcing winners via Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ on December 1st.