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Meet Arlene Ibarra of Arlene Collective

Today we’d like to introduce you to Arlene Ibarra.

Arlene, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started taking photos at Grossmont College when I was studying Forensic Science back in 2005. I was working at a YMCA and my co-workers started asking me for family photos so I obliged and started a blog. I found an amazing mentor and soon started working with DiscoverSD and shooting nightlife and events. That led to meeting a ton of industry professionals and getting into food and cocktails, which I seemed to have a knack for.

After a few years, I decided to get into photography full time and pursue my passion. I met several other amazing photographers and realized that we should help one another so I started Arlene Collective. When a company needs a photographer or videographer I’m essentially a one-stop shop that will find a client someone amazing to work with them. Today I specialize in food and cocktail photography and have worked with over 25 amazingly talented photo and video professionals all over the nation.

Has it been a smooth road?
Super Smooth. Ha! Yeah, fucking right! Find me someone that says starting their own business is a smooth road and I’ll tell you they’re full of shit. Am I allowed to cuss? Sorry.

Anyway, my biggest struggle as a business owner is saying no and finding a good balance in life. I want to make sure everyone is happy and that means always thinking about work. I have two phenomenal children, Ella (10) and Brandon “Bubba” (14) and I want to make sure I am there for them every day. I am lucky enough to be able to bring them to work on occasion and even have them assist at shoots.

Working my butt off day and night to create and maintain my brand is more difficult than I ever imagined but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Making sure I have gigs lined up every week can be stressful but at the end of the day, I know that I will get out of it what I put into it. I’ve learned along the way and I have a solid group of friends and family that support me.

I am lucky to call my photographer team not only my friends but my family now. The key is to stay positive!

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Arlene Collective story. Tell us more about the business.
What am I known for? I’m probably known for my foul mouth! My company is a team of amazing professional digital media specialists that create incredible content for any client, regardless of the field they’re in. I shoot food, cocktails and special events but can also venture into fashion, lifestyle, portraits and even weddings!

We as a team can cover it all. I am super proud that I have built a network of really dope artists. They are truly passionate about photography and videography and it shows through their product. I think my network sets me apart from others. I grew up in San Diego and I’ve worked with such a diverse clientele that I feel like my company can crush ANY project.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Photos and video are already an integral part of our current culture. I see us expanding to several other cities and making moves within several fields. No huge shifts in the future, just making sure that quality is always the priority.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Brian Fontaine, Adam Hahn, Jonny Rios, Isiah Jones, Trevor Dean

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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