Today we’d like to introduce you to Mariana Melendrez.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I come from the small city of Calexico, California which sits right on the border of Mexico. I first became interested in photography through fashion photography in my early teen years which made me a much bigger daydreamer. I began practicing the basics of photography in 2009 when I received my first camera and was capturing absolutely everything. It wasn’t until my first years in high school that I decided to mainly focus on street photography to understand working with natural light, photo editing and perfecting the skill of not relying on automatic camera settings. During my senior year of high school, I decided to push for work on portrait photography sessions and took advantage of that promotion to start mixing in some fashion practice. After some time, I began reaching out to small local businesses in Imperial Valley and began offering my services while building a strong portfolio. In 2016 I decided to take the leap and move to San Diego to acquire the proper education and aim towards my associate’s degree in photography while learning to perfect my craft.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
In the beginning, one of my biggest challenges was not having access to a nearby studio to practice specific styles which require the space and ability of using studio lighting. I did not let that stop me and simply continued to dedicate my time on perfecting the use of natural light in multiple scenarios. I’ve been thankful enough to have plenty of friends that allowed me to practice with them during this experimental time. San Diego has been a challenge trying to handle both work and school full time but I learned to adapt and found ways to continue working on photos whenever I could. The biggest obstacle has been self-doubt. Growing up, I would continuously hear from others that photography didn’t seem like something that could become a profitable career or an ideal job choice. I’d run into the typical “Maybe you should do it as a hobby, not a career.” I’ve had plenty of moments where I almost decided to quit photography entirely, probably more often than I should have. I thought I had to prove it to others that I could do it, but my mentality changed entirely once I decided to simply prove it to myself.
Tell us about your work – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
A struggle a lot of digital creators can come across is the “how” when trying to make work that stands out. It has been a tough path of trial and error to find my strengths and where to improve. Being that I want to work in the fashion or commercial industry, it can be challenging to find ways to maintain a strong portfolio in your beginning stages. I began to seek new ways of experimentation while working on different projects and looked away from editorial fashion to find inspiration where I normally wouldn’t. I was ready with new ideas but quarantine due to COVID-19 held me back from working with others. I took on the new project with myself and have taken this time to go full heatedly with my new workflow. By combining graphic design elements into my photographs, I was able to create a new body of work that made me feel self-assured in solidifying my brand.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
My ideas of success have changed overtime but I’ve come to believe that success is what you decide to make of it and it’ll arrive in forms of small milestones. My biggest competition has always been with myself, and sometimes I felt that my work wasn’t as dynamic as I wanted it to be. I’ve finally reached one of my small personal goals which was to produce a body of work that made me feel thrilled to know that I’ve created it. It makes me eager to continue pushing and transforming within myself while seeing where it can take me creatively and professionally.
- Website: marianamelendrez.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @dreamfflower
- Facebook: @mmelendrezphoto