I’ve been formally working in the commercial/advertising industry since 2008. Initially, as a production coordinator for TV commercials and corporate films back in Venezuela. I was part of a wonderful team, and we used to work with many international big brands like Maggi, Mattel, Nestle, and other local companies like banks and national businesses. It was exhausting, it was fast-paced, crowded, chaotic and very FUN! It involved famous local actors, world-class baseball players, art directors, makers who would build rooms and sets from scratch, huge lighting setups, travelling to different locations, flying in helicopters, playing with big toys, creating storyboards and following shooting schedules. Just like the movies!
Things started getting more and more difficult in my country, many multinational companies closed their Venezuelan branches, and many local businesses went bankrupt. Our number of clients was exponentially decreasing, and the founder of the video-production studio where I was working decided to move his company to Miami. I worked with other film houses independently for a while before deciding to move to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I knew I wanted to continue in the visual arts field, so I took a commercial photography course and starting building my way in from scratch. My dad was a successful commercial photographer, so I grew up watching him work and taking on photography as my hobby. It is never easy to “break in” in any industry, especially not if you’re a newcomer in faraway lands without any connections. After working in different kinds of projects (from fashion to real state, events and music) and with a little bit of luck on my side, I stumbled across the director of a renown food magazine, two minutes after, we were exchanging emails.
I've always been involved in the culinary industry thanks to my mother's side of the family, so working for a food magazine and being the staff photographer of a monthly city-wide producers’ and artisans’ market was a dream come true. Food Photography was “it” for me, and I was surrounded by beautiful people. Just when things seemed to be getting more stable, I ended up moving again, this time across the continent to freezing Canada. Once again, I had to start all over. Once again, it wasn't an easy start. Hundreds of emails and hundreds of unanswered or rejected messages later, I began landing some small projects. My previous career, my experience from two countries and my portfolio weren't enough for this new market. I had to start at the bottom just like anyone else and without any connections. It was a big hit to my ego; for some reason, I apparently still look like a student, which wasn't helping at the time (it is still not helping now).
In the end, it is always about who you know, also about being in the right moment at the right time. In 2016, through a mutual friend, I ended up meeting a nice lady that happened to work at McCormick Canada. I was suddenly taking test shots for a 300-image project and in a meeting room talking in my broken English about my previous work. My portfolio wasn't consistent (remember, this was my third start-over attempt) most of my equipment was still in Venezuela, I wasn't a registered business yet, and I didn't have studio space. It all came down to two options, and the one against me was a well-established commercial studio. The verdict was pretty obvious, but it was nice to make it till the end. I didn't end up landing the big project, but I got to work on a smaller one involving 41 recipes, which now that I think about it, was the best thing that could have happened at the time. Being realistic, I didn't have the resources, the space, props and team it would have required to achieve my quality standards. So some things do happen for a reason sometimes.
The project was a great experience regardless. I got to prepare many good recipes (some of which I still prepare till this day), used some of the props that I started collecting when I moved to Canada and bought some new ones. I did it all by myself; producer, prop stylist, food stylist, photographer and editor. All in my tiny home-studio/one-bedroom apartment.
The best thing about this project is that it made me refocus my priorities, it inspired me to keep going, and it made me open my eyes, shut up and work harder. It was the little push, it was a little spark, it was a start. It might not have been my best work, because of everything happening at the time and my not-so-optimistic mood about my new home town, but I'm genuinely thankful for it. It showed me that I could dream big and make it happen. I started small, for the third time! Thank you, McCormick, for reminding me to always aim to go big!