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Meet Canoga Park Photographer: Michelle Escobar

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Escobar.

Michelle, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?

My name is Michelle Escobar, I am a sports and travel photographer. I developed an interest in photography when I was just a kid. When I was younger my father had a hobby of collecting old 35 mm cameras. With the use of his collection, he taught me the basics of photo taking and I ran with it. I began with photos of my family, the outdoors, and different kinds of animals. As I grew older and became more serious about photography, I starting taking night courses to better my skills. Before starting at the Art Center College of Design and eventually graduating in 2014 with a BFA in Photography and Imaging, I had taken non-photography classes in Spain. While living in Spain, I visited several art galleries and museums it pushed me to put more emphasis on continuing my photography journey. With my traveling and family sports history, I grew to love taking photos of those around me. I enjoy capturing the realness of the moment when taking photos of people in their day to day activities. Whether it be capturing that split second moment of a goalie blocking a game winning goal or capturing the moment of an indigenous person selling jewelry in my family’s home country of Guatemala. Through my photos, I like to show how the rawness of real life can also be fine art. It isn’t always about that the big picture moment but about capturing my subject as an individual and expressing a part of their greater story.

Has it been a smooth road?
Like anything in this world, there’s always a challenge or obstacle that comes your way. While visiting in Guatemala, I was determined on getting to villages that are set in the rural mountainous areas. To get to many of these villages, you had to pass through the poor areas where it is known to be filled with drugs and violence. My family was hesitant in supporting the idea of me traveling to these places but I was able to reach my destination and obtain the photos I was hoping to get. Finding the right location isn’t the only challenge I’ve had to overcome. I have always worked alone and I have never had an assistant help me when I take photos. At times it is difficult to manage all the equipment that I use for my photos on my own. I am faced with this challenge on almost every project that I work on. I have become so comfortable and quick that I know what I need and where I need to set it in order to take the shot I’m working towards. When I’m challenged with time or space, it pushes me more to meet my end goal and only fuels my love for photography.

Do you feel luck has played a role in your life?
I have in the past tended to have had more good luck than bad. One moment of good luck, was when I was able to shoot for the Special Olympics. I had always been interested in documenting sporting events in big venues and when I had my grad show at my school, an opportunity had presented itself. A representative of the Special Olympics had given me her information and had recommended that I contact her. When I had, she had offered me a volunteering job in their editing room as Production Coordinator. I knew I wasn’t going to be shooting any photos I had taken all of my equipment with me, just in case. I had really hoped to get some photos of the event and even though I knew it would be a long shot at being allowed to, I still asked and to my surprise, they gave me permission. I was able to split my time with being in the editing room filtering through photos with other photographers and being able to be behind the camera taking those pictures of all the people and events that were around.

Do you feel like there are certain traits that increase the likelihood of success?
I feel that determination is most important in achieving success. Not every project lands on your lap with just luck. Though there are those projects that do happen, you also have to be determined and dedicated to going out and finding those perfect moments to capture. Sometimes you have to break the rules and go behind a barrier to photograph the perfect subject, nothing can get in your way.

Tell us about your favorite and least favorites things about our city.
The best thing about Los Angeles to me is that it is home. I have lived in L.A. all of my life. My family is here and I have been blessed with so many memories all around our city. You can experience all types of life here, there is so much that can be explored. You can go from the mountains to the beach in one day and with every new place you come across you create a memory and can capture it forever. Traffic is what I least like about our city, as I am sure most other Angelenos can agree. I live in the San Fernando Valley, if I needed to be somewhere and have to take any freeway I have to allow for up to an hour of driving time. It has even deterred me from going to places to shoot because the commute time of going and coming back would be greater than my shooting time.

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