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Meet Carlos Parada

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carlos Parada.

Carlos, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My story begins in Tijuana Mexico where I was born and raised. I was always a shy and quiet kid. Spent most of my time in my head daydreaming, which I still do. I’ve always been an incredibly imaginative person, and it was fun to spend time in my head. Aside from that there were two things I was always obsessed about, watching movies and playing video games. I was a very visual kid. It was difficult for me to stay focused in school when my assignments required reading. If my lessons would have been taught through documentaries, I would have Aced all my classes. That is why watching movies became my favorite pastime. My go to movies were always Tim Burton’s Batman, Back to the Future and Who framed Roger Rabbit. Because I was still learning English, half of the time I didn’t understand what people were saying in the movies but I began to understand stories by the sequence of images and the actors’ emotional performance. This is how I developed my style for storytelling. Fast forward to a few years later and I’m relying heavily on this form of visual of storytelling to my projects in film school.

When I began studying film, I barely knew of any directors. If I remember well, the only directors I was aware of was Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, Spielberg and George Lucas. I never paid attention to the auteurs directors. All I was paying attention to was their final product and how they told stories.

As my studies continued, I started to learn about cinematography which immediately appealed to me. So to become a better cinematographer and have a better understanding of visual language, I started taking photography classes. I ended up taking pretty much all the courses at my college because of how much I loved it. However, it was a particular assignment that opened my eyes to the potential of a future in photography. It was the moment of inspiration that would eventually lead into a career.

Up to that point photography was just a hobby to better help me as a filmmaker. That all changed when I was assigned to visit the exhibit of a photographer I’d never heard of and write a paper on it. I attended the exhibit and I didn’t recognize any of the work. It was all new to me but I immediately fell in love with the cinematique style of the portraits. The exhibit was of Anne Leibovitz and her original work. It wasn’t until much later and after studying her life and work, that I realized that seeing this exhibition in person was a big deal. She has been a source of inspiration since then.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
For sure, it hasn’t been smooth 100%. It’s been a really long battle from which I’m still emotionally bruised. You see, I was the first in my family that has ever moved to the US to study and build a career. I came into this country without any guidance or mentorship. Some people forget that I had to discover it all on my own and figure out how things work here in this country. It was a lot of trial and error. I was the first to test the waters and at times, it felt like I barely came out alive. It is no secret that being an immigrant is difficult. Without getting into details or getting political, it really feels that they really don’t want to make it easy for you, especially at the University. It’s almost as if they were trying to make you quit, but my tenacity to be here persisted so I never gave up. A motto that I always use as a guide is “I rather be a comma than a full stop”.

To me that means that I rather be on a rough journey than no journey at all. In all honesty, a bit more stability would be nice and I could use a vacation. But even though it has been a rough journey, and can still be at times, it’s been equally good. I have had great moments and experiences in my life that I feel very proud of. And also, my journey has opened the door for my brother and cousins to have a smoother and more knowledgeable path into the US. It’s almost as if I drew a map for them with all the booby traps revealed and road maps sketched.

Alright – so let’s talk business. What else should we know about you and your career so far?
I do editorial portraits. Fashion plays a role in my shoots but I mainly focus on capturing in a creative way the personality, the essence, of the person in front of my lens. A perfect example of this and another source of inspiration for me is the photography of Mary Ellen Mathews. She is the photographer for SNL who does the bumper photos of celebrities. Just like her, another big influence of mine is Ramona Rosales. She is someone whose photography is vivid with colors and I try to emulate that feeling in my work as well. In other words, my photography is most definitely not moody or in any way trying to take itself too seriously. The work I create does not need to be full of symbolism or have a layered meaning. For me photography can just be about making something that is visually interesting, appealing, fun and entertaining.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
There have been a lot of moments in my life where I look back and can’t believe I was there at the right place at the right time. The assignment of Anne Leibovitz is a perfect example. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have discovered the world of photography.


  • I also do headshots and prices start right now around $150

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Carlos Parada

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