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Meet Erwin Darmali of Apertura in Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erwin Darmali.

Erwin, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Apertura was started in 2005 after life with photography became bigger than just a hobby. I used to joke around that the company was started out of boredom from my daily job as a Production Manager for Fender Guitars. But in a way, it’s true. Nothing really compares to being able to always be creative in capturing moments from weddings where no two weddings are really the same if we look closer. There is a certain amount of accomplishment when I was able to capture real moments that the clients did not expect, and more importantly, to allow my clients to be able to relive their wedding day through unscripted moments that is genuine, real, and every experience is personal to my clients. The initial goal was to be a photography company that is different than the norm at the time, combining photojournalistic moments with cool, fashion-style portraits as well as portraits that indicate the way my clients are with each other.

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?
I really believed that the company became very successful in a short period of time, we did not advertise anywhere, just a few of word of mouth recommendations from our previous clients, and also some referrals from industry professionals. Although for the most part everything was quite smooth, the part that became a challenge fairly quickly is the amount of inquiries or weddings that came in that we had to start being more selective of who we photograph just to make sure that we have clients that see eye-to-eye with our vision or philosophy. Saying no to clients are never easy but it was important and essential to do at that time, maxing our number of clients per year or per month just to make sure we won’t get burnt out along the way. The goal was to make sure that Apertura will be around for a very long time.

I would have to say that the biggest struggle was juggling a full-time job in addition to the full-time photography dedicated to Apertura. Doing this for the first 6 years or so was quite difficult from the balance point of view, but was necessary as the business is growing at a rate that is rather difficult to keep up with. Back then there were not a lot of things that we can outsource to alleviate our workloads, and we had to do everything ourselves. Then again, I still do everything myself and believe that it is the one thing that I can do to make sure that everything comes out the way I want it to be.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Apertura is a documentary company, focusing on portraits, weddings, and families, simply said. Most people start having their pictures taken when they are about to get married, but also after they start their families. Although the start was just covering weddings and engagement sessions, we can’t neglect that family documentaries are also as important.

Apertura infuses photojournalism based photography which infuses cool vibes with personalities and fashion. The use of harsh light was something that is abnormal at the time, and we used it all the time since it felt much more interesting, allowing us to photograph anyone in just about any light situations. We took a step further from just beauty shots and adding an edgy, cool parts to our portraits and moments.

We are known from our emotionally-charged moments and cool portraits of our couples, and all the moments that were captured are guaranteed real. We don’t set things up, because when we do then the clients may feel that they have no personal connections with it in the future because they might not feel it was them.

Proudest moment for Apertura was when it was named Top Ten Wedding Photographers by American Photo magazine in 2009. That was one of the biggest highlights of Apertura as a brand among other accomplishments that we had received from many other international contest winning images that we produced.

What were you like growing up?
I have always been drawn to architecture as I was growing up, I see spaces and light a different way than most people and it shows in my pictures. My other interests include music, and all things design related.

I still wished that I would become an architect at some point in my life but the love for photography has taken over my life’s goals.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Erwin Darmali, Apertura

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