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Meet Karen Alfaro of Shot by Karen in South Central

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Alfaro.

Karen, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have always enjoyed taking photographs since I was very young. Right from the moment I held my very first camera, which was this big, green polaroid camera that could barely fit in my hands. I quickly became obsessed with taking photos of everything, but mostly my family and friends to the point that it annoyed them. My mother especially was not a big fan of getting her photo taken, but it was because of her that I learned I preferred to take photos of people when they did not notice because that’s when I could capture their true selves. Anyway, after a while, they stopped buying the camera film and started to get me disposable Kodak cameras which was exciting for me because the cameras were much smaller, meaning I could carry them around anywhere. For a short time, it was one of my favorite things to do.

I stopped picking up cameras and started picking up fights when I was in middle school. By the time high school came around, I was already in a street gang. I was always ditching, fighting, running away from home and getting myself into trouble with the law. All the things I enjoyed as a kid were hidden, but not completely gone. When it came to certain projects in school that involved art or media, I was fully invested. One of my favorite assignments was creating a short film with a social issue of our choice. It was a lot of fun directing the point of views, the angles and the positioning of people much like a director of photography would do so and it made me want to pick up a camera again.

It was not until a few years after I graduated high school in 2011 that I became interested in photography again. I bought my first DSLR camera in 2014 and started teaching myself all the ins and outs of the camera I had. I looked up YouTube tutorials, read books and put it all into practice. I even picked up a few courses at a community college to gain more experience. I was taking photos of everything and anything trying to figure out what my style was. I realized that I really enjoy shooting people. Whether it’s for fashion, documentary, or even just because. It’s a great way to be able to connect with people, get to know them and be able to expose a part of them that not everyone may see. You can find beauty in their sorrow and comfort in their joy.

I am currently working on new content as I continue to learn and improve my skills. My goal now is to be more creative an find new ways to share my vision through my photographs. I want to put a buttload of emotion and ideas into a photo to be able to tell a story, or at the very least be able to leave a viewer with a memorable impression.

Has it been a smooth road?
It’s been a bumpy road with a lot of obstacles along the way, but I don’t think anything worthwhile comes easy. I do live in Los Angeles! I would say this one of the toughest cities to be creative in because there are so many talented and creative people that are out here, but at the same time, it pushes me to think outside of the box and get myself more out of my comfort zone to be able to come up with new ideas. Not only that, but it’s becoming more expensive to live here. I am a single mom so I sometimes have to put my own needs aside to be able to provide for my son and make ends meet, but when times get real tough, I remind myself that I am doing it all for him and that the climb will be worth the view.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Shot by Karen – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Right now, I am working a regular 9-5 job as an office manager. When I’m not doing that, I am a photographer. I’ve worked with a clothing line, and a few new up and coming music artists and I hope to do more of the same. I had the pleasure of working as a Director of Photography for a short film called “Lavanderia” by Tone Melo and it made want to pursue that in my career eventually. I’m most proud at how much I have improved in the last few years due to my dedication to my craft. I think what sets me apart from most people is my ability to fully invest myself in learning something until I get the results that I want or better. I love what I do and I think that whether I become successful or not, it’s something that I will continue to do no matter what.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I’m a native Angelino and I both love and hate this city. I love that there is always something to do. You want tacos at 2 am? The taco guy around the corner has your back. I think mine has seen me in a worst state than my Uber driver by now. There is also always somewhere to go no matter what mood you’re in. We are only a short drive from the beaches, from the desert and the mountains. The food culture is spot on and you get to meet so many diverse characters.

Somethings I dislike about LA is the traffic! Going home after work is a nightmare, especially around the holidays and don’t even get me started on the potholes, I have to deal with along the way. Another thing would be the homeless encampments in a lot of places around the city. I wish something could be done for them. The overall cost of living is pretty bad in Los Angeles as well. The least they can do is extend “last-call” time to help me forget about it.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
My photo was taken by my good friend Leo (@thatsmywhale), Photos included are photos I took of @tone_melo_official, @missyuenz, @iamcrisma, and @ksean_c

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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