Today we’d like to introduce you to Marijo Badillo.
Marijo, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in the Philippines, grew up in Taiwan, and came here to the U.S. for college. I attended Cal State Northridge and applied for the film program to learn about cinematography. Photography was my passion but I didn’t want to spend four years only studying and doing photography – I wanted to dive into something where I could use photography as a different medium to be a bit more well-rounded. So I got into the film program and found out that I love cameras and as long as I’m using one, I’d be happy with my life. With that fact, alongside a yearning to create, I decided to pursue a career in film and photography. Because darn, I love it and I gotta put that film degree into good use somehow!
I started freelancing in film and shooting weddings during my last semester in college. I did a lot of free work and sometimes would get out of overnight shoots and drive straight into my 8am class. It was all worth it.
Now I freelance full-time as a 1st AC (assistant camera) where I get to build cameras and pull focus, and I run my wedding photography & videography business, A+M Badillo Images, with my husband Andrew.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Oh my goodness, definitely not! Let me tell you, full-time freelancing is the best and most depressing way to make a living. Some people get really lucky and meet some amazing people who pass them work (and good paying work) frequently. That wasn’t the case for me. When I started, I did a lot of work for free to build my CV. Eventually, I started to get paid but a lot of times, whoever I worked with on a free gig would only hit me up for more non-paying gigs.
I wasn’t charging a lot for weddings either and when I decided to raise my prices a bit, a lot of potential clients just looked elsewhere. A lot of times it felt like my work wasn’t worth the price that it should’ve been and that was always discouraging. Don’t even get me started on dead season. When dead season hits, it’s always the worst! In winter, there are a lot less film jobs AND no one in California apparently wants to get married. Figuring out how to keep going during those times was always a struggle. It was literally an endless question of “do I want to keep doing this?” or “should I finally give and find a stable job?”
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about A+M Badillo Images – what should we know?
Yes! I love talking about my business. My husband and I run a wedding photography and videography business called A+M Badillo Images (A+M = Andrew + Marijo, in case anyone was wondering)! We primarily shoot engagements, couples, and weddings but also branch out to portraits such as maternity, grad portraits, and family sessions.
We describe our style as intimate, candid, and film-inspired. I direct our couples into a pose and give them some prompts or a topic to talk about so that I can capture natural reactions. Nothing makes me happier than seeing our couples interact with each other and being exactly who they are. It helps me get to know them on another level and allows me to create some fun and personal photos that reflect their personalities. Because Andrew and I both came from a film background, we focus our wedding videography on cinematic storytelling. We film and edit videos with the mindset that these are their love letters to one another, made for them and not anyone else.
What I’m most proud of as a company is how we build relationships with our clients – at the end of everything, they’re not just clients anymore, they’re friends. I’ve worked with so many wonderful people that just thinking about them makes me teary-eyed. I’m truly so grateful for each and every one of them and I absolutely love watching them grow as a couple and soon as a family.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
This is gonna sound like an Oscar’s speech but I honestly and wholeheartedly owe it all to my parents. Growing up, all my dreams and aspirations were in something within the arts. My mom told me to pursue something I loved because then I’ll really feel fulfilled and have no regrets. She helped persuade my dad to allow me to go to college in the U.S. so I could have a more wholesome experience and be surrounded with all kinds of art and music. My dad helped me pay for my first DSLR. He supported me through film school and continued to support me when I said I was going to freelance and not have a stable job. He supported me with no question. Every time I had a breakdown that I was going nowhere with my career, he’d very calmly tell me that it was going to pass. I don’t know how I lucked out on having the best parents in the world. Them believing in me this whole time continues to be my source of motivation and strength.
One more person who deserves a bulk of credit – my husband. I couldn’t work for a year and four months because I was waiting for my green card application to go through and for my work permit to get to me. Because I had the mindset of working and achieving my goals for so long, suddenly not getting to work and get paid for so long took a toll on me. All the momentum I had after college – gone. All the confidence I had in my work – gone. It was such a difficult time for me and I was 98% convinced I was gonna quit once I was allowed to work again. But Andrew held me up, and somehow, in his own way, made me believe in myself again. He helped me get back on my feet and let me find myself however, I needed to. I don’t know how he dealt with me but I’m so grateful. Plus, he deserves all the credit for managing all the savings for dead season!
- Website: www.ambadillo.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/ambadilloimages
- Facebook: facebook.com/ambadilloimages
Andrew and Marijo Badillo | A+M Badillo Images (for all photos except our headshot), Michelle Badillo (for headshot of me and Andrew where I’m holding a camera), Jacqueline Dalunde (image of me holding coffee and follow focus)
Check out the VoyageLA Podcast:
Episode 1 with Content Partner Lisa Taitelman, Founder of Hiking & Wellness company Find Your Trail.