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Meet Meztli Zambrano of Simply Meztli Photography in Azusa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Meztli Zambrano.

Meztli, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I always knew I was born to sing – ever since I was a little girl. I LOVED music. It was my favorite thing ever. It all started back in 1st grade when Mrs. Fortes, a dear family friend of my family heard me sing. She expressed to my mom “your daughter can sing!” My mom found it a little funny considering I was only a first grader. She questioned Mrs. Fortes and was told that I had talent. My mom then thought about it and as she saw me grow over the next two years and my love and passion for singing grew for me as well and growing up singing in church, she signed me up for private vocal lessons with the best vocal teacher I have ever had – Natalya Alexander. Natalya worked with and trained me for a little over six years. She helped me find my voice the older I got and develop even more of a love for singing than I could’ve ever imagined. Natalya helped me prepare for GSACS Golden State competition to perform vocal solos in which we had many victories as a team! She became not only a vocal and piano teacher to me but a mentor over the years. It was then in 8th grade I realized I had a love for the arts, whether it was musical or photography.

In 8th grade, I picked up photography. My dad taught me all I needed to know about photography since my dad was a photographer when I was a kid. I started practicing on my best friend Alyssa, who is actually Mrs. Fortes’s daughter, for her senior portraits! She was brave enough to ask me to give it a shot and be the photographer for her senior year portraits! I am thankful for that experience because then I just had more of a craving for making people happy and comfortable behind the lens, capturing precious moments that will last a lifetime! During my middle school and high school years, I entered in photography competitions and had some great victories there also! It was so fun for me to become creative for fine art photography for these competitions. I was homeschooled for middle school and high school so I was able to finish my school work in the day and learn something new about music or photography! I even attended community college classes that taught me about songwriting as I was discovering I wanted to be a singer/songwriter. I graduated high school in three years as I was very eager to head on to college where I would major in Music Education with an emphasis in Vocal Performance and minor in photography – the two things I love most! I attended college in South Carolina for two years until I had an unexpected turn in my health. The health issues got so bad I needed to come back home to California where I was closer to my family and I could study music over here at Azusa Pacific University.

So here I am – a student pursuing her undergrad in Commercial Music with an emphasis in Vocal Performance. Here I met Aretha Scruggs – another amazing and talented vocal coach who I am thankful for! She is nothing but uplifting and pushes me to find my voice again as my health has made it difficult to do so. I am pursuing music – doing what I love and I still get do photography with some side gigs that come up! I will be graduating in the Fall of 2020! Until then, I am learning all that I can to be prepared to venture off into the music industry and I currently have a side hustle called Simply Meztli Photography. I have done many photography sessions ranging from senior portraits to engagement, family, wedding and business sessions! I still get a little bit of both worlds of the arts – music and photography while pursuing this degree.

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?
It was for most of my life until the end of my second year of my undergrad in South Carolina, but as I mentioned before I had some unexpected health issues that came into my life and brought some heavy baggage. Suddenly my life and passions seemed to be flipped upside down. I am a vocalist and I’ve know my entire life this is what I am called to do, but these health issues have made it difficult to pursue that dream consistently. My health had caused me to slow down and even take a semester off of school. I have a chronic illness that hinders my ability to sing and causes me debilitating fatigue. As a vocal college student you can see why my chronic illness can be discouraging when I can’t show up to class or sing. College life is hard and having excessive fatigue makes it harder. I’ve had to take the time to learn how to self-care for myself because I have dietary restrictions and allergies.

From reading ingredient labels in shopping for food at the grocery store, or even skincare products and even my supplements and medications so that I don’t add anymore health problems to my body. With all that being said, it hasn’t been as smooth as I’d like it to, but it has taught me to be grateful for even the smallest blessings and victories in my everyday to day life as a vocal college student. I’ll admit, I’ve had many doubts thinking that maybe my dreams and goals were actually slipping away from me entirely, but one thing I know for sure is that even though my health plays a big part of my life, that doesn’t mean you can’t succeed in what you want. I have had family and friends help me realize, that even though I’ve had to slow down in pursuing this musical journey, it does not mean I am failing if I continue to keep going to the best of my ability and seeing the little successes in my daily life. Some days are harder than others, so it’s okay to just take it one step at a time rising to meet your goals and dreams. We can dream big and go forward but some days we may want to just throw in the towel.

I have learned that it is important to listen to your body as you are your own advocate! My mom always told me that, but I feel I finally understand it. Learn about yourself, what you can handle and what you can’t. It’s okay to say no sometimes. For now, I am just taking it day by day in pursuing and finishing this college degree to the best of my ability and seeing where life will take me next. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns so we have to find the positives in our day to help us keep pushing forward!

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Currently, I do not have an up and running business for my musical side, but it is in the works and I cannot wait to have that up and running! I’ve been asked to sing at weddings or live events.

As far as my photography business, it is known as Simply Meztli Photography. I have an Instagram page and a Facebook Business page where you can find photos from sessions I’ve had with clients and where you can book any future sessions. I am most proud of merging my artistic side into a business where I can capture my clients special moments one photo at a time. I specialize in portrait photography, family, senior, engagement, wedding and business sessions and live events! Something that is important to me is capturing the moments that will become memories to last a lifetime. It is also important to me to make people feel comfortable and beautiful behind the lens.

What were you like growing up?
Personality wise – oof I was quite a character! I would always act more mature than my age and I struggled making friends in Kindergarten because I always wanted to correct my peers and play the mom roll! Haha. I was always very competitive, stubborn and strong-willed, yet I was very sensitive, loving with a big heart and cared deeply for those around me.

Interest wise – I loved animals, music, photography, jump rope and makeup.

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