Today we’d like to introduce you to Paul Gabriel.
Hi Paul, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Nothing about my overall career path has been linear. My first year of college, I thought I wanted to pursue an acting career. I took several performance classes alongside my general ed courses and eventually realized that some of my required courses for an associate’s in Theatre included technical theatre classes (lighting, sound, costuming, etc.) At the time, I had an amazing support system at Santa Monica College (SMC). I was able to book small-scale lighting design and electrician gigs while still being involved in my college’s productions, both as a performer and techie. I eventually transitioned into the realm of Stage Management, where I really found my niche. Being at the helm of a production, problem-solving, navigating various personalities, and successfully executing a show was, and continues to be, very fulfilling. I’ve had incredible experiences in the realm of Stage/Production management. When the time came for me to consider four-year schools, I opted out of that route and decided to just fully throw myself into the industry.
Since then, I’ve been pretty fortunate with opportunity. I’ve managed productions at a variety of venues around Los Angeles, for the Comedy Central Stage, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I booked a tour managing a magic show that was set for various cities in the Middle East, but COVID eventually shut those plans down! I’m even now a part of popular theatre company, StarKid Productions – who have now become another family. All the while, I honed my craft as a photographer, and eventually a hobby that I loved turned into another career path/option. Just before my second year at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I went all in on a professional camera and a couple of high-quality lenses. Getting to know that camera on my travels sealed the deal for me. I returned to LA with a fresh goal in mind – to start my own photography business. Thankfully, building a portfolio and name for myself was quite easy. I had already worked with so many artists – many of whom became good friends – and I was able to reach out to people and experiment with my style of photography. Little by little, the photos got around, and it wasn’t long before I built my first clientele. I love all of the work that I do and look forward to living a dual-career lifestyle once we’re able to move past this virus and achieve a sense of normalcy. One line of work allows me to work with a variety of creative’s minds and unique personalities, the other allows me to take hold of my own creativity and fine-tune it.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Of course not! And that’s fully okay. It goes without saying that anyone figuring out their career path will find themselves caught up with more “worldly” struggles. College classes were a thing that got in the way of me doing what I wanted to do at all times – need I say more about that? Of course, wondering what my next source of income would be. Establishing trust with MYSELF was a big one. There have been many people in my network who would push me to pursue one path over the other. It’s important to balance what these very knowledgeable/experienced people are suggesting with what YOU know to be true to you and your desires. NO ONE is going to tell you, as an aspiring actor, to get involved with event management and then eventually start your own photography business. But hey, it’s what I just so happened to end up doing, and I’m very happy in this moment! And it’s because I worked hard establishing this trust with myself.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
So there are a lot of elements involved with event management. In short, I work with a lot of performers, designers, producers, directors, etc. and ensure the smooth execution of various types of productions. There is a lot of scheduling, time management, and show-calling involved. And funny enough – lots of psychology! Being the central hub of communication, you learn a lot about how people communicate, how to approach different personalities, and how to diffuse tensions between them. All the with goal of keeping things moving and fostering a positive work environment in mind. Photography is my playground. I offer standard portrait and headshot sessions, of course.
Outside of that, however, I’ve developed a style that is largely inspired and influenced by music, music videos, and nightlife. In a lot of my work, you will see a variety of rich, vivid colored lighting and shimmery backgrounds. There is something innate that happens when people see the lights change color with the variety of backdrops I have. They get taken to a very specific place in their minds and before you know it they’re popping poses and facial expressions. I’ve got a variety of playlists for photoshoots and there’s almost always music going. It’s fun. We have fun. And hearing how happy clients are with how the photos came out and how they look is very, very fulfilling. I’m just happy to make people feel good about themselves in any way possible.
Now, StarKid Productions – the theatre group I’m a part of. I’ve only been involved with their last two productions as a Stage Manager, but the fandom has embraced me with open arms and I’m so appreciative of both everyone in the company and its fanbase. It blew my mind the first time I met fans who flew out from various parts of the world just to watch something we put together. Not to mention some of the gifts and fanart I’ve personally received, as well as everything I’ve seen online. There really is a lot of raw talent within the fanbase itself. As for everyone in the company themselves – well, let’s just say they are some of the most wholehearted folks I’ve had the pleasure working within this industry, and work aside, some pretty great friends. I almost didn’t take the first opportunity I had with them. That would’ve been tragic. But we’re here now!
We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Trusting your gut and being happy about your decisions and where you’ve taken yourself. Not every decision will feel like the right one in the moment, but every decision is a stepping stone. When all is said and done, I just want to be able to say, “I did what I wanted. And I’m happy.”
- Portraits & headshots: $150 for 1 look + 5 final images (retouching/editing included)
- Additional $50 for each look + 5 images/edits thereafter
- Instagram: @gvbriel.photo
- Twitter: @paulgvbriel
Model Instagrams: @leevistreevis @sanderson_thunderberg @vennomiss @ermalineo @mrahstagram @k.e.nt @talaothman