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Art & Life with Elena Cuellar

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elena Cuellar.

Elena, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I picked up a camera for the first time when I was five on a family vacation to Sea World. Not long after I was taking photos as often as possible. My passion for photography didn’t truly come alive until I entered high school and discovered America’s Next Top Model. I became obsessed with the series because of the photoshoots. It amazed me to see so many people work together to tell a story in a photograph or series of photographs. After college I began working as a legal secretary when I was introduced into wedding photography. Shortly after I photographed my first fashion blogger and my love for photography became even more obvious. After working full time as a legal secretary and part time as a second photographer, I knew that photography was my true calling; it was the part of me that was missing and what made me feel alive and passionate. After a lot of prayer and talking with my family I made the decision to quit my job as a legal secretary to pursue photography. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made as an adult. I’ve had to hustle a lot to get to where I am and I’m still hustling, but I don’t mind it. I’m happy, I’m free and most importantly, I’m my own boss.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I specialize in wedding and fashion photography and photograph couples, fashion bloggers, and models. My work is very clean, bright, and dreamy because I photograph primarily in natural light. Good light is the key in making an ordinary photograph into something truly magical! I specialize in weddings and fashion because I love getting lost in a love story and I love how a good outfit instantly makes someone feel glamorous and confident. Weddings and fashion both tell stories and I thrive on not only capturing, but also telling that story via photographs.

I photograph with my heart not with eyes. My passion is what captures those small details, whether that be a couple doing a first look on their wedding day or a fashion blogger who’s just starting their instablog; those details tell their story.

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
I can’t speak for all artists, but as a photographer, I feel that one of the biggest challenges we face is that photography as a whole can be a very saturated market. It’s hard to succeed when more and more people are claiming to “be a photographer”. I know many photographers who, for example, question if their pricing is too high because a new photographer has surfaced and they are charging at much lower cost and are gaining clients left and right. You feel defeated, especially because many of us have taken the time to build our clientele, style, brand, our portfolio etc. We’ve invested in education, equipment, software, hired employees etc. to make sure we continue to grow as a business and as a creative. It doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not cheap, which is why we feel defeated when we see this happening.

Another big issue photographers face is “How can I bring in more revenue, because photography, while I love it, it’s not enough to pay the bills anymore”. It happens to many of us, because we realize that while photographing weddings, families, bloggers, etc. is not only our passion but also profitable, we also have dry seasons some more than others. Thus it becomes a new challenge to find another avenue of revenue. Many times you’ll see photographers who are also educators, they’ll host classes and workshops, and editors. I myself am prepping and working on projects where I can begin teaching classes and hosting workshops because I know I’ll have a dry season come winter.

The last issue I feel photographers face, is how to go from a hobby photographer to an actual business owner. You would think it wouldn’t be that hard, but it can incredibly be intimidating! The majority of us did not graduate with a business degree so we’re clueless. We don’t know where to start and then once we do, we ask ourselves “Do I become a LLC or Inc.? Are there other options that I don’t know about?” It’s a scary transition, one that I myself went through, and requires a lot of research, asking people you trust, getting help from a third party like your accountant or lawyer and so forth. It gets easier once you get the ball rolling, but in the first few stages it’s downright terrifying!

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
You can find my work via Instagram @elenacue11ar and my website: www.elenacuellar.com.

You can easily support my work by liking, sharing, and inquiring about a wedding or session!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All images are owned and were photographed by Elena of Elena Cuellar Enterprises, Inc.

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago 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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