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Valentina Caballero: Photographer and Director

I recently had the chance to talk to Valentina Caballero, a a photographer and director based in Toronto, Canada. She’s changing the game with her unique perspective and excellent work.

She recently started a music/interview film series last year called SUITE. Later this month, she will be releasing a new video later this month! Check it out on her YouTube here. If youʼd like to collaborate, say hello or take a look at some of her work, you can find Caballero on: her website and her Instagram.

Continue reading to learn about Valentina and her work in the music and arts!

How did you get started in this industry? Tell us about one of your earliest memories.

It was a bit of an accident, actually. Back in 2017, I went to a Declan McKenna concert in Toronto, edited a couple of photos I had taken on my phone that I really liked from the show and posted them on my insta. A couple of days later, a digital music magazine DMʼd me and asked if they could use my images to publish on their site/if I was interested in photographing more concerts in my area. Even though I’ve been doing portrait and street photography with my older sisterʼs DSLR since I was a kid, I never even considered that photography (let alone concert photography) was something I could do as a career after high school. I got really curious about the gig, so I said yes and it kind of just snowballed after that. It was very much a “fake it till you make it” moment because I honestly didn’t know what I was getting into, but Iʼll be forever grateful that some iPhone photos I took three years ago have somehow brought me to where I am today.

What is your favorite part of getting to work in your career field?

Meeting new people. Whether itʼs talking to audience members before a show starts or getting the chance to shoot BTS photos for a band, youʼre constantly being exposed to different individuals from all walks of life with cool stories/experiences and I love that.

You told us that, “Apart from representing the Latinx community, I honestly just want to encourage more kids from immigrant backgrounds to tell their own stories through photos and film.” What would be your first words of encouragement for someone wanting to start in the photo and film industry?

Donʼt be afraid to experiment. There are literally no rules to how a photo should be taken, so go wild and try different things so you can find your voice and start embracing your own style.

Why do you think itʼs important to tell stories through photos and film?

I think that at itʼs core, it allows people to connect with each other. When you watch a movie or look at a picture, youʼre momentarily suspending your disbelief to dive into a story and understand what’s going on. Even if you’ve never directly experienced what you’ve seen, the stories told through films and photos gives us the chance to empathize with others we may not usually relate with.

What are some small things everyone can do to promote equality in our scene?

Taking photos at concerts is very much a one-person activity and sometimes it can feel like youʼre competing against others to get that perfect shot. To that effect, I’d say to be respectful and support all photographers at events, regardless of their skill level, so that everyone gets an equal opportunity to do their thing. Something else Iʼd also love to see more of is photographers supporting other photographers. If youʼre friends with other photographers, start building a community with them by commenting on their work and sharing their stuff. More often than not, theyʼll pay it forward and do the same for you and you can all boost each other up as a collective.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

I know itʼs going to sound weird, but the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is “meat and potatoes.” I had a chemistry teacher back in grade 10 who noticed I wasn’t finishing my tests on time because I kept on trying to answer each question with more detail than necessary. He told me to always tackle projects by focusing on the essentials first (aka the “meat and potatoes”) before getting caught up in the small things.

I’m a huge perfectionist and “meat and potatoes” is probably the thing I repeat to myself the most when I take on new creative projects with tight deadlines.

Who are some female photographers and directors that have inspired you and your work?

Lindsey Byrnes and my friend Gaëlle Leroyer are probably some of my favourite photographers at the moment. They both have distinctive styles and do a lovely job at taking both film and digital photos that always feature a bit of their own personality in them.

In terms of directors, Sophie Muller and Kathryn Bigelow have also been huge inspirations. Not only have they made some iconic movies/music videos, but they’ve been in the industry for quite a while and I hope to have that kind of longevity as a creator too.

What are your plans for the future?

Start shooting more editorial-based content for music and entertainment magazines (Iʼd love to do something with Dazed or Vanity Fair one day), direct a music video with a Canadian/up and coming artist and finish writing a screenplay with my sister, Bella, for a film we want to co-direct together next year.

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