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Check Out Ismael Quezada’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ismael Quezada.

Hi Ismael, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Everything started in the summer of 2019. I was with 3 of  my friends and we were in Philadelphia. My friend Erin Yasmeen (who is an incredible photographer/videographer!) knew I liked taking pictures on my phone and said we should go into a thrift store and see if we could find an actual camera. We found the camera that I still use to this day, and it was the best $2 I ever spent. Soon as I was able to get batteries for the camera, I got the film and was ready to start using it. Some of my first pictures are still some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. I still reminisce and say that that summer was one of my favorites of all time. It was something that felt so natural, honestly. I don’t know how better to say it. What made it even easier is that I have so many beautiful and photogenic friends, and not to be biassed, but I live in one of the best and most artistic cities in the world. Shows were happening every weekend, outdoor and indoor events left and right, and every day seemed like an adventure. I’d even go as far as saying that photography has changed my life. I’ve been blessed and honored to work with some of the most extraordinary talents in the city. All the artists that I’ve come to know are immense talents. I am a student of the ones that have been in this game for years, and I’ve been learning so much over these now 3 years.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has been a winding road with COVID affecting many people here and learning how to navigate through that. That’s been a massive struggle for myself and everyone I know. I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia this past December, and dealing with this alone has been one of my most significant challenges. It was a terrifying time because I did not know what was happening to my body and mind. I’m 28 years old, and I feel like I’m stuck in the body of a 70-year-old. My body limits how long I can stand and how long I can sit and do anything. It got so bad in September that I had to go to the emergency room because I felt like I could not walk on my left leg. So frustrated, and it seemed like there was no answer in sight. Luckily, I’ve been blessed to have the doctors that have helped me tremendously. After a series of tests, bloodwork, and every type of x-ray, you can imagine it wasn’t until I went to get my nerves and muscles tested that the doctor came to their conclusion. He walked into the room and told me he had good and bad news. The good news: No nerve or muscle damage or deterioration was detected. The bad news he said was that I had fibromyalgia. I talk about this openly, not so others will feel bad or sympathize with me but to bring more awareness to a condition a lot of people 1. Haven’t even heard of most times, and 2. Let the people that have fibromyalgia know that they are not alone in their journey. 

I’ll keep fighting to live my life in the face of this, and I hope I can inspire them and others to do the same!

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a film photographer and videographer. I only strictly shoot film right now and until the foreseeable future. Something that I’d also say I’m proud of is that at the time of writing this, I do not edit any of my work. Shooting film strictly with no edits isn’t due to me being a snob or anything like that. This July will make it 3 years that I’ve been doing film photography, and I still feel like a student of the game. That’s what I love about it. I still only shoot on film because I still feel like I have so much to learn that I want to master. I don’t edit because I want to ensure I’ve learned everything about photography before I step into how to edit photos. A great friend and even more excellent photographer, Fox, who shares the same thoughts on this as me, said something that resonated with me, and that was when I asked him why he doesn’t edit. He responded: “What did I take the picture for?”

To make it 100% clear, I do not think I am better than anyone else because of this. I respect and love all photographers/artists who shoot whatever they want to shoot on and edit however they edit. I consider editing a separate art form in itself and am always in awe of how artists create and their thought processes. I’m only in competition with myself and will continue to be a student to it all.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
The advice I’d give for finding a mentor is to ask your hero or people that inspire you near you first and foremost. The people in your life that you know first! Try not to think about being too embarrassed or anything like that. Just do it!

Next, think of asking people outside your circle that you admire! It doesn’t matter who they are or who you believe they are. Reach out to them by any means! Email, phone number, or letter. Any way you can reach out to them, ask. You never know what’s possible.

Regarding networking, I cannot stress this enough, but you have to get uncomfortable. Your greatest self and connections lie at the end of you being uncomfortable. Speak to anyone and everyone because everyone knows something you may not know or may lead you to the next person you need for your journey.

A crucial piece I want to mention is not to use people or strictly only talk to people because you think they’ll benefit you somehow. People are not objects to use. This is one thing in “networking” that I’ve had an issue with.

When connecting with someone, remember they’re human beings just like you. They have hopes and dreams just like you do. If no one has said this to you before, or if this is your first time reading this, help your fellow humans. Building a community where we can all help each other, whether it be physical help like a community clean-up or helping by passing down knowledge that someone needs. Lead and move with love; that is the key.

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