We had the good fortune of connecting with Lester Villarama and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lester, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
It honestly started as a hobby for me. Starting the Shot By Lester brand, I really just wanted to develop my photography skills and be more comfortable working with models and people as subjects. I didn’t mind accepting free / tfp work during the beginning because I knew that I was investing on a skill that eventually would be a money maker for me.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I believe that it’s a work in progress and as of today, I’m still working on establishing my brand and I think it will continue to be that way for a long time. The industry is fast paced and can change pretty quickly so you just have to learn to adapt and be open to changes. It takes a lot of relationship building, lots of free test shoots and making sure you learn from each mistake that you make along the way. It definitely wasn’t easy and you need to have thick skin to survive in the Fashion Photography industry here in LA. Sometimes it gets to you but you have to learn to look past it and remember the reason why you’re doing this in the first place, which is the love for the art. I think what sets me apart from others is that I’m not scared of trying different genres and styles with my photography. I tend to get bored and jump around from fashion to sometimes body, portraits, etc. and I love it. I’m not afraid to try different things even if it means failing because I know that I will learn something from the experience nonetheless.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
It really depends on what they want to do but if they want the usual tourist spots I’d take them to LACMA Urban Lights, Walk Of Fame, Rodeo Drive, Griffith Park, Griffith Observatory, Santa Monica Pier, The Hollywood Sign etc. Maybe do a hike in Runyon Canyon or Kenneth Hahn State Park where I do a lot of my shoots at.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’ve been very blessed and lucky to have incredibly supportive people around me throughout this journey. Special shoutout goes out to Ricardo Guerrero of DT Model Management because he is the first model agent who believed and trusted in me. From what I remember I think my instagram account at the time we started working together only had a handful of shoots / posts so he really took a risk when he started working with me on test shoots of his models at DT Model Management.