We had the good fortune of connecting with Bella Guerra and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bella, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
Breaking into the music (media) industry is possible, but definitely not without sacrifice. Being an artist is very unpredictable. Whether you’re feeling inspired or not, your job depends on your creativity so you better be on your A game – personally and professionally. With social media being the way it is now, you have to be able to turn around content within 24 hours or less and a lot of the time that means sleepless nights and an endless amount of timers that help keep you on track and ensure you meet deadlines. A lot of people overlook how much time you have to spend on pre and post production compared to actually shooting – that’s where the magic happens. You can’t afford to get distracted because you learn quickly there are people far less qualified than you, doing things you want to do, simply because they take the action you’re not willing to take. You have to be hungry and put the time and effort to have a solid foundation for success.
Deciding you want to make this your full time career is a commitment and a gamble with the photography/ videography scene being overly saturated and highly competitive. You meet so many people doing this for the wrong reasons who just want a free pass to a festival and chance to meet their favorite DJ. If that’s your drive and not the actual story telling documenting the production, it’ll show and nobody will want to work with you. Let your work speak for itself, don’t overstep your position when shooting and sneak into the pit or on stage if you don’t have access to that (yet). And there is never a reason you need to name drop. Just don’t do it. Nobody cares. Stay focused, get the shots, and make yourself available to the right people when they need you.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
You know, I was actually blind to the fact I was an artistic type. I often wonder what my life would look like today if the arts were more present during my childhood and upbringing over sports and education. I didn’t start exploring photography until I was 24 and never really considered myself an artist until I was 26 and honestly more than often than not felt behind starting this creative journey in my mid-20’s.
I am constantly evolving and looking for new opportunities to grow so when facing challenges I’ve learned you gotta always be able to look at the negative things as a positive. How can you turn those into something bigger than yourself? When I want to accomplish something, I do, no matter how long it takes, and its just about stepping out of my comfort zone. Nothing worth having comes easy and that’s something I continue to learn as days get longer, projects get bigger, and my back log of edits sometimes seem unmanageable but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s the greatest feeling knowing I get to choose the life I live and ten years from now I won’t look back and wonder what if. I am here putting in my all to this and no matter how far capturing moments takes me I will always look back at how much fun I had doing what I love for as long as I can.
Not everyone will agree with this but I actually like the fact that I challenge the status quo as a woman with men being the dominant gender in this industry. Some artists work with me over more talented and advanced photographers/ videographers solely because I am a woman and like the energy I bring to the environment they’re in. I think that’s really cool and has positioned me in some unique situations where I’ve learned how to hold my own and truly thrive.
What I get to experience shooting live music is surreal. But some important things to note that are worth sharing are: Self discipline and time management have a new meaning when you work for yourself and other people are relying on you to meet deadlines. Being open to new opportunities is just as important as turning down projects that don’t align with who you are or what you believe in. Knowing who you are and why you’re doing what you do goes a long way – especially living in LA. Your character will get you further than your talent will so keep hustling hard, building relationships, investing your time wisely, and being patient. It’s a lot of hard work that goes unnoticed but it eventually pays off and the highs always outweigh the lows. 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 wouldn’t be who I am today without the incredible support system I’ve had from friends, family, and the multiple creative communities I’ve been fortunate enough to cross paths with over the last four years.
Specifically, my day one CRSSD family – Joey Vitalari, Sam Leabo, Scott Kelley, Alex Drachnik, Miranda McDonald, and Felicia Garcia – are not only some of the baddest content creators I’ve been lucky enough to work with but also the most humble and realest humans I’ve ever met. They really set the standard for me and taught me how important character, integrity, and hard work matters in an industry that would make some sell their souls to “make it” because they never had to. To know them is to love them and I only aspire to produce work half as good as them.
Lastly, I want to give a special shout out to FACES Collective, Queso Lounge, Gaitan, Grant Kemp, DJ Lavenge, and Chris M. for providing endless opportunities to create and refine my craft over the last year during the pandemic. Where I am today through that, creatively and personally, would look differently if our paths hadn’t crossed during a time we all thought the world was ending.