We had the good fortune of connecting with Esteban Allard-Valdivieso and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Esteban, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
In 2005, I started assisting a photographer-friend with photo shoots just out of curiosity. I would bring a little point-and-shoot or a disposable camera and take behind-the-scene shots on these outdoor shoots. I was told that I had a good eye for composition and he sold me my first DSLR in 2006. I started practicing taking pictures of my friends and got into the habit of bringing it everywhere I went. Up until that point, I had been writing short stories and poetry, but suddenly there was this new medium that I felt really drawn to. Around the same time, my best friend encouraged me to start a business, but I felt very self-conscious and was consumed by Imposter Syndrome about not being good enough, nor “properly taught” enough to charge for services. In 2010, that best friend passed away suddenly and after processing through the terrible grief, I realized that I had to do something to keep my spirits up–something creative and personal and photography was it. Even if I didn’t feel adequate enough, I told myself that I would just take the kinds of photos that I would want to see and go from there. In 2013, I made it official and set up all the logistics…Fiestaban Photography was born
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Just like with everything, it’s all about practice and dedication. Most of my work is focused on showcasing people living their best lives and having a great time in an environment they love. I love natural light, though I’m partial to adding an outdoor fill light to give it that showcase look. When I started, I was sure I would be doing headshots and portraits forever, but as I’ve grown, I’ve come to love shooting live music, nature and live events, as they offer the most satisfying results and keep me my on my toes. This past year with Covid really took a toll on my business, but I’m slowly plugging away at regaining a foothold in the industry. If anyone out there is reading this…DO. NOT. GIVE. UP. It may take years or decades for you to find that thing you love, your vocation, but as Jim Carrey said, “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
So I would definitely take them to Holy Grounds Cafe in East LA. Then a morning hike around Ascot Hills and its beautiful views of downtown. Then a trip to LA Central Library Rotunda, with lunch and a glass of wine at the Bonaventure Hotel spinning rooftop restaurant. Dinner is definitely at Caramba Mexican food in Alhambra. The next day, we do breakfast burritos at Lucky Boy in Pasadena, walk through the Arlington Garden and then head to the Huntington Gardens and Library in San Marino. Then head up to the Angeles Crest forest to watch sunset around Chilao. Then we head back down the 2 freeway and have tacos at the Taco Zone truck on North Alvarado. Then see if Club Underground has a party at the Grand Star Jazz Club in Chinatown
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First off, my mom Luanna Allard has always been there for me and encouraged me to be creative. She is always trying to drum up more business for me (or really, just bragging about what a great kid I was) and I’m always appreciative of that.
My girlfriend Alison Papion is constantly a source of encouragement, even when I feel pretty discouraged about any number of things, especially my business. She is always a voice of hope and comfort and makes me laugh when things get tough.
Lastly, my dear friend Sean Mathis, whom passed away in 2010, was one of the main motivating forces behind starting my business. He worked in fashion and art direction for years and always pushed me to learn and grow. I didn’t always take his advice, but I’ll often hear his voice from beyond the rainbow bridge telling me how proud he is of me. Cheers!
Melody Para Emilie Papion Tuxedo The Make-Up Melissa Cofield (Model Melissa) Kimi Gortner (Kimi Mik’el) Lavelle Dunn Kawaya Haynes Treasure Thompson (Treasure Gemz) Grecia Xochitl Garcia