We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeannette Villarreal Hamilton and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jeannette, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
Waaay more than one, but the most important to me is achieving personal growth.

I grew up extremely introverted and shy, along with some pretty low confidence. When I discovered photography, I knew I had a lot of work to do to succeed in this field. I wanted so badly to go against my nature and be outgoing and a go-getter. So I turned my camera into my security blanket – I pushed myself into events, gatherings, or any social situation I was interested in and made myself approach people. I made sure to take on every practical job or opportunity that came my way, no matter how socially uncomfortable I was.

It was super awkward, I was nervous, I fumbled. A lot. It got a little smoother every time though – my skills grew, and my confidence improved enough to keep going. Photography introduced me to new people, places and things. This was huge for my self-esteem and sense of self. It gave me the courage to ask for jobs and opportunities, that I knew would never show up on my doorstep on their own. I grew in my career but most importantly, grew into the person I wanted to be.

Of course I couldn’t have succeeded without patience. We’ve all heard this, patience is key. In any field, especially creative, I think that is one of the resonating lessons we’ve learned or should learn. Try things, over and over and over. Have fun practicing your craft. You’ll be rewarded in some way or another, if you put in the work and stay patient.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My full-time photography job is at an art studio, Sideshow Collectibles. The studio specializes in creating high-end collectibles and art products in the pop-culture field. I am a Senior Staff Photographer, and also run the department as a manager/director. My team and I photograph the products in a variety of lighting and styles, sometimes even building sets and scenes to push the story-telling of the characters. It’s a job that always brings something different to the table, allowing me to try new things and challenges, and pushes me to keep learning.

Aside from my day job, I take on some side gigs here and there, specializing primarily in portraiture, but also events and documentary work. My craft is still very much my hobby, so I like to have a camera on me at all times. I love to photograph my travels, family/cats, candid moments, and also experiment with fine art photography for fun.

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?
I love the quirks and charm of the San Fernando Valley, so we’ll start there. First off, I have enough cameras to hook you up with a loaner for the week because hopefully you will be inspired to take a lot of photos. We’d get started with a stop at Tortoni Coffee in my Sherman Oaks neighborhood for a latte and empanadas. Then I’ll take you to check out some famous filming locations of the Valley. There’s the Sherman Oaks Galleria from Fast Times, Daniel-san’s apartment complex as seen in the Karate Kid, Circus Liquor from Clueless, we can even visit The Office that Michael Scott managed. Of course taking a drive on Mulholland is a must. We can later have dinner and margaritas at Casa Vega, recently seen on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

The rest of the week will be spent doing some road trips and adventure. Pack some food and drinks, go for a bike ride along the beaches I grew up at in Ventura County. Park our bikes at Oil Piers and just chill for the day. The next day, do some hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains for some 360-views of the ocean and the mountains.

Or there’s always the option of a long road trip to really explore California. Go explore and camp Death Valley, then head up the 395 to pay a visit to the majestic Eastern Sierras.

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?
My older brother Ben was the person who gave me the confidence and boost to pursue photography. He didn’t care that my technical skills were still super amateur. He always found something interesting about my photos. He seemed to understand what I was trying to convey in my photos, whether it was something odd I captured, or just a darkroom artsy experiment. He seemed to see and understand my intention, and then pushed me to do more. Times I was unmotivated and unsure I was on the right career path, he always found a way to show me things about myself I was completely blind to. He reignited that drive to just keep going.

On a professional level, my current Creative Director at my job, Tom Gilliland, has been a huge teacher in how I view art and photography. He has showed me the importance of conveying emotion and intention – he has given me some of the best critiques in my work, showing me both strengths and weaknesses equally. He has a way of complimenting my work in a rewarding way, but also planting the question of how it could be better. When he points out my weaknesses, it’s in a way where I’m excited and ready to take on the challenge of trying again. He inspires me to take a fine art approach in commercial work. That is huge in order to not stay stagnant in my job, both professional and personal.

Website: www.jeannette-v-h.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jeannette_villarreal/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jvillaham

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeannette.villarreal.photo

Other: https://filmcronicos.tumblr.com/

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