We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Padilla Halcón and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
If 2020 or even 2021 has brought out feelings of wanting to give up, go ahead and cut yourself a break. You’re not alone and this is not a reflection of your talent, worth or capabilities. You will bloom again. Take care of yourself. When you discover your love for photography, or any artistic expression, that love becomes apart of who you are. It becomes another means of communication, another sense, it changes the way you see the world. That will always be there for you. There’s nothing to give up. The business of photography is what can end in burn out. If you’re considering giving up, spend time reflecting on the root of why. My brand will evolve with me and reflect changes as I change. As with life, there will be highs and lows. If I decided to take five years away, I would still be shooting for myself because I love photography and it’s second nature. I could pick my business back up and start again. You don’t forget how to shoot or run a business. We put so much pressure on ourselves and by doing so, often kill our own magic, our own possibilities and excitement for storytelling. If you feel passionate about photography, if it feels part of your being, if you get those electric surges of connection and the sense of documenting the beauty and truth of life….keep going. Don’t worry about the lows, don’t worry if you haven’t booked anything in months, don’t compare yourself, just focus on how to shoot in ways that inspire you. If you find yourself trying to shoot like other photographers you follow, it’s time to mute or unfollow most of those accounts. It’s healthy to have inspiration but if you have lost touch with your own then you may be overwhelming yourself with too many influences. It’s vital to connect to your authentic perspective and expression. Allow your work and your brand to evolve with you, change is natural. Structuring your business in an intuitive way is freedom. If you want to thrive financially with photography, work hard to structure your dream brand. Learn about business, treat your clients like gold, hustle for your visions but also love yourself. Listen to your intuition and allow yourself to do this at any capacity that you truly enjoy so you never smother the fire. Let your business and craft evolve with you. The only time I’d suggest “giving up” is if you were never in love with photography to begin with, If there is no spark or it was just a venture you sought out for money or prestige. As Joseph Campbell would say “follow your bliss”.
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.
I’ve been fully self employed for about a decade now. When I think about it, I do feel proud of myself for being able to do that in LA and from a young age. I am self taught and managed to find my way after arriving in Los Angeles as a very angsty and lost teenager who skipped college. It wasn’t easy but I’ve had a lot of fun, travelled all over, collaborated with such amazing humans, created my own schedule (and been my own boss), have been able to bring people I love into photography and share in the journey together. It’s been a pretty freeing existence and has taught me to be adaptable, independent, hard working, self motivated and scrappy. I’ve ridden the highs and lows many times and have learned to get comfortable in the rhythm. I’m entering into a new phase where I feel centered and calm about my career even in the chaos of the world. The pandemic times have been really challenging but have also been a teacher about patience, time for other creative explorations and personal development, slowing down, taking care and not receiving self worth from being busy with a full calendar. We’ve gotten out of the city, for the time being, and have been hiking, swimming, crafting, gardening, exploring and living in the woods near Lake Tahoe in a gold rush town called Nevada City, CA. I come back to LA to shoot every other month or so. Since I’ve always done so much traveling for work, I can be based in LA part time now and part time in NorCal or wherever life takes me! I’ve learned so much from connecting to the elements and this year water especially taught me to be able to move and flow in new ways. I’m really excited to see how my work has been shaped by the past year and I’ve loved to be able to take so much time for self exploration. I always have my 35mm film camera in hand and am forever documenting nature, the beauty of being alive and all that inspires me. I especially want to put my focus on documenting inspiring women, collaborations with people, brands and organizations doing exciting and positive things in the world, nature, travel and adventure (always) and intimate gatherings, elopements and lifestyle. I get to learn so much about the world with my camera and that is something I’m truly grateful for.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love hosting friends when they visit LA. My husband is a chef, and the LA food scene is a dream, so when friends or family visit food is a very important part of the game plan. I’m also going to pretend, for the sake of my own enjoyment as I write this out, that Covid doesn’t exist and you could plan a trip to LA without a second thought. I hope you’re all being safe out there and we can have a good time together again soon. I also am sending love to all the restaurants, small businesses, artists, venues, food vendors and people who make LA such a vibrant, inspiring and compelling place to live. I hope you get the support you need to see this through. I spent over 6 years living in Topanga Canyon and love going to the beach, swimming in the ocean, hiking in the canyon, driving on the PCH and going to Malibu beaches. That is really my sweet spot in LA for activities. There aren’t as many of my favorite food options that way but always have fun grabbing fish tacos & beer at The Reel Inn and sitting in their outdoor patio across from the beach or packing a picnic for the beach or trails. While we are on the Westside, I love thrifting in Santa Monica and grabbing an eggplant parmesan sandwich from Bay Cities. If you’re really wanting to go big, I’d also grab some of their Italian desserts to share and some goodies for home like a fresh loaf of bread, cheese, etc. Santa Monica isn’t where I spent much time because it’s pretty touristy but it’s easy to walk to the beach and fun to longboard, skate, rent a scooter or bike along the boardwalk. Santa Monica also has a really wonderful farmer’s market and I like to go there in the mornings to pick out fresh, organic produce to cook dinner with friends. Samosa House and Bharat Bazaar in Culver City is a vegetarian, Indian food cafe and market and I crave their food all the time (do not skip the fresh, garlic naan). It’s not far from Santa Monica so I would add that to the list! Venice has changed a lot over the years but it is fun to walk around Abbot Kinney, grab a healthy juice or fresh bite from The Butcher’s Daughter, check out the shops, enjoy the sunshine, grab a coffee from Deus ex Machina or Great White, learn how to surf at Venice beach, stroll through the neighborhoods, grab a drink. I can never resist taking friends to Gjusta for a meal in Venice, if you go for breakfast their lox bagel is the real deal but also you can’t go wrong with your order so go with wild abandon. Eastside is really my jam outside of Topanga Canyon. I lived in Silverlake in my early twenties and fell hard for Highland Park after moving there. I think it’s easier to find authentic food, better prices and something for everyone on the Eastside. Plus, you’re close to DTLA and neighboring areas like Monterey Park where you can get delicious dumplings from Mama’s Lu Dumpling House. Now I’m just fantasizing about food…Dan dan noodles, lotus root salad and a cold beer or tea from Pine and Crane in Silverlake or Joy in Highland Park. Town Pizza, Donut Friend, Homestate tacos any time of day, Rick’s Produce Market for a healthy bite, Belle’s Bagels and endless taco and food trucks in Highland Park and Echo Park. In Atwater, I always stop for delicious Mediterranean food at Dune and go thrifting around the Eastside. If you’re also thrifty like me, the Rosebowl Flea Market is a must and seemingly endless. You can thank me later for telling you to wear comfortable shoes, bring water, a bag to carry your treasures, a hat and snacks. You can go bowling at Highland Park Bowl (LA’s oldest bowling alley), go to Walt’s Bar for drinks and pinball (and a hot dog if you must). There is no shortage of bars or places to eat and I love that my list of places to try is also never ending (Cuban food at El Cochinito is next). You can go on a hike in the LA forest, Eaton Canyon or hike up to see city views at Elysian Park Trail, Griffith Park or Ernest E Debs park. Dance yourself to happiness by taking a Pony Sweat class with your best friend, take a class at the countless yoga studios (I’ve especially loved the live music, candlelit evening classes at Kinship in Highland Park). Go get a tattoo in Echo Park, walk around Echo Park Lake and board a swan or have a picnic on the grass, explore the Sunset Junction in Silverlake. There are so many music venues, one of my favorite places to see a show is The Troubadour in West Hollywood. I’d also be sure to include some time in DTLA. Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Koreatown and Grand Central Market are so fun to walk around and explore. Kismet Falafel is a fave of mine in Grand Central Market, ramen in Little Tokyo, grab Sonoran-style tacos from Sonoratown or the extremely popular Howlin’ Ray’s for a Nashville style, fried chicken sandwiches. I also love getting goodies from the Japanese market Marukai. It’s a day well spent just exploring those downtown areas, going into shops, all the different plazas, obviously the food! The Arts District is lively and interesting especially if you can view some galleries. Check out The Broad, LACMA (swing by Little Ethiopia for lunch or dinner), The Getty, The Natural History Museum and any museum that strikes your interest. Hollywood Forever Cemetery outdoor movies + picnics in the summer, El Carmen for chill Mexican food, drinks and a Mexican wrestling theme decor in West Hollywood. Their papas flautas are legendary in my family. Head down to Long Beach and explore the thrift shops and hangouts. If you’re feeling like you want to mix it up, get out of town and head to Ojai for a few days, Joshua Tree or Palm Springs. LA feels as if it goes on forever, much like this summary of my favorite spots in the city. There’s something for everyone, go explore! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am grateful to my husband Adrian who has always been supportive of me being a free bird. Before the pandemic, I was traveling regularly for shoots and was never home for long periods of time. He’s has always been a good sport about holding down the home front and taking care of our three dogs while working full time as a Chef (and Knife Maker on the side). Adrian fully supports and encourages my creative self and happiness. We both value each other’s passions and artistic expressions greatly. That goes a long way!