We had the good fortune of connecting with Paolo Fortades and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Paolo, why did you pursue a creative career?
I decided to pursue an artistic career because all the non-artistic and non-creative careers did not excite me as much, if at all. I was originally on the path to being an accountant because I was told that it was the safest and most comfortable path to go down. The problem was I would always find myself falling asleep whenever I had to do it. The other problem was that whenever I found myself doing photography, I wouldn’t be able to sleep. One day I showed up late to my bookkeeping job and got fired. I was up late the night before editing photos from an event gig. The original next step was to start studying for the CPA exam so I could get jobs doing peoples’ taxes. I started to think about more exciting career paths once I realized how long that was gonna take. I eventually decided to focus only on photography. Looking back, it was a no brainer, given how much I enjoyed doing it. It took me longer than most to finally start thinking for myself and what was best for me, but it’s all good. I’m glad it even happened at all.

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
This is a tough question. When I create, I never think of how what I’m making can be different from everything else that is out there. Parallel thinking and the massive number of people who are pursuing the same craft I am makes that almost impossible. ::PAUSE:: I love color, intensity, vibrancy, and positivity, so I try my best to bring that out in my work. With that said, I also have an appreciation for the dark side of life. I believe there is beauty in people, places, and stories that most people would find off-putting. The blending of those two extremes is something I take into consideration when I edit photos and decide who, what, and where to shoot next.

I am most excited about the future. To be more personal and specific, I’m looking forward to creating more videos, taking more photos, collaborating with more people, and telling more stories. Failing but not stopping seems to be the main thing that has gotten me to where I am today, professionally. Dealing with failure was easy because I grew up playing sports so I’m very much used to not taking things personally when it comes to failures. Failing allowed me to learn what to do and what not to do the next time. Not stopping is easy too because I enjoy what I do and the whole process that comes along with it. The hardest part about the journey was the very beginning part of it. For the longest time I saw photography/art as just a hobby that I would never be able to make money from. My world was literally devoid of any artists to look up to. None of the people I was surrounded by at the schools I went to were into art. When it came to family, there was and still is no one else in my family pursuing a career in visual arts. So before making that decision to switch paths, I had to undo many years of familial and cultural conditioning. The idea of not wanting to make use of an accounting degree, this thing that took me 5 years to get, to pursue this other thing that almost anyone can dive into, in a city that is saturated with people doing the same thing, was terrifying. My dad and I had a screaming match/falling out because of this. There was lots of crying involved. I had family members calling me urging me to stick with accounting. It was a wild moment in time. Eventually I completely accepted the artistic path and any obstacles that could possibly come with it. I realized that I would rather spend most of my time doing something I enjoyed doing rather than something that put me to sleep because of how boring it is. I haven’t looked back until now, because I’m answering this question, haha. In hindsight, everything that has happened looks and feels like something out of my control that I can’t give myself credit for. The idea of an artistic career seems so obvious now. However, in the heat of that time, it felt like such a difficult decision to make. Getting through that weird, unsure of what to do, period in my life and making that decision is what I’m most proud of so far.

The biggest lesson that I have learned so far is that there is no such thing as perfect. You never really know what’s going to happen next, so you need to figure out how to adapt and roll with the punches as life evolves and shit happens, good or bad. I hope my work gives people inspiration to do something that excites them and the people around them in a positive way. If that doesn’t happen, I hope that my work allows people to see or think about things in a way they normally would not have thought about. At the very least, I hope my work allows people to feel something.

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?
If my best friend was visiting the area we wouldn’t go anywhere. At the time of this interview, Covid-19 is happening and so are massive wildfires. If those two things were not happening, I would make sure we got up for sunrise for the following places: Griffith Observatory – This place is usually crowded and filled with cars, which to me, makes me never wanna go, but when you’re there at like 5AM, when no one else is around, overlooking the city as it wakes up, its a totally different experience. There’s something magical about it. And if you’re lucky enough to be there as fog rolls in, forget about it. Venice Beach – Same with Venice Beach. Another place that’s usually crowded, which is fine because of all the interesting people here. But again, there is something magical about this place when you have it all to yourself. Other places we would go, sunrise or not: DTLA – All of it. LA River – The LA river is fascinating. I would take my friends to the part of the river that runs next to Griffith Park. The LA Zoo area part of Griffith Park to be specific. It is an interesting example of what happens when urban and nature have dirty anal sex. Skid Row – If my friends were delusional about what LA is like, I would take them here. This place gives you the best taste of what the homeless problem is like. I might take them to a food kitchen and make meals for people. Really shows you that LA isn’t all roses and unicorns. Joshua Tree – The otherworldly feeling you can get from the desert is not tooooo far from LA. Its a 2 hour drive, but I still consider that part of the LA experience, so I’d make sure we went there. In addition to the places I just mentioned, I would make sure we checked out as many art galleries as possible. There are too many to list here but some that come to mind immediately are: Superchief Gallery LA RSVP Gallery The Getty (Center and Villa) The Broad When it comes to food, I would make sure to take them to the following places: Papa Cristos for amazing Greek food Petite Peso for amazing Filipino food Leo’s Tacos for amazing late night el pastor tacos Koreatown for amazing Korean BBQ

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout to my mom and Lorenzo Alvarez for believing in and supporting me during dark times. Shoutout to Drew Pulig and Alina Nguyen. Thank you for all the opportunities you sent my way when I was starting out. Shoutout to Bobbyhundreds for creating a blog that allowed me to escape the hellhole of a world I was trapped in as a kid. Shoutout to all the people I’ve met and collaborated with. Thanks for the fun times. Shoutout to all the GOATs who came before me and helped pave a way. Thanks for the inspiration. Shoutout to life for giving me the opportunity to do my thing in this simulation. It’s been a wild and fun ride so far.

Website: paolofortades.com
Instagram: instagram.com/paolo.fortades
Email: paolo@paolofortades.com

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