Paolo Azarraga has established himself as one of the most sought after photographers and directors throughout North America. In recent years, Toronto-based Azarraga has added a multitude of clients to his résumé, including OVO Sound, Hypebeast, Been Trill, PartyNextDoor, and Julian Cruz, to name a few. The young and talented Azarraga can also be found shooting visuals for menswear retailer Nomad, and creative platform Fucking Young! Magazine. So what does the life of a creative in the photography world look like? We're about to find out.
DNP: What does a typical day look like for you?
Paolo: Usually wake up at 9:00am, quickly check my instagram and emails in bed and then head to the washroom to take my morning deuce and shower. I’ll usually cook-up a nice breakfast and eat it while browsing for new music on soundcloud. By the time 11:30am-12:00pm hits, I’ll walk to Nomad where I’ll be shooting and editing stuff for their website. Lately after work, I’ve been just keeping low and just head straight back home and watch a couple of movies and do it again the next day. That’s my usual Monday - Friday, but my weekends are really random, sometimes I’ll have a shoot or chill with some homies or spend a whole Saturday watching Kung-Fu movies.
DNP: What projects have you recently been working on?
Paolo: I shot a lot this year and its not even done, its been pretty crazy. The last three recent things I shot that are still coming out is a lookbook for The Legend’s League, A beauty editorial for Chloe Magazine and 3 fashion short videos for Aveda Canada’s hairstyling show in London, UK. This year has been a blessing, but also a rough one personally.
DNP: What do you find most challenging and exciting about your career?
Paolo: One of the most challenging things for me is learning how to articulate my vision into words. Often times when I explain ideas to clients, it goes over their heads and they won’t run with it. I end up giving into what they want but then I’ll post my version of how I want the project to look on my website, a director’s cut. This is where I find it ironic because most of the stuff on my site are all outtake shots from most of my shoots and that’s what people see and hire me for.
The most exciting part that I love about my career is the constant change of environment and the new and beautiful people that come along with it. I love location scouting and shooting in nature. That’s my shit! I also look forward to the food catering on set haha.
DNP: Where does your passion derive from?
Paolo: I don’t know really. Being an only child, I’ve always been stuck in my own imagination and I’ve always had the inclination to create stuff to entertain myself. My friends have a lot to do with it, they’re all creatives and we all support each other to be great, I’m really thankful for them. But as I’m writing this, I can actually pinpoint it to three people in my life Greg Washington, Jmac and Mila Victoria.
Greg, without knowing saved me from what I was about to get myself into at the time and brought me as an intern to help him with a online magazine called Inquiringmind Magazine back in 2008. That’s where I finally learned my passion and hustle.
Jmac was my go to barber at the time and therapist you could say. He was the first person to believe in my talent when I was coming out of school. His website was my first freelance gig ever. He also sold me my first camera that started my career in photography.
Mila is a makeup artist I met randomly along the way and became the greatest of friends. She was the person who made me love my work and really go for it full-time. She snowballed my career in fashion and beauty. She’s the heart of it all, we still work together from time to time.
DNP: How do you manage a healthy work/life balance?
Paolo: Took a while to figure out the perfect balance but I think I have it now. You always have to give time for yourself no matter what and know your priorities. Learning to rest will help you be more productive. That whole “Sleep is the cousin of death” mentality doesn’t work for everyone. Know yourself and your limits. As an artist, you need to live life to fuel your creativity.
DNP: What does success look like to you?
Paolo: The smile on my mom’s face after I show and tell her about my work.
DNP: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Paolo: I haven’t done it yet, but at the moment, I think its the work I did for Aveda Canada. I had to created the stage visuals - photos and 3 short videos - for their hairstyling show in London, UK.
DNP: What’s one word that best describes your personality?
DNP: What is your greatest fear?
Paolo: Failing as an artist. Its hard out here and money is not always there.
DNP: What is your most treasured possession?
Paolo: My camera. I can’t live without it, literally.
DNP: If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Paolo: I really don’t know. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
DNP: Do you have any upcoming projects in the pipeline?
Paolo: I always do, but I don’t want to say anything about it until it happens. I feel like if I speak on something that hasn’t happened yet, it could jinx it.
DNP: Where is your favorite place to travel and why?
Paolo: I went to Europe last year and that trip was amazing, my favorite was Barcelona. The lifestyle, the food, the people and architecture was everything. So laid back there.
DNP: Where would you most like to live?
Paolo: Toronto. I love it here.
DNP: How do you spend your down time?
Paolo: I watch a lot of movies, eat good, I love to cook and just chill with my friends. Normal shit.
DNP: If you could spend a day with any person (living or dead), who would it be and why?
Paolo: My Dad. I wish we spent more time together while he was alive. I only saw him 3 times in my life. But the times we saw each other it was like time never passed.
DNP: If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
Paolo: Hmm don’t know maybe a cat? or a panda? They seem to have a very relaxed lifestyles haha I don’t know.
DNP: Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Paolo: I’m the worst to ask advice from really, but these are the things I keep in mind. Surround yourself with people who encourage and make you better. You can’t do everything by yourself. Treat everyone equally. Listen to what everyone has to say, good and bad. Never worry about other peoples success. Always count your blessings and make the best with what you have. Everything that is meant for you will happen, just be patient.