Bringing Fashion to Branding with Jorge Suarez
Episode 80: Jorge Suarez
In Episode 80 of the Portrait System Podcast, Nikki Closser speaks with Jorge Suarez of Jorge Suarez Photography. Jorge began his career as a model and actor but found his true passion when he began working with black-and-white film photography with all its beautiful grain and artistic possibilities. Making friends and getting to know all about people is one of Jorge’s superpowers that enables him to make incredible connections with his clients that get him tons of referrals. It also helps him craft well-rounded photo packages that serve to build out his clients’ websites and social media presences. Jorge is based in sexy Miami which has so many beautiful outdoor locations to use as backdrops, and he also rents a few studio spaces that have beautiful natural light.
Be sure to listen to the whole podcast to hear how Jorge’s exciting career evolution and his focus on always learning has influenced his business now. Starting as a model in places like New York and Milan, he brings a fashion and art aesthetic to building brands for his clients, as well as an understanding that even the most beautiful people have insecurities.
As well, you’ll get a peek into the interesting new directions Jorge sees his career moving – developing ongoing quarterly sessions with clients and tapping the often-overlooked market of male clientele. You won’t want to miss it!
In this blog, you’ll find links to Jorge’s websites, some of his gorgeous photos, and answers to some bonus questions.
Get to Know Jorge Suarez
Q: What has been your biggest breakthrough in business?
A: Looking back, there are so many moments when I felt on top of the world. I can still remember experiencing the moments of pure joy, running and yelling with excitement. It was almost like walking on a cloud or being a kid in a candy store. When you get that phone call that you got the job on a project you really, really wanted! Or when a client views their images for the first time, and turns to you, and breaks down crying because you helped them truly see themselves when maybe they felt invisible their entire life. It is the most rewarding feeling, hearing a client tell you that your ability to capture their true authentic self helped them through possibly the most difficult time in their life. To be honest, I had no idea that photography would lead me to some of the happiest days of my life. I have met some of the most incredible humans alive. Everyone has a story, and I love getting to tell it behind the lens of my camera.
Q: Most artists have a point in their life when they knew this was meant for them. Do you have that moment?
A: I started my photography career through modeling. One of my close friends submitted images of me way back when I was a skinny little thing hungry for something out of this world. I followed a voice that urged me to move to New York City. It kept saying, “There is something for you there.” After I moved to New York City, I continued modeling, and I remember always asking several questions on set. I think some photographers were annoyed, but the truth is that I admired them and just wanted to be them so bad. So one summer, I finally got the guts to take a black-and-white summer course at a school called School of Visual Arts in NYC. This was the first time I learned the basics of a camera’s functions. I remember learning to use film – yes, I began old school – and print in the dark room. That summer, I knew that I had tapped into something big. I began photographing anything and everything that I saw. I began with nature, products, to nudes (hello I was in NYC), and many different types of fashion portraits. I was obsessed with printing in the darkroom. I really miss those days. The transition to digital was never an easy one for me. Even years later, I still feel like there is a piece missing in my work. Film was my love language. But times do change, and you must always be ready to pivot, and there will be plenty of those moments in your career.
Q: How did you push past fear when building your business?
A: Fear is a funny little thing. It always wants to creep in – especially when entering new territories, like this podcast I recorded with you all recently. This was the first time that I have ever done something like this, and I remember being full of fear. For many years, not knowing how to run a business and/or market myself was to the point of crippling anxiety. I’m really bad at writing, and so much of what we do needs words. I was never good at school, and I was the biggest procrastinator. Over the years, I’ve learned that when you learn to ask for help (or get to the point to hire people that fill your weaknesses), this opens yourself up to guidance from mentors. Then one day, you look up and realize that everything can change for the good. Years later, I know that fear is a state of mind and one that can be managed. When I really want something, I work through fear instead of allowing it to control me.
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment since starting Sue Bryce Education?
A: Systems!!! Implementing systems. Structure and discipline are a few things I was lacking that are now starting to be my strengths. I know that true success comes in the form of showing up everyday. I believe that consistency is the key to success.
Q: Making a connection with your subject is one of the most important parts of a great portrait. How do you make lasting connections with your clients?
A: Your connection with your subject starts the first time they ever see or hear about you. It can be on social media, at an event, or maybe a friend referred you. You have to be your most authentic self, and that is who they will meet and fall in love with. For me personally, during a shoot, I make myself the silly person in the room. I want to make sure that no matter what my client is feeling or working through in their mind and body that I put them at ease. My goal is to help my clients work through any insecurities they have. Over the years, I have learned that the more good looking a person is, typically the more insecurities they have hidden. Trust me on this – I have worked with models and actors for many years, and they were a hot mess when it came to self-esteem. To be honest, I could relate to them. We each have our own personal struggles and battles that we face. Just remember that humans are sensitive to body language, sounds, and smells.
Q: For someone starting out on their photography journey what advice would you have for them?
A: Take a million pictures – indoors, outdoors, low light, and at noon. Get comfortable with all types of light and situations. Make light your best friend. Know your camera functions so well that you can do it blind folded. Then, when it comes time to taking images with your subject, you can focus all of your energy toward capturing and engaging the most authentic version of them, instead of focusing on the technical side. The best thing I did was educate myself on each of the different types of photography and genres.
Q: Do you regret any decisions you have made in your business?
A: Not following my inner voice is a huge one. I also regret not listening to my intuition when I knew I should. I can’t forget to mention saying yes when I mean NO. The advice I would give to my younger self is to allow yourself to take breaks when your body, mind, and soul ask you to.
Q: Everyone has a favorite shoot – tell us about yours and why it’s your favorite.
A: I have photographed a few celebrities in my 10+ years. For an entire year, I was contracted by NBC Universal. I also had a stylist I knew from social media reach out to me and ask if I would be interested in setting up a photoshoot. He would bring his very important client – about to be one of the biggest Latin singers – but couldn’t say anything until the day she arrived. I remember having just photographed a male model who was also getting his pilot license at the time. I reached out to him for help in setting up a shoot at the airfield he works at. I remember setting the plane in position, praying for good weather because I didn’t have outdoor strobes, and then we saw the cars driving down the path to the location. I remember my stomach being in a big whirl. I remember thinking to myself, “I can’t believe this moment is happening, and now don’t mess it up Jorge!!” I knew that moment was a huge turning point and cemented my WHY I wanted to be a photographer
Q: Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
A: I have collected many photography books throughout the years. One of my biggest dreams is to have a published photography book focused on men. I would like to add being a Men’s Photographer as something that I am widely known for and become an industry leader in this genre. I plan to continue exploring different marketing avenues as we are a digital world now, and video is such a big part of that future. I am excited about the future of my photography business. I am more excited to get to continue making men and women feel confident and beautiful every time they are in front of my camera.
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Jorge Suarez of Jorge Suarez Photography