We had the good fortune of connecting with Santiago Almada and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Santiago, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I wanted a career where I could make my own schedule and provide for the family I knew I wanted to have one day. Im also an avid traveler so being able to make my own schedule, be my own boss, and travel the world doing what I love was extremely appealing. I also enjoy the artistic freedom I have with every event I capture. The ability to get to know my clients, learn their vision and then bring it to life with my creative eye and ability to use light can’t be beat.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My photography is a style that utilizes natural light in conjunction with artificial light to create timeless photos that will be enjoyed just as much in 20 years as they are today. I don’t follow any of the editing trends. I work each wedding as if it were my own (i’ve been known to cry at a ceremony here and there) focusing on the relationships between the family and friends. This allows me to give my clients heartfelt images of close up moments as well as showcasing them in the beautiful environments they chose for their big events. I think my style has a great balance of environmental portraits that showcase the surroundings without losing the couple in the process. I didnt know I wanted to do photography in the beginning. I was all set to be a rock star in Mexico when my mom got the news she had breast cancer. I decided to put my plans on hold to stay and help my mom through her chemo. During that time I took a class in photography at a community college and fell in love with it. From there after my mom was better (cancer free now for over 10 years) I decided to go to college with a focus on photography. I took the leap to start my own business in 2013 while also working full time. It wasn’t easy working 40 hours a week and then going home to work more as well as filling my weekends with events. I sacrificed a lot of time and moments with my family and friends for the first few years in order to be able to quit my Monday-Friday and make Santiago Almada Photography my full time job. While I definitely lost touch with some people, others who completely understood are still close to me now. My parents were a huge support in those early years. I worked hard and hardly slept to get over the first couple of years, as well as saving every penny to buy more equipment. I didnt go anywhere or do anything other then work and eat. I can say that one lesson I learned is that family means everything to me. I never want to find myself in that kind of relentless work ever again. I’m extremely proud to say I have gotten myself to a place in my work that I have much more free time for friends and family as well as being able to provide for my growing family. I truly care for my clients and I’m so grateful that I was able to turn a hobby into a career where I can share in the special moments of so many people. I love my job so much and I love the connections that I make with so many wonderful people. Weddings, birthdays, maternity shoots, all of them are just magical moments i’m so happy to be able to capture for my clients and all the generations to come. Now that I have my own little one I realize even more how fleeting these moments can be and i’m so happy to be able to capture them to last.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would start with Coon’s bluff and possibly floating the salt river. I love being outside and coon’s bluff is such a beautiful versatile location year round. If we’re lucky we’ll get to see the wild horses hanging around the river. Downtown Gilbert is another favorite location. It has the small town feel that I miss from growing up in Mexico. My family and I love to walk around down there. We will go to Bergie’s coffee house on the weekend to enjoy their garden with wild love birds singing in the trees, listening to live music, while waiting for our name to come up for which ever brunch spot we choose that day usually snooze or OHSO. We never let a friend leave without taking them to Joes BBQ which has been a staple in downtown Gilbert for years, even before most of the other buildings were thought of. The potatoes are the size of your head! My wife and I would also take a drive to canyon lake stopping at the old mining town to learn about the old west, play in their little arcade, buy some fudge and enjoy a prickly pear margarita at the one site restaurant. Canyon lake is such a beautiful drive that showcases the dessert vegetation and mountains. Once you get to the lake it’s water is the perfect place to cool down and just sit and relax, we love camping there as well. It’s such a great location and only 45 minutes away. Music has always been a passion of mine, I play the electric, acoustic, and bass guitar as well as some drums here and there. The music instrument museum is in my opinion one of the best museums I’ve ever been to so we wouldn’t miss that location. My wife still tells everyone how I sat down at the harp and played it like a professional even though i’d never touched one before, lol she doesnt know its similar to having multiple guitars at once. The hands on room was such a fun way to test out different instruments i’d never seen or heard of. If there are any concerts in town we usually have tickets, live music is one our my favorite ways to relax and unwind. The superstition mountains are hands down my favorite mountain range. My wife and I got married with them as the backdrop so I always take my friends there to hike. At night we would bring out our cameras for some star trails. More than once my wife and I have set up camping trips to hit Sedona, Flagstaff, Horseshoe bend, Lake Powell, and Zion with friends visiting from all over the world. These are all beautiful locations that I love to photograph. For some authentic mexican food we would go to: TaCarbon for street style taco; La Parrilla Suiza for this beef skillet and Queso fundito; Chihuahua Seafood Restaurant for oysters, seafood cocktails, fried fish; we’d finish up at Frutilandia for mangos in cream, respados or at Tres Leches Cafe for amazing conchas with a variety of coffee drinks. Another place we absolutely love to eat which is a new experience fir a lot fo our international friends would be Korean BBQ at Gen Korean. My wife is great at creating food tours for our friends who visit from other countries. A trip to visit me is never complete with out my dad’s carne asada. We always have a BBQ and my dad cooks steaks the size of your dinner plate. My family is a huge part of my life so all my friends know my parents. Some of my most cherished memories involve hanging out on my parents back porch watching everyone mingle. My wife and I always talk about how our favorite memory from our wedding was seeing all our friends and family from different aspects of out lives get to know each other and make their own memories together.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents were a great support when I first started getting my own business off the ground but even more so before that stage. They instilled a strong sense of family love/appreciation in me growing up that i’ve been able to put into my work. They also supported me through college while I was getting my engineering degree in Multimedia Communications with an emphasis on photography in Mexico. Professionally i’ve been able to grow with the help of my extraordinary network Nina, Skyler and Frank. Always willing to help out with learning and working together to really bring our clients visions to life and expand our skills. My wife Heather has been a huge help on the business end to get organized, do website blogs, communicating with clients and just overall sharing the work load so that we get to spend more quality time together after a day of work. This allows me more time to rest and relax so that every client event gets my full 110%. Books: Essentialism by Greg Mckeown, helped me focus on what was important to focus on in my business and personal life.
Other: Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/salmadaweddingphotography