We had the good fortune of connecting with Chanel Fernandez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chanel, how do you think about risk?
All life choices that we face are associated with an element of risk, whether big or small, whether we consciously realize it or not. If you choose one path, you risk missing out on whatever may have happened down the path you did not choose. For me, it’s the element of risk that makes the reward of success that much greater. In a lot of ways, my entire career hinged on one of the biggest risks of my life: The decision to completely cut ties with my “old life” and pursue a fresh start in a new state. This one risk put me on a path to true fulfillment in both my personal and professional life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I was able to set myself apart with my art the moment I stopped trying to produce what I THOUGHT the world and my potential clients wanted to see. When I made the decision to re-commit to the art I loved to make— genuine moments, elements of drama, seeking out the unique over the expected—that was when I started attracting the attention of those who truly valued my creative vision. Although I wish I had had the courage to stay true to myself from the start, I’m proud of pushing myself each day, with every project, to bring my own voice forward and let it sing. Even when executing commissioned work, I never want to lose sight of what makes my photography stand out: An eye for the raw, the ethereal, the beautifully unpredictable. The support and encouragement of my partner Arron gave me the strength to pursue my love of photography as a career; from there, it has been a tireless commitment to providing an exceptional artistic experience for each woman who has stepped in front of my camera. I celebrate each and every one of them through the images we create together, as well as publicly when featuring them in my portfolio (with their consent). I believe that my genuine appreciation and passion for the women I serve and the art we make breeds more passion and appreciation amongst other women for themselves. Has it been easy? Absolutely not. But I have never once doubted that capturing women’s portraits is my calling; so the question is never, “Why is XYZ not working?”, but rather, “HOW do I make XYZ work?” I am still learning, every day. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to stop doubting myself, and stop undermining my own worth. If I lose sight of myself or my value, I can not provide the level of service I currently provide for my clients. The most important thing to know about my story is that producing photographic art is not a business for me. It’s an all-consuming passion, and I bring that passion to every project I pursue.
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.
For me, the heartbeat of any city is where you can get a sense of the people who live in it. Visiting Downtown is typically the best way to do this! My idea of a good time always revolves around sampling the best coffees, discovering the local and historic artwork/ art scene, and spending as much time outdoors as possible to take in all the views that the city has to offer.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have been incredibly blessed to be widely loved and supported by many different people in all phases of my life and creative growth, but the one constant has always been my mother. She has always fully supported me and never once made me doubt my ability to achieve my goals. I must also give a shout out to my loved one Arron McNeile, without whom I would not have had the courage to wholeheartedly pursue photography specifically as my career path.
Models: Marie-Claire Frederick, Kaylee Giza, Denise Scott