We had the good fortune of connecting with Julie Pauline and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julie Pauline, how do you think about risk?
As an artist who is an introvert, everything you do feels like a risk. One of my biggest challenges not only as a photographer but as a person is managing my shyness. I often reiterate to people that I am not just a shy person; I am also an introvert and a naturally reserved person. I can find it difficult to express myself completely in certain social situations. Whenever I doubt myself too much, it usually comes from the point of view that no one will understand or appreciate what I’m capturing or sharing, and so I remind myself that there are others like you; who see what you see and appreciate what you appreciate in the world. So don’t worry so much about those who might not understand because in the end it will be worth connecting with those who do. Taking risks in my career has opened new paths for me. Over the years I’ve jumped around a bit and tried different roles in photography and film production. My style of photography has always been a documentary style, that’s my passion. I started out photographing local events and concerts, particularly bands and musicians in the local music scene of South Florida back in 2012, that’s when I created Sugar Pill Photography. So professionally I was working as an event photographer and that was the base of my work. In later years my focus turned to film and media production and then transitioned into travel/street/documentary. Since I began studying photography, I was always interested in filmmaking, but my photo program didn’t cross over into many film courses. After I graduated, I took a job as a product photographer and I worked in a commercial studio in an office for over a year. But it wasn’t fulfilling for me and I wasn’t interested in continuing in that direction in general, so I quit that job and decided to start over. I took advantage of that newfound free time and I did a volunteer trip abroad in Europe for a few months. That’s when I began to experiment more with video and the base of my work began to gravitate more towards street and documentary photography. When I returned home I wanted find a job in production, I was still curious about filmmaking, but only having professional experience as a photographer I felt quite limited. I am grateful to have met the team of local production company D’Vision Indie Films after they hired me to cover a film screening event of theirs and they took me under their wing. I got to work hands on all kinds of projects: on set, on location, everything from music videos, to commercials, short films, discussion panels, etc. I joined them as a behind the scenes photographer (which was like a dream come true because that is what I do on my own in my free time) but since they were a small team, depending on the project and who was available, I was about to pitch in and assist in other areas; sometimes just as an assistant that sets up equipment, or being a second videographer or assisting the director of photography. I even had the opportunity to work on various film sets of other production companies. Being able to be a part of that team opened a whole new creative world and a new circle full of connections. It was exactly what I was aspiring to do at the time, it was an amazing year and it motivated me so much to keep learning and keep growing. Just because you studied one thing, doesn’t mean you can’t transition into another area. If you’re not happy with a job, an environment or a specific project that you’re investing your time and energy into, you can always switch, transition, change. You shouldn’t be afraid to start from scratch and build from the ground up. If you’re committed to your decision you can grow and evolve. In my personal life, the biggest risk I ever took was when I traveled alone and briefly lived abroad. After my first volunteer trip, I wanted to return to Europe to spend more time there. After working in production for a year, I went back to Naples, Italy on my own account, with just one friend there to help me out. I didn’t have a good grasp of the language, I could understand some Italian but I couldn’t speak. I hadn’t decided to spend all of my time in that city yet, but when I woke up there the second morning I thought to myself, “You know what, I really like it here. I’m going to spend all my time here and see what I can do.” I rented a room in an apartment for university students and after about three months I met wonderful people, made a couple of good friends, I picked up a lot of Italian and I got to know the city on a deeper level through the people, which was my goal. That experience opened so many doors for me, both literally and figuratively. The biggest transformation always comes from within. Some days I still can’t believe I did that, that I went alone so far away to place where I didn’t really know anyone, without much of a plan, just some ideas and some good people to help me out. In retrospect I realized how risky that had been, to throw myself out of my comfort zone and to be vulnerable in that manner. I thank God for that wonderful experience because I could not have done it on my own. Those two trips really changed my perspective going forward. I learned many things about the world but I learned the most about myself, where I come from, the kind of person I am and what kind of life I’d like to build for myself. If I had stuck with that commercial job or any other where I wasn’t happy and had just stayed in Miami, I definitely would not be the person that I’ve become today. At the time I had no idea all that I would see and do, or how far I would go, especially being a timid person. I just wanted to do something different. I needed a change. You need space to grow, to experiment, to evolve. If you keep going forward no matter how slow, when you turn around one day you will see all the progress you’ve made. As long as you stay true to what it is you love to do, your risks will always feel worth it to you, they will always be fulfilling.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I love to document, to capture people in their environments, in their element. Whether it’s a special occasion or an everyday task of life, my passion now for documenting what’s around me has come from a desire to share with others a place, a world, a life that they may not have seen or experienced before. We all tend to dismiss the mundane routine everyday things, but what may seem obvious or boring to one person may be something completely different and unknown to someone else. The world is such a diverse place and while we may hear of the big wonders and attractions of other countries, cultures, and ecosystems, there is always a curiosity of how the average person lives. It goes deeper than that and not until you experience it someway, whether in person or virtually do you realize, “I never thought about that, I never knew that or realized that that is normal for that place.”. Oftentimes the everyday life of people becomes the fascination. I like to create work that tells a story, that makes you pause and wonder, “What’s going on here, what are they doing, where are they going?” That’s the beauty behind it for me, the unknown story. Many of the people I capture are strangers, tourists, locals, pedestrians, passerbyers, etc. I love to people watch and be around people in crowds in public settings. I thrive in that kind of environment, I feed off of that ambiance. I feel I’ve become a kind of “behind the scenes of life” wherever I go. I also grew to have a newfound appreciation for nature during my travels and so I began to incorporate more of the environment and the landscape around my subjects. I love to capture these moments of nature and humanity combined, subtly including a human element. I’m excited to share what I see and experience in the world with others. I’ve always had an interest in traveling and experiencing other cultures. It makes me very excited to be in a place I’ve never been before, or better yet, a place I never thought I would be, period. I’m very grateful for all the traveling I’ve been able to do, I know that many people don’t have the opportunity or the flexibility to travel as far and for as long as they might want. The things I capture and share are with the intent to introduce, inform, and hopefully give a better understanding of the place and the people of where I am, starting with my own home of Miami in Florida. I’m an observer and I like to capture what’s around me. I like to share what I encounter with others because they might not be able to see it themselves in person and I’d like to recreate the experience of being in that place or moment. I began to focus more on this perspective after spending time abroad because I suddenly had an audience of people who didn’t really know where I was from; for example some had never been to the US and on the other hand, when I returned home I had friends who had never been to Europe. So as this curiosity went both ways, I began to feel that I had a lot to share in respect to both perspectives. The cultural exchange for me is the best. I enjoy hearing things of other people’s everyday lives and sharing my own as well to those who are curious. Once again, as a shy introvert I’m proud of myself for never having stopped doing what I love and for continuing to share my work with others. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and to become mentally exhausted. It can be incredibly stressful in the moment when you’re taking on a job like covering an event, but it is always rewarding. I love photographing people, however I have always been quite shy about it, more than the average person. For me it has been so difficult and intimidating to approach people or to take a picture without them noticing and becoming self conscious, but if you never ask or take the risk the answer will always be no. If I don’t try to take a picture, I won’t have a picture. The biggest challenge for me was not to compare myself to other photographers, often times I would question myself because I felt I wasn’t assertive or outgoing enough in certain jobs. I’ve learned to focus on my personal strengths and to use them to my advantage. You need to learn to stay true to who you are and how you approach situations. In the end, I’m really happy that I pursued this art form because if I hadn’t I would have regretted it. It’s the one thing I love to do that I want to do, everyday, everywhere, with everyone.
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?
Miami Beach, it’s all about the beach! South Pointe Park is my favorite place in all of Miami, in my opinion it’s also the best spot on the beach. I’d love to show them all the beauty Miami and Florida has to offer, so I’d take them to places like Key Biscayne (Hobie Beach, Crandon Park, and Cape Florida State Park or “el farrito” as we call it), a trip out to the Everglades (Shark Valley for bike riding!), even drive down to the keys, stop at Gilbert’s, Robbie’s, and the Seven Mile Bridge at sunset is a must! Driving through the Redlands is fun too and stopping at local favorites like Robert is Here Fruit Stand, the Fruit and Spice Park, and Schnebly Winery (they make wine out of tropical fruits!) Back in Miami, I’d take them to check out Wynwood (Gramps and BoxElder are my fave spots), hop over to Museum Park (they have yoga sessions and sometimes you can spot dolphins or manatees in the bay!), and pass by Brickell all the way down to Coconut Grove. A rooftop bar to watch the sunset and the city skyline come to life is always awesome (I like to take my guests to the Langford Hotel’s rooftop patio in downtown). I’d take them to have Cuban food at Versailles, have Cuban coffee, pastelitos, all that delicious stuff, show them Calle Ocho and Little Havana. Miami is such a diverse and international hub nestled in a beautiful tropical environment, so I love to share all that abundance of culture and nature with visitors.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I thank God and my parents for all of their love and support. No matter what I have decided to pursue, they have always believed in me and supported me, and I could not have achieved all that I have if not for them by my side. I’d also like to thank the team and my friends from D’Vision, my good friends in Europe for all their kindness, generosity, and support (thank you for helping out this purple haired American girl on her journey!) Also Steven Salgado for recommending me for Shoutout Miami, he was one of the directors I had the pleasure of working with during my time with D’Vision and he is still a great inspiration for me today, thank you Steven!
© 2017-2020 Julie Pauline Giovanni Musollini BoncitaMIA