We had the good fortune of connecting with Monica Aguiñaga and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Monica, how has your pespective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When it comes to work life balance I have learned the hard way how crucial it is to make time to rest and recharge. When I was younger I had this mindset that if I wasn’t on hustle mode 24/7, that if I wasn’t being “productive” all the time I wasn’t going to achieve my goals. It took me a long time to admit that I needed breaks from working & creating to nurture myself. I think all creatives know this guilty feeling it sometimes creeps when you’re resting. It’s ok to do things that soothe your soul; more often than not this is when you’ll find your next best idea.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I had the pleasure to work on some great projects with talented people in my short career. When starting out I said yes to projects even thought I didn’t feel ready (I still don’t feel ready sometimes!) My reasoning behind it was if someone asked me to be their photographer is because they liked my style and thought I was a good fit and could produce good work. The best advice I can give is to figure things out as you go along. Truth is, you never feel ready. The biggest challenge I have to overcome on a constant basis is imposter syndrome. a common feeling among many creatives; I have found the best way to fight these thoughts is to avoid comparing yourself and your work to other creatives and to stop aiming for perfection. Also, learning to accept honest feedback without taking it personally is crucial to improve your craft and learn. I feel proud of the work I’ve done so far and I’m excited to take on new projects this year.
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?
One of my favorite things about Miami is that you get to experience many cultures. A fun week long trip would look like this: Day 1- Starting our trip with an absolutely must: South Beach. Back when I used to live in South Beach, I’d ride my bike to South Pointe Park and spend a lovely morning sunbathing and swimming in the warm water. For lunch, Joe’s Stone Crab is highly recommended! (I always get the crab cakes!). Ocean Drive is a fun street to walk around full of iconic Art Deco architecture. Another spot that I always like to visit is Espanola Way, it’s a charming little street with good options for dinner. Day 2- It’s fun to take out of town visitors to Calle 8 so they can feel the Cuban experience in Miami. You have to try a Cuban sandwich & cuban coffee when you’re here, I love Sandguich de Miami and I always get croquetas w/ a cortadito. Calle 8 is really fun at night, too; they’re a lot of places where you can listen to latin music & have fun. Day 3- Wynwood has become a touristic spot that’s worth the visit. First off, breakfast at Zak the Baker is not to be missed. Wynwood Walls is an outdoor venue full of amazing murals and it’s perfect for cute Instagram pictures; it’s always fun to walk around the neighborhood and check out other murals by renowned artists. For happy hour KYU (a modern Asian spot) is my personal favorite. Make sure you order the fried chicken & the roasted cauliflower. Day 4- An absolute must place to visit is the Venetian Pool, is the only swimming pool on the National Register of Historic Places. It features a lovely waterfall and coral rock formations. After swimming, the perfect spot for a lunch is the Biltmore Hotel, a legendary hotel built in 1926. In the afternoon, a visit to the Viscaya Museum & Gardens is the perfect way to end our day. Day 5- One place that not everybody knows about is the Coral Castle, located in Homestead (it’s worth the drive!). Once you’re in the area, the Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery is a fun place to eat & taste their delicious wines made of tropical fruits. You can taste avocado wine or guava wine, among many other flavors!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
HGAB Studios has been great for me to connect with other creatives & keep learning. HGAB Studios is a photo studio & workspace that provides great resources for creators; they organize amazing events, workshops & contests and it’s a great way to network and flex those creativity muscles. They have definitely me helped feel part of the creative community in Miami.
Monica portrait by Jessica Whitaker