Making a Career Change: From Sales Manager to Photographer


Panoramic picture of Bogota

Bogota Panoramic by © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

It was a cloudy cold day in Bogotá, I was driving my car after work to the coach´s office, my mind was calmed but at the same time I had this same feeling of anxiety as when you’re waiting to kiss for the first time a girl; I knew this appointment was going to be important, but I never guessed what it would mean in my life.

When I arrived to the place, I went upstairs through a dark hallway and knocked in the brown wooden door of  Thuoper (a Colombian company that has a powerful tool for life coaching). The coach opened the door, a friendly bald intelligent guy stretch my hand and invited me to go to a small typical corporate meeting room, it was already 7 pm and nobody else was at that office besides us. After a short introduction he started the coaching session, driving me through the technique and using all his skills as an expert live coach to take me  exactly until the point where I reached my own answers to my life time question: what is my purpose in life?

The temperature was comfortable, his speech fluent, secure, professional and friendly, my mind was running through all my life memories and finally the couch stop the chat, asked me the decisive question and suddenly my brain (which was calmed until that moment) exploded into a boiling pot of images and every blurred thought in my life became sharp: I understood that I was not using my brain´s natural abilities but on the contrary I was using exactly the ones I was weaker during my last 9 years when I started studying  industrial engineer (the career that I graduated from). What that meant is that I was forcing to maximum capacity my brain, using it in a wrong way influenced for all the conservative external influences that shape my life until that day and the worst: not using and taking advantage of my natural talents.

Rainbow in the Andes - © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Rainbow in the Andes by © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

After that moment I started a long search that lasted  3 years to understand where should I address my life.  I read tons of books, watched hundreds of movies, talked to dozens of people and tried some different options to discover that thing that I was really passionate for and you know what? the  answered was always inside of me, my mind and soul have known this answer since the first day I had conscience but the society, the rules and the city where I lived my childhood did a great job by burying deep inside of me that treasure diamond of my passion.

One year after, I received an email saying that my application to a master in public relations in an important university of USA was rejected, I had worked during 6 months, every day to enter to this master, so I started to feel completely disappointed and totally lost in my live, I put all my hopes into reaching that goal of the master but it didn’t happen. Days after, I decided to hear for the first time in my live my inner voice and made the decision to start a small course of photography (which I have always wanted to do), hoping to clean up my mind and soul from all that long battle to find my purpose in live.

The good news are that I fell in love with photography since the first minute of my first class from the small course and I kept doing some other small courses, but it wasn’t until the day I watch the Steve Jobs video at Stanford University when every single piece of the puzzle fit perfectly and I was able to connect all the dots in past to make the final decision to become a photographer. Yea, those dots were always there, around me and I didn’t see them before:

  • My addiction as a child and the tons of hours I spent watching the pictures of my mom’s magazines without even knowing how to read.
  • The using of a camera since my first years as a boy scout and the curiosity about the old Kodak camera from my Great Grand Father that we still keep at my home town.
  • The thousands of pictures I took when I was an exchange student in Kansas.  Me, as person was never inside of the frame of them but they were about moments or places that I lived, which for my mom was the worst thing not seeing my inside all those places I visited in USA, but now I know it was because I enjoyed to show on those pictures the reality that I was seeing through my eyes more than showing that I was physically in those places.
  • The huge wall I had in my room when I was an adolescent full of all the pictures from fashion campaigns from the 90’s that I use to cut off from magazines.
  • And finally my love as an adult to buy paintings from different artist for the deco of my flat.

All these things were the ones that came genuinely from my interior because I loved doing them and had an immense joy to develop, those ones were the true expressions of my interior and all of them were related to visual arts.

Picture by Colette L Photographie.

Picture by Colette L Photographie.

The rest is history: 3 years later I decided to sell everything I got from my 12 years of work in marketing and sales to come to Paris and become a newborn fashion photographer enjoying the passion for work everyday.

It´s not easy to start from zero again, living in a foreign country, developing an activity where you have no experience, having no connections, learning a new language, understanding another culture, etc. a 180 degree life change, but I  can assure you that this experience at my 38’s has been the most exciting experience I have ever had. At the end we have just one life to live and to spend it doing something you don’t feel passion for I feel is a waste… time is the only thing you can not buy to get it back afterwards.

Life will always show you the way and deep inside (heart, soul, mind or spirit) you will always know what is that thing that you love to do in your life, so my advice is to open your eyes to the opportunities you get, even though at the moment those aren´t  the ones you´re looking for and open the ears of your inner self , it will always be screaming at you what’s that thing that you truly love. Don´t let  the external influences block your inside call and don’t be afraid,  the worst thing that could happen is that you end up enriching your life by meeting a new world full of knowledge, experiences, people, languages, cultures and ways to see life.

Are you ready to make the change?

Firma Blogcropped-lac201308120029.jpg

Louvre Museum

The Louvre Pyramid by © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

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