Warsaw Mercedes Benz Fashion Weekend

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Last weekend I was invited by fashion designer Jessica Conzen to the fashion weekend in Warsaw. This was a new opportunity to see a new city, meet new people and share another adventure with Jessica, I’m really thankful with her for this opportunity, thanks again Jessica Conzen!!!

Warsaw was a city that intrigued me a lot, I’ve never been before in eastern Europe countries, so I had the idea in my mind of a city with this old Soviet Union look and ambience. All due to the old pictures I had in my mind from that era, to be more descriptive: a lugubrious, dark ,cold, colorless visual memories were the ones that seized my mind with the name of Warsaw.

Warsaw Mercedes Benz Fashion Weekend

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Fortunately life is full of surprises, those big ones that everybody love to have and even more when I had my head full of mistaken visual ideas about Warsaw. What happened was that I discovered a hidden treasure in Poland… Warsaw is the most beautiful, colorful, welcoming and luminous city I’ve ever seen in Europe. I was completely astonished with the friendliness of the people, it’s a city that seems to be painted with a magical colorbox, with a delicious offer of typical restaurants and the cherry in the pie is the beautiful women that appear in front of your eyes everywhere!!!.  So if you haven’t been in Warsaw and were not planing to go, I strongly advice you to included in your next trip.

In the other hand the fashion weekend was very interesting, there were many different designers from Poland and easter Europe countries like Eva GrygoChatty,  L.Rousseau Urban CoutureRina CossackDawid TomaszewskiŁukasz Jemioł and some other international ones like Natalia Rivera, Custo Barcelona and Leyre Valiente. It was the first time Mercedes Benz organized a fashion in weekend in Warsaw and the experience was very interesting to see what’s going on in this side of Europe.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

© L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

This time the experience with Jessica Conzen was intense, we were busy since 6:30 am the day of the show, she was all the time concentrated in preparing the show with the most professional polish assistant she could ever had: Monika Pod and me going around all the event capturing what attracted my attention. At the end, I just have to say that as always Jessica Conzen´s show was marvelous, I really had fun working in this backstage merged with so many different designers in an small space.

I tryed to cover the event in a different way, being in backstage and also in the catwalk, trying to show what was going on from my point of view, trying to show more about the whole story of what goes on in one day of a fashion weekend. I was really blessed to have such a great light the day of the show: there were these huge 5 meters long windows that allowed a waterfall of light to come in and touch everything to make it more interesting, so here are the pictures and I hope you enjoy them!



Fashion Designer Claudia Paz for Pashioncase

Claudia Paz Designs - © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Claudia Paz Designs – © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

The first time I met Claudia was in a cafe called Zaza by Rue de Rivoli, a nice chic parisian place at Le Marais the fashion neighborhood of Paris.  I ordered a beer while I was waiting for her and couple minutes later the Bolivian designer arrived with her latin american look strongly influenced for the Parisian style. She´s been living in Paris the last 10 years and you can tell by the way she dresses and the french expressions that escape out of her conversation from time to time.

I contacted Claudia because I was interested to know her passion story and how she has developed a brand where the main texture is the very Bolivian fabric of Alpaca, all in the middle of Paris a city that is know for glamour and sophistication.  So during that first meeting, we arranged a day of shooting at her workshop near the Arc the Triumph to get to know closer her story.

Claudia Paz by LACuellar - © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Claudia Paz by LACuellar – © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

The day of the shooting, I arrived to her Atelier, we did the shoot and we talked a lot; while she was smoking one of those long, slim, girly Vogue cigarettes this is what she told me about her life, her dreams, her brand and history:

Claudia started in fashion for passion after her parents gave her a sewing machine when she was only 12 years old, at that age she “started to make clothes, without know how to do it, just by following her instinct” as she said. At the same time she was drawing a lot and the first clothes she made were for her parents, her sister and after for the people that was around her. When she was 17 she started doing some catwalks with her clothes in Bolivia in a really empiric way.

From those beginnings she always had clear on her mind that she wanted to come to Paris and develop herself as a fashion designer, so she started studying french and thanks to the help of a teacher she applied to one of the most important fashion schools of the world called ESMOD. To get in the school, she had to compete agains other candidates, she presented her application and got accepted, immediately opening the door for her dream to live in the city of lights and develop as a fashion designer.

Claudia Paz by LACuellar - © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

Claudia Paz by LACuellar – © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

She graduated with honors from the ESMOD and started to work with big brands as Givenchy and Tara Jarmon and some other small ones. All these different works gave her the necessary experience to know how the fashion world works and how to develop a fashion brand. Back on those days, working for these important brands, she met for the first time the Alpaca and right away she felt a strong connection with the fabric since it comes from the roots of her country of origine.

After 4 years of working for other brands, she decided to start her own brand “Claudia Paz” working with the alpaca as its main fabric, using the Bolivian vision but with the influence of the Parisian experience, as she says “I started working with Bolivia showing that Alpaca comes from there, but in a different approach, not in the typic ethnic way that you can see everywhere”

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The concept that she’s been developing with her brand is to create clothing for woman, made 100% with alpaca, with a high quality, exclusiveness and with the Parisian style but with the goal of having them in an accesible price for the market, which was her most important challenge because as we all know the Alpaca is a very expensive fabric. In the other hand, she wanted to work directly with the ethnic craftsmen communities who live in the Bolivian plateau who have worked with Alpaca for centuries; her idea was to learn a lot from them and at the same time teach them a lot of parisian techniques she already knew.

Model: Ashley Revollo from Woman Model Management

Now days, all of her clothes are made in those communities, helping them to have a new income and at the same time showing in Paris the know-how of Bolivian culture. Her objective is to continue establishing her brand in Paris, she also has already been selling in Japan and Switzerland and she’s very interested also in the markets of Australia, USA and China.

I asked her to tell me what was inspiring her for her next collections, and she told me that she has been lately really influenced by Cactus, since this is a plant that you can find all around the Bolivian plateau and also its green color reassembles the color of that magnificent land…she really loves green color and the savage and rustic idea that the cactus incarnates.

Finally I want to say that for the designers, I’m interested to show through my photography my vision of the environment where they work, their collections, portrayed them with something related to them and also to merge them with his/her inspirations.

For this photoshoot we worked in collaboration with Ashley Revollo from Woman Model Management Paris, an amazing half Cuban half Colombian model that lives in Miami but was in Paris for work during couple of weeks.

Obviously, as I always said, the spirit of Pashioncase is to have Natural Pictures, so there is No Make Up, No Hair Dressing and of course No Skin Retouch. 

Thanks a lot again to Claudia, to Ashley and to Woman Management Paris to collaborate with me for this story!!!


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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?

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Louvre Museum

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

Fashion Photography with a Smartphone?

Photography byYohann Laique

Picture by Yohann Laique

I’m firmly convinced that we’re living a strong moment of change in photography, not just because of the digital age that we have been living in the last years but mostly for the mix of that digital technology with the internet. I’m talking about the democratization of photography since today everybody that has a smartphone in his pocket is a potential photographer with a direct connection to internet that allow him to publish the pictures real life.

Today there are lots of photographers who think  that anything you do with a smartphone is not photography because you are not able to manage all the technical variables that you can in a professional camera, but from my point of view managing a professional camera perfectly does not makes you a professional photographer, it takes a lot more than the technical part to consider yourself as one.

Nadar, the french master of portrait photography said: “”Photographic theory can be taught in an hour, the basic technique in a day. But, what cannot be taught is the feeling for light. . . . It is how light lies on the face that you as artist must capture.” So Photography goes beyond the technical knowledge, which of course is really important to master, but the most importat is to have clear idea in your head and your heart of that vision that you want to show to the world. Being a photographer is not just making amazing separate pictures everyday, it takes much more than that, you have to be able to create a lifetime consistent work to consider yourself as a professional photographer.

Picture by Yohann Laique

Picture by Yohann Laique

Being that said, if you have a clear vision of what you want to express to the world through your photography, the media that you choose to do it is just a tool, you can pick the tool depending of the type of public, work or client you want to reach and here is where the decision of using a smartphone is an additional option that we as photographers have today, which is also great for us! I’m convinced that rather than mentally going against the waves of change, we have to surf on the top of them and see this tendency as an opportunity and not as a treat, smarthphone photography is an additional tool to put your work out there in real time.

So I had the idea of doing a fashion story with a cellphone and life found its way to connect me with that opportunity. One day I received an email from the owner of  Chronoshooting  who contacted me in June 2014.  They are a new company which developed an app for smartphones dedicated to photographers (professional, amateurs and instagramers). The app encourages photographers to shoot series of 9 pictures inside special street courses they have created around the world to compete in a original way against other photographers inside the app.

When they contacted me to collaborate, I told them my idea about shooting a fashion story with a cellphone to post the pictures immediately on Instagram and also use them for their app. They loved the idea immediately and proposed me to shoot with a Nokia 1020 (41 megapixels camera) attached to a Profoto B1 lighting pack, which I immediately accepted.

Picture by Yohann Laique

Picture by Yohann Laique

The experience was deeply interesting for me since the beginning because I had to explain everybody that the story was going to be shot with a smarthphone, which I thought was going to be a difficult issue to find the team willing to do it, but it was a great surprise to find out that everybody (fashion stylist, make up artist, hair dresser and model agency) was amazed with the idea and ready to collaborate without asking any further question.

We did the shoot in collaboration with Elite Model Paris  and a great and motivated team in a sunny saturday in one of the courses of Chronoshooting at Le Marais . The launch of the app was the past June 24th 2014 with the opening of an exhibition at Le Galerie Thierry Marlat in Paris where these pictures along with all the series of other photographers that collaborated with the app were exposed during 2 months and here is the result:

Model: Bhumika Aurora Styling  by Paula Saiz – Make up by Charlotte Guilmot – Hair by Nina Olivet – Photography by LACuellar – Photography Assistant: Yohann Laique 

Chronoshooting also did a backstage video of the shoot were you can see how we shot the series:

My personal conclusion of this experience is that photography, internet, social media and cellphones will get closer and closer everyday to work in the same field, we already see a lot of examples in documentary photography were photographers like David Guttenfelder from Associated Press wire service documents North Korea through his Instagram.

I´m very sure that fashion will not be the exception, we already see what happens in the fashion shows around the world when thousands of pictures from the backstage of the show go live to social media or as recently Mario Testino did by document the last Fashion Week haute couture 2014 in Paris by doing the Mario Testino´s Couture Week Diary  for Vogue Paris.

All these are signs to understand where fashion photography, internet, social media and apps are going now and in the near future,  for now, here is my small contribution to the start of this new age


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Lise Olsen for Pashioncase

Lise Bjørgen Olsen for Pashioncase

Lise Bjørgen Olsen for Pashioncase – © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

When you meet Lise the first thing that you receive is a burst of good energy that strikes your soul immediately, no matter the mood you had the minute before, I’m sure the next second after saying hi, you’ll be connected with that positive flow of energy she has.  It’s like if she had a connection with “Freya”, an ancient nordic goddess from the wild lands from where Lise comes, a goddess of love and beauty, who was also associated with nature, animals, wild places and unseen realms. Lise is a 24 years old Norwegian from IMG Models Paris, who started modeling at the age of 20 and did it for 2 years in a row, then she took a break of other 2 years and now she came back to modeling again. What she loves the most about he work  is to be able to travel frequently and also the opportunity to be in the middle of a creative environment, which she feels feeds her a lot. Her style is a mix of many things, as she said: “a little bit of rock music, Harley Davidson in a road trip, the parisian fit lady and something from levis“, it’s a wide creative mix of trends that we tried to put in our shoot for her! at the end what she really loves is to have a very natural style that allows her to be confortable everyday…I guess the close contact with nature she has back in Norway is a big influence for that.

Lise Bjørgen Olsen for Pashioncase

Lise Bjørgen Olsen for Pashioncase – © L.A. Cuellar, All Rights Reserved.

She is passionated about veganism, nutrition and nature with a really high conscience about taking care of her body and the environment that surrounds her, all that  from a point of view that makes you feel  she is talking about it in almost a spiritual way. She started this natural path as a vegetarian for 2 years and then she became vegan for the past 3 years, which makes you understand that she’s serious about her passion. You can perceive that she has a strong connection with our planet and it’s reflected on her livestyle by applying veganism in a strict way: she only eats vegetables and fruits and when she is sick, you’ll never see her talking artificial medicines, she prefers to use the power of natural medicine and of course she can give you a very professional speech about why you can find everything you need to live a healthy and peaceful live by being vegan, so If you really want to meet a real one, she’s the person you want!!! Lisa is also a lover of Paris, for her the city is really inspiring and gives her “the feeling of being inside a black and white movie all the time, no matter where you look, you always find a place to explore or to take a picture, you always want to see what is in the next corner… it has such an atmosphere and romance that you can be alone and you feel you’re loved by Paris” and I definitively agree with her. To my final question about what she would do if money wasn’t an issue and she could do whatever she wants tomorrow, she gave me an answer that you guys should read carefully because you might want to make her dream come true! she literally said: “I would get a Harley Davidson and a handsome man, leave and just travel, yea! backpack all around the world with no restrictions” what a sense of freedom Lisa can makes us feel! So, of course we went to a very natural location for the shoot and here is the result of our sunny, full of nature and loaded of peaceful feelings time with Lise Bjørgen Olsen… enjoy!

Styling/Designer: Jessica Conzen – Photography by LACuellar

Directed/Written/Shot  by LACuellar – Styling/Designer:  Jessica Conzen – Edited by Mystic Colors – Music Bioscape

And remember!!! I’m looking for new faces in modeling with an interesting pashion story to showcase here, so if you are one or know one, please send me a submission to my email: contact@lacuellar.com Cheers!!!

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Liza Sotnikova for Pashioncase

Pashioncase will showcase different young characters from the fashion world and one of them are the models with the idea to show them close to their passions. That’s why instead of doing what we always do: putting the model as the canvas to paint a story created by the photographer, here the canvas is painted by the real passion and style of the model.

All the photography or video stories in Pashioncase are based in one of the passions the models have and the styling is the kind they love for themselves in real life and one very important thing: There is NO make upNO hair styling and of course NO skin retouch…in Pashioncase we want to showcase real models, with real stories showcasing their own passions and styles.

Our first Model Pashion story (Photography and Video) is about Liza Sotnikova from IMG Models Paris , an 18 years old Russian beauty. She is the kind of person that makes you feel this strong energy to conquer the world, she loves modeling and see it as a medium to open new doors that can take her to new opportunities because as she says: “I´m a model but I don’t want to be just walking in a catwalk”.

Her style is dark and gothic as the famous “Dark Russian Cocktail” made out of vodka and coffee liquor invented by Gustave Tops while he was working in the Metropol  Hotel in Brussels. She prefers everything black and is completely in love with this color because “It helps me to open myself to everybody” she says, which gives her an aura of mystery that makes you wonder which colors will come out of her soul.  If she has to choose a fashion designer, she would definitively go for Alexander Wang who uses black color the way that she likes.

One of her passions is the music and the underground partying, where she can use her dark style to move to the rhythm of alternative rock, hard rock and specially on these days techno which is the one she likes the most.  She is listening to music every minute of her life and of course headphones are her everyday companion.

When I asked her what would she do if money wouldn’t be needed to do anything, she immediately answer that would go right away to Africa or Thailand, where she can find the sun, the warm weather and where she can interact with a lot of animals.

About Paris, she said she likes the city but would prefer a city where the sun is out most of the days because “Paris is always rainy, cloudy and moody”,  so the perfect situation would be to bring the weather from Phuket to the city of lights!!! Maybe her black color style helps her to absorb all the energies from the shy sun we have in Paris to charge her with all that energy she irradiate through her eyes.

The story was styled by Margaux Doiteau with a mix of  Kenzo, Jean Paul GaultierNikeEresYaninaAlice+OlivaPinko and underground clothes to get the dark style mood that Liza loves, so here is the result:

Styling  by Margaux Doiteau – Photography by LACuellar

Directed/Shot  by Coban B. – Written/Edited by LACuellar – Styled  by Margaux Doiteau – Edited by Mystic Colors – Music XDB

Hope you enjoy this post and if you know or you are a model with an interesting profile and personality with a clear passion that could be interested in being featured in Pashioncase, just send me an email with the information and I’ll get back to you.

Finally a big thanks to IMG Models Paris,  Coban B. ,  Margaux Doiteau  and Mystic Colors for the collaboration with Pashioncase to make Liza´s story come true!


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Self portrait