OP/TECH USA Ambassador Feature: Beatriz Valim

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Beatriz, known as beacasso on her social media, is a Los Angeles Fashion Photographer. She is known for her fashion work in the film photography world.

It was so fun talking with Beatriz and getting to know her! You only have to talk to her for few short minutes to realize how down to earth she is.

Now on to my interview with Bea!

Photo by Beatriz Valim

We are so glad to have you join our OP/TECH family, Beatriz!

Yes! I'm super excited!

Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in photography?

I live in Los Angeles but I was actually born in Brazil! I came here when I was three years old and I grew up in LA. We've always been in LA. Both of my parents are Brazilian so I learned Portuguese through them. It's my first language and English is my second language.

I took some photography classes in high school- a cinematography class that was divided into 2 semesters. The first semester was photography and the second semester was cinematography. First semester is when I learned photography. I didn't know where I wanted to go after high school. However, I've always been a super creative kid so I knew art was something I was going to do for the rest of my life.

When I took this class, I was super fascinated with photography at the time. The cinematography class was the only class offered in that realm. That first semester that had photography, I fell in love. I couldn't find myself doing anything else in that moment. I didn't have my camera in that class- I was taking photos with my phone and that was what I was submitting for my assignments. I was taking nature photos mostly. I wasn't doing any modeling or portrait work then, but I did candids.

When we moved on to the second semester, the video portion, that wasn't something I really related to. I was more into the photography.

After that, I graduated high school and I just knew that I needed to do photography, so I took up some courses at my local community college in the hope that I would learn how to use a camera. I had just been sticking to my phone for the longest time. I took up a digital photography course where they taught my the settings part of the camera- the technical part of the photography. I learned a lot about things such as the shutter speed and aperture. I also learned how to shoot in film and develop in a dark room.

Photo by Beatriz Valim

In addition, I also took a fine art photography class. We would work on one huge project for the semester and towards the end, we would present that huge project for our school's art gallery- which was super awesome!! That's where I learned to curate some of my work and I feel like that is where I kind of found my style of photography. For that project, I took mostly self portraits, explaining anxiety.

From that experience, I knew I had to take photos of people. I fell in love with that whole process. I thought, "If I can fall in love with taking cool, artsy photos of myself, I can turn this into a thing of taking photos like that of other people." I've also always been passionate about fashion so I wanted to mix my two passions together- photography and fashion. This is what I do now!

Photo by Beatriz Valim
Photo by Beatriz Valim

Wow! It's always so fascinating to me to hear how photographers first got into photography and to listen to how zealous they are about it! I totally get it!

Obviously, you have beautiful fashion photographs. How did you get started in the fashion photography world?

I didn't have any access to models at the very beginning. Since I was just starting out, I didn't have a portfolio to show to people that I wanted to work with. I started taking photos of my friends, people that I knew... or their friends. That's how it all started. I would tell them to put on their best clothes that they have in their closet and then we would go out somewhere close by and take fun photos. That developed into all my portfolio work. From that, I had work to show models. I'm happy that people are willing to work with me!

I don't know who wouldn't be! I've seen your work and you're like a magician!

Aw! Thank you so much!

Photo by Beatriz Valim
Photo by Beatriz Valim

So you do a lot of incredible work in film! Tell me about what made you want to shoot in film?

During the the pandemic, I was so bored of my work using digital. I just wanted to try something new. You know what I mean. For awhile, I had just lost that passion for a bit because it felt repetitive and I felt like there was something missing in my life in terms of photography. I needed to shake the rut out...try something new. I was afraid of film photography for the longest time so picking that up again after taking the college courses... I thought, "Let me pick this up again and see if I can actually do this thing." It did take me awhile to learn but it was definitely worth it because I am super confident in my work now. I feel like I fell in love with photography all over again!

I admire how you used the time during the lockdowns for good and to challenge and grow yourself. Very inspiring. I know that it was a time for me to reflect on some things and try new skills as well! It shook me from just going through the motions. The fruit from your labor in film is so evident! I would love to learn film like you someday!

You should definitely try film too! It's like learning photography for the first time. I actually started with a 35mm and then I quickly jumped into 120 film, which is medium format film. It was just SO different than what I thought it would be! haha. 35 mm is easier because it has a point and shoot function so that made it easier to transition to. I got bored of it pretty quick. It was a few weeks later that I jumped into medium format film.

Photo by Beatriz Valim

In college we learned about it but I was just so scared of it. It was a big jump at first, but it really is amazing. It's a lot slower of a process than shooting with a digital camera. With digital, you could end up taking 2,000 photos at an event- easily. With medium format, you are really forced to slowww down by a lot- just to take one photo! I feel like you take better photos simply because you are so limited and really have to think about things!

I shoot with the Mamiya RB67 so it's a huge camera. It's so big! It weighs about 3 pounds or a little more. It has a waist-level viewfinder so you are able to look down and see things a lot better... since the viewfinder is so big. It helps you stop and think where you want the photo to go. It's an amazing experience for sure! I also bit the bullet and got a Hasselblad recently!

Wow! Well if I ever make it to LA, I'm going to have to have you teach me some film things! I love your work and I'm super impressed that you took that leap to learn film!

Yes! Of course! If you're ever in LA, I'll get out allll my cameras!!

Beatriz pictured with her Mamiya RB67 and OP/TECH USA Strap

Can you tell us your biggest accomplishment in your photography career so far?

I've been doing photography for about 7 years, but professionally for about 5-6 years. I've done pretty well. These few years have been going by so fast! I guess my biggest accomplishment is filming my very first photography workshop in the summer. I think that would be my biggest accomplishment, just because I was able to teach beginner photographers or even photographers who have been doing this for awhile now, what goes into each one of my photoshoots. There have been so many people asking me to explain my whole process and now I finally have that as a workshop for them to see. It was a really fun experience! That's the biggest thing I have done as of right now!

*Here is the link to Beatriz' workshop!* https://www.shopmoment.com/course/film-photography-workshop-2021

Photo by Beatriz Valim

That's incredible about your workshop, Beatriz! I feel like you sometimes learn so much yourself just by breaking things down to teach others!

Right! It's like, "Wait a minute, I've been doing these steps the entire time without even realizing it! haha. I actually used to make a lot of YouTube videos as well during the pandemic. I kind of stopped that for a sec because I started getting booked for more jobs again. I didn't have time to juggle both, because YouTube is a whole other world of its own. I did simple photoshop tutorials, skin retouching and some digital art, which I incorporated into my photography. Teaching others was a little scary at first because I had never dove into explaining that whole process behind my photoshoots before. If I'm explaining my whole photography process starting with planning the concept and gathering a team that could work with me (ex: designers, models), that's a whole different thing than just making photoshop tutorials on YouTube. I dove into every single part of my process in my workshop, instead of doing it all in my head. It was a lot of fun though and the best experience I've had as a photographer so far!

I really want to get back to doing more YouTube videos now as well. I want to do more film photography tutorials. Just recently, I got a strobe and I'm really inspired by studio photography and film photography and how that all works. When I got the strobe, I was trying to look up videos how to connect my Mamiya to the strobe and there weren't really any videos on that. I finally figured it out myself though after deep research, so maybe that would be a good Youtube tutorial for anyone else that needs help!

*Here is a link to Beatriz' Youtube* https://youtube.com/channel/UC-OLiHG3Ff146ebQmWdgAmQ

Photo by Beatriz Valim

What are some future goals you have with photography? Another big question!

Hmm, I go through things in a stepping ladder instead of making one big goal and going after that. I guess my next goal right now is shooting a campaign for a company. I've been dreaming of that! I had an opportunity for that last year but then the pandemic happened so that didn't go through, sadly. That is my next big thing... shooting a campaign- hopefully for a clothing company. I'm going to continue to work hard until I get there. Doing what I'm doing. It looks like things are going to work out for that- I just gotta keep pushing more!

Photo by Beatriz Valim
Photo by Beatriz Valim

I've seen some of your recent Instagram reels and Tik Toks- so good! Tell me about those!

They are fun to make but it's so hard to keep up with learning all the new platforms! They really help our work, as photographers, to get more seen so we are forced to learn. It's something we have to mold into. As photographers, we really want to focus on our art... our photos, but if we don't take time to display our work or showcase it on those platforms, it's harder for people to find out about us these days! We gotta do what we gotta do! We have to move with the world.

Photo by Beatriz Valim

What advice do you have for someone who is just starting out in photography?

The biggest advice I could give to any creative is don't worry about what other people say or don't listen to negative comments. Just keep going. You'll find a community that will support you and support your work. I feel that is the most important thing as a creative- finding that community that will support you and root for you in the long run. Also, I know creatives go through creative ruts and sometimes you need to take a step back to help you think on what you want to create and what you want as a creative and as a person. Don't follow into trends. When you see another creative, or a group of creatives, getting more attention for their style of work, do not feel pressured into going into that space if that's not who you truly are. It's important to be yourself. Do the work that you are excited about- that you are proud of. Sometimes we can all fall into that, but it's only keeping us back from ourselves and what we want to do with our own work.

Yes, on social media we are inundated with so many different styles of work but I agree with your advice so much! Styles come and go but being true to yourself will be what remains.

Yes! That goes through life as well- not just in photography. As we are growing up, we always hear, "Be who you are. Don't try to be like others." We think then, "Why would I ever not be myself?" It's crazy though how influenced we are as people though. It's important to remind yourself to be true to yourself- always.

Photo by Beatriz Valim

So good, Beatriz! Thank you for sharing your heart on that! Can you tell us how you found OP/TECH USA straps?

I actually found OP/TECH when I got my first medium format camera! The Mamiya RB67 is huge and very heavy. I realized I needed a strap for it, so I looked online and tried to find a strap that would support my neck from all the tension that this camera would put on me. I saw OP/TECH's strap when researching. I saw the padding and thought it would be perfect for me. I saw other straps but they didn't look like they would be as comfortable as the OP/TECH strap looked. I got the strap and it's all I've been using for this whole entire year. It's the best!

It's so essential to have a supportive camera strap!

For sure! There are so many straps on the market but I feel like OP/TECH straps are perfect to work with on long day jobs that photographers do all the time- especially weddings!

I saw that you had the Super Pro Strap and now you have a custom strap! So excited about that! It turned out great! I'm going to include a picture of it on this blog feature!! A custom Classic Strap with your branding and the connections you need for your medium format camera. It's gorgeous!

I love it so much!!!

You answered all my questions! Thanks so much! Is there anything you else you wanted to share with us?

Okay! Something fun! I take care of my two nieces and nephew and last year, during the pandemic, we were all at home stuck at home for a very long time. They couldn't go to school at the time and hardly had assignments. We were all bored out of our minds, so I taught my 13 year old niece how to do photography. That was fun! She was 11 at the time. It was so neat for me to kind of teach her the things that I do on a daily basis and how to use a camera for the first time. We were doing fun product photography photoshoots at home. I grabbed a Nike shoe and we were doing a fun campaign-like shoot. She learned SO much through those few months. It was so fun seeing her learn the process- an 11 year old! I wish I could've learned photography when I was 11. Gotta start 'em young! I did posts of the behind the scenes pictures versus the final product. We got noticed by Nike which was really fun! They even sent us free shoes which was even cooler! It was such an awesome opportunity!

If you could send me that post so I can include it in the feature, that would be amazing! How cool?! And now you have a trained little assistant to help you! haha

Absolutely! And yes, it was a win-win situation!

I wish I could've learned photography when I was young like that too. She has the coolest aunt and now photography mentor!

I'm so glad you shared that story! Thanks so much for your time, Beatriz! I really enjoyed getting to know you better! Thank you for being an OP/TECH USA ambassador! We are so happy to have you as part of the fam!

Enjoy more of Bea's beautiful work below! Also, you can connect with Beatriz by clicking on the social icons included at the end of the post!

Photo by Beatriz Valim
Photo by Beatriz Valim
Photo by Beatriz Valim