by Hernan Mendez
A personal narrative of discovery, learning, and evolution, narrated 

My journey through the ever-evolving world of photography has been a thrilling adventure filled with growth, exploration, and creative expression. From my humble beginnings with a 110-film pocket camera to embracing cutting-edge mirrorless technology, I have honed my skills and carved a niche as a photographer, filmmaker, and entrepreneur.

Humble Beginnings - The 110 Film Pocket Camera (Childhood)

My first foray into photography commenced with the 110-film pocket camera, an entry-level and user-friendly tool that sparked my fascination with image capture. Although this compact camera had its limitations, it ignited a passion that prompted me to delve deeper into the world of photography.

Stepping Up to 35mm - The OM-10 Olympus (1996-2000) and Canon Rebel (2000-2010)

As my love for photography grew, I sought more advanced equipment and began experimenting with my father's old OM-10 Olympus, a classic 35mm film camera. I honed my skills, learned about composition, and explored various film stocks. Eventually, I upgraded to a Canon Rebel 35mm, a popular and versatile camera that further expanded my creativity and prowess.

The Digital Revolution - The Canon 7D (2010-2019)

Embracing the digital revolution, I transitioned from film to digital with the Canon 7D, a powerful DSLR offering advanced features and capabilities. This marked a significant turning point in my photographic journey, as the digital medium opened up new possibilities for experimentation, editing, and sharing of my work. I delved into various photography styles and genres, developing a unique visual language.

During this period, I also expanded my horizons in the world of documentary filmmaking as an Assistant Producer, Photographer, Cinematographer, and Researcher at Elicosma Productions LLC. I played an instrumental role in the creation of the documentaries "Mayan Revelations: Decoding B'aqtun" and "Mayan Revelations & Hollywood Lies," showcasing my diverse skill set and commitment to the projects' success.

The Mirrorless Revolution - Canon M6 Mark II (2019-2022) and Canon R5 (2022-present day)

As mirrorless cameras gained prominence, I embraced the Canon M6 Mark II, a compact and powerful camera that combined DSLR capabilities with mirrorless portability. Eventually, I upgraded to the state-of-the-art Canon R5, which offered unparalleled image quality, lightning-fast autofocus, and cutting-edge features that pushed my creative boundaries further.

Building a Photography Business - Founding Director of Arrecife Photography (2018-Present)

In March 2018, I established Arrecife Photography, a family-owned freelance enterprise operating under the umbrella of Arrecife LLC. Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, our diverse team manages all financial, legal, logistical, and marketing aspects of the business. We specialize in lifestyle, product, editorial, interior, and architectural photography, as well as immersive 3D tours and design solutions such as graphic and industrial design, catering to our client's unique needs and visions.

Newborn Photography Expertise - Bella Baby Photography (June 2021 - February 2022)

In June 2021, I joined Bella Baby Photography as a part-time newborn photographer. I gained valuable experience photographing newborns alongside their parents and family members in hospitals, including Mercy Gilbert Medical Center and St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center. Utilizing Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, I promptly delivered client galleries and slideshows.
In addition to my photography duties, I played a crucial role in resuming operations at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center after a 15-month hiatus due to COVID-19. Once St. Joe's was fully staffed, I joined Mercy Gilbert exclusively. I was also responsible for training and onboarding new photographers, having them shadow me during hospital shoots to ensure a smooth transition into their roles.

Nurturing a Passion for Wildlife, Landscape, and Travel Photography

Throughout my career, my heart has always been drawn to wildlife, landscape, travel, and astrophotography. As a certified scuba diver with experience in cave diving, I am eager to explore the underwater realms of our planet, and my love for nature and photography continually drives my business. My photographic bucket list includes remarkable destinations such as Botswana, South Africa, Madagascar, Antarctica, Nepal, India, Australia, and Venezuela, where I hope to document the wonders of landscape and wildlife.

Giving Back - Coral Reef Conservation and Nature Education Efforts

Arrecife, the Spanish word for "reef," reflects my commitment to giving back. A percentage of Arrecife Photography's profits is dedicated to supporting coral reef conservation and nature education efforts. In my downtime, I cherish moments with my wife and family, indulge in audiobooks, an experiment in the kitchen, and enjoy the companionship of my loyal dog, Mitch.

As I reflect on my journey through time and technology, I am filled with gratitude for the evolution that has taken place, both in the tools I have used and the experiences that have shaped me as a photographer and entrepreneur. With each new chapter, I am propelled forward, continually seeking to capture the breathtaking beauty and diversity of our planet through my lens.

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