We recently had the chance to interview the super talented west coast videographer / photographer @kybalionvfx to talk about his career and how he got to where he is today.
How did you get started?
I’ve been wanting to create art for as long as I can remember. I wanted to be good at drawing or sketching initially. The coolest thing in the world to me was looking at people’s in class doodles. Unfortunately for me no matter how many hours that I put into it, I couldn’t get the results I wanted. My hands just don’t hold that capability. For awhile, I wasn’t creating anything. Fast forward to my freshman year of high school. I took a digital photography class. Although I enjoyed it I wasn’t able to get the results I wanted. My friends were killing it, I was struggling to keep a C. I suppose I just kept trying because I enjoyed it more than anything. My work was kept private because it wasn’t anything I was proud of but after years of hard work I feel comfortable enough to share what I do with the world and operate a business.
When did you decide that you wanted to become a creator?
I’d say looking at other creatives and their lifestyle really made me want to do it as a business or job. I like having the freedom, I like having the final call to do what I want to do. While watching photographers like 13th Witness just exploring the world and getting paid to do it, I thought maybe I can do something similar. As much as I love creation, I love the lifestyle that it offers. Every individual can literally choose their own worth and become who they want to be. It’s more difficult to do that in the real world, it’s more difficult to get your voice heard. For me, I always felt like I had a lot to say but nobody listened. When you get a little bit of recognition as a creator it’s easier to be heard. I love that part.
What gave you the courage to start a company, speak out, become a public figure?
Starting a company, speaking out and becoming who I am today was always scary for me. I don’t think I knew what I was doing. To this day there are times where I just feel lost and don’t really have much certainty in what I’m doing. There’s always that fear, am I good enough to start a company based on creating art? Would anybody pay me? The simple answer is, you don’t know until you try. Of course, when I first started the amount of times I got paid was absolutely rare. I just kept pushing and attempting to get better with the experiences that I was having. It was hard but I think if you really love what you do the courage translates itself through the passion you put in.
Tell use more about where you are from and your background?
I’m born into a Kashmiri-Punjabi immigrant family. I was born in Florida then moved to the Bay Area when I was in my early youth. Aside from a few years I spent in Iowa for college, I’ve pretty much been in the Bay Area for a large majority of my life.
What is one of your greatest accomplishment to date? Tell us about something that you are most proud of?
Oh man. I’d say there are special people I’ve gotten the chance to work with or that have posted my work which is always super awesome. However, I think in the raw sense that isn’t my biggest accomplishment although it may seem that way. For me back when tumblr was a thing I remember waking up one morning and seeing my photo get 60,000 reposts. It’s tumblr and it doesn’t mean much but I always felt unsure about the quality of what I do. I was just really happy to know that people were enjoying my work. It sounds silly but having people hit me up to ask me about my photography and gaining a following just by posting what I do was an awesome feeling. My mood changed from being like, man I don’t know if I can do this to maybe I can do this because people like it.
What was one of your most challenging moments and how did you overcome it?
Probably working with egos. They’ll be more. Here’s the issue in art sometimes. I’ve shot with a couple really talented and popular people. They’re superstars in the music world or sports world but I’ll get sniped for credits sometimes when whatever I did gets posted. That’s pretty disrespectful to me until I realize that this is like middle school all over again. Things are clique-based and judgemental. I’ve just realized that I have to do things at my own pace to get on the same equal level as them to get recognized. But yes, it’s always frustrating when your efforts go unnoticed by hundreds of thousands or in some cases millions of people.
Next, control freaks that you have to work with sometimes. I’ve known people that have never filmed anything that feel confident to direct without any notes. It’s difficult but sometimes you just gotta suck it up, do what you can and move on. Don’t work with these kinds of people once you realize those traits. The final project will never be good and it’ll take up days of unnecessary time to get there.
Does your family support you in your efforts? How?
My immediate family, sure. To a certain extent. There’s so many things they won’t know or understand so they’ve just accepted that I’m an adult and I know what I’m doing. I’ve always said they support by not asking me questions. A lot of what I’m doing is unconventional especially for immigrants.
Extended family doesn’t support. Aunties and some cousins only pretend to support or pretend to care when they’re caught talking trash. When they get caught they don’t apologize or consider the things that they said, they’re just scared of the platform I have to share things. They’re scared of the people I keep around. They have no choice but to act fake nice until they get caught again.
Who are your favorite people and/or role models, both business and personal?
Business wise I have to go with Jay-Z. What he’s done to stay on top of his game for that extent of time is unbelievable. To not only make timeless music but make solid investments and create a new image of rap music isn’t easy.
Personal, I’m a huge basketball fan and I’m 24 years old so I’d have to go with LeBron. I grew up watching him live up to every pressure and expectation that was set out for him. It’s inspiring to see the way he’s handled media not just recently but for his entire career. He’s a man that had it all at the age of 18 but continued to work hard and keep his image completely clean. That’s awesome to me.
What message would you send to inspire all the other creators out there who look up to you?
Work, work, work. It doesn’t seem like it does much initially but the more work you put in the more opportunities start to come your way. I’ll put it this way, if you’re unsure about an idea would you rather try it to get it out there and accept the results? Or would you be that person that has a couple drinks and talks about an idea that you’ve never put into action for years?
What do you understand about the video industry that other people don’t understand?
That people like to feel important. Sometimes I don’t have the best call but if someone explains it to me on why they feel like this is best then I can get behind that. I always try to practice that when I’m in charge so people don’t feel like they aren’t being heard. Good communication is key.
What’s next for you in your career/business?
Just going to keep grinding. Hard work creates certainty. I want to do more resourceful music videos.
What does Disrupt mean to you?
Not using your mouth, using your work to hurt some feelings and take what they won’t give you.
How can people connect with you on social media?
I’m on all social medias as @kybalionvfx
Thank you again for taking the time to chat with us.
Check out @kybalionvfx’s latest music video he directed, Jamal Jordan – Pay Attention below. Enjoy!
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The premise of the dream varies for every player in the game. Life, the ultimate simulation, as referenced by entrepreneur Daniel Barrios is “turning nothing into something; beating the odds by constantly challenging yourself” The million dollar question we can all ask ourselves is something along the lines of: “What is my calling?” Today, we will examine some of the strategies and methodology of successful business “Pooch Perks”
Commonly, we see business owners fail time and time again by making the same mistakes; Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Why not succeed from the first month of business? Barrios is a strong proponent toward structured approaches whenever even $1 is involved. From the moment he wakes up to the minute he falls asleep, his mindset is calmly approach his desired goals by completing incremental steps to set himself up for the big goal. We are all aware, being successful in business relies on two things: who you know and how much capital ($) there is to invest. Barrios shared with me that in addition to these two essentials, it is important to acknowledge the importance of growing and developing professional relationships with investors. Ideas are wonderful. Some human beings are naturally gifted; abilities to network and sustain professional relationships are often difficult because they require equal interest from both parties, frequent communication, and responsible transparency.
I was DMing Barrios on Instagram before we spoke via Video Call. I asked as a preliminary inquiry “What do you think of the phrase ‘fake it til you make it’ & does it have any significance in your start-ups?” The established Pooch Perks co-owner had a lot to say- he picked up my video chat. Letting him have the floor, I came to many new conclusions about this popular rhetoric. Barrios cites it having an inverse significance to him, refuting the expression completely. His explanation was predicated on how nothing can be faked; products cost money, ads cost money, promotion costs money, and progression takes time. I followed up by asking him “Hypothetically, why can’t a beginner flex a connection that he may not totally have? Example: Fabricating being close friends with Lebron James?” Barrios held his standpoint by going to say how the desired connection would have further inquiry about (X) relationship with Lebron- even to the point where the desired connection may ask for screenshots proving this relationship is indeed alive and real. Barrios went on to say how “It is impossible to fake a bank statement, and doing so would only harm the credibility of persons involved.” Additionally, Barrios mentioned how “Almost 99% of free shoutouts will be totally garbage- having 10k followers is irrelevant if the engagement rate on that is 0.1%” After this conversation with Barrios, I was interested enough to schedule a follow-up interview including his ride-or-die business partner, Chris Maura
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Jaime Flores is a photographer based in the Pacific Northwest (PNW). He is best known for his portraits but also does a variety of different types of photography. In just a span of a year, he grew his two instagram accounts to have 10x more followers than he had we started. Before photography, Jaime was going to college with no real idea of what he wanted to do for a career. After receiving his Associate’s degree with an emphasis in business, Jaime decided not to continue school and look for something new to pursue in life. He bought his first camera in April of 2018 and quickly gained the knowledge needed in order to be commercially successful in his hometown.
At first his focus was only portraits but later on he began doing product photography, events, landscapes and more. In May of 2019 he started his own Media company called Digital Trends Media. The company provides photography, videography, graphic design, and social media management services. Jaime hopes to inspire and help others find skills that are needed in today’s world driven by social media.
1. Carry your camera at all times
It’s actually really important to always have your camera with you. Pretty often, people get curious and will ask you: “Are you a photographer?” or “What kind of camera do you have?”. Use that as a chance to show them your work and/or hand them a business card (you should always have some). Take your camera everywhere you go and learn to take candid photos of people out in the city, take pictures of your food/drinks, take pictures of nature, etc. This seems pointless but people are willing to buy print versions of those types of photography. Expand your skillset beyond portraits.
2. Leverage your personality
Don’t rely solely on your work to catch the attention of potential clients. Your work will only get you so far but you have to be willing to put your personality out there as well. If you take a look at some of the most successful and well known photographers, you’ll notice that they not only take amazing pictures but they also have huge personalities. People love to see what the person behind the camera is like.
3. Make your photography stand out
Editing is crucial, spend lots of time learning new editing techniques. Also, when shooting portraits, take your time and really analyze backgrounds. Take pictures from numerous angles to give your pictures unique perspectives. Combine a unique editing style with new angles/ideas, and you will gain popularity.
4. Youtube is your best friend
A question I get asked all the time is: “How can I get better at taking pictures?” My answer is always Youtube and practice. Of course you can pay to attend seminars and pay for online photography courses, but to me that’s all unnecessary. All the information you need can be found on YouTube for FREE. At least that’s how I learned everything I know.
5. Cameras don’t do the work for you
A common misconception that people tend to have is that having a good camera is all it takes to be a good photographer. Nowadays an iPhone camera is the best camera to use as a beginner. Anyone can buy the most expensive camera but it takes knowledge about camera settings in order to take the best pictures, as well as good editing skills.
There are 4 Ways to have Fun All Summer Long
Three Connecticut friends transformed a dream into a booming business. While watching sports one night, something sparked their creativity and they realized that there was a gap in the sports industry. After conducting additional research, they found that they truly had an original idea, so they came together and created the blueprint for their game, and within a year, a prototype was born! Now there is a new way to enjoy summer sports whether you’re on a beach, at a picnic, gym, or park. This four- way intersecting volleyball net has all the fun of a traditional volleyball game but with a unique twist and a brand-new set of game rules.
The World’s First 4-Way Volley Ball Net
Chris Meade, the co-founder of CrossNet recounts the journey of creating the world’s first 4-way volleyball net when the idea was only in its infancy. “A prototype that was created and tested on a beach in the summer of 2018 gained lots of attention. It went from the four of us playing and having a good time to 25 people waiting in line and me not even getting to play my own game at the beach. As soon as that happen, we knew we had a great game.”
Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight
In most cases, success doesn’t happen overnight, and this was definitely the case for the Connecticut trio, they attribute their success to creating a clear set of game rules for their users, implementing strong branding techniques, and utilizing social media to build brand awareness and outreach. “We were three kids from a farming town in Connecticut. We had an idea and we were able to make it come to life, and now we’re being played in over 500 gym classes across the world. You can also find their products in some of the world’s top retail stores like Walmart, Target, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Amazon, and many more.
Meade enjoys the life that entrepreneurship has awarded him. Since the business has taken off, he’s able to reclaim his time, energy, and life back. When asked how has entrepreneurship improved his life, he had this to say: “I have more flexibility! “Nothing is worse than going to a job everyday and working for somebody to improve their business. Everyday I wake up and ‘think how do I improve my business?’ Which is a direct impact on my life and the life that I live.”
Changing the Game of Outdoor Sports
Meade is proud of the success and attention that the CrossNet game has gained since it’s release in June 2017, he also mentions that the sports industry has plenty room for innovation, yet, despite the passing of time, the industry lacks fresh innovation, until now! “The outdoor game and sports market is a very boring industry, and I mean that in the sense that no innovative outdoor game products really came out to the market. Our parents and their friends have been playing corn hold, Frisbee, and basketball outside for the last 100 years. There’s only so many times [that a new outdoor game is developed] and becomes a game changer, and we’ve brought in a four-way volleyball net, four-square combined, and a new game of CrossNet.”
CrossNet Brings Value to Players
CrossNet is a unique game that brings value to anyone who is willing to take part in the sport. Families can enjoy this game at a picnic, or at the beach. Physical education instructors can use this game as a pre-workout tool or as a fun workout for students. Even professional athletes can find ways to enjoy this game. Its versatility and easy game rules makes this a suitable activity for anyone to enjoy. Meade says “Leisure players can now play volleyball in a one-on-one setting. Children and young adults who are looking to learn the basic skills of volleyball can now play with select friends. It’s also a great warm-up and skill and development tool as well.
Here’s to the Future!
Chris Meade is a young 26-year-old who has successfully traversed the world of business and entrepreneurship. Together, him and his friends were able to take an idea, and turn it into profit. As a piece of advice to young aspiring entrepreneurs, he says “Have a concrete idea and run it by your peers. Don’t give up! It’s been over two years in the making and we went from a company that celebrated one sale a day, to now making the news in Minnesota were sport anchors are taking our game out of the box and showing the entire state of Minnesota.”
For business inquiries and questions, Chris Meade can be reached at [email protected].
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