Podcast Episode 3: This is Citlalli Rico
Delighted to interview the fantastic Citlalli Rico for episode 3! One of the very best documentary wedding photographers in Mexico, winner of countless international awards, and with over 700 weddings under her belt, Citlalli shares so much with us, including info about:
working with her sister, how she used to shoot 100 weddings a year, the time she had to speak in front of 2000 people, her love of Harry Potter, top tips for starting out as a wedding photographer, business-sense, how sharing our industry is, staying creative even after shooting over 700 weddings, one of my personal favourite Reportage Award images of hers, capturing the wedding vendors, what she would do if she won the lottery, how the Foundation conference had a massive impact on her career, meeting some her favourite photographers, why submitting ‘honest’ images is what she prefers to do, why Story Awards are her favourite, any regrets in her life, why she used to prefer saying she was unemployed rather than being a wedding photographer (which obviously changed, though!), her favourite part of the day to capture, what the most important thing in life is, and more…
As always, there are various ways you can listen to this episode: Over on iTunes (where you can also subscribe to the show, and can leave us a rating/review, if you’d like to, of course!), over on Spotify, or below within this post. We’ve also transcribed the entire Citlalli Rico interview below, too, if you’d prefer to read.
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Alan Law: Hey Citlalli, thank you for joining us.
Citlalli Rico: Hi Alan. Thank you for having me.
Alan Law: It’s an honor to have you. It really is, honestly, thanks for joining us all this way from Mexico.
Citlalli Rico: Yes, that’s right. I live in Cancun so it’s been nice weather.
Alan Law: Yeah. Is it always sunny in Cancun?
Citlalli Rico: Kind of, yeah. We have tropical weather so it could be rainy too, but not as bad as back home.
Alan Law: Where’s back home for you?
Citlalli Rico: No, I’m just referring to your home.
Alan Law: Oh right, oh yes, that is very true. Yes. I’m recording this from the UK and yes, our weather is probably not as good as yours. Probably not.
Citlalli Rico: Well, depends on what you like, right? So maybe you really enjoy your weather. I don’t know. Some people hate the heat, so this will be like hell for them.
Alan Law: That is true. I guess I quite like temperate weather. It’s quite nice. How’s your wedding season coming along?
Citlalli Rico: Oh, it’s been good. It’s very different than you guys. For me, whole year is like we have weddings, even winter because it’s the same because of the weather. During summer it’s not as busy as your’s is, because everyone wants to stay home if they’re getting married in the summer. So most of the weddings I shoot are destination weddings and I don’t know, maybe February, March, April are very, very busy for us.
Alan Law: Oh, okay. Then that’s quite different to the U.K. scene and-
Citlalli Rico: Very. Yes, it’s true. Yeah. Summer, I do get some Mexican weddings but it is very, very hot here, so it’s not as popular as other places.
Alan Law: Sure. Yeah, I bet. You work with your sister, is that right?
Citlalli Rico: That’s right.
Alan Law: Does she shoot with you or is she doing the editing? How does that work?
Citlalli Rico: Well she shoots with me. We’ve been shooting together for 13 years already.
Alan Law: Wow, that’s a long time.
Citlalli Rico: Yeah, it’s been a while. It’s been a while. And she also does her own thing in photography, but most of the weddings we shoot together and she’s also my editor. So-
Alan Law: That’s handy having someone so close as your editor.
Citlalli Rico: I know, because she’s been at the wedding, so it’s great. She knows exactly what we need and how everything was intended to be shot. So it’s just perfect.
Alan Law: That is cool. But I can’t imagine working with my sisters. I’ve got a lot of sisters. Do you ever argue, is it always just…
Citlalli Rico: Of course. No, no, no, of course we do, but it’s not for everyone. Working with family is not… I wouldn’t recommend to everybody, it’s just if you have a good relationship and you have good communication, but of course we do have some arguments and once we actually decided not to work together anymore, but it’s been just once in 13 years, so.
Alan Law: That is good going.
Citlalli Rico: We obviously needed each other, so we went back right away.
Alan Law: How did that happen in the first place? How did you start working together?
Citlalli Rico: I started working for a studio, 14 years ago and they had a lot of weddings. Back then I used to shoot 100 weddings a year.
Alan Law: Wow. Really?
Citlalli Rico: I know, now I hear that and it’s insane. I don’t know, how did I do that? And obviously we started shooting on… The studio had five photographers and we were all on our own. And then we realized that having a second person on the wedding was making everything easier and we were providing better coverage obviously.
Alan Law: Sure.
Citlalli Rico: So we started working with someone else and then I realized my sister would be a great addition to my team and she loved it right away. So that’s what we’ve been doing for a while now. But back then was insane. Like we were shooting pretty much every day because it’s, as I was saying, it’s a destination place. So people will get married on Saturday or Tuesday, no matter, they will choose any day.
Alan Law: I can not imagine shooting 100 weddings, you know.
Citlalli Rico: It’s crazy.
Alan Law: You obviously shoot less than that now?
Citlalli Rico: Of course. Yeah, no I couldn’t survive that for… That lasted maybe, the 100 weddings was like three years. And then I slowly went down to 80, then 50 and now I’m shooting 20, 25 per year.
Alan Law: Okay. That’s a bit nicer number.
Citlalli Rico: Oh yes. It’s really nice. And I’m also teaching a lot, so that’s kind of how I’m balancing all the income.
Alan Law: Okay. Yeah. And do you enjoy the teaching? You’ve spoken at conferences and workshops in so many different countries. You must enjoy it.
Citlalli Rico: I do. I do. I love it. It’s one of my favorite parts of this job because I love traveling and I don’t enjoy traveling for weddings. It makes me really, really nervous to have all that equipment and then the files and it’s just crazy for me. So for weddings I’d rather just stay home, but for teaching, I really, really like going away.
Alan Law: How did your first kind of speaking gig happen? Do you remember what happened? How you got your first?
Citlalli Rico: Yeah, it was crazy because it was in Spain. I just received a message from, well my colleague, a person that was organizing an event and it was, like a retreat for photographers and he said like, “Do you want to come and and give a conference?” I’m like, “Whoa. Okay.”
Citlalli Rico: Back then it was in 2011 and back then Mexican photographers were very trendy, I guess. So that’s why I got the invitation.
Alan Law: I’m sure it wasn’t just because of that. You got it on your own merit.
Citlalli Rico: Well there was a reason. I think that we were just trying really hard to set apart, to be different from what was done before in wedding photography in Mexico. Because it was very traditional.
Alan Law: Oh, was it? Is it still quite traditional or is that really changed?
Citlalli Rico: No, not anymore. It has changed. There are many different ways to approach wedding photography here. So you could see there is a huge amount of photographers are still very, very traditional and there’s way more now that are doing things different. So there is a lot of talent. It’s very interesting trying to compete now with so many awesome photographers that are way younger and starting. Like it’s been a year and they’re shooting amazing now, so.
Alan Law: Yeah, it is mad isn’t it? The talent out there. You’re so right.
Citlalli Rico: It’s crazy.
Alan Law: You did that first speaking conference and I guess you just really loved it and wanted to do more.
Citlalli Rico: Yeah. Yeah. Then after that one I received a few more and then I won some awards and these awards put my name out there so I started receiving more invitations and I had this big one for Brazil where I had to speak in front of 2,000 people and I was like, I don’t know if I can do this.
Alan Law: 2,000?
Citlalli Rico: Yeah, it was crazy. That one was really, really difficult.
Alan Law: That’s like a football stadium.
Citlalli Rico: It feels like it at least. Yeah, and you have no teammates so you have to do it on your own. It’s insane.
Alan Law: Were you nervous about that?
Citlalli Rico: Super nervous. Prior, I prepared a lot and I had my presentation and I went to some classes for public speaking and, I was very nervous.
Alan Law: Did those classes really help about public speaking?
Citlalli Rico: Well yeah, of course. But later, not for that one, because that one was a little bit of a mess, actually for me. It’s been the largest crowd I had to speak in front of. But that one I was very, very nervous. I was supposed to be speaking for an hour and a half and I had a huge clock in front of me where I could see how long it was, how much time I had left.
Citlalli Rico: So I was about to finish when I turned to look at the clock and I only have spoken for 40 minutes.
Alan Law: Oh no, nightmare.
Citlalli Rico: I still had like another 45 minutes to go. And I had no more material. I was done with it.
Alan Law: Oh, that’s like the stuff of nightmares that is.
Citlalli Rico: It’s actually like a nightmare. It felt so bad. So I turned to look at the producer and she was like, “What’s happening? Why are you finishing already?” I’m like, “I’m sorry. I can’t keep going. This is it. This is what I have.” She was like, “Okay.” So I started seeing how everyone was panicking behind the scenes, everybody was running around. I’m like, “Oh shit, this is terrible.”
Citlalli Rico: So they just called the next presenter, and fortunately, he was ready. His name is Santi Vega, and he’s a videographer from Spain. And he saved my butt. He was awesome. And he just kept going for like three hours after me, so it was perfect. But oh my God, I remember that. And it was…
Alan Law: Oh, I bet you did.
Citlalli Rico: I know.
Alan Law: So to go off on a slightly different tangent now, I think you’re a big Harry Potter fan. Is that right?
Citlalli Rico: I am, yes. How do you know that?
Alan Law: I’ve been doing a bit of research.
Citlalli Rico: Yes, I’m a very proud Ravenclaw.
Alan Law: Oh, you are. Yeah, I was wondering what house. Oh, that’s quite a different kind of choice. Most people choose Gryffindor, I think.
Citlalli Rico: Yes. But actually you don’t get to choose.
Alan Law: That is true. Yes. You’ve had the Sorting Hat on.
Citlalli Rico: Exactly. So I had the Sorting Hat on and I did all my tests on the Pottermore site. And I am Ravenclaw and it’s very accurate. So I’m happy with the decision.
Alan Law: Do you have a favorite character?
Citlalli Rico: Well, I like all the girls in the movie, so I love Hermione, for sure. The story is really, really good. And I love all kind of geek stories. And this one particular… My sister’s the one that she grew up with the whole generation. So she read the books first and then when I saw the first movie, I’m like, okay, I’m going to give it a chance. And I started reading and then I became a fan right away.
Alan Law: Oh, they are so good, aren’t they? They’re brilliant.
Citlalli Rico: Yes, they are.
Alan Law: I did an English degree and randomly the first Harry Potter book was on our syllabus. So we studied the first Harry Potter book. That’s how I got into it.
Citlalli Rico: Really?
Alan Law: Yeah.
Citlalli Rico: That’s amazing. So awesome. Wow. Yeah.
Alan Law: So what would be your top tips for people just starting out in the industry?
Citlalli Rico: Well, I wish someone had told me this. I put a lot of effort on getting better as a photographer. When I started, I went to a lot of workshops, paid mentorship, and I would recommend everyone to do this, but do the same in the business matter. Just pay a lot of attention of how to do good marketing and how to become a better financial person, like someone that takes care of that side. Because being a photographer as we are is definitely not just taking pictures, unfortunately.
Alan Law: That so true. Yeah.
Citlalli Rico: So, that would be my advice. Just to prepare on all the areas you can because it’s not as easy as it looks.
Alan Law: No, and I think you’re so right. It’s so important. A lot of people think, well I can take a good photo that’s going to be enough. But unfortunately it’s not. Is it? It really isn’t.
Citlalli Rico: No, no. Back when I started, it was a little bit easy because there weren’t many photographers, so it was kind of easy to get weddings because people will just Google your name or different things that they were looking for and there were just very few names coming up. But right now it’s like the jungle out there. I don’t know, but you just need to be really good at what you do in all the areas, not just the photos you take.
Alan Law: That’s so true. I haven’t heard it being referred to as that, like a wedding photographer jungle. But you’re so right, it is, isn’t it?
Citlalli Rico: It is. It is for sure. But it is fun too to be part of the industry.
Alan Law: Yeah, it’s a great industry. It’s a very friendly industry as well, which I find touching. It’s great.
Citlalli Rico: It is. Even among other areas in photography, I think, we have a very friendly and sharing community. Well you get to know a lot of photographers too.
Alan Law: Yeah. And you’re so right what you said there about sharing. When I came to the industry I thought it would be very guarded, with people having their secrets. But I found the opposite to be the case. Everyone’s really open and sharing.
Citlalli Rico: Yeah, I think that’s important. That’s why we’re still happy doing this. Well beside the clients and the weddings that are really awesome. But also because the colleagues and the networking, it works really well.
Alan Law: Yeah. And it’s good how you say you are happy doing this still because you’ve shot over 700 weddings I think. Which is an absolutely mind-blowing number. I mean, how do you keep your kind of creativity high for each one? Stay fresh for each one when you’ve done so many?
Citlalli Rico: Well, I think at the beginning was really hard because I thought the wedding, it was like a checklist, right? Like you had to do certain photos and the locations were always the same or kind of the same. I shoot all over Riviera de Maya and Cancun and the hotels look the same, right?
Alan Law: Right.
Citlalli Rico: So the beginning was really difficult, but then I realized that weddings are not about location or about the flowers. So that’s when I started shooting and having fun and just getting inspired by people and relationships and emotions and that’s why every wedding is different now. I know they are a little bit predictable and you know what you have to shoot. But outside those, you get to see a lot of things that are very exciting and that’s why I’m just never tired of them.
Alan Law: That’s true, isn’t it? I guess everywhere. I guess you don’t shoot many weddings at the same venue, you’re always going to different venues?
Citlalli Rico: Well it’s just, I do shoot a lot in the same venues and it’s kind of nice because you know the area very well. So when you’re in a rush you know where to go right away. But it’s also nice to go to different places too and stay fresh and excited about where you’re shooting. But for me it’s not about that place anymore. It wouldn’t matter if I had to shoot in the same venue every, every weekend because it is about the people now.
Alan Law: Yeah. That’s so true. Yeah. I mean in my experience as well, so shooting at the same venue sometimes three or four times a year. They’re so different because it’s the people are different. That’s what it’s all about.
Citlalli Rico: I know it’s exciting and I guess that’s kind of what This is Reportage is about, right? It’s not about the wedding itself, it’s about what you’re seeing and documenting.
Alan Law: Yes, exactly that. It’s exactly that. And then that’s a good little segue. Actually I’d like to talk about one of your specific images that won a Reportage Award (see image above). Because one of my favorite images, I think of any photographer on the site, is this image that you captured of this huge, really tall ladder. It looks like someone’s changing a light bulb. What’s that? Can you talk to me about that image?
Citlalli Rico: Of course. Yeah. We arrived early to the wedding and normally go and check around and see… Well we go and visit the coordinator to find out how everything is going. And so we walked into the ballroom and this is exactly what was happening. I just walked in and I saw this guy standing on the ladder and there were three people holding the ladder. So I was like, “What?”
Citlalli Rico: I didn’t even think about shooting it. I just put the camera up and take two frames.
Alan Law: Just two? Wow, really?
Citlalli Rico: Just two, that was it. And then I walked away and when I was doing all this, the culling and selecting the photos, I saw it, I’m like, this is so different. I’ve never seen four people changing a light bulb. It’s like the joke, right? Like how many Mexicans do you need to change a light bulb? So it’s obviously dangerous and it’s just, I don’t know. I also love it. I…
Alan Law: Oh, it’s such a strong image. I love it.
Citlalli Rico: Oh, thank you.
Alan Law: It’s so impactful. For anyone who maybe hasn’t seen it, because obviously this is podcast, I will put this on the website where this interview will also be, you should check it out. It’s brilliant. It looks so dangerous. I mean I just-
Citlalli Rico: Have you been to Mexico?
Alan Law: I haven’t. Id love to go, but I haven’t, no.
Citlalli Rico: Oh, you should, you should. You should come. That’s kind of what you see pretty much everywhere. Not the changing the light bulb thing, but if you go to our construction or… The safety rules are there, but no one follows them. So that’s something that you would see pretty much everywhere here, unfortunately.
Alan Law: Oh, okay. I need to come and check it out. It’s funny. I think my wife always tells me off at home because I’m kind of like Mr. Health and Safety with our kids. I’m like, “Stop running with corners and things,” so I think that would freak me out a bit.
Citlalli Rico: Of course. Of course. Yeah. You will be a little bit scared. But it is a, I don’t know, it’s so interesting and it’s kind of sad because obviously there are a lot of accidents, but that’s kind of how we roll and it’s a little bit scary. So at least my sister and I are always on the watch for our clients’ safety and we don’t do nothing like crazy epic just for the sake of shooting because I’m always worried about the clients.
Alan Law: Yeah, I think that’s good to be vigilant like that. Yeah, I know, I just love that image. I mean a lot of people don’t even capture that kind of behind the scenes element of a wedding day. So I just love the fact that you did that.
Citlalli Rico: Well, I have a mini project inside weddings where I like to shoot the vendors just because they’re so important. We are vendors, right? So we should kind of take care of ourselves.
Alan Law: Yeah, that’s true.
Citlalli Rico: And just seeing, especially in a destination place where they have to help or work for weddings every day and maybe for two or three weddings per day, because the venues here are insane. They’re just producing weddings all the time. So when I see them working hard or see an interesting image about vendors, I just love shooting it. I think it’s a very important part. And our destination or I think all the touristic destinations are kind of sad in that area where they don’t take care of their own employees. And here it’s really, really… I’m struggling a lot with my place and how it is treating employees. So eventually I will do something about it.
Alan Law: Oh, that’s interesting. It’s a really valid point as well though, and a really good project to have. So yeah. That’s great. I’m on a little side tangent, just to go a bit different now. If you won the lottery, what would you spend it on?
Citlalli Rico: Huh. Never thought of that. I am not that kind of person that is thinking in the future a lot. Like I hate spoilers, so I wouldn’t ask someone to tell me my future or anything like that, but what would I do with the money? I think I would just buy a place in a safer city, or a place that I would like to be living in and just keep shooting and do some personal projects, but I don’t think I would spend it in something very specific.
Citlalli Rico: I wouldn’t buy a yacht or a boat, or anything like that. I don’t care a lot about the material stuff, so.
Alan Law: No, that’s cool. I think that’s a good way to be. You sound very happy so you don’t need it.
Citlalli Rico: Yes, you’re right. Yeah, I’m very happy right now so I don’t need much, but it would be nice to win the lottery. I will just give away a lot of it and help my family and things like that.
Alan Law: That’s good. That’s a very nice answer. Very good.
Citlalli Rico: Thank you.
Alan Law: Do you think there’s been a specific turning point in your career? Something, perhaps a certain wedding, or an award or anything that’s happened to you that’s had a major impact on your career?
Citlalli Rico: Yeah, sure. Many. But I think the main one… There are maybe two. One was when I went to my first photography conference and it was in 2009, and I went to the Foundation Conference that then it changed to Fearless Conference. But it was kind of the first one they did. And it’s when I got to meet most of my rock stars, right? The photographers I was following and my knees were shaking. I was like, “Oh my God, look at that. That’s Ben Chrisman and Erin Chrisman.” And it was so, so, so exciting to see the people that I was following their work and they were doing amazing things.
Alan Law: And people must eel like that meeting you now, though as well.
Citlalli Rico: That’s so funny. No, no, no, no.
Alan Law: I’m sure.
Citlalli Rico: I’m not famous. But it was just like a great feeling and then to see that they were obviously human beings and they were very kind and they were just willing to share. So that was very, very important to me. That’s when I realized that I wanted to do a different approach in wedding photography and it was very, very inspiring.
Citlalli Rico: And then another one was when Fearless started doing all the contests. The first year at the end I received an email that, “Hey, you won. You have the most awards.” I’m like, “What?”
Alan Law: Wow.
Citlalli Rico: Yeah, I had no clue that was going to happen. I was obviously with a lot of other photographers there that I was admiring. So I never thought that it would be me. So that definitely changed my career because I got a lot of exposure. It was one of those things that you think it’s a blessing. And it was in many ways because it put my name out there, but I put a lot of pressure on myself because I thought I had to keep shooting for awards.
Citlalli Rico: And it happens a lot to many photographers. So you just have to be careful about that because awards are just like those instant gratifications that are great. And it’s also nice because you get exposure and you get validation. And I always recommend to certain photographers that they can submit, but it’s also about your personality and how you can handle that. And if you don’t win, don’t take it too seriously because it can hurt. So, it was really good for me, but it also put a lot of pressure, I put a lot of pressure on myself and it took me a while to understand the balance.
Alan Law: Yeah. And that’s so important, isn’t it? How did you deal with that kind of pressure and stress after that?
Citlalli Rico: Well, the first year when I… I won in 2011, so the next year I just kept shooting. Every wedding I had in my mind that I had to come back with at least one award. And-
Alan Law: That is a lot of pressure to put on yourself.
Citlalli Rico: It is. It is. And then you’re shooting and then sometimes the weddings are great, but you’re not getting what you’re looking for. So you lose focus because you’re not taking care of your clients in the right way and you’re just pushing for an award. And so it took me like a year to realize that that wasn’t the way to go.
Citlalli Rico: And then I just laid back a little and stopped submitting for contests for another year. And then I went back with the images that felt more honest to me. Because also when you’re looking for awards, you kind of start copying a lot. You’re like, okay, so if this formula works and it’s winning in this contest, then I should go for that. And then I realized that that wasn’t the way, and now I’m just submitting images that feel more me and more honest and the ones that my clients love too.
Citlalli Rico: So it’s just really nice to have that shift. So when I win, I feel very happy, but it’s not my main goal anymore.
Alan Law: Sure. And that’s a real great way to look at it as well. You’ve won a couple of Story Awards as well, haven’t you? Which is amazing. Do you enjoy submitting those?
Citlalli Rico: Those are my favorite actually. I think it’s really, really nice that you have that, because it’s definitely interesting to have to go through the wedding and find mini-stories in it, right? It’s not just the story of the wedding, but then you can see sometimes that, okay, so in this wedding these kinds of things were happening so this could be like a story on its own.
Citlalli Rico: So it’s just a very interesting exercise and just realizing that we have to, when we go to a wedding, we have to see it as a story as it is not single images every time we’re shooting. So I know that there is this approach where people think that I have to have a really good image on the getting ready, a really good image on the ceremony. I have to have a really good image on reception. So if I come back with those three images, I’m happy. And it’s a great goal to have. But I think it’s just, we just have to see it as a whole thing, as a consistent work we’re producing. So-
Alan Law: And that’s so difficult to do though as well, isn’t it?
Citlalli Rico: Of course. It takes a while. It takes some time and it depends on what you’re focusing in. And for some photographers the wedding is just the studio, like the bride and groom photos or family photos. But we’re spending maybe an hour on those and then the other nine or eight or 10 hours are the rest and the story is there. So you just need to put a lot of attention on those too.
Alan Law: Do you have any regrets in life? I know that’s quite a big question to get to.
Citlalli Rico: Oh wow. We’re getting very deep here? Regrets? I don’t think so. No. No, no. I’m very happy. I will do everything all over again. I’m very happy with the results. Yes.
Alan Law: And that’s perfect and that’s great. I think that really is. That shows how happy you are and yeah, that’s just brilliant.
Citlalli Rico: Thank you.
Alan Law: Other than wedding photography, what are you really passionate about, other than Harry Potter as well?
Citlalli Rico: Yes. Well my family. Everyone’s been an artist in a certain way, so everyone is doing things with their hands. My parents used to be ceramists. Is that how you say it? I’m not sure. They did ceramic.
Alan Law: Oh really? Oh, that’s interesting. Oh, cool.
Citlalli Rico: Yeah, like my whole life, they had a workshop.
Alan Law: Can you do that, as well?
Citlalli Rico: I know how to do it. Yes. I didn’t do much of it, but I know how the process works. I did learn from them. And now they work with glass and they do this handcraft stuff, so I’m very passionate about those things. I just feel like I’m having a hard time finding time to do that. I love to do the print making, lina print and things like that. I just wish I could balance my time a little bit more. Just keep going with those personal projects, but I think that’s my-
Alan Law: Time is the most important thing, isn’t it? Were your parents, were they supportive of you going into a creative industry like this?
Citlalli Rico: Yes, of course. They were very supportive. They wanted me to, well my dad wanted me to be a doctor, but not in a very pushy way. He was just like, “You could just become a doctor.” I’m like, “Yeah, but I don’t think I could handle that.” So when I started working for the studio, I was unemployed. So basically it was like whatever you do, but do something. And it’s not because I was lazy, it was just hard to find a job that I liked because I worked really hard since I was in college and I was really struggling with money and the jobs were paying very, very low.
Citlalli Rico: So when I started in photography, I realized I was making what I was making in the other jobs in two months. That’s what I was making in one day.
Alan Law: Wow, that’s massive.
Citlalli Rico: Yeah, it was crazy. So they were very happy that I was happy with what I was doing. But at the beginning I wasn’t proud of being a wedding photographer, because when I went to school-
Alan Law: Oh really?
Citlalli Rico: No, no, no. It was terrible. When I went to school, it was like the lowest thing you could do, was become a wedding photographer.
Alan Law: Right. It’s funny that, isn’t it? It’s definitely changed now.
Citlalli Rico: Yes. Fortunately, yeah. Maybe that will be my one regret, feeling ashamed of being a wedding photographer at the beginning. It obviously helped because now I’m very proud of it, but the first year when people will ask me, “What do you do?” I’d rather just say, “I have no job,” than saying that I was a wedding photographer.
Alan Law: And you’d rather say unemployed. That’s so funny.
Citlalli Rico: Yes, yes. Every single time I’m like, “No, nothing yet.”
Alan Law: And was there a certain point where that kind of changed for you and that you were happy to tell people that you were a wedding photographer?
Citlalli Rico: When I started changing my photography, when I realized that there were other things to be done besides just doing the checklist and just the bride and the groom kissing and then putting the rings on. And when I realized that there was a whole industry out there doing amazing stuff, and that’s when I saw that I’m like, okay, this is what I want to do. And then I also realized that it’s very challenging, being a wedding photographer requires a lot of skills and it’s not an easy thing.
Alan Law: You say, when you realized that you could do it differently and more creatively, was there a certain photographer who you saw who influenced you that way, or was it the whole kind of general scene was changing or?
Citlalli Rico: Well, no, I felt pretty lonely. It was for me, the whole world was just our studio, right? It was the five photographers that were working together. And I went online and see, okay, what’s happening in the world. There has to be more wedding photographers besides us. So I found the WPJA site and that’s when like, oh my God, I can’t believe I survived for a year without finding this. So that’s when I got inspired, because I saw the work in a more photo-journalistic way or documenting way and I’m like, okay, this is it. This is what I want to do. And that’s when I got inspired and realized that, yeah, it wasn’t a bad job to have.
Alan Law: And then your parents now are happy to say that their daughter’s a wedding photographer?
Citlalli Rico: Yes, of course they are. They are.
Alan Law: They don’t say, “Oh, she doesn’t have a job.”
Citlalli Rico: No, no, no, no. They’re very proud and very supportive, and they love that we’re working together. So, no, no, no. I’m good on that side.
Alan Law: Yeah. I mean that must be amazing actually, as a parent to know that your children are working together and forging a career together like that. It’s pretty special.
Citlalli Rico: I think so. I think it is, and especially because we’re very tight. Like we’re very close as a family. So for them knowing that every time we go and shoot a wedding, we’re together and it’s just very, very nice for them, for sure.
Alan Law: Yeah. I just think that’s lovely. I’ve got a a boy and a girl and if they work together in the future, then I think that would be amazing. That really would.
Citlalli Rico: It could happen for sure. Do think they’re going to become photographers?
Alan Law: Oh, I don’t know.
Citlalli Rico: You don’t know yet.
Alan Law: My daughter vacillates between wanting to be a dancer, or a vet, or a waitress, so-
Citlalli Rico: That’s really nice. So how old is she?
Alan Law: She’s nearly eight.
Citlalli Rico: Oh, that’s wonderful. Okay. And your boy?
Alan Law: He’s nearly five. Yeah.
Citlalli Rico: Oh yeah. No, still have some time to decide.
Alan Law: Yes. Quite a few. Which part of the wedding do you enjoy capturing the most?
Citlalli Rico: I love getting ready.
Alan Law: Yeah.
Citlalli Rico: I really, really enjoy getting ready. The times where my brain is just kind of warming up and also it gets, even if for the rest of the people, everyone is in chaos and worried and running around, for me, it’s when my brain is at ease and I get the chance to breathe. And I always like to to get to the bride’s room or venue or whatever she’s getting ready at, or home, just very early.
Citlalli Rico: Like if I say I’m going to start at 2:00 PM I arrive like at least at 1:00, one hour before. So I get a chance to just soak it in and think about what I want to shoot, run the angles and the light and feeling the people and talking a little bit to everyone. So that’s definitely my favorite part. It’s kind of when I’m making all the connections that I need to make for the rest of the day. So I really, really enjoy that.
Alan Law: That’s cool. As you work with your sister, do you have a system where one of you always does groom prep and the other does bride prep or do you just mix it around?
Citlalli Rico: Yes. No, we split and she goes with the guys and I go with the girls most of the time. And yeah, it’s just kind of the way it works for us and she’s great with the guys and so it works really, really well.
Alan Law: That’s cool. Cool. I’ve just got time, I think to ask one more question. I’m going to end with another just a small throwaway question, but yeah. What to you, is the most important thing in life?
Citlalli Rico: For me?
Alan Law: Yeah. What is the most important thing in life for you, do you think?
Citlalli Rico: I think balance. I think balance in general. That would be the most important thing. Because I will easily say that it’s spending time with my family, with my loved ones, with the people that I care about. But I also found that I need balance on spending time with myself too, on my own and taking care of me. So that’s why balance would be the most important. I want to find the… That’s what makes me happy. At least that’s why it’s the most important part. When I realize that I’m doing a little bit of everything that makes me happy in general. So I would say balancing or having a good idea of what to do with my time.
Alan Law: I think that’s such a good answer because I think so many wedding photographers especially, they kind of burn out. They’re just sort of work, work, work. They want to be so successful and then they forget about… Well, life’s not really about working yourself to the bone. You need, as you say, balance. It’s so important.
Citlalli Rico: Yes. No, definitely, I love my job. I love working, but I don’t do it because… I do it because I want to have time for myself and for my family and friends, you know? That’s why I work. So definitely finding that balance is we know like a long, long, long, long way. And at the beginning, because I was shooting so much, I had no life and it was awesome because I had way more money, but I had not even time to spend it. It was just insane. And then because of some health issues and because of some personal issues too, I realized that it wasn’t the way to go. And now I’m way more happy.
Alan Law: That’s so cool. That’s great. That’s so good. Citlalli, thank you so much for that, honestly.
Citlalli Rico: Oh, thank you, Alan.
Alan Law: Thank you for your time. That was brilliant. So many interesting bits of information there. That’s great. And if you’re listening on the website, I’m going to put the Reportage Award that Citlalli, one of her multiple Reportage Awards, that she’s won, the big ladder image. You really need to come check that out. I’ll put that in the post and I’ll put links to her website as well. And you need to go and see her speak at any conferences. Honestly, thanks so much. That was brilliant.
Citlalli Rico: Thank you so much, Alan. Thank you for having me. It was great talking to you.
Thanks again to Citlalli for this fab interview! Check out her website over here.
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