Take a tour with Meero partner photographer Humberto Hernandez
Photo by Humberto Hernandez
Meet Humberto Hernandez, a family-oriented, Texas-based, Meero partner photographer who has run the gauntlet as a wedding videographer, an Emmy-winning documentary camera operator and assistant editor, a freelance photographer, and today is stepping into the realm of 3D virtual tours (Phew!). He was kind enough to sit down with us, virtually of course, and tell us about what it’s like to be your own boss in a competitive field.
Finding his path and his passion
Flashback to 1999, we meet Humberto in Monterrey, Mexico, working on his mass communication degree, and focusing on video and photography.
“I was lucky to not have enough money to pay for college, so I asked for a job in the school... which gave me an advantage over the other students.”
The advantage? Working on campus during school, he was able to create contacts in the industry and work with the older students while he was still starting out. After school, he relocated to San Antonio, where he had to work behind a desk for a short period, but like many a photographer, he knew it wasn’t for him. ‘I hated it with a passion.’
“I got tired of doing something that I didn’t like, that didn’t fulfill me intellectually. So I told my wife, ‘I need to find something that I know that I will be able to do for the rest of my life.’”
He ultimately returned to what he knew he was good at and found himself working full-time for a company as a wedding videographer for three years. He’s lost count today, but estimates he’s probably worked somewhere between 600 and 700 weddings in his career.
Anyone who’s worked a wedding or two knows that it can get a bit repetitive. There’s always the ceremony, the grand entrance, the father-daughter dance. But throughout it all, he never got tired of it.
“I still get emotional when I see the father of the bride cry during a speech, or during the father-daughter dance, and the father is crying. I have a daughter myself and I really relate to that.”
Becoming his own boss and realizing the importance of a network
When that particular daughter was born, however, it wasn’t all that easy: two months before his wife was supposed to give birth, he was laid off from his wedding photography company. With their firstborn on the way, there was no time to panic. He decided it was time to go out on his own and make his way as a freelancer.
He had always wanted to launch his own business. Growing up, he had seen his father run his own affairs. But it was the end of his contract that pushed him into making his dream a reality.
Luckily, earlier in his career, he had met Mark Thomas, a photographer ten years his senior, who was able to help him in his first steps towards independence. Humberto remembers telling Mark that he was ready to start on any projects with the caveat: “I can buy a computer or a camera, but I can’t afford both.”
Photo by Humberto Hernandez
They decided on a computer for editing purposes, and Mark lent Humberto his own camera for all their projects and his personal use. Today, they maintain a strong business relationship and friendship.
He recognizes how lucky he was to have a contact like that when started out and he knows the power of staying close with your connections. He thinks of Alejandro Maya, a professional videographer, business advisor and life coach to Humberto who hired him as camera operator and assistant editor for their Emmy-winning documentary series on PBS, Children of the Revolucion.
But it was tough, very tough in the beginning (starting out as a freelancer), and that's when I met companies like Meero… And I fell in love with the system of freelancing, the gig projects.
The development of the on-demand photography industry
Now that he’s been freelancing for more than ten years, he’s seen the field of on-demand photography grow and develop. With the rise of P2P and other on-demand services, there has been an increase in demand for shoots for food delivery apps, real estate walkthroughs and so much more.
As he freelances full-time, these projects are the perfect way for him to fill up his schedule, sometimes stacking the shoots up, sometimes turning them down.
I love the opportunity to decide if I want to take a job or not, to control my schedule... I love the system of working with companies like Meero, where you are your own boss basically.
And through it all, what he enjoys the most is the hands-on part: meeting the owners of restaurants in his town, discovering new homes, creating beautiful images and he never has to worry about the admin.
“That’s what I like about companies like Meero… (they) allow me to go and take pictures, send the RAW files and not worry about the editing, making life way easier.”
Photo by Humberto Hernandez
Mastering one media and then moving on to the next: Videography, photography and Virtual Reality
As we’ve seen already, Humberto seems to go from mastering one form of media and then moving on to a new format to challenge himself and complete his arsenal.
Where photography is concerned, he’s capable of shooting all types of things but finds he enjoys the amount of control that comes into play with food photography. No people to direct, no time crunch, just him, his lighting, and his subject. Plus it’s a nice perk when restaurants send the dishes home with you:
“I’ve come home with 20-something plates in one day. So I share it with family, friends, neighbors, you name it!”
Today, he continues shooting different freelance projects, and just before covid hit the US, invested in a Virtual Reality camera to create virtual walkthroughs.
There are a few things he wishes he had known along the way. While his favorite part of the job is getting out there and shooting, he says he underestimated the time and work it takes to get the machine running: coordination, marketing, communication, and business acumen.
But at the end of the day, he’s able to enjoy it all and doesn’t want to change a thing.