During our shoot with the incredible team behind the pre-loved designer clothing sale at STIL, we caught up with Venezuelan commercial photographer, refugee and Sunday roast superfan Joel Rodriguez about his work and his journey so far.
My name is Joel Rodriguez, I’m a commercial photographer and I’m from Venezuela. I’ve lived in England for the last eight years, after it became unsafe for me to stay in Venezuela, and I love what I do.
Living in Venezuela heavily shaped my photography – I was inspired by the art, lighting and colours I saw there and have felt connected to the art form of photography from a young age.
My family also heavily influenced my work – most of whom are very artistic. My mum is a painter, my dad plays the guitar, my grandfather was a painter and a poet, and my grandmother was a sculptor. Photography felt like a natural path for me – being artistic and creative is in my blood.
Upon arriving in England I turned to the organisation TERN, The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network, an organisation which supports refugees to open their own businesses. Alongside them, I was able to bring my creative business to life by creating a photography studio and giving back to the community.
Since this point I have worked with TERN on many of their projects and I’m super thankful for their support.
Throughout my time in England, I’ve worked with multiple household names: brands such as Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Moss Bros. Moving from working with smaller brands to larger brands was a natural progression.
My photography journey hasn’t been straightforward. From working with TERN to freelancing for the last three years, I’m happy to have had a variety of experiences, and I’m grateful for the amazing opportunities that I’ve had so far.
I think these opportunities are incredibly important because they give refugees a voice, allow us to be part of a community of creatives, and help us to integrate and be part of society. We are relatable to people who have fled their countries. A person that has access to your work can also relate to you (being a photographer). It is important to hear from these voices.
Creative media like photography helps people express themselves by shaping their perspective, for example fashion is an abstract way of performing, but it can also be a way of protesting, for example. It can evoke emotions and visual concepts and allows us to think beyond our limited boundaries.
It also helps to create awareness around who refugees are, where they come from and why they are forced to leave their countries. Photography is a great way to express this – whether it’s a collaboration, solo project or commission, there is still a way to get your message across.
To view more of Joel’s incredible work, please visit his website here.
To view and bid on the items available in the STIL pre-loved designer clothing sale, please visit the website here.