In South Point Park, Miami, a crowd quickly gathers to witness a high-profile photo shoot featuring Aleksandra Dubrovskaya, a contestant on “The Face,” a reality show where supermodels compete to be the face of a major brand’s campaign. Behind the camera is 22-year-old UCF student Carlos Velez, a fashion photographer only at the beginning of his career.
Velez, a senior business management major, started to develop an eye for aesthetics at a young age.
“My mom actually tells a story about when I was about 12 or 13 years old and how I would always do little photo shoots with my younger sister,” Velez said.
At 16-years-old, Velez created his own photography business, doing promotional photo shoots for local up-and-coming artists with bourgeoning businesses.
“I remember being in awe of his photography when we went to high school together,” said Dolly Dang, one of Velez’s former classmates. “It’s really rare seeing that kind of creativity and talent in someone so young.”
Just before graduating high school, Velez said he had the opportunity to shoot for fashion designers on the runway, which sparked his interest in fashion.
Now, with his camera in hand, Velez travels around Florida and New York for model testing, which are photo shoots that build a model’s portfolio. However, his true passion lies in high fashion and New York-style editorials.
For Velez, high-fashion work hasn’t been scarce. In addition to photographing contestants from “The Face,” he’s also shot with model contestants who appeared on “America’s Next Top Model” and VH1’s “Model Employee.” He felt he was in good company—these contestants worked with supermodels like Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell, his personal muse Coco Rocha and photographer Patrick Demarchelier.
His work recently appeared in Los Angeles-based Elegant magazine
The experience Velez has gained with seasoned models has helped him work with rising models, too.
“Sometimes they are nervous, especially if it’s their first photo shoot, so we converse,” Velez said. “I ask them what type of model they’d like to be, the vision their agency has for them and who their favorite models are. I’d like to think that I’m a sort of an easygoing, go-with-the-flow sort of photographer.”
Friend and previous photo-shoot subject Sofia Pernia echoes these sentiments.
“I would say working with him was phenomenal—he really knows his stuff,” Pernia said. “He’s very patient, makes you feel at ease and is passionate about what he does.”
Ultimately, Velez hopes to combine his photography experience and the business acumen he’s learned at UCF to own and operate his own high-fashion modeling agency.
“I’m very passionate about three things as far as [my] career goes: art, people and sales,” Velez said. “Merging the three equals satisfaction [for me].”
See gallery below to view Velez's recent work for Elegant magazine, and visit his website here to view more galleries of work he's done.