Isabel Gonzalez was only in fifth grade when she held her first camera—a simple point-and-shoot, gifted by her mother. Inspired by the film photography of her father and the captivating visuals from fashion magazines, this was her first step on a path that would lead her to the vibrant and diverse world of fashion and portrait photography. A true trailblazer in her hometown of Louisville, Gonzalez represents a generation of self-taught artists who dare to transform their passions into reality, even in the face of limited local opportunities.
From humble beginnings capturing casual moments of her friends and family, Isabel’s photography practice evolved with her, revealing her bold and increasingly refined aesthetic along the way. Unafraid of change and excited to experiment, she takes pride in her ability to stay flexible with her style, consistently challenging herself to step out of her comfort zone. “I believe I see beauty in everybody,” Gonzalez reveals, hinting at the fuel that keeps her passionate and dedicated.
In her transition from photographing weddings to pursuing her own creative path, Isabel’s distinct style has resonated with many in her hometown. Her work—candid, colorful, and sometimes even daring—has not only attracted a growing clientele but also sparked a wave of style and self-discovery among locals. “More and more people in my hometown started expressing interest. It seems people here are starting to discover their own style,” she recalls.
Currently, Gonzalez’s artistic journey has led her to emphasize the beauty of diversity, often focusing her lens on people of color who have traditionally been overlooked in the fashion industry. However, her dream doesn’t stop there. As she continues to create and inspire in Louisville, she also holds onto the ambition of working with bigger fashion brands and exploring opportunities outside her hometown.
Despite the challenges that come with being a self-taught artist and a mother of twin two-year-olds, Gonzalez’s journey is a testament to what can be achieved with passion and persistence. “Being a mom is great. It pushes me to pursue my goals in photography,” she shares. Her story, a perfect blend of ambition and inspiration, encourages everyone to embrace their creativity and defy the odds to achieve their dreams.
For a deeper insight into Isabel Gonzalez’s life, aspirations, and unique aesthetic, check out the full interview below, where the photographer chats about some of her favorite work.
Anyway, this photo is of my friend McKenley, who’s actually an identical twin. I usually shoot pictures of her twin sister; this was the first time I had a shoot with just McKenley. I pushed her a bit out of her comfort zone. Originally, she planned to wear shorts, a T-shirt, and sneakers, which would have been cute. But I felt like an all-black, sleek look kind of matched her dog, making the shot have a rich, elevated, and elegant vibe.
So, we walked around one of the more affluent neighborhoods and took pictures in front of a mansion, which was exactly what I had in mind. I experimented with different angles, like one of just the dog where his legs are super extended. As photographers, sometimes we hesitate to use a wide angle or a fisheye because it looks unusual, but I believe it can make the photo interesting.
So, I have this series of my friend, L’Chris. We did a whole series of looks; three different ones to be precise. I met L’Chris through a high school friend. When I first saw him, I thought, “Have you modeled for anyone? Because you would be great for a shoot.” And it turns out, he’s actually in school to be a dentist, which was unexpected.
He’s an amazing person, and I was excited when he approached me with the idea for the shoot. He styled all the looks you see, and the last one, with the blue outfit, is my favorite. He has this big tattoo, reminiscent of an anime called “Hunter x Hunter.” It just kind of reminds me of one of the characters on there.
I particularly like the photo of the man on the couch, outdoors. That’s actually my husband. We used to live in an apartment complex where we found a couch left out by someone who was moving. I thought it was perfect for a shoot, so we quickly thrifted an outfit for him, aiming to keep it neutral so the focus would be him on the couch.
I photoshopped the sky into the background, giving it a collage-like effect. I used a fisheye lens to distort the couch, creating an interesting perspective. When I met him, he didn’t really like getting his pictures taken at all. Now, some of my favorite and best photos are of him
I really like the one of the girl on the bike. That’s a shot I’ve wanted to get since I’ve started photography. My dad told me about this method called panning when he had a film camera in college. The subject is in focus, and the background is motion blurred. I tried it many times and it didn’t work.
Well, finally, I got back to the idea when I had more knowledge on photography. Rosa, the girl in the photo came to me with the idea and it was perfect. It was very last-minute, very quick shoot. She wanted it to look kind of Pinterest in a way. We added our own style to it.
My dad was so proud, which is funny because like I said, he was a film photographer. He’s never really shot digitally on like a nice camera. So now he’s asking me for tips because I don’t know anything about digital cameras. I only know film, so mostly Photoshop and all of that.
Then there’s the one of the guy on the brown backdrop holding a bundle of hair. That’s my friend Lance. He’s had his locks for about six or seven years. He’s a poet, actor, artist, and creative, known in my hometown for having long locks. He decided to cut them off, which was a big change. He wanted to do a shoot based on that and trusted me with it. To me, it seems like hair can be very sacred to people.
And then there’s the one in the sand dunes, where the guy is walking up the sand. That’s my husband, again. I took that photo back in 2019, in California. It leans more toward landscape than fashion, a genre I don’t usually post. That was our first vacation strictly for photos as I had always wanted to shoot in sand dunes. The mood of the photo was influenced by Daniel Caesar’s music, whose album had just dropped at that time. It was a fun experience.