Women Who MAKE: Carolina Mariana Photography

May 2, 2016

This month’s interview comes with a very special thank you to the talented woman who has been behind the camera at every Women Who MAKE shoot the past 12 months or so. Carolina THANK YOU! Today I want to take a moment to put this beautiful lady (inside and out) in front of the camera for a moment, as she so graciously and curiously captured the imagery I’ve shared in these blog posts for ONE WHOLE YEAR of WWM!

Also, in yet another attempt to promote the fruits of collaboration I want you to know that I was totally nervous and had no expectations when I reached out to Carolina to work with me on this series. To my delighted surprise she was excited to hear from me, and wanted to help! One conversation and 12 photo shoots later we have created content I’m proud to share each month. Here’s some insight from Carolina and a selection of her personal photography from a place that always inspires her, Mexico.


Centered By Design: Women Who MAKE Interview – CAROLINA MARIANA PHOTOGRAPHY

  • Name: Carolina Mariana Rodriguez
  • Age: 28
  • Current company name: Carolina Mariana
  • Years in operation: 2

What is your first memory of making [art]/being creative?

I was drawing, coloring and making as far back as I can remember. One of the first things I aspired to be was an Artist. I picked up photography in high school after many years of admiring my dad’s own black and white photos from his youth.

How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own as a small business owner/freelancer?

My education and work experience was never a linear path. I started late, I transferred, I struggled, I did a lot of temp work. I was never sure exactly what I was working towards. I only knew how I wanted to feel (confident, creative and flexible). In hindsight, I think my non-traditional path primed me to begin to take small risks. My confidence began to build after I moved to Chicago and met other creative people making a living for themselves.

Tell us about the process of striking out on your own. Best parts? Biggest challenge?

Going out on my own materialized very slowly. Over the course of a year and with a very flexible day job, I asked for one day off a week to pursue freelance work or photo assist. One day became two days, and so on until I felt comfortable striking out on my own full-time. The best part is the flexibility and learning how to be an effective communicator, because it’s easy to feel screwed over in this industry. The biggest challenge is being my own motivator. I procrastinate at getting the ball rolling, but I’m learning that you don’t have to go all in at once – small steps are better than none.

Processed with Moldiv

What is your favorite part of the creative process? What inspires you and why?

My favorite part is daydreaming. I love the downtime in transit, before bed, etc. I am a daydreamer above everything and love to fantasize about future projects and ideas (still working on the initiating part). I’m inspired by all the usual suspects (travel, museums, movies) but I feel most inspired in Mexico where my father was born and raised. Time feels slower there and the culture, colors and textures have always fascinated me.

What is the best advice you have for other female creatives?

A female I admire recently said something in passing that stuck with me: “It doesn’t have to be so precious.” It’s easy to get stuck in the beginning stages of a plan and feel like the whole vision is fragile. But I compare it to a baby— if you’re overprotective and extra careful, it can’t learn and grow. So be less precious with putting your ideas out into the world because the closer you keep it to your body, the less it can develop.

Do you have a design philosophy or photography aesthetic, and if so, what is it?

My aesthetic is based on candid and ambiguous moments. I focus on light, shape and explore my environment through everyday objects and events. The viewer is often aware of my presence because I enjoy framing my photos so one can sense I am directly experiencing something.

Imagine your business in five years. How would you like to grow?

I’d like to grow into a brand and studio working with clients that share and appreciate my aesthetic (whatever it may grow into in the next five years). I want to have physical and digital goods that make having art with a story affordable and easy. I really admire Debbie Carlos and Hands On Everyday in particular. Recently I’ve been interested in exploring art direction and producing so perhaps that will also play a role in my future.

What is your favorite subject matter to photograph?

My favorite subject is anywhere that I don’t normally reside and documenting the idiosyncrasies that exist there. It’s all in the details for me.


What do you enjoy most about the creative community here in Chicago?

The enthusiasm for collaborating. Whether it’s a photo shoot or just wanting to flesh out an idea, I love how willing this community is to see something through.

Centered By Design is my business name, but it’s also the idea that we can find a bit of sanctuary each day through design, that good design can center us and make us feel great. Does your design process center you in any way? If so, how?

I don’t do it enough lately but the act of exploring with a camera and shooting whatever strikes my fancy is really meditative to me. I enjoy the sense of control and manipulation over my surroundings/view, which sounds like something I should probably talk to my therapist about…  


Carolina’s Chicago Favorites:

Favorite spot to get inspired: Garfield Park Conservatory

Favorite florist: That’s hard. Chicago opened my eyes to breaking the mold in flower arranging.

Favorite place to shop for home décor/furniture/thrift: I love the Craigslist hunt.

Favorite place for coffee: Star Lounge because it’s hard to get to which makes it feel special.

Favorite place for a sweet treat: Any dessert from Lula Cafe, specifically the ones that have “chocolate” in the name.

Thanks for sharing your talent with Women Who MAKE Carolina! And thanks for reading along friends. Next month we’ve got a whole new lady and a whole new medium.


  1. Rose says:

    Love interviewee AND interviewer. Thank you both for the inspiration <3

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Meet Claire

Claire’s creative energy comes from her unique perspective on the world as both a trained interior designer and a passionate yoga teacher. Her affinity for kitchen design, timeless style and eclectic decorating are shared here, along with lots of interior design education and tips. Thanks for being here, please enjoy!

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