We had the good fortune of connecting with Cassandra Willis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cassandra, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
After working 8-10 hours with my full time job, I’ll stay up for a few hours into the night editing client work or my personal projects. My “day’s off” are the days I work my part time job with photography. The phrase “no days off” is defiantly a true statement here. I work really hard and sacrifice a-lot chasing after my dream. Most creatives have multiple jobs to support themselves financially along with developing their creative skills. It can be emotionally exhausting and sometimes I just get stuck staying at home and working. Don’t get me wrong though, I have my self care routine and treat myself to some fun from time to time. Some of us just need a little encouragement from friends and family to step away from a project just so we can get a clearer head. I love it all at the same time and I enjoy the hustle.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
It wasn’t easy in the beginning and I didn’t know which direction I wanted to take my creative skills towards. Most of the time I would be really interested in a particular subject, asked a-lot of questions or just read up about it. I wanted to be a creative painter of some sort and dabbled in many attempts of fashion design drawings, stenciling, and even graffiti art. I moved out when I was 18 so I became a full time Visual Merchandiser in retail to pay my bills along with going to college. Didn’t feel like college suited me so I left with no degree to show for it. I used to think was a bad thing but I don’t regret it if I’m honest. I worked full time and really loved fashion styling so on top of my job, I worked pro bono as a stylist assistant on photoshoots and fashion shows to build the experience/portfolio. After some time, I felt like I gave up on myself for a while because I didn’t feel like I could be a fashion stylist and had to stick with my merchandising job (no complaints just felt uninspired). It wasn’t until I made some moves around the DFW and moved to Dallas where I decided to end my Visual Merchandising career. I received an offer of the position where I’m currently employed full time at which is, a Lead Client Advisor for high fashion luxury brand. To sum things up, if you ask me when was it when I started taking photos, I’m going to tell you that I’ve taken photos since I could remember. I took photos of my art, I painted back drops to build a home studio so I could set style and photograph my friends in it. I captured behind the scenes photos at the fashion shows I worked just for fun. I’ve honestly always enjoyed capturing moments and story telling. My years of experience in the different fields has brought me to where I am today. I love my job and I enjoy working as a photographer part time but I’m motivated daily to pursue and further my photography career to be full time in the future. I heard a quote the other day that said “the longer you have to wait for something, the more you will appreciate it when it finally arrives.” This 2020 year has given me more time to dive down and learn about myself and who I want to be. It’s been a blessing in disguise. I work with both digital and a variety of film cameras. It really excites me when I get a client request that wants to work on a film photoshoot because it’s become part of my identity as a creative. Most of my personal projects are shot with film and I can’t wait to further develop my skills with it. I love being a photographer because I get to be so personal with so many different people. It’s a big when someone trusts to collaborate with me and capture their vision. My favorite types of work are life-styled product shoots, food/cocktail, and travel photography (travel is another major topic for me, don’t even get me started lol!) I also really love creating a good mood boards to prep for my personal work. Throughout everything, the most important lesson I’ve learned is that you have to constantly bet on yourself. To positively push yourself to work towards your dream. You’re the only person that truly has your back and thats what counts the most.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The first thing I would have to say would be, “get in loser, we are going to my place”, ha! I love having people over to entertain and host. I generally cook for myself and I enjoy to cook for others. I’n non Covid days, I’d suggest seeing what art or museum have going on, maybe walk around Bishops Arts or drive around Dallas and take photos somewhere. For food and cocktails I like going to Cosmos, bars in Deep Elum, Parliment, Las Almas Rotas, and Alice to name a few. I’m open to adventuring to new places too! For a spicy girls night out, I’d make a reservation at Drake’s Hollywood. The food and cocktails are great along with the aesthetics of the establishment. If you can make it on a weekend, they have talented Dj’s who know how to get a crowd groovin’ in their seats. I’m a big sushi gal so my personal top picks would be Oishii, Uchi, Blue Sushi Sake grill, Nori and Deep Sushi.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Oh geez, this is tough! I can say this whole heartily because a vast majority of the people I surround myself with are the most supportive. It took sometime for me to realize whose opinions matter but when I realized who is who, they all became much more special to me. My mom and my dad are top tier though. I talk to them practically everyday. Both my parents have always had a hustle mentality, to be a good – honest person, and encourage me to push for what I want. Also, my best friends are super great – they know who they are! They are the people who I tell my biggest news to along with my biggest fears and push me to be confident. They remind me to just have fun with my work and I can’t thank them enough.
1. Drakes Hollywood 2. Danni and Kris 3. Faction Play 4. Lucky’s Hot Chicken 6. Tulum, Mexico 7. Viddora Dallas