We had the good fortune of connecting with Oscar Garbalena and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Oscar, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I actually just fell into it on both sides of my businesses. For photography I believe the help of taking advanced art classes in middle school and having other family members that had been doing film photography put an impact on me, but it wasn’t till the end of my high school years that I decided that photography was my gift/talent so I ran with it. I took the risk and put my all into every shot I took and paved my own path by doing everything I could to be a well known name not just on social media but in all of Dallas. Ive been blessed to say I’ve worked with all walks of life from upcoming and now well known models to big celebrities, its been an amazing journey for me and I hope to continue to branch out more and see who I come across in the future. As for the Leather crafting business, I learned all I know from my father who is 3rd generation in the custom shoe and leather business. Although this trade is nearly become extinct I hope to keep it alive by working alongside my father and mother who have own our family business known as Willy’s Custom Boots & Shoe Repair in Downtown Mesquite. I have been watching my father make and repair shoes since I was the age of 12, it wasn’t till about 2 years ago did I begin to take it seriously as I had put all the tools and techniques I learned from him to use. In this short amount of time I have completed over a series of handbags, wallets, sandals, and other small leather goods. Towards the middle of February 2020 I was fortunate enough to gain the recognition of a large Texas leather supplier known as Tandy Leather, who saw a pair of slides on Instagram that I made by using materials from their store. They were so impressed with my work that they decided to give me a sponsorship for some upcoming projects. Although I am still an amateur in this business, I’m pushing myself everyday to be the best I can be to master the craft that has been handed down from my ancestors, so that I may teach the next generation.

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.
In photography especially these days with it being so saturated I learned that to never base your work on someone else’s. You have to really create your own style and once you find it just build off of it during every photoshoot you do, it took me a while to realize that but once I began putting my own vision to the image I was taking it was a whole other ball game. I am even happy to say that even some of my work has inspired other photographers to capture images like the ones I post but with their own flair to it. Photography is a competition I don’t care how you slice it. Every creative is striving to create the next best image to post. In my time as a photographer I have realized it truly has to be in you to be a true professional photographer, sure anyone can pick up a camera or their smartphone and take a photo of the same subject as you but its how you frame that subject and what you really take into accountability of what is going on in the image that will really separate you apart from the others who are just clicking their shutter button in your direction. With leather there is nearly no room for error because, once you cut into that beautiful hide or start stitching on it there is no going back. There have been multiple times where I’m nearly done with a project and the blade slips or the stitching is out of line and it tears me apart because that product becomes scrap for a small project when it could have been what it was meant to be. In leather you do not want to rush anything just be as patient as possible it’ll make up for its self in the long run. Also make sure you have all the right materials and tools needed and everything should run smoothly.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ross ave. in Downtown is my favorite spot to get some great portraits of being in downtown and it is near Klyde Warren Park where there are tons of food trucks to choose from with plenty of space to enjoy the outdoor scenery. For dinner I would recommend one of my favorite BBQ places known as the Pecan Lodge, great food with a lovely outdoor seating area where you can even enjoy live music from time to time. I would then finish the night by having a few drinks at Happiest Hour located in Uptown or one of the other surrounding clubs.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
As for OJ Photography I would like to thank all the models I have worked with from the beginning to now. They have helped showcase my work by tagging me in post, shouting me out on their stories and many have recommended me to many other talents looking to work with a trustworthy photographer. Thank you all I appreciate everyones continuous love and support it truly means a lot, even just to see that your profile pic is a photo from one of our sets is just amazing to me. Of course as for Ohjayy Parker Leather Co., I would like to thank my parents for helping me along every project I work on and having an honest opinion on everything, even though it may not always be what I want to hear I know it only helps me grow more in the long run. My mother has always had that creative touch to everything she does from home decor to flower arrangements, she’s always had that eye catching act on knowing what looks best when creating from scratch and how to attract clients to want the product even more. Also thank you to the great people over at Tandy Leather for recognizing me out of hundreds of Instagram post and giving me the opportunity to work with them. It was definitely a goal of mine and I’m glad to say I achieved it in a short amount of time but there is still a lot more work to be done.

Website: ojphotography.squarespace.com
Instagram: Ohjayy.parker

Image Credits
@Moniqueepaulette @kaatteey_ @itsmrcross @iamtrevordaniel @autumn_jacobsen @tylayaweh

Nominate someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.