By Ashley Salas

Photos By Melissa Iturralde, Models: Mia Ivannah Garcia and Hanna Chamberlain

Do you remember your first day of school? I sure do. I had butterflies in my stomach and I was terrified of opening those school doors. I was afraid all eyes were going to be on me, oh the anxiety that rushed through my body. And let’s not forget the word FRESHMAN invisibly stamped from end to end of my forehead, what more can you ask for from a newbie. Transitioning from being viewed as a kid to now a teenager is a big adjustment. My whole routine was changed and honestly, I wasn’t okay with that. Sometimes, I’m not good with change. I mean who is anyway? New friends. New teachers. New material. But worst of all, a new school which meant my best friend wasn’t with me to combat crime anymore. That was my first heartbreak and oh boy did that take time to heal.

You know, it is a scary feeling to leave the people who you know best or who play “Hide and Seek” like no other child in the playground. It’s like they have become a part of you and who you are as a person. I almost wish cloning was a real thing but unfortunately technology hasn’t been that advanced yet. Changing responsibilities from a kid to a teenager to an adult is never easy. The kickball tournaments in the playground have stopped. The janitor-cleaning-closet-gossips during lunch have stopped. The tracing letters for homework has now been replaced by complicated algebra equations. Things are not meant to be taken too serious, right? Everything was all about chocolate milk spilling out of Marcos’ nose because Gabriel had two forks in his mouth pretending to be a walrus. Now, it’s about caring for your grades because they determine where you will be later in life.

Summer is almost over and along with it comes the start of a new school year. The sandy beach is replaced by notebooks. The heat of the sun is replaced by classroom desks. Your friends are now replaced by new ones. Your responsibilities are replaced by new bigger ones. One minute you’re a kid, the next you’re calling for an appointment on your own. It’s the cycle of change and you have to adjust to it.”

Let’s not forget the physical pains this change causes. One minute you’re four feet and the next you’re a professional Michael Jordan with a growing mustache. Things are growing where you didn’t know they could go and boys are looking at you differently. They don’t look like they have cooties anymore, now that I think about it. Little unwanted mountains are shown on your face and your nerdy glasses have turned into contacts. People can now see your beautiful brown eyes. But all of a sudden, one year you could be rocking a mohawk and the next be part of the cheerleading squad. Each year is a different transition the educational world has set out for me, that’s just a part of life. And each year will just be another memory in the yearbook, a yearbook you will look back in 20 years and remember how lost you were trying to find your place in a little unknown world.

It’s true what they say, those childhood friends that I used to play with right after school on our street sidewalk, who would’ve thought that after that year, it would be the last time I would ever see them again. Many moved schools and many found their personal clique. It’s weird how small the world really is. Fifteen years later the boy who lived in front of me with that sweet smile was on my mind and only to find out he graduated from high school and now owns a car lot. I know he used to love anything with mechanics. The girl with the red hair that everybody knew is now a teacher, I had a feeling she would be one since we were small. The fashion girl that dressed up every day at school and made uniforms cool is now studying fashion design at one of the best universities in Texas, even though it is my rival university considering from where I got my degree from. The boy that held my heart in middle school is now married with a child and is doing great. Thank the heavens above, I was worried about that guy. My best friend of 10 years now has a beautiful baby girl and is loving life next to the hand of her husband.

What I’m trying to say is that change is uncomfortable but along the way, you see how it didn’t change you for the worse but rather for the better. I created friendships that may have lasted a minute but have also lasted a lifetime. It’s a growing pain, trying to figure out where you fit in the world at such a young age but even though I don’t have my day one-sharing popsicle and toys- day one, I can still thank them for the small unacknowledged changes they helped me get through. My advice to you, look at every year as a way to grow personally. People come and go out of your life, and those who are meant to stay will stay. Learn from them. Grow from them, but never forget the impact they made on who you are today.

By Ashley Salas

Have you ever heard of the technological eye? Way back when photography was gaining traction in the world, it was believed that the lens of the camera had a natural eye of its own, one that could see things that the human eye couldn’t. The camera could capture beautiful still moments that portrayed a thousand and one emotions, but it takes a special person to bring out this magic from within the technological object. One of the lucky ones to behold such special power is Laredo’s own professional photographer, Melissa Iturralde.

It was 7 o’clock on a very hot afternoon weekend, with a few clients surrounding the place it meant few distractions, which meant a smooth session. It was the perfect “go” for the shoot. Scouting between Texas A&M International University and 2nd & Charles bookstore, Iturralde’s vision remained the same, eager to be produced, and by the end of the day, she beheld our August photo cover. “The idea for the cover was the friendship between two best friends that are in the ‘tween’ stage,” Iturralde added. “It’s before entering adolescence where they still like rainbows and playing dress up but are considered too old to be a child but too young to be a teenager,” she mentioned.

Iturralde’s magic had been in her hands all along. Since she was a little girl, posing and photographing her little nieces and nephews around the beach with a disposable camera was a thing she didn’t know would become a passion in her life. She’s now been doing it for 7 years. “Photography for me is a way of expression, an art and it’s something that stops time. Besides, being able to leave a small treasure in someone’s life is gratifying. I’ve had the privilege of taking pictures of people that unfortunately are no longer here with us,” Iturralde said. That’s the power of photography, it resembles a moment, a special moment in the world that could not be exactly replicated. It’s a still moment to be remembered.

So, thinking about picking up photography as a hobby and creating your own vision? Here’s a word of advice from a growing expert: “It’s important not to compare yourself to others. It’s very difficult trying to live a life trying to be another photographer that has more experience than you. Everybody advances at their own pace… I recommend taking some photography courses and being your best so that clients can open doors for you. Our presentation and our behavior is our best recommendation,” Iturralde advised.


16 Questions

Among your works, which one is your favorite and why?

My favorite photo is one I took of my dad. It was my heart’s desire to photography him and have a memory of how he is, loving and patient and full of God’s peace. In that session we listened to music and talked about many thing. After the session, we both cried and hugged each other. It was a beautiful moment to share with him.

Dead or alive, who is one photographer you wish to collaborate with?

I would like to collaborate with Susan Stippling. She is a New York wedding photographer from whom I’ve learned a lot through her photography courses.

When you go on one of your travels, what type of gear do you take with you?

When I travel, I take my Canon 5D Mark IV and two lenses, usually my 35mm 1.4L and my 70-200mm 2.8L.

Film or digital?


Which is your favorite lens and why do you prefer it over the others?

My favorite lens is the 70-200mm 2.8L. It’s a beauty, so precious. Whenever I do sessions, it the perfect the lens. It separates my subjects from their surroundings and can remove any distraction from my frame.

What, in your opinion, is the most important thing to consider while shooting portrait pictures?

Being able to transmit emotion.

Where do you find your muse in Laredo?

My muse is right at home, my daughter Mia Ivannah. I’ve learned a lot about photography with her.

What kind of gear did you start your career with?

I started with a Canon 7D. It was a birthday gift. Actually, it took me a whole month to get it out of its box. Not going to lie, I was a little afraid of not knowing anything about how to use it.

What type of gear are you currently using?

I have two cameras: Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 5D Mark III with lens 35mm 1.4L, 50mm 1.4L, 70-200mm 2.8L, 85mm 1.2L, Macro 105mm 2.8L and my Canon 600EX flash and flash Profoto A1.

What type of camera do you recommend for a beginner?

For a beginner, I’d say buy a camera that is according to your budget. Buy one that is something you don’t have to necessarily replace within a short period of time.

Black and white or color?

Black and white. For me, they have a special charm about them.

What do you like most about being a photographer?

What I like most is when I see the photos on my computer screen and edit them while I listen to my favorite music. That’s when I go back to live every moment. I am very blessed that people are able to trust me and seek me to document so many special moments. They allow me to enter their lives and let me be a witness and that is more than amazing.

What do you like least about being a photographer?

Actually, I like everything about it. There is always an adventure to live within each session. I am very blessed to be doing what I am doing for 7 years now. I have dedicated myself to photography and I have clients who have become friends and with whom I shared many moments with since our first shoot.

What do you consider the most challenging part about being a photographer?

The most challenging part for me is to search for the light and create a portrait under the pressure of time.

How do you, as a photographer, make sure that the thing, landscape or person you want to shoot looks the way you want it to?

It’s all about patience. Sometimes, a little bit of your time can come a long way; without moving so that way, the light, moment, and frame can align perfectly by themselves. You don’t have to alter anything but simply click a button to capture it all.

What is one project that has been on your mind but hasn’t been brought to life yet?

Melissa: Taking pictures in my professional studio with artificial light. Hopefully it’ll be soon!

By Oscar Castillo

Pioneer in the world of Stand Up Comedy in Mexico, Sofia Niño de Rivera has a career of more than 7 years presenting herself on stages around the world such as the Gotham Comedy Club in New York, the Plaza Condesa, the Metropolitan Theater in the City of Mexico, and at the even her cousin’s wedding in Cuernavaca. In 2016, she launched the special “Sofía Niño de Rivera: Exposed” on Netflix, becoming the first woman to do a special in Spanish for this digital platform, where she also participates in the Club de Cuervos series.

She has participated in two seasons of “Comedy Central Presenta” and has two TEDTalks on how to “echar la hueva.” Taking advantage of her background as a publicist, she has participated as an image and creator in campaigns with Uber, Nike, Nescafé, Baileys, among others. Currently, she has a tour of stand up by the Mexican republic in which it has done more than 50 dates sold out in a year.

Crass, honest, irreverent, edgy, and always relatable, this is a show that’ll have everyone cracking up.  Rivera makes a stop by Laredo on her tour on August 4 at the Laredo Energy Arena. Also, don’t forget to catch her specials on Netflix as well as her soccer-themed series, Club de Cuervos. 

Actor Wilmer Valderrama, friend, and ex-boyfriend of Demi Lovato did not hesitate to go to the hospital where the singer is, to offer her support after she was admitted for an alleged overdose of heroin.

According to People magazine, which specializes in celebrities, the Venezuelan-born American actor went to the Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, California, to learn first-hand about the state of health of the singer.

Wilmer was in the hospital on Wednesday night to offer his unconditional support to the ex-star of Disney, who is going through difficult times after what would be a new relapse into drugs. The actor of “That ’70s Show” has not commented on his visit to Lovato, but it’s been said on Tuesday that he was “devastated” by the singer’s situation.

Valderrama and Lovato had a romance from 2010 to 2016. The actor played a key role during the relationship keeping the singer away from drugs. And she was sober for a long time, it was only a few weeks ago that the singer recognized that she had relapsed.

After concluding their romance, the artists were good friends. People recalled that last February a nearby source of artists revealed that they were “super, super close and that they loved each other madly”.

On Tuesday Lovato was taken to a hospital in Los Angeles for an alleged drug overdose. So far, neither the hospital authorities nor the singer representatives have declared until when it will be hospitalized.

In mid-May, Microsoft introduced the Xbox Adaptive Controller, a controller designed for players with limited mobility. Now, the study reported that some regions can already pre-order the control.

Although it does not yet have an accurate release date, we know that the Xbox Adaptive Controller will cost $99.99 and shipments will begin as of August 2018. Reservations are now available in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. There is still no date for the rest of the countries of America, but it is possible to import the controller from the Microsoft Store.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller has large programmable buttons and connects to switches, buttons, mounts and external joysticks to make the game more accessible, however, these peripherals will be available separately. Microsoft has not revealed more information about it.

During the presentation, the company said that the Xbox Adaptive Controller was developed for 3 years with people and organizations from around the world such as The AbleGamers Charity, Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Craig Hospital, SpecialEffect, and Warfighter Engaged. The goal of launching this controller is that people with some disabilities may have the opportunity to play on Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs.

Finally, Microsoft said it will reveal more information in the coming months, before the release of Xbox Adaptive Controller in August.

It is known that social media is a double-edged sword, and this last couple of days, no one knew that better than James Gunn. The film director is responsible for both of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy films, which have received critical acclaim. However, into light came some very crude jokes he Tweeted years ago, many involving rape and pedophilia, and was promptly released from the third film’s production by Disney. Another case was the brilliant Elon Musk who, after criticism on one of his projects, retaliated with some very toxic words in relation to the case of the Thai boys trapped in a cave after an accident for over three weeks. However, the most blown up case here in the US is the removal of John Schnatter, commonly known as “Papa,” from his very own business, Papa John’s Pizza after some very serious racist remarks. The moral of all this however, is be careful what you share online as someday, it might just come back to bite you in the neck.

By Jorge Santana

A few days ago, they asked me, “what is your first memory?” I did not have to think too much, the immediate thing that came to my mind was the smell of the skin of my father’s Grand Marquis. The rare times my father picked me up from school are tattooed in my memory. He arrived impeccably, always well dressed, and when he got into his car, the scent of the leather was overwhelming; a dark leather, radiant, an aroma that I will never forget. Smell is a great trunk of memories, a black worm that unites us instantly to another time, and takes our present to another dimension. I began to think about the amount of aromas that make up our days, that bring us memories; aromas that we remember, some we long for and others we will never smell again. The best scent I experience is when I finish cleaning my old home. When I finish polishing the wood, oiling the furniture, removing that damn dust that Pita Amor wrote so much about; “dust destroyer of the world,” she said. When I finish I give myself a long hot bath and then a jet of cold water to revive the heart. I drop to bed, semi-dry, my hair still wet, and when I fall on the fluffy coverlet, the aroma explodes, the aroma of soap, of my damp skin, of the miraculous shampoo, all those cleansing scents come to my exhausted self and they cover me like a kiss. But there are plenty of aromas that provoke something, that become eternal in the memory. That aroma of the person with whom you wake up, that some would find horrifying, but it is love that makes that morning scent almost erotic. The aroma kisses behind the ear. The Maja dust that my first-year teacher used, the smell of my nanny’s sweat when she carried me after mopping the kitchen. The smell of the first cold, that first cold that arrives there at the end of November or beginning of December when you are already tired of the heat and when leaving work to start the day, you come across the first cold, with that unique aroma of the first cold of the year. The aroma of freshly ironed clothes, the scent of early mornings that is different from the scent of any other time of day, the scent of entering a foreign house, the aroma of the glasses that did not wash well. The smell of your mother, of your parents, of going through a clothesline full of clothes dripping. The aroma of freshly cut grass, of the firewood that barely ignites, the aroma of cigarettes, the breath of a puppy. The smell of veterinarians, the smell of churches, the baths of rich houses, the scent of Christmas, the aroma of the capirotada, the smell of circuses, of smoke in the House of Mirrors. The scent of that spray water that they put on you when getting a haircut, which they swear is only water but deep down you know it is not. The smell of the permanent marker, of the hair dye, of places that make manicures and pedicures. The smell of a shoeshine stand, the smell of your coats when they make their debut in the winter. The aroma of religious stores, the intoxicating aroma of gasoline. The aroma of the ladies, “copetonas” who wear their vintage perfumes, the aroma of gentlemen who are hardly taken care of. The smell of your room when you’ve been sick. The smell of fresh ink when opening a newspaper. The fattening aroma of the bakeries, the suffocating aroma of the seafood section in the supermarket. The scent of a freshly cut beard, the aroma of a forgotten Tupperware. The aroma of humidity, the aroma of Tampico in August. The aroma of embracing the one you love, of embracing who you hate, the lack of aroma that is also an aroma. The aroma of your house after you arrive from a long trip. The smell of a new city, of the wet earth, of the proximity of a storm. The scent of money, the scent of poverty, the strong smell of fuzziness. The scent of freedom, of the trees, of the autumn, of the leaves burning in the neighbor’s yard. The smell of lifting a stone and the underneath where the worms reside. The aroma of the fertilizer, the aroma of someone else in the aroma of the one you love, the aroma of the freezer, the intense smell of what is not there. Anyway, dear reader, it is how it is. We’ve no other way.

In mid-June, the world was saddened by the news that Koko the gorilla had passed away. She was born in 1971 in the San Francisco zoo, and became known worldwide for her extremely high intelligence and gentle disposition. Since the age of 1, Koko began learning how to communicate through sign language, and passed countless tests which measured both IQ and self-awareness. Koko became somewhat of a celebrity and known figures including Robin Williams, Fred Rogers, Betty White, among others were known to visit and interact with her. Koko was a gentle soul who behaved so much like a human that she even requested to have a pet kitten for companionship, and mourned its death. Koko was a wonder of nature and taught us that the unity between us and other species is so precious. Rest in peace Koko.

By Oscar Perez

Pablo Coronado, a Videographer, has been working hard not only at developing his craft but also finishing up his studies at TAMIU. He has developed a particular skill when it comes to video production, that makes his work unique and memorable. He is not afraid to push the boundaries or break rules to make his vision a reality. I caught up with him in June to talk about his journey in the creative world where we discussed skill development and how he balances school with his passion for video.

Oscar: Pablo, thanks for meeting with me today. Let’s talk about your journey man! When did you decide to do video? What’s the story behind that?

Pablo Coronado: It all started in my junior year in High School. The band director was an asshole and I just got tired of it and I quit. I joined a video production course to substitute that elective. I learned the basics faster than anyone else and I made a video for a competition that made it to nationals. I realized I was good at this video thing! I was then that I got an internship to work with Jeffrey Castillo at Digital Republic.

I remember meeting you at Digital Republic! Do you remember being creative before taking that video production class?

I would always make beats with my snare drum when I was in band. I wanted to be great at something. I would just be on it [snare drum] day in and out. I would get home and practice all the time. Once I quit, I needed to find something as a creative outlet which was video production.

How important do you think your time in band was for your videography?

I think band was very important with creating the foundation for video editing because there has to be rhythm with video editing. You can’t make a transition of when they “kiss the bride” at any given time. It has to be at the peak of the song. The video has to have a momentum. It has to look smooth. Band was a very big part of learning how to transition like that!

How was the transition from intern to professional? What was the toughest part?

I interned for a couple of months and slowly started doing my own gigs. It’s really hard to price your artwork. You’re not doing a service like plumbing so this ranges a lot according to the type of video you are creating. It’s very hard to determine that [price] sometimes. Especially here in Laredo, you know we’re naturally driven to ask “what’s the lowest price you can charge me”. It’s inevitable, that’s la Raza you know… it’s in our system bro, hahaha.

Have you burned out at any point during your journey?

There has been a burnout. As far as videography you get your money’s worth [when creating]. It’s a game of timing. If you edit the video in one day for $500 then you just made $500 that day. If you let it drag on for a month then it’s not even worth it.

What have you learned from the times you have burned out?

Something that has helped me recently is editing different videos at one time. This way it won’t get boring. I get more done.

You found a life hack for producing! Any other life hacks?

As far as executing out on the field I have kept it really simple. Simplifying your equipment makes it really easy. I used to carry a couple of lenses, [and I don’t anymore] I keep it simple now. As far as editing, knowing the shortcuts on your keyboard really helps a lot! It will go very smoothly!

Let’s talk about your style. I’ve seen your work with politicians, gyms, fitness professionals, weddings… and they all have the “Pablo” touch on it. How did you develop it?

In terms of marking your signature on your product… it’s really a matter of time. You slowly start to find a pattern in editing. I am very happy to know that you see the watermark. Most of it has to be the music choice. [I mean] who puts EDM background music on a wedding highlight?! Hahaha. I do. It’s all about doing new things and breaking the rules.

How do you translate someone’s story into video?

It may get a little complicated at times but it’s easier when you know the person. If the person is known for smiling or being happy… you want to portray that in video.

I know you’re a videographer and a student at the same time. How are you balancing school and this passion?

It all started when I was in India and I got a call from a school where I was interviewed to teach videography here in Laredo. Even before knowing if I got the job or not I thought to myself “If I was willing to teach videography and finish my school part time… why don’t I just do that now?” I didn’t get the job but that is God’s plan. I’m now balancing both video production and school.

That’s great man! I know you’ve traveled quite a bit! Has that influenced the way you produce video?

When you travel, it’s kind of like a book. If you don’t read, you don’t know. That’s straight up. The more you travel, the more it opens your eyes. How this reflects in my videos…? Editing those videos did help me get better at my craft. I thought of effects I wanted in those travel videos and that’s how I got the knowledge of the sky replacement effect in my work.

Have you ever wanted to quit?

Hahaha, you’re putting me on the spot man! Sometimes when I’m recording a wedding and I look at the clock and it’s 12am and [I know] I have to jet until 2am I just want to walk out and give them their money back. Haha!  But I’m pretty sure everyone goes through these feelings, however, every time I’m down like that… there is no other way to go, than up!

That’s keeping it real man! Where do you get your inspiration from?

It’s pretty much showing people the creativity from within. A picture says 1,000 words; a video says 1,000 pictures. That’s a lot! I just want to portray that creativity and capture the memories.

How important is having a community that supports you?

I love showing other people my work and I love to imagine them saying “oh shit! This is nice!” However, it’s not entirely because it makes me feel good to know what other people think but seeing it does give me satisfaction. I don’t value my self-worth based on followers and likes. I do have a big support from the community and I appreciate that but I’m not entirely driven by that.

I see! You are more about channeling creativity?

Yes, exactly. I dream about these things! I wake up and I’m like “ok, let me create it on video before I forget it!” If I don’t do it, who else will? It’s not even about being the first or who did it best.

I love it man! How do you keep your skill development going?

The key really is not to stop. I do see a correlation in it. I stop editing and I lose my chops. If you’re not working, then you are not being productive.

Who do you surround yourself with?

I hang out with my friend Rolan Sanchez, a photographer, and it helps a lot. We share ideas day in, day out. We talk about effects we see in videos and try to figure them out. It’s all about problem solving. It challenges us to be at that level. Surrounding yourself with creatives impacts your work.

Awesome! I think as humans we all should develop each other! What role do you play in developing other creatives?

I usually substitute at school, so I like going to my old high school. The students there ask me about how I did certain things in a video and I show them the process. It is so satisfying to teach them something they didn’t know. It feels good!

That’s great man! Where can we find your work? Do you have any big projects coming up?

If you really want to see my creative side go to my Instagram. This is the “GO TO” place! Username is @pabs.crowned. My production company is Regiment Video Productions you can look us upon Facebook if you want to get in contact. Also, I will be teaching a 2-day workshop for Video on July 21-22 at Centro de Artes y Musica (CAM) here in Laredo, TX.

Pablo, thank you for sharing your story with us! I know you will inspire our readers and I look forward to all the incredible work you will bring to reality! Keep dreaming and keep creating!

Last week, one of the biggest events for geek-kind, the legendary Comic Con took place. As is customary now, during the convention, which hosts visitors from all over the world, several trailers to upcoming movies and television series. Some of the included were the trailer for DC’s Shazam and Aquaman movies as well as the upcoming Teen Titans TV series, a trailer for JK Rowling’s phenomenal sequel to the Fantastic Beasts series, a trailer for M. Night Shaymalan’s upcoming threequel, Glass, as well as footage from the continuations of show like The Walking Dead, Iron Fist, and Doctor Who, featuring the all-new female doctor. Of course, there were many other surprises, and the internet is just bursting with hype. What are you most excited for?