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ARTS & BUSINESS PROFILE: MICHAEL COLLAZO

Written By Isabel Rivera
August 30, 2023 at 3:05 PM

At just 25 years old, founder and owner of Brisa Studio, Michael Collazo, totes over 10 years of professional photography and videography experience. He credits much of his informal education to the success of his company. (Photo courtesy of Swany Castañeda)

“I’ve always been a smart person; just not the way that people wanted me to be.” – Michael Collazo

Meet Michael Collazo. Successful small business owner. Talented photographer. Experienced videographer. High school dropout.

From getting his first full-time job as a video editor at the age of 16 to starting a small business in the middle of a pandemic, Brisa Studio founder and owner Michael Collazo has always been a proponent of the unconventional.

In June of 2020, amidst a global pandemic, a 23-year-old Collazo decided to chase after what most would classify as a pipe dream: to start and head a video and production company with no formal training and no GED. Fast forward three years later and Brisa Studio now boasts collaborations with organizations the likes of Sushi Maki and the Miami Dolphins and has worked with local businesses all across South Florida.

Crediting his success to his head start on realworld experience, Collazo redefines what it means to be a student and turns it into a lifestyle – not just an enrollment status.

A red truck rolls through the streets of Havana, Cuba in “Havana, Cuba 1.” The image is part of a passion project series in which Collazo visited his parents’ homeland and documented it largely on film. (Photo courtesy of Michael Collazo)

When asked about starting Brisa during the Pandemic, Collazo explains, “I wasn’t really doing freelance work anymore when I was a creative director since I was very busy, but I had more of a chance to work on projects when the pandemic hit and got the itch. I was like, ‘Why not just do it? Let’s just start a company.’ Collazo imagined the company being a side hustle, not a full-time job. “Surprisingly,” quips Collazo, “the pandemic was actually the best time to start a video company because everybody needed everything to be done online, streamed, and through video.”

As his business took off, Collazo says it was easy to leave his current full time position as a creative director. “When I became a creative director, I was excited, but I felt I had just peaked; it was the furthest I could go as far as a position at my old job. I wanted to have my own businessthat’s been my dream my whole lifebut I just didn’t know when, how, or anything about business. When Brisa came about, it just felt like the right opportunity for that dream.”

“Havana, Cuba 2,” also featured in his Cuba series, documents Collazo’s love for street photography and storytelling. (Photo courtesy of Michael Collazo)

Acknowledging he had no formal training, Collazo goes on to describe how he has learned how to run a business from mentors that he looks for for inspiration and guidance. “I’m thankful that I have a lot of people in my life who have taken similar steps as me. Even if they’re in different industries, they’ve gone for it and they own their own businesses; I’ve been able to learn from their mistakes and advice. I think that, plus being obsessed with it. I don’t see what I do as a job to just make moneyI want to be really good at this.” Collazo says he spends his time finding ways to improve his business acumen – through software programs and organizational tools, for example. “There are always a million ways you can improve.”

Collazo’s “Hialeah, Florida 1,” centers on a main focus of Collazo’s photography: portraiture. He prefers his subjects to alter their appearance as little as possible, aiming to capture their natural beauty as candidly as possible. (Photo courtesy of Michael Collazo)

Collazo believes life is about learning. He says that he has always been passionate about learning, just not about anything that was being offered him at school. For him, school felt more like wasting time, not learning. He knew what he wanted to do at an early age and broke free from the notion that success depended on excelling in school. Instead, learning came from experiences that would carry him toward his goal. He recounts, “When I got my first camera and started learning how to shoot, I would just go to my church’s creative team every single day and learn and shoot pictures of whatever the hell I saw.”

“Hialeah, Florida 2,” features an armed, older gentleman posing with a slanted smile. The photo’s aim encapsulates Collazo’s motto for Brisa and unexpectedly mirrors his personal journey: to seek beauty beyond its traditional definition. (Photo courtesy of Michael Collazo)

Before ending the conversation, we discuss his logo, a blue heron grasping a snake in its claws. Collazo explains that he chose that bird because the symbolism attached to it. “In Mayan tradition, if they were hunting and saw a blue heron, it meant it would be a successful day.” he explains. “Others believe that if you see one of these birds, then you’re in the right place in life. I was very on edge about starting the company and had a lot of worries going into it, but that bird was my sign saying, ‘You got this.'”

 

ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music and more. Don’t miss a story at www.artburstmiami.com.

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