Eventually, I started meeting and assisting people in the fashion industry, and it blew my mind. I’ve always been attracted to 'cool' shit; I’ve always 'dressed cool' and listened to 'cool music,’ which I guess can be boiled down to the energy of youth: how you compare to your peers, the tribes you form with your friends, the experiences you create. By gravitating towards the cool, I inevitably started working in fashion.
At that time, the NYC fashion scene was the epitome of cool: the drugs, the gorgeous models, the photographers, etc. I started assisting for three or four years and was shooting like a maniac. I finally got represented and did pretty well for five or six years. You have to understand that I don’t come from an artistic background, I come from an ordinary middle-class Guatemalan family. My siblings are normal people, so I had no idea what was happening to me. In the end, NYC marked me the way nothing ever has, I know that I somehow belong here.
Sadly, the party scene got to me: it was all way too much, I was way too young and I developed an insane addiction to partying and drugs. My first Vogue publication was at 24, and I was travelling to Paris and shooting for L’Officiel. It all got to my head, a cocktail of too much money and power, an inevitable toxic and unsustainable lifestyle, and I became mentally absent. Fashion photography somehow became robotic and repetitive, and although I was doing well, I realised that I would never make it to the top and be the cream of the crop. NYC eats you, chews you up and spits you out, and as an immigrant, it’s always more difficult.