Maria Soledad “Sole” Lorenzino ’15 fell in love with photography at a young age. Her experience working with PantherNow – FIU’s student-run newspaper – helped her narrow down her passion to photo producing and her various internships and job opportunities gave her the resilience to keep chasing her dreams.
While interning and working with multiple media organizations, she frequently heard her work was “mediocre” and her career ambition of working for Apple in photography was too high or not realistic.
Today, though, Lorenzino is a full-time photo producer for Apple and all because the word “no” was not enough to dissuade her.
What did you major in?
I have a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Science in Communications with an area of concentration in photography.
What path did you take to attain your current career?
My path was anything but linear. I worked retail jobs all throughout my time at FIU. I also worked at what was then FIU Student Media (currently PantherNow), first as a photographer, then multimedia editor and briefly as editor-in-chief. As I kept progressing in my different jobs, I started narrowing down what I loved doing and what I was good at. Being a producer wasn’t necessarily what I set out to become, but my varied experiences made me realize I love the work and I can do it well.
You were working at the Sun-Sentinel as a part-time photographer. What made you decide to leave your job and join the retail team at Apple?
I started at Apple retail part-time while at FIU, thinking I would only work for a year or two while I finished school. I ended up falling in love with the company, my co-workers and the work I was doing. While in my last semester at FIU, I was offered a part-time staff photographer/videographer role at the Sun-Sentinel, so I ended up working both part-time at Apple retail and part-time at the Sun-Sentinel. I did this for two years, until Apple retail offered me a full-time position. I love everything about Apple – the culture, the people and the avenues for growth within the company. So, I made the decision to leave journalism. As a full-time employee, I got opportunities to work across various teams within Apple, which eventually led me to my current role on the photo production team.
How has FIU helped you get to where you are today in your career?
I got an exemplary education at FIU. From my photography classes, to my journalism courses, to even the required courses I had to take, I learned something that helped me grow in almost every class. Working at FIU Student Media was instrumental in helping me learn to work in a newsroom. Through FIU, I met the people that would eventually help me intern at the Sun-Sentinel, which helped me build the background I needed to be able to do what I do today.
Did you always want to work in photography?
Not necessarily, but I always loved it. Even when I was young, I loved taking pictures. I did not consider it as a possible career until I had already started at FIU and decided to pursue journalism. Now, I can’t imagine not working in photography in some capacity. Even though I no longer hold the camera, I love being surrounded by photography on a daily basis.
Do you have a photography style that you gravitate toward in your work?
At work, I manage projects with all different photography styles. Personally, documentary photography will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s raw and honest. Some of the most impactful social change happened because of one photograph.
What inspires your photography?
Raw human emotion is so inspiring. People just being their unfiltered, authentic selves. As a photojournalist, I always felt my best work came from images where people forgot I was there. I may not be the one shooting, but I still find motivation in authenticity.
What is your favorite part of your job?
What I love most is that every day, every shoot, every project is different. I’m always learning something new, and I’m constantly being challenged in the best way. I’m putting out the best work of my life and I work on a team that pushes me to make every project better than the last.
How does your job connect back to your coursework?
FIU set the foundation for me to excel. Through my journalism track, I learned how to ask the right questions, how to manage my time, and stay organized. I took film photography classes at MMC, which involved developing my own film and images. Learning photography from the ground up gave me an understanding and appreciation I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.
Were there any classes or professors that influenced where you are today?
I had photojournalism with Patrick Farrell and several photography classes with Lissette Schaeffler. Both taught me the fundamentals of photography. I worked with Robert Jaross and Alfred Soto at FIU Student Media, and they were both excellent mentors. Ted Gutsche, a journalism professor, was probably my toughest professor, but he taught to think beyond the obvious. He taught me to question every reason and method, and to consider how I can bring about change in positive ways.
What advice do you have for students?
You’re going to be told “no” 100 times before you get a “yes.” It’s not an easy thing to hear, and on the worst days, you’ll want to give up on your goals. Instead of giving up, be open and receptive to the feedback given to you by the people who want to help you grow. There is always room for improvement. One of my favorite quotes of all-time is from Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
Take a look at some of Lorenzino's photography work below.