Carolina Mariana Rodriguez deems herself a jill of all trades, but might more accurately be described as a queen of her craft. She is a Chicago-based photographer who captures beautiful, well-composed pieces of life that make you wish those moments belonged to you. Carolina is, quite simply, a creator. This was proven in so many aspects of her life when we asked her to don a pair of Blu Kicks and share what it’s like to spend a week in her shoes.

“I started the week in Kansas City. One of the women my friend Claire will feature [in August] on her blog, Women Who Make, works in Kansas City. It worked out that I was there visiting family and was able to shoot her. She owns a ceramics company called Convivial Production and makes these really beautiful cups, bowls and vases.”

Carolina shares that one of her favorite things to do is meet artists and learn about their practices while photographing them in their element. “It’s one of my favorite ways of capturing people. It’s just really natural. And people tend to feel more comfortable [when they're] able to do what they normally do.”

She arrived back in Chicago and spent Sunday morning at the Logan Square Farmer’s Market  -- a habit she likes to keep, where she’ll buy ingredients for meals she’ll make during the week and anything else she feels like purchasing. “I bought peonies because I never buy myself flowers and I wanted to do something nice for myself. I think it’s a really nice gesture. Lately, I’ve tried to slow down and be in the moment and honor myself, because I can be so hard on my efforts. Being kind to me is something that I’ve been trying to work on.”

My friend Todd found this coat (left) at Pilsen Vintage and I almost didn’t buy it, but after going back and forth on it for ten minutes outside the shop, I went back in and claimed it as my own. Mostly because it was getting late and the temperature was dropping, but it’s been a great coat thus far.
Peonies,  ground bison , kale.

Peonies, ground bison, kale.

Following her trip to the farmer’s market, she returned home to make almond milk. “It’s something that my mom does a lot. It goes back to slowing down and making things with my hands, which I had gotten out of the habit of doing. So even just making homemade nut milk is a way for me to get back to being present and noticing and recognizing how my body feels. That was kind of like a practice for myself to get grounded and peaceful on Sunday.”

"Weekday mornings I usually start with a cup of tea. This photo represents getting up in the morning and being quiet with my thoughts before the craziness of the day starts."

"Weekday mornings I usually start with a cup of tea. This photo represents getting up in the morning and being quiet with my thoughts before the craziness of the day starts."

"Occasionally it works out that I'm able to walk   my friend Jourdan's dog before I go to work. He’s so photogenic and his patience for treats is unparalleled."

"Occasionally it works out that I'm able to walk my friend Jourdan's dog before I go to work. He’s so photogenic and his patience for treats is unparalleled."

Carolina tends to fill up most of her week assisting photographers in the city and shooting for herself. Every so often she’ll assist her friend and lifestyle/food photographer, Kelly Allison. This week she spent a day out in Glen Ellyn, a suburb of Chicago, doing just that. Kelly was doing product photography and had made a pink ombré cake for the shoot. Carolina explains that the mess created behind the scenes is wonderful in its own way, “There’s this funny dynamic between the scene you’ve created and are photographing for the client and all the stuff that’s behind the scenes -- of food and leftovers strewn about. There’s something so beautiful in that mess that’s entirely different than the perfect scene you’ve created.”

"There’s a new hotel that recently opened, the  Chicago Athletic Association , that I went to check out in the few hours between shooting with Michael Mundy. They just opened the roof and it has one of the most incredible views of Chicago looking out over Millennium Park."

"There’s a new hotel that recently opened, the Chicago Athletic Association, that I went to check out in the few hours between shooting with Michael Mundy. They just opened the roof and it has one of the most incredible views of Chicago looking out over Millennium Park."

Another photographer Carolina assisted during the week was Michael Mundy, a celebrated interior and portrait photographer based in New York City. They spent an entire day in one hotel to capture both day and night shots of the space, per the client’s request. She said, “It’s long and it’s hard, but I love assisting other photographers because you get to see how they work. The pressure is off of you, but you still get to be in that environment. I’m naturally drawn to helping others. So getting to help people who are in a similar career to what I’m pursuing is really inspiring for me.”

"John holding up his glass of rosé against the sky. This was an evening that it was storming like crazy in Chicago and then there was a brief hour where the sky was a watercolor painting and we were relaxing with a bottle of rosé. "

"John holding up his glass of rosé against the sky. This was an evening that it was storming like crazy in Chicago and then there was a brief hour where the sky was a watercolor painting and we were relaxing with a bottle of rosé."

Aside from working with well-established photographers, Carolina explains the importance and gratitude she feels for people like her friend John Thompson, who is also a photographer and happens to be in a similar place in his career as she is in hers. “I have a lot of friends who are really successful photographers and they’re wonderful mentors, but there is something so great about being able to talk with someone who is experiencing the same successes and failures as yourself.”

"If you look at my phone, there are a lot pictures of my feet standing next to something. It's my way of documenting unusual things I come across -- like this cup of coffee grounds and eggs and stuff, which was just a really funny scene. It must have been someone’s compost they were starting. "

"If you look at my phone, there are a lot pictures of my feet standing next to something. It's my way of documenting unusual things I come across -- like this cup of coffee grounds and eggs and stuff, which was just a really funny scene. It must have been someone’s compost they were starting."

I usually have a day during the week where I freelance from home and I, kind of unintentionally, end up taking pictures around my house for no reason - just noticing the light. I like to think it’s a mental exercise for myself where I don’t really have any purpose in shooting. Just going back to that feeling of when I was first interested in photography and how you shoot the things that you like and don’t get paid for it. It’s a very innocent feeling. I do it now with my iPhone, which sometimes feels like cheating, but I think iPhone photography has come a long way.
That day, I’d decided to go sit outside and eat lunch with the book that I got from a book vending machine when I was in Toronto recently. You put in a coin and it dispenses a random book. And the book that it gave me was Teaching Poetry, which I thought was funny because I’ve been really interested in exploring poetry recently. So I felt it was symbolic. Though it’s about actually teaching poetry — I thought it was going to teach me about poetry — there are probably still things I can learn from it. But just the fact that that’s the book I got felt like a message.
Teaching Poetry book from the  Monkey's Paw Biblio-Mat   . You can  see my friend   Archie using the Biblio-Mat  too.

Teaching Poetry book from the Monkey's Paw Biblio-Mat. You can see my friend Archie using the Biblio-Mat too.

"This was one of those serene moments when everything feels right. You’re by yourself biking home at dusk, you stop at an intersection and take in everything around you and think about how great it is to live in such a big, diverse city."

"This was one of those serene moments when everything feels right. You’re by yourself biking home at dusk, you stop at an intersection and take in everything around you and think about how great it is to live in such a big, diverse city."

Biking is Carolina’s main form of transportation. And her Blu Kicks fit perfectly into that aspect of her life. “They’re fantastic for commuting. The ease of the classic slip-on is so great.”

Beyond just a great shoe for traversing her city of Chicago, she’s found that her Blu Kicks fit nicely into her life and style. “I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve gotten on them. The aesthetic is so simple that you put them on without second-guessing... they’re so easy to wear. My weeks are really crazy in the sense that one week is never the same as another week, so it’s really nice to find pieces that are seamless and go with everything. They’re great for going from one job to the next. You’re comfortable, you look presentable and it doesn’t hurt that everyone else seems to love them too.”

When Carolina is not biking around Chicago or creating something herself, she frequents the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, where she is a member, to immerse herself in others' creations. She describes her visit to the S, M, L, XL Exhibit, “The artists were exploring how [one] piece might make you feel small and another might make you feel large. One of them had a hot air balloon that filled up the entire room and you were able to walk inside the air balloon and see it billowing around you.”

One of Carolina’s favorite things to shoot is music because it’s such an important part of her life. She finds herself at a show of a friend or that of a band she’s been listening to at least one night each week. This week she went to see her friend Brad’s band, Ancient Friends, play. She shares that even though there isn’t money in shooting shows like this, she finds constant inspiration to create images in a way that connects her to music, something she holds so dear.

carolina-rodriguez-34band.jpg
“I’m at someone’s place and grilling out   at least once a week. It’s a total summertime activity. Here, my friend Todd is making a pizza on the grill.”

“I’m at someone’s place and grilling out at least once a week. It’s a total summertime activity. Here, my friend Todd is making a pizza on the grill.”

For a while, I was trying to make certain colors my color. Like, trying to make blood orange my color — something that was really too specific. And I remember stepping back to look at my wardrobe and realizing, ‘Gosh, I own so much blue.’ Everything is either denim or royal blue or some shade of blue and I had this ‘ah ha’ moment where I was like, ‘Duh, blue is my color.’ When I saw that Blu Kicks had the blue shoes, I said, ‘I need those. Blue is my color.’ It may not always be the color I’m gravitating towards, but it’s always the color I go back to. A foundation to my personality.

In speaking with Carolina, we found that she, like the many colors of blue that fill her closet and are the "foundation to her personality," is calm, friendly and loyal, with a quiet power. It's no wonder she's able to create images filled with emotion and beauty and find companionship in creatives like herself. The people she photographs no doubt find a quick friend and feel safe around her. We're so lucky to have walked (and biked) a week in her shoes.

All photos © Carolina Rodriguez