A guide to creativity and community through the lens of Instagrammer Cheyanne Paredes

The lifestyle of a twenty-something seems to revolve around two main things: caffeine and creativity. Within that group are a handful of social media masters who have the ability to document that lifestyle so beautifully that thousands of people choose to follow their life in pictures.  

But who are these locally famous Instagrammers without the filters, the impeccable photography skills and the abnormally photogenic friends? And what is their secret to connecting with the city in such an intimate way?

Cheyanne Paredes is one such Instagrammer, and her secret involves nothing more than her camera and her community. In July 2015, Cheyanne was featured on AZCentral’s list of “10 fave Arizona Instagrams." AZCentral aptly summed it up in writing, “she goes all the places you go in the Valley, but they look much cooler through her lens.”

On the Friday I met with Paredes she was in her natural habitat at Cartel Coffee Lab, cold brew in hand and bright Tempe sun beaming onto her face. She is the epitome of every well-lit, aesthetically calming photo that makes up her Instagram feed.

Paredes, 29, has been a barista around the Valley for four years and now works at Cartel Coffee Lab’s Phoenix Sky Harbor location. She said coffee was an important step for her in getting involved with the local scene.

“I think you can find the community if you’re looking for it and if you’re going to coffee events,” she said. “I do like the coffee community for the social aspect of it, and you can network pretty fast with people. It depends on how much you’re putting yourself out there and maybe where you work.”

Luckily, the coffee community also seems to be packed with young, charismatic photographers looking to bond and shoot.

“I do think photography and coffee intersect at certain places,” Paredes said. “It does feel like a small community once you’re in it. It’s funny how small it is.”

Indeed, her Instagram is brimming with the familiar faces of those who have obtained significant followings on the app in a similar way to Paredes. Along with engaging in the coffee community, creative people like Paredes often befriend each other at “InstaMeets.” Still, she said the process of meeting other creative people isn’t difficult. 

“I feel like it happens so naturally and out of the blue,” she said. “For a long time, I had such a hard time meeting people or understanding how to meet people, and then it just happened out of nowhere.”

Even though Paredes has a strong friend group of fellow photographers and over 25,000 Instagram followers who choose to keep up with her life, she still maintains a personal commitment to her craft that can serve as inspiration for the college students who strives to make a living off of their art.

“I think we all have our insecurities about what we’re most passionate about,” she said. “So studying other people and other art really helps me to be like, ‘Why do I like that and how do I implement that into what I’m doing?’ I’m always pushing myself to make my photos and myself better.”

Though Paredes is still trying to figure out where she wants to take her career, she’s not asking for much.

“I’m more of a minimalist, and a ‘live simply’ type of person,” she said. “So my focus isn’t to make a lot of money … As long as I can photograph full time and live comfortably, I would be happy.”

For now, she has a blog that she uses to share her experiences as a well-traveled photographer with fine taste in food. It is structured like a city guide to the places she’s traveled. 

Still, Paredes knows that the key to the creative growth she is longing to experience lies significantly in the people she knows and the questions she asks. 

Paredes is well aware of the power of networking, a concept every college student is regularly reminded of. But her advice for young creative people looking for like-minded community is to simply engage.

“I would say become a local somewhere where people can recognize you,” she said. “Go to the same coffee shop, bar or restaurant. I always try new places but I think if you’re going to the same places you’ll make friends. It happens pretty organically.”

Paredes considers Lux, Crudo, St. Francis and Windsor to be some of her favorite places to grab a bite in Central Phoenix. She prefers to edit her photos at coffee shops like Giant, Cartel and Royal. 

Despite her renowned reputation as a visual artist and well-known Phoenician, Paredes said she still manages to maintain a simple outlook on life and a keen perception of the little things that make a moment worth sharing. She not only knows the community’s best angles, but her own as well.

That feel when you are home with friends ❤️. PC: @thecoffeechop

A photo posted by cheyp (@cheyp) on

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Reach the reporter at celina.jimenez@asu.edu or follow @lina_lauren on Twitter.

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