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Former EPCC Student Awarded 2nd Place in Best of El Paso Photography Competition


Maribel Silva with her 2023 Best of El Paso Award.

Maribel Silva has reached new heights with her photography business. She was recently awarded 2nd place in photography in the 2023 Best of El Paso competition, and it is in part possible by her time as a student at EPCC.


Silva grew up in El Paso, Texas and began attending EPCC in 2016 to pursue an associate degree in graphic design and graduated in 2018.

Now, she works a full-time job alongside her photography business and is aspiring to continue to a four-year university to attain a bachelor’s degree in business marketing. She hopes to grow her photography business, called Mars Photography, to become her sole source of income.


Silva’s interest in photography began when she was in high school. She began practicing photography by asking her friends if they would model for her.


“We started graduating and people started asking me how much I would charge for photos. And, you know, it just started to become like a small little business for me,” she said. “And then from there, it just kept going and going and I kept growing. And I realized I can make those, you know, like something a career since I really enjoy doing it.”


By the time she was in college, Silva had a desire for a photography career, but lacked confidence.


EPCC Instructor Viridiana Villa del Hoyo, who is a Professor for Advertising Graphic Design, gave her the push and confidence to continue pursuing photography seriously.


“I think she was the one that helped me truly feel, like, the potential in me,” Silva said.


They met in a digital imaging class, and Villa del Hoyo encouraged Silva to keep in contact with her.


“She would reach out to me for just general advice like, you know, problems troubleshooting with technical stuff or dealing with clients. And I told her that, like, she could reach out to me anytime for any advising,” Villa del Hoyo said.


She said she immediately noticed Silva’s talent for photography through her family photos assignment.


“I noticed that she had talent working with kids because some of her first assignments were portrait sessions of children, I think they were family members, and I was really surprised that she captured, like their essence. They looked comfortable, and I praised her for that during the critique,” she said.

Silva now has 10 years of photography experience under her belt and won second place in the Best of El Paso Competition, put on by El Paso Inc, after first place winner, Valerie Snaps Photography.


Maribel Silva and her dog Nyla.

Silva did not know she was nominated until El Paso Inc. reached out to her.


“I didn't think much of it because, you know, there's a lot of photographers here in El Paso, so I don't think I was going to win or anything like that,” she said.


This great honor helped give her confidence to continue doing what she loves and was a highlight of her year.


“It just made me think, oh, well, you can be down on yourself all the time, you know, like I am actually doing something that is good, and that people see that is good,” she said.


In addition to this, the encouragement Silva receives from her clients inspires her to keep going.


“Tagging me, like, always makes me happy because, you know, it means that they actually liked my work. So just getting the compliments back from the actual clients that are hiring me and telling me, you know, that they enjoyed my photos or having them show me that they printed them and put them in their walls and stuff like that, it's always a good feeling,” she said.


Silva has grown and learned many lessons in her journey as a growing photographer.

She has now learned to have fun with her shoots and express her creativity and style through it.


“I think that's what actually started everything for me was, you know, creating something that I liked and that I knew that was going to express how I was feeling at that point in time. And then from there, it's just, you know, I think people started to see that in some of my photos,” she said.


Villa del Hoyo added to her praise of Silva saying that she was an inspiration to students and to her community.


“Not only she's inspiring to our student body, but she's also inspiring to the local community because it's a woman driven business, on her own, and she venture all the out there and she provided to the community a service,” Villa del Hoyo said.


Silva’s future goals include getting her bachelor’s degree, expanding her business to be able to travel, and continuing to help people capture memories. Her favorite photoshoots are of families and cake smash photos and portraits.


Maribel Silva with her camera.

Villa del Hoyo shared how important instructor encouragement and guidance can be for students to grow their passion and empower them to thrive in their industry.


“I think it's important that we as instructors, we let them know that they're good and that we make them confident because, you know, Maribel is an example of that. She already had the passion, she already had the talent, the will to do this as a profession. But she just needed a little push like, you can do it like, yes, just go ahead and do it. Start booking sessions. You're really good at this. And I think those little words of encouragement completely, you know, make a difference,” Villa del Hoyo said.


Silva’s passion for photography is continuing to grow as she helps people become comfortable in front of a camera and capture precious memories.


“It's really fun and it's amazing to be able to help people do that or like show that through a photo,” she said.

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