My name is Herb Gonzalez, commonly known as @lionthelion and I am a photographer and cinematographer. My journey into content creation was pretty unexpected, I kind of fell into it. I have been a “photographer” since my MySpace days, I was the friend that took everyones profile picture but I never really took it seriously because my main focus at the time was music.
Through the years of playing and managing bands, I held on to my camera and continued to be the go-to for all of my friends which eventually led to me creating a Flickr account to share all my photos… I finally gave in and realized “okay yeah, maybe I can make photography a thing!”
It’s surreal to me the amount of places photography has taken me, I cannot believe how many incredible friends I have made through it. It’s also mind-blowing to me how many turns its taken (for the best). I started as a music photographer, then shot primarily lifestyle, then somehow made my way into video.
But of all the places that photography has taken me, my most memorable and life changing trip has to be a week long shoot I had in Des Moines, Iowa. Trust me, I thought the same thing… “Des Moines, Iowa?? Really?? Is there anything there..?” But for me, there was. I was the lead photographer capturing content for The Young Entrepreneur Convention where I got to directly work with a huge range of entrepreneurs including Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank. While there, I also got my first role as a cinematographer for a TV show named Ambitious Adventures with a production that would eventually call me back to work on a few other jobs. Little did I know… those jobs would get me 3 EMMY nominations.
Vela Visuals is the production company that saw something in me that I didn’t even know I had. At the time of our first shoot, I was strictly a photographer but had started doing video for only a few weeks. Further down the road, they brought me on as cinematographer for the short form documentary “Pulse: One Year Later” which was my most emotional shoot to date. It’s about the Pulse Nightclub shooting that happened in my hometown of Orlando. We interviewed 3 of the survivors that were there and they told us what it was like to be in that room while all the gunfire was happening. I’m very passionate about my work but this job, without a doubt was my most emotional and passionate work to date and The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences thought so too. Months after the release of this video, I walked across a stage alongside my director of photography, Shawn Vela, to accept an EMMY for this project.
I still can’t believe it. I wish I could go into detail about what it was like but I was so dream-like that it’s hard to put into words. I was on autopilot when I gave my acceptance speech, there isn’t even a word for the emotion I was feeling at the time. I regained consciousness as soon as I walked off stage and walked into the back. Wow. All of this had started from just being a kid on MySpace messing around with a DSLR in Auto Mode. People ask me how it feels to be an EMMY Award Winning Cinematographer and honestly.. It’s motivating. It makes me want to live up to name and to make sure that this isn’t my last one. It makes me want to work harder because the reality is, there is no secret to being successful, whatever your definition success may be. You just have to put in your time and make sure your time is being put into the right place with the right people.
I have so many stories to share about my journey through photography I could go on for days and days but I’m only getting started. I see my life as a book full of stories and memories and “The Hub” is the title of the next chapter.