A visionary in the making

The eyes behind the camera

Aliyah Ramirez, Staff Writer

As the music blazes across the arena of students filling the stands, the lights beam and fireworks shoot toward the sky as the San Jose State University football team runs across the bright green field. Capturing the momentous pregame on film, Luigi Aficial chases behind the players rushing with adrenaline as chills race throughout his body. 

For most college students, one football game is no different from the next, but for LMC student Aficial, experiencing San Jose State’s football game brought a bit of a “culture shock” since, for him, it was stepping onto the university field for the first time. As a sports fan all his life, he was inspired to explore opportunities within professional sports in the less traditional sense, outside of a jersey number. 

An interest in sports and the creative freedom of photography led Aficial to turn his interest into a passion. Working toward his business administration associates for transfer, Aficial has developed skills in how to manage and organize projects and remain focused on turning his love of the creative arts into a future career.  

Aficial picked up his parents’ old camera during his junior year of high school for fun. It had been collecting dust in the closet, so he put it to use shooting a multitude of school and family events, building up his experience and getting his name out there. It was not until he shot his first sports project, his outlook on photography changed from being more than single images. Instead, he focused on creating a meaningful impact for his audience.

However, with his Filipino family custom of focusing one’s career into a practical field, which in most cases is healthcare related, his parents did not see videography as a realistic career. Aficial describes his parents’ mindset of their son’s career to be in nursing, “as the way to get out of your circumstances and to give your family a better life.” This made it harder for them to see the creative industry as a way to reach success. 

Determined to make a name for himself, Aficial worked throughout his first years at LMC to save up enough money for a better camera and other photo equipment, while perfecting his craft along the way. By developing his passion into more than a hobby, Aficial’s parents were able to see that a traditional career is not the only way to be successful. 

“As a photographer, videographer, it really embodies how I want more Filipinos to broaden their horizons when it comes to career interests,” said Aficial. “You don’t have to rely solely on just your culture to define who you can become as an individual. It’s something that I’m using as motivation to transcend it as well.”

Three years after he posted his first sports edit, his eyes brightened as he reflected on his journey to continue his passion in creating a new outlook on sports coverage.

Taking players and making their journeys stand out both in and out of the game takes immense creativity. Expressing your individuality with each photo or video is what his inspiration, Cameron Look, does to stand out within the creative industry. A trailblazer as one of the few Asian Americans in the sports field, Look inspired Aficial to use his set of creative skills as a content creator and view sports within another light.

As a self-taught creator, Aficial has worked with more than 200 clients since he first started and had many unexpected opportunities along the way. Many say, ‘friends have the ability to change one’s life,’ and that is exactly what AJ Tinio, creative director at San Jose State University, did for Aficial. 

He was given an internship at SJSU and, noticed for his hard work and ability, Aficial continued his progress working in publicity at the college. With each project, from a short edit to a documentary, his main purpose is to impact others through visual storytelling.

“Every time I finish a project or some photos and I send it out to clients it’s like they’re always telling me, ‘man Luigi, I can’t believe what you just did,’ the reactions, they never get old,” said Aficial. 

Yet one of the most memorable experiences so far has been working with NFL running back Joe Mixon of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Shooting two practices and putting it all together with photos and a mixtape, Aficial felt it was important to get his work out there as Mixon was returning from an injury. The goal of the project was to show Mixon’s hard work of trying to get better and healthy for the upcoming season.

“So I was really happy to tell a part of his story. You get to portray people and your ideas and who they are,” said Aficial. “Who they are as individuals and that was one of my most, if not my most meaningful, projects I’ve done.”

Aficial’s process of shooting, editing and sharing his content has undergone trial and error. Through an improved editing process and other factors he learned at SJSU, he is now able to complete his projects within a day compared to a week. 

As a perfectionist with all of his work, he makes his edits stand out from the others through his unique use of colors. 

“I think that’s a very important thing to differentiate. I use a lot of effects to create vibrances, colors, cinematic,” said Aficial. “I have a specific color palette as well that makes my videos consistent, which adds to my signature.” 

Being able to balance both work and school as a college student has been a challenge and working multiple projects at once he experiences times of burnout. However, to avoid losing motivation, he has learned the importance of taking breaks to focus on himself. Taking his mind off the stress, he goes back to playing sports. 

As a member of the LMC community for a year and a half, Aficial is focused on finishing up his business major and has been involved in the Honors Program as vice president. He believes if he had gone straight to a four-year university after high school, he would not have been able to discipline himself into finding balance in his workflow, making LMC the right choice for him.  

“With LMC you’re basically in command of your own learning. As a community college student, I’ve been able to take command of myself and take command of who I want to become,” said Aficial. “So that when I do transfer, the temptation to stray off course from all of what it is to be a university student, I can make sure that I can balance it all and be confident in that way.”

Working as a freelance photographer and videographer for three years, Aficial has been able to accomplish one of his top goals of shooting college sports before even graduating from LMC. Once he finishes his education, Aficial is confident he will find work in professional sports for the NBA to fulfill his childhood dream of shooting for the Golden State Warriors.

Working in the professional sports environment can be incredibly competitive, but Aficial’s skills and individuality set him apart from the rest. 

“The reason why I’m able to be in this position today is to just take responsibility and work at your craft,” said Aficial. “What matters is that I put my best effort forward, that the work will show itself, the results will tell itself, and I can live with that because I put maximum effort in what I do.”

As he moves up within the industry, his foundation has been built upon inspirations of representation, culture, and gained experiences. To turn his passion into a career, Aficial will capture every step of the way through the crystal lens of his camera.