Pro Photo Daily | Spotlight: Day and Night with Sofia Vegara in Cartagena, Colombia

By: Alyssa Shand-Perreault
Publish Date: Dec. 4, 2017, 10:53 a.m.


This article originally appeared here.

Aguila  beer’s creative team recently contacted Atlanta-based photographer Fernando Decillis to ask him to photograph their newest campaign featuring Colombian actress Sofia Vergara. Fernando was thrilled to be a part of yet another exciting project with Aguila, and once Sofia was on board, the client spared no expense to make sure they could take full advantage of her two days in Cartagena with them. The campaign would feature two motion commercials, which were filmed by another team, and a wide-variety of still photos captured by Fernando

Aguila is the best known and loved beer brand in Colombia. They have dialed in their brand to reach the spirit of youth, national pride, and fun. They partner with Colombia’s biggest celebrities and footballers to turn any ordinary situation into a party. Sofia Vergara is quintessentially fun, lively, and Colombian. Her success in the global and American mainstream is a point of pride for Colombia.

Sofia would be featured in both daytime and nighttime scenes, enjoying an Aguila beer in a variety of locations. The client asked Fernando to shoot live action photos during the filming of the commercials, as well as put together a studio shoot that they could use for composite images.

The two commercials were shot on location, one in a nighttime street party scene, and the other on the beach during the day. Fernando’s primary challenge was finding the studio space that would accommodate him and all of his equipment. The studio space would need to be a controlled environment since Sofia would be in and out of the studio in between commercial takes throughout the day, and the lighting wouldn’t be consistent.  

Since Sofia is incredibly famous, it didn’t take long before the paparazzi, and others knew she was in town. Luckily, Fernando managed to find a restaurant that would just fit the dimensions he needed for a studio space and was close enough to the location that Sofia wouldn’t get bombarded by paparazzi.

If the room had been six inches smaller in any direction, it would have been a disaster. Literally every light was backed up against a wall. We had to put the seamless in at an angle because there wasn’t a 12’ wall in the space. It was tight, but it was just big enough, so in the end, no complaints.


Once they had the studio space set up, Fernando and his producer realized that it would be incredibly difficult for Fernando to jump between the studio and the location to capture all the necessary images in two days. All in all, there would need to be eight characters shot in the studio, in addition to Sofia herself, as well as all the live action shots.

I love to shoot live action because there are really special moments that I can catch as a photographer that wouldn’t translate in motion, and that also wouldn’t happen in a controlled studio environment.


One of these moments happened during the overnight street scene when there was a short break between takes.

Sofia walked off the set to a pedestrian alleyway outside of one of the shops that was being used as a set. She was standing by herself with this purple, circular mirror, like the kind you’d see at a drugstore, in her hand. She checked her makeup and applied some powder to her face. The moment was so very human. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen my mom, sister, or wife pick up a mirror – and it was just like that.

They decided to bring in reinforcements and called fellow member photographer Jorge Oviedo to help out in the studio. Since Fernando had the controlled studio already set up, he knew he could leave the studio and trust the results. While Fernando photographed the live action and all the studio shots of Sofia, Jorge was instrumental in capturing the studio shots of the secondary characters.

Jorge Oviedo did a great job. Ad photography is always a collaboration. On this project and all the shoots I do for Aguila, I’m on a team of excellent problem solvers. My producer in Colombia, Jose Mafla, and the Dragon Films team work harder than anyone I know. And I can’t even talk about my team without mentioning my first assistant Martin Arias. He’s my second set of eyes and knows me well enough to usually anticipate my next move. Teamwork can alleviate a lot of the stress when you’re planning out the logistics of a shoot!


By the end of the two days, the client was thrilled with the images and how they turned out. Since then, Fernando has completed another campaign with Aguila Light featuring musicians Martina La Peligrosa, Reykon, Sebastian Yatra, and Alkilados.

See more of Fernando at fernandodecillis.com