From Chef to Photographer: David Teran’s Journey

David Teran

By Michelle Vasquez  |  Photography by David Teran


David Teran’s transition from aspiring chef to renowned photographer began with ‘Ratatouille’ and a Hasselblad camera. He reminisces, “There was something about Ratatouille pursuing his inspiring passion. I loved that movie and knew I wanted to be a chef.”


Initially, David used the camera to document his cooking. Still, his pastime grew into a profession, and he began taking photos of friends, families, and eventually clients. This pivot in focus led him across 19 countries, capturing the strength and beauty of 280 ballerinas in unique poses and places. His upcoming book, Hasselblad Ballet, illustrates how fulfilling careers can start unexpectedly.


David’s choice of a Hasselblad wasn’t random. “Hasselblad cameras were used for some of the most iconic photographs, including the moon, Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles, crossing Abbey Road,” he says. His hobby soon evolved into a profession. A key client commented, “David, your work is amazing. Your pictures will be seen around the world. Photography is your gift.” And with that, his trajectory from chef to photographer changed.


A significant breakthrough in his career came with an album cover for Latin Christian music singer Marcus Witt. That album won a Grammy; since then, he has been the photographer for four Grammy covers. “The prophecy that my pictures would be seen worldwide came to pass,” David shares.


His journey took a turn in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2017. He had a photoshoot scheduled there and was browsing for things to do. After discovering a Vogue article featuring ballerina Marisol Lopez Prieto, David whimsically reached out and arranged a photo shoot. I saw she would be in Argentina and thought, “Why not?”. The shoot involved staging the ballerina’s strength with the beauty of the shot. “I fell in love with the whole experience,” he recalls. Marisol also had a positive experience and suggested I reach out to ballerinas in every city I visit, so the rest is history.”


Reflecting on his path, David acknowledges divine guidance. “God orchestrated my past. Meeting Marcos Witt and going to Argentina wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t followed where God led me.”


David’s meticulous approach to photography stems from the limitations of film photography. “I only have 12 frames, and I want each to be unique. It’s about slowing down, composing the shot, and ensuring the photos count.” He enjoys the entire process, from shooting to developing in the darkroom. “It’s a collaboration of my vision and the ballerinas. Hasselblad Ballet is about combining photography with the art of ballet.”


Working with top ballerinas has been a highlight. “Ballerinas are perfectionists and have great strength. Working with artists who demand a lot from themselves but are willing to relinquish control for a photograph is fulfilling,” he says.


David describes his project as quirky and whimsical, capturing images that feel like they’re from a different time. “My goal is to create a perfect photograph with an imperfect medium. It’s about capturing beauty in unexpected places,” he reflects.


For David, the beauty of the film lies in its unpredictability. “Film has its character. Light leaks or unexpected reflections add to the charm of the photographs. It’s about creating something perfect from imperfection.”

David hopes his work inspires others to find beauty everywhere. “Many places I photographed ballerinas aren’t traditionally beautiful, but there’s beauty everywhere,” he says.


Even David Teran’s story is a powerful reminder that life’s most rewarding paths often unfold unexpectedly. From his early days inspired by a movie to his global journey photographing ballerinas, David’s career shift from chef to photographer shows the beauty of following opportunities. His upcoming book, Hasselblad Ballet, is not just a showcase of his work but a testament to finding beauty in every corner of the world. David’s journey encourages us to embrace change, seek beauty in unlikely places, and trust in the unexpected turns of our paths.


David Teran



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