Joymakers: Michelle Norris + Forrest Aguar

By Ingrid Fetell Lee
In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.

I discovered today’s Joymakers on one of those lazy weekend afternoons pre-baby when I used to lie around scrolling through Instagram. (Ah, those were the days!) I was immediately captivated by Michelle’s colorful sense of style and the whimsical images created by this husband-wife team. In today’s Joymaker interview, they share a bit about the evolution of their vibrant career and how they balance life and work — and they give us a peek inside their joyful home.

How do you describe what you do?

We are an advertising photography and art direction team. For us, that means getting to make art with great teams of people!

In what way(s) do you make joy, for yourself and others?

The style of our photography is bold and colorful, which we think is a big mood booster! We also strive to represent a diverse group of people in ways that are uplifting, empowering, and beautiful.

In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.
In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.
In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.
In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.
In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.

You’re both creative partners and husband and wife. What have you learned about blending work and life in this way?

We’ve learned a lot about putting our egos aside and supporting each other. It’s always a struggle to balance work and life and make time for ourselves, but it helps us to appreciate personal moments more!

What’s one thing you’ve learned about joy through your work that you wish everyone knew?

Really simple things can bring joy. Opening yourself to color, adventure, and creativity go a long way.

You both have a very bold, distinctive, joyful style when it comes to fashion. How did you discover your style? What advice might you give to someone trying to figure out their style?

I’ve always had a knack for presenting myself in bright and bold ways that I’ve been honing in over time. Forrest has definitely been influenced but he brings his own creativity and special flair to how he dresses. Our work informs our daily life and vice versa so it’s all been moving in a more vibrant and coordinated direction.

In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.
In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.
In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.
In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.
In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.

Did you ever feel pressured to do something else with your life? How did you resist that pressure and embark on your current joyful path?

When I was younger I wanted to be a secretary, then an astronaut, then an anchor woman… at first my major in college was journalism and after one semester I knew it wasn’t for me. Forrest knew he wanted to go into art but for both of us, the dream of being full-time artists in any form seemed far-fetched. There isn’t a clear-cut path to a career like this one so it can feel impossible. We did keep striving for what excited and engaged us though and eventually it led us here!

Do you think you’ll have another career after this one? If you could, what would it be?

We have been really open to what comes to us in the past few years. We are so excited about anything that allows us to be creative and to travel. So the answer is sort of, who knows! maybe! We like that the opportunities seem endless.

In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.
In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.
In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.

What is something you love that others might consider a guilty pleasure, but you have decided not to feel guilty about?

Forrest loves disc golf and I love bad romantic comedies. Both of us had a tendency to feel unproductive and guilty when we would take time for things like this, but now we feel better knowing that they are essential to letting us decompress and feel balanced.

What is something in your home or studio that brings you joy? Tell us about it.

Our plants! They’re beautiful and also it’s so rewarding to see them thrive and grow.

In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.
In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.
In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.
In this week's Joymaker interview on The Aesthetics of Joy, meet photographers Michelle Norris and Forrest Aguar of Tropico Photo, a husband-wife team known for bringing their vibrant aesthetic to their life and work.

What’s something you used to take for granted that now you appreciate deeply?

How lucky we are to do something that we love. It’s easy to be overcome with our own challenges and forget that we are so privileged to make a living making art!

Joy bombs 

Most joyful color: Yellow

Your dream project: Something where we get to travel all over the world

A song that always makes you smile: Honeybody by Kishi Bashi

Your favorite emoji:

A place that brings you joy: The beach

A place you’ve never been but want to go to: Japan

A joyful memory that never gets old: Our first time traveling internationally together. We landed in Rome and took a walk around an uneventful park and I was so thrilled to be in Italy. Forrest laughed because it wasn’t a particularly beautiful place but the thrill of leaving the country was so exciting.

Follow Michelle, Forrest, and Tropico Photo and see more of their colorful work on Instagram and on their website.

Images: courtesy of Tropico Photo.

December 9th, 2020

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