Signature Artist of the Month

October 2016

Lifestyle Photographers
Mariana Alija and Armando Orbon

Follow along as this Barcelona-based photography team collaborates to create stunning images. Whether they're shooting something humorous, surreal or showing the world from up above, this creative duo never ceases to amaze. Learn more about our October Signature Artists of the Month.


Pushing the boundaries of style.
For some, the idea of working with their romantic partner sounds like a recipe for disaster. But for the Barcelona-based iStock by Getty Images photographers Mariana Alija and Armando Orbon, it’s the key to their success.

“I don’t think everyone can do it, but we like it more than working alone,” Mariana said. “I think it helps that we are always together. We’re always bouncing around ideas and trying to build off each other. Our skills really complement one another, which makes shoots a lot easier. It’s two minds thinking as one.”

Mariana and Armando stumbled upon a career in photography by chance. Mariana, who studied fashion design, interviewed with a pair of photographers for a job as a stylist and they ended up selling her their camera. Then, she and Armando started capturing images inspired by the artist Frieda Kahlo and the pair fell in love with photography.

“We are both creative people and really liked photography, but we didn’t know how to do anything at first. iStock became a school for us,” Armando said. “We started shooting very surreal photos and after our second month, we were featured on iStock as the Artist of the Week.”

The couple also started attending iStockalypses, an event where photographers from the international iStock community come together to collaborate, share knowledge, and exchange tricks of the stock photography trade, eventually helping to organize one in Barcelona.

“Those first years we learned very quickly,” Armondo said.

Finding new angles in everyday life.

"We try not to put boundaries on our style. Even if it doesn’t seem like a good idea, you never know how it will come out or if it will lead to an even better idea."

Now, 11 years since they began, the couple has built a portfolio that encompasses a variety of subjects, including: slapstick humor, surreal images inspired by Mariana’s home country of Mexico and stunning aerial shots.

“We try not to put boundaries on our style,” Mariana said. “We shoot everything we can. Even if it doesn’t seem like a good idea, you never know how it will come out or if it will lead to an even better idea.”

It’s this commitment to experimentation and treating each shoot as a learning experience that helps them differentiate themselves from other photographers. One thing in particular they’ve been trying out is drone photography.

“I took a course on how to fly drones, then we bought one and went to New York and started shooting there,” Armando said. “We’re shooting a lot of landscape but are also trying out aerial shots with models, which you don’t see a lot of. We’re trying to do things differently and so far it’s been very successful.”

While the results of the drone images are impressive, the lengths the two photographers have gone to achieve them have landed them in some sticky situations—like the time in New York City when it was so cold that their phones froze, causing them to lose their phone-operated drone. But despite the challenges, they keep a playful attitude.

“We try to keep things fun, and we hope this is reflected in our photos,” Mariana said. “We want people to feel joy when they see our images. If it makes you happy or smile, then we’ve done our job.”

Commitment to experimentation can lead to unique images.


A free image, for you

Each month we give away a free image from our Signature Artist of the Month. Download yours now and start creating your own inspiring project.

"We did some scouting a few days earlier at the same hour we were planning on doing the shoot so we knew the exact time of the sunset. We didn't use any lighting equipment for this shot, just natural light. The model was very professional and we covered everything we planned in just two hours."