Freelance to Full Time - My Life in Los Angeles

It’s been nearly a month since my last post…whoops! Time flies when you’re a full time employee. I traded in the freelance hustle for a comfortable schedule and benefits. I went back and forth, read every article I could find on the internet and decided it would be worth it. Ultimately, I see this as a stepping stone between where I am and where I want to be. This might not make sense for me in a few years, but for now it feels right. I’ve had to make some big lifestyle adjustments—like not traveling every other weekend. As a Sagittarius, the flexible schedule of a freelance career suits me very well. Almost too well. It’s nice to have a bit of discipline and structure for the first time in maybe ever.

So what do I do? I am the In-House Photographer and Digital Content Manager for Nous Model Management. I absolutely love it. It’s the perfect combination between creative and technical—something that is surprisingly hard to find in this industry. Most full-time photography jobs (in LA) are in Ecom or retouching, which reaaaaally doesn’t excite me.

I’m still pursuing my freelance career on weekends—so I guess the hustle really never stops. I’m okay with that! My creative heart likes to go go go. Sometimes though, I need to remind myself to slow down and say no. It’s easy to want to say yes to every opportunity, but it’s just not realistic. After all the health issues I faced last year, I’m especially cautious with my time. When I get in over my head (which is a lot), I have to step back, cancel or reschedule shoots and refresh. Put yourself first, always!!

I could go into the details of my day to day responsibilities, but that’s what my resume is for. What I will tell you is that I recently put together a studio for Nous! I’ve shot some fun tests with girls who need an update for their book. See below for a recent shoot I did with the adorable Izzy Hoffman. <3

Are you building your book and looking for a fun shoot like this? You’re in luck! I have my own personal portrait studio and am available for on-location shoots as well. E-mail me for rates & availability! <3

Less is More: The Simple Way to Produce a Successful Test Shoot

Honestly, I’m writing this blog post as a bit of reminder to myself. If it helps someone else too…even better!

It’s so easy to get excited about a shoot—that’s why I do what I do! The problem with this excitement is that sometimes I get carried away. I put multiple ideas together, and come up with an elaborate plan to shoot.  Sometimes, this works out beautifully. Other times, I’m putting too much on my plate and the ideas fall short.

Some of my favorite shoots required the least amount of effort. It’s funny how that works out.

I’m learning that agencies prefer to see a super minimal shoot than an over the top editorial. While it’s fun to be bold, the simplest of shoots can be superbly beautiful.

So, if you’re like me and have a million ideas—don’t try to tackle them all at once. Slow it down and step back. Shoot your model without any makeup on in front of a neutral backdrop wearing vintage earrings and a white button-down. Voilà. Focus on your lighting and use that to make the image really stand out!

Below is one of my favorite recent shoots. It was a test with a new face for Freedom Models LA. First, she was naturally gorgeous and had the stunning features! Second, I didn’t fuss about this shoot. I had a short amount of time to prepare, so I kept it really simple. This ended up working to my advantage and I’m so happy I didn’t over complicate things. Honestly, I can’t wait to do more shoots like this.

Less is more.

Best Advice for Styling Your Own Shoots

While working with a stylist is preferred, it doesn’t always work out. Especially when you are just starting out and have yet to find someone who matches your vibe. To this day, I still style a lot of my own shoots. This works best for tests, portraits and lifestyle—editorials are another story.

So, where do you start? First, you need to put together a moodboard of your ideas. If you want to shoot more than one look, make sure they make sense together. Consistency is so important for your personal style.

Now that you know what you are looking for, it’s time to begin.

Here are a few great resources and ideas for styling your own shoots. This continues to work for me, and hopefully should for you too!

1. Vintage. I love a good Vintage store or thrift shop. I’ve been thrifting for myself for years and recently starting buying items for future shoots in mind. Some places can be pricey, especially in LA, but some can be cheap! You never know what you’ll find at the Goodwill or Salvation Army. It could be a bust, but it’s worth a look.

Vintage is my first choice, because it means your clothes will truly be unique and one-of-a-kind. In a world of fast-fashion and overdone trends, it’s important to stand out. Speaking of fast-fashion, I’m big on sustainability and shopping second hand is always a great choice for you and the planet! :)

2. Reach out. Do some research, and find a few smaller or local brands that you’d like to style with. Reach out to them directly and offer them an exchange—you will shoot their products and provide them with the final images. Make sure you specify that you will be happy to return the products and they may only use the final images for social media. The great thing about this is that you have a brand to add to your credibility. There is also the chance that they will post your images, thus bringing more attention to your work! It’s a win, win. Plus, you’re on their radar for the future when they might want to officially hire you to shoot.

3. Hit the Mall. Unfortunately, shopping second hand means that you can’t always find what you are looking for. If you’re in a pinch or shooting a certain look, it’s time to get that credit card out and hit the mall. Or wherever (because malls are kind of terrifying, am I right?)

It’s important to only go to stores that are within a reasonable budget. If you are planning to return your item, you never know what could happen on set. It’s not worth risking shooting a model outdoors in $1,000 shoes, only to have her step in chewing gum. My stomach just dropped thinking about it.

Hate shopping? Look into ordering clothes online from places such as Asos that offer free shipping.

4. Model Mayhem. This website is pretty janky looking, that’s for sure, but sometimes it can introduce you to the right people. Often there are local clothing designers looking to showcase their work. Like reaching out to brands directly, this would be an exchange for photos. The choices aren’t always the best, but it’s worth a look!

5. Dive into your closet. Obviously this really only works if you’re a girl, and styling a girl. Or visa versa. Plus, you have to keep sizes in mind. Sometimes this can be a great option! As I mentioned, I’ve been collecting vintage for years. I typically look at my own closet first, before I seek clothing elsewhere. If the model is a lot smaller than you, it’s easy to pin the clothing for a better fit.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for in your own closet, maybe you could find it in someone else’s. Think of friends that reflect the style you are going for and reach out to them! In New York, I had various friends in the fashion industry and always loved peeping their closets before a shoot. This is a great thing to do in advance in case you can’t find what you’re looking for. I wouldn’t rely on this option last-minute!

6. Collaborate. A lot of photographers lean towards this option— especially when they’re just starting out. This means you’d ask your model to bring certain items to the shoot. I always have them bring a few options, just in case, but I never rely on them. You simply can’t know what they will bring—it is really out of your control. I’m no control freak, but I don’t want to shoot someone in an item I’m not keen on. Like I said, it’s important to keep your styling consistent and it is hard to do this when it is out of your control!

6. Simplify. Are you just trying to shoot a nice portrait? When you’re truly focused on the face, the other details aren’t as important. You can shoot a model in a tube top (is that still a thing) for an an implied nude look. You could shoot your subject in a tank top or plain white tee. Think about styling them in minimalistic jewelry or your favorite earrings. In the end, simplicity is always a safe bet.

These are some of my favorite tips for styling a shoot on your own. If you're truly overwhelmed or swamped for time, reach out to stylists. Just know that they may be looking to do something editorial and less interested in a simple test shoot. Good luck!

Creating the perfect Moodboard for your Photoshoot

So, you have a lot of ideas and found hundreds of inspiring images on Pinterest—now what? It’s time to create a moodboard! Pinterest boards are great to get you started, but they aren’t detailed or personal enough to send to your team. This is truly the best way to make sure everyone is on the same page!

Now that I have you on board (get it!!), it’s time to break down the steps. I’m going to run through my own personal template. Feel free to copy my ideas or take some inspiration and create one entirely of your own!

First, you need to have the right program to create this in. I prefer Photoshop and InDesign—both are easy and flexible for laying out images and text. If you have another program, great, but Adobe is my personal lifeline.

Let’s get started.

1. Logo and title. Include your logo somewhere clearly visible—I like the top left corner. Next to this, include a creative title or simple sentence to describe the shoot.

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2. Model. I like to keep this blank until I know exactly who I will be shooting. This is not the spot for inspiration—keep this as accurate as possible so the team knows exactly who to expect on set.

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3. Hair and Makeup. Here is where you starting pulling in the inspiration! Find a few examples of what you are looking for. Make sure the images aren’t too different, or you may confuse your team. If you are hoping to collaborate a bit more, you can always include a variety and write them a personal note.

Below the pictures, include a short sentence to describe the look you are going for. Images are most important, but sometimes a few words can really make a difference in clarity!

*For this shoot, I had the model come with her hair natural. Make sure to let them know in advance! The same goes if you will not have a makeup artist—tell the model so they can copy the look themselves.

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4. Styling. For me, this is the fun part! You can show a lot more variety in the looks here, or keep it very concise and simple. It’s up to you! If you are working with a stylist, more images means more room for creativity. If you are styling it yourself, these images will help to refer back to when you are pulling or buying clothing.

Don’t forget to include a small descriptive sentence!

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5. Mood/Atmosphere. This part is really for you and the model. It shows them the mood you are going for and/or the location you have in mind. Try to include a variety of images and don’t repeat poses—you only have so much room to show them what you are thinking!

Once again, include a brief description of expectations. If you have a particular location in mind, this would be the place to write it out.

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6. The Finished Product. It’s time to piece it all together! You’ve probably been doing this all along, but for the sake of the exciting blog post reveal, I’ve made this the last step. Here is how I piece together the final product. Obviously you can organize yours as you wish, this just makes the most sense in my brain!

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If there is anything you forgot to include or doesn’t fit nicely into the board, feel free to send a separate note in your distribution e-mail. Including as many details as possible assures everyone is on the same page and shows that you know what you’re doing. That’s the goal, isn’t it?!

Here are a few final images from the shoot. Do you think the team captured my vision? Let me know in the comments!

I hope this helps you put together a stand-out moodboard. Good luck!

The Best Resources For Finding Freelance Work Online

For years, I’ve been trying to perfect the art of the side hustle. It comes in various forms. In the past, I’ve waitressed to pay the bills. Quick, easy money and an industry full of creative hustlers? A flexible yet consistent income? Yes please.

That was my plan, until I hit a pretty large bump in the road. Less than one month after I moved to LA, I was rushed into emergency surgery. Long story short, I have Crohn’s Disease and something I ate decided it was cool to jam itself into the side of my intestines. My entire ileum was removed, along with my appendix—because who needs it anyways?

The point of this over-sharing anecdote is that my plans quickly changed. I had to rely on my other skills, ones that did not involve heavy lifting and rushing around. So I turned my focus to illustration. This type of work can be done remotely, so it felt like the perfect move. So…where do I find work? Here is a list of useful freelance resources and my thoughts about them!

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Fiverr: I’ve had the most success with this site, so if you’re hoping to focus on one— this is it! You’ll create a profile, where you can list different “gigs.” These are essentially your work spelled out into various packages. You have control over your rates and most of the job details. Clients will search for specific types of artists (i.e. photographers or illustrators) and they might stumble upon your page. If they are interested, they’ll send you a message. All I had to do was create a profile, come up with some gigs and voila! So easy, simple and basically effortless.

I was fortunate enough to have one of my gigs featured the first week I was on Fiverr! I offered a service that was a bit unique, which allowed me to stand out from the crowd. Research your competitors and brainstorm ways to be different.

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UpWork: This website is the ultimate freelancer’s tool. There are hundreds of jobs posted daily. It’s aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. Tons of unique opportunities. You are seeking out the client, instead of the other way around. Con: It’s a lot more work. You must read though a multitude of postings every day, and be quick to send a proposal. Each proposal takes at least 15-20 minutes. It’s definitely more time consuming. Plus, I haven’t received as many messages. Clients have a lot of proposals to go through and if you’re too late they may never even see yours. That being said, I have gotten a few gigs! Feel it out and decide if it works for you.

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Craigslist: The “creative gigs” section is my favorite. Often, it’s a mixed bag. Sometimes, there will be one-time gigs calling your name! The work doesn’t always pay the best, but it does pay. It’s definitely a good starting point!

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Honey Book: This website is geared towards the wedding photography and event business. Every once in a while, there will be a different type of photography-related opportunity. There are a lot of people looking for assistants, models, photographers, etc. Like I said though, unless you have an interest in the wedding industry, this might not be for you. However, I did find a portrait photographer who needed assistance, so you never know!

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Reaching Out: E-mail people or pick up the phone! It’s the good old-fashioned way, and it works. Research your audience, brand yourself and seek out potential clients. Send an introductory e-mail, and make sure to personalize it. You can use a similar template, but make sure to include at least one thoughtful remark that shows you did your research. If you don’t hear back within a week, kindly send a follow-up. Don’t get too aggressive on the follow-ups though—the last thing you want to do is annoy someone or seem spammy.

I hope you find these helpful resources for your freelance career or your side hustle! Find your niche, market your skills, BOOM! You’re in business.

Playlists on Set: The Best Music for Fashion Photography Shoots

Have you ever been on set without music? I know, that would be weird. Have you ever struggled to pick a playlist? Did you let the model choose and regretted it? Are you looking for something that everyone can sing along or dance to? These playlists are your answer.

Make a quick judgement call at the beginning of each shoot. Asses the team’s energy and the think about the mood you are trying to achieve in your images. Combine these two details to pick the right playlist for the day!

Playlist #1: On Set.

This one is very dancey, with a variety of early 2000s r&b, top 40, and reggae. I know, that might sound weird. Trust me, it’s a crowd pleaser.

Playlist #2: Dancing On Set.

This next playlist is a bit heavier on the electronic music, so you definitely want to make sure it fits with the vibe of your shoot. I’m imagining a fun team and a model who’s moving around a lot!

Playlist #3: Eggs & Bacon.

This one’s for all the morning people and romantics out there. Soft, slowed down, easy music. Perfect for an early morning shoot, to ease into the day peacefully. Also great for a portrait session in which you want your model to stay a bit more still. It’s dreamy and happy music for the bride and groom! The options are endless for this one.

I hope one of these playlists will work for you, and if not, I guess we just have different taste. That’s okay!

I am currently working on a Disco playlist. I’ll be releasing that one and maybe a few more at a later date. Comment below if you have any genre, song or artist suggestions!

Why I moved to LA: A Photo Essay

I’ve been telling the same story for three months now. People always want to know why I left Brooklyn and why I chose LA. It’s a valid question!

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Sometimes my answer is ‘a slower pace of life.’ Sometimes, it’s ‘the sunshine!’ “Seasonal Depression is REAL” is another good one. It really depends on my mood.

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 New York was a beautiful chapter. I’m so happy I had the chance to experience it—but it’s not for me. I felt the same way about living in Paris. Part of me is a city girl, but most of me is not. I need sunshine, ocean breezes, trees, open spaces, and a serious relationship with my car.

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Another big reason was my desire to be somewhere that my work made sense. My photography is colorful, dreamy, soft and definitely not New York. My portfolio pretty much screams “California!” I knew this all along, but I also knew that I needed to live in Brooklyn while I had the energy and desire.

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The most important reason for my move was my health. New York just wasn’t good for me mentally nor physically. Anyone who lives in the city can’t even argue with that. It’s just kind of a fact that New Yorkers have a lot, but a healthy lifestyle is not one of them! My problems aren’t completely solved just yet, but I feel confident in my decision and am truly happy to be where I am. After years of searching for “my place”, it feels pretty damn good to say that!

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I’ve reached a point where I’m starting to truly digest the idea of time. Time is so damn precious. It’s a weird and wild thing. It’s so important that we spend our moments wisely. Live without regrets. Move across the country, without a job, knowing basically no one—why not!! Honestly, it’s been hard and will continue to be. I’m prepared for that. But I know it will be worth it.

All Photos by me, taken in January 2018.