We had the good fortune of connecting with Hayley Samartin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hayley, what role has risk played in your life or career?
You have to take risks – I only have the life I have because of taking risks! I am always trying new things and seeing where it leads me. Moving to LA 10 years ago was a huge risk as I knew no one and I remember thinking as my plane took off ‘what AM I doing??’ Leaving all my family and friends behind on a whim felt pretty crazy at the time, but I’ve actually been reflecting on it a lot recently and my life has changed exponentially since that day and all for the better. I originally moved here for my acting career and while I still do that – I have since also become a portrait photographer, part owned a bakery, met my husband, got married, had a kid…and I’m proud of it all. I’m not saying that everything has been a bed of roses – there have definitely been some challenges along the way, but that is all part of the risk – some things work out and some things don’t but you learn from it and keep going. I struggle a lot with anxiety so it’s not easy – I naturally want to curl up and pull the covers over my head a lot…BUT I have never regretted any risk I have ever taken in life and I have definitely grown because of it. It’s never too late and you never really can know where life is going to lead you. LA has taught me a lot about thinking outside the box and always trying new things, which always involves taking risks. I’m lucky to be surrounded by risk-takers in my life, and am equally inspired by all my friends and family who put themselves out there every day…it can be exhausting but the payoffs when they do come in are worth it. I don’t know if I will stay in LA forever, but this city has most definitely taught me that magic can happen when you least expect it, and that if you TRY something out and take a risk then your comfort zone just expands.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I love taking pictures of people and I always have. I love capturing the essence of people, how they truly are – and I try to do this with all my portrait work, headshots included. There’s nothing more fulfilling than getting that shot where you really SEE a person and what they are all about, no masks or fakery…just really raw and real. That’s magic! I think I’m most proud of how far I have come! I am a self taught photographer and so I have learnt everything I know bit by bit over the years, and there is still SO MUCH out there to learn of course, but it’s all part of the fun of the job – the creativity never ends! I have managed to build a successful headshot business, mostly through word of mouth and it means so much when people come back to me…it’s like validation – YES!! There have been a lot of challenges along the way as I work in an over-saturated market, there are so many photographers out there! Rather than get overwhelmed by it though, I try to remember that everyone has their own unique eye and way of storytelling or taking a photo, so there is room for everybody. It just makes it all the more special when someone chooses to come and shoot with me – I practice an enormous amount of ‘gratefulness’ every day haha! I push myself a lot, sometimes taking hours over one photo edit – holding yourself to the highest possible standard is sometimes detrimental, but I think it’s also the reason I have made it this far. I have learnt that we all have strengths and weaknesses, and that sometimes the weaknesses are actually strengths! For example I’m hugely sensitive and actually a bit of an introvert – I really hate networking or putting myself out there, but I force myself to as it’s part of the job. That sensitivity helps me a lot when I’m working though as I really really care about what I am doing, I listen intently and it helps me to connect with the other person to get the best shot. My shoots never feel like work, more like an awesome conversation with a friend with occasional photo taking!
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Oooh this is a tough one but some of my fave places in LA are: – ‘The Museum of Jurassic Technology’ in Culver City: It’s one of the weirdest, most wonderful places for the imagination in LA…with an awesome tea shop in the roof! – The LA River Walk and ‘Spoke Bicycle Cafe’ in Frogtown: This is one of my favorite walks, wandering on the river bank to this amazing open air cafe frequented by cyclists, it’s so cool to kick back there of an evening and listen to whatever’s on the record player! – ‘The Arts District Downtown’: just to walk around and see all the amazing graffiti artwork and cool restaurants. This is also one of my favorite places to shoot! – ‘Moonlight Rollerway’ in Glendale: I had my bachelorette party here and who doesn’t love an 80s inspired roller disco?? – ‘The Town Pizza’ in Highland Park: I absolutely love my hood and spend many hours strolling up Fig and down York checking out all the vintage shops, cafes and restaurants…but The Town is my go to place of an evening – super delicious pizza, great wine, chill atmosphere and a fun photo booth in the back!! – ‘Atwater Village Theatre’: There’s always something good on here and it is my go to place in LA for live theater. – ‘Trails Cafe’ in Griffith Park: I love going here with my son to grab coffee and sit in nature before heading to the park over the road, it’s so tranquil and lovely. – Drive the PCH: There’s something so LA about driving down the PCH from Santa Monica to Malibu…you’ve seen it so many times in the movies but it truly is magical seeing the sea, surfers, mountains and the open road (as long as you don’t hit it at rush hour!)
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow it’s a long list, but I would have to say my family. My Mum and Dad. Ah my poor Mum and Dad haha! They have always supported every whim and fancy that I have ever had, and even though they have always been a little concerned as to whether I was on the right path or whether I should get a ‘proper job’ haha…they have never wavered in their support of me trying new things. I like to think that they are a little bit proud of how far their ‘shy little girl’ has come. I honestly would not be where I am today without their support and I will be forever grateful. Thanks Mum & Dad!!! My brother and sister deserve a shoutout too for keeping me completely grounded, putting up with my crazy ideas and frustrations, and loving me anyway. My husband deserves to be in here too – I have grown so much as a person since I met him and he encourages me every day to keep going and keep taking risks, we encourage each other and it’s the best!!
Other: Actress: www.hayleyjwilliams.com
Main photo is taken by Letticia Bissondut
Copyright: Hayley Samartin 2020