We had the good fortune of connecting with Ana Karotkaya and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ana, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think taking risks is essential for growth. Personal growth or professional i think it’s important to push your limits. I never shy away from a challenge, unless it’s an unreasonable one. I believe that if you really want something and you feel it in your gut that you have to do it, even if people are telling you that you’re crazy, you can at least take a chance. Changes are always scary and rarely easy, but from my experience, it pays off you just gotta keep pushing and figuring it out. I moved to the US when I was 22 years old with $600 in my pocket. I briefly knew the culture, was very shaky on my English, and knew like 5 people in the whole country. Now I understand that not a lot of people would’ve taken such risk, but at the time I didn’t even think about it. I just knew that I wanted to do it so I did it. Last year I quit my day job to pursue photography full time. I has no plan besides “I’ll figure it out I know” and timing couldn’t have been worse, cause 3 month later when the things started to look up for me the whole world shut down because of Covid. And now, a year later, after all the struggles and uncertainties, I’m creating content for pexels.com with Rodnae production, I can pay my bills with no worries and I’m able to travel and have a pretty good work/life balance. Now, I’m not saying that everyone needs to do what I did, because it might be a little too extreme, but from my experience risks are necessary.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a freelance photographer. I usually say that I’m a lifestyle photographer, but it isn’t very accurate, since I also have been shooting concerts and working with musicians before covid happened, I’ve shot quite a bit of weddings and I love it. I also shoot events, product, landscapes, create content for brands, do headshots and all kinda of stuff. I’ve been doing photography for about 13 years now. Not always for money, only recently I’ve decided that that’s what I want to do for a living. I love to meet new people and hear their stories, it inspires me and makes me want to tell those stories to others, and I use photography to do it. Personally I don’t like to focus on one type of photography because I find joy in challenges, and I love learning everything about everything. So doing different kinds of photography pushes my limits and makes me learn something new about my field of work every day. Lately I’ve been trying myself in video and I found it very interesting and inspiring, It’s a very different medium of storytelling, and I have a lot to learn about the technical part of it, and I have the drive and inspiration for it, so I know it’s gonna work out.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m not much of a city gal, even tho I live in the city. If i had a week to show my friend some cool spots I would take them up north all the way to Canada. I did the full drive once and then I explored different parts of it on my other trips. So I think I would do that. First stop would be Santa Barbara, I love the aesthetics of the city and I recently discovered some cool hikes and view points out there. The next stop would be Morro bay, it is one of my favorite places in California. I love the small town vibes and the nature there (Montana de oro park) is absolutely amazing. Then, of course, you have Big Sur. Nothing beats the drive through Big Sur! I also love the bay area (Monterrey, Santa Cruz and SF), and the drive through the Redwoods. Oregon and Washington have just too many cool spots to stop at. I really love the PNW! If the time allows I would take a detour to Crater lake, Umpqua forest and hot springs, Cannon beach is a must see. And up in Washington you have Hoh rainforest, Rialto beach, Olympic National Park and you can visit Seattle at the end of the trip.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The biggest shoutout would go to my family. I think my parents did a good job raising me and making sure I have the right values as a foundation of my personality. From a young age I’ve been taught kindness and the importance of being selfless. I am really grateful for that today. Also, my dad taught me how to be strong, how to take care of myself and how to be independent. Those are the qualities that helped me survive all the ups and downs and overcome all the obstacles. I’ve been taught to not give up and use my brain in every situation. Because of the lifestyle of my parents and a lot of people back in Belarus, I’ve been taught how to fish, fix things, work with my hands, farm, and some other cool things. I know people say those skills are not common nor necessary at this day and age, but I still think that it’s pretty cool that I have those skills and I genuinely enjoy doing those things. I love being in the nature, I love animals and plants. I think that also comes from my dad, as he grew up in the village and that was his lifestyle. My mom is more of a city girl and I learned my creativity and the drive to knowledge from her. I’m really grateful for everything they’ve done for me and for raising me as a pretty well rounded person. (or at least i think i am one lol) There is another person who has a huge impact on my life – my best friend Regina Diaz. Regina was my first close friend in LA and she still is one. This woman inspires me daily. I get my inspiration from people every day, but some people just never stop to amaze me, and she is one of this people. Regina went through hell and high water to get to where she is right now in life and the strength she has inside her lights me up. She had taught me that being strong and being a human is something we need to embrace, especially as women. She taught me how to love myself and accept myself the way I am. This woman is like a sister to me, family away from home.

Website: anakarotkaya.com

Instagram: instagram.com/anakarotkaya

Other: anakarotkayaweddings.com

Image Credits
The main photo and the photos number 3 and 4 (with the lake on the background and the one with the coast on the back) Igor Kudelko instagra.com/igorkudelkophotography The photo number 6 (with the red cup) Chris San Nicolas instagra.com/chrisnicpics

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.