We had the good fortune of connecting with Angela Marklew and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angela, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I have a very simple philosophy about work-life balance: “I work to live, I don’t live to work”.
When I first started my career as a photographer, I felt compelled to be available to clients during all waking hours. My biggest fear was that if I didn’t respond to an inquiry immediately, that potential client would simply move on to the next photographer on their list. Over time, I realized it wasn’t necessary for me to immediately respond to an email or immediately fulfill an image request. If a client is really interested in working with me, they’re willing to wait a few hours, or until the next day for my reply. I started implementing boundaries (for example, turning my computer off by 5pm) until I reached a balance that I felt good about.
While I love my job, I value my free time. I won’t say yes to every client that comes my way, and I won’t spread myself thin. Having time where I don’t think about work is key to living a stress-free life.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
After graduating college, I worked as a scientist for 3 years. I started at Environment Canada, working in the Air Toxics group – monitoring air pollution across the country, and ended up at Natural Resources Canada, working for The Canadian Explosives Research Laboratory in the Hazardous Locations group (which is basically a fancy way of saying I worked with and tested explosives). Despite a job that sounds exciting, having to go there every day made me miserable. So when my boyfriend got offered a job in Los Angeles, I said yes without hesitation. Truth be told, I had no idea what I was going to do in LA, I just new that it was the opportunity to do something different.
The inherent personality traits that made me a good scientist, I think also translate into making me a good photographer. As a chemist, I needed to be incredibly organized, maintain a spotless laboratory, and be very detail-oriented. Not only do these traits help in photography, but they are integral to being able to be self-employed. At the core, having to manage a laboratory and multiple on-going experiments is very similar to producing and running a photoshoot. If you’re disorganized or simply not self-motivated, everything can fall apart very quickly. Additionally, as a scientist & now a photographer – I feel my role is often times “problem-solver”.
Then there is the actual nature of photography. Photography is all about the behavior of light – and the behavior of light can be explained via some simple principles of physics. Because I already had an extensive background in chemistry & physics, I think I had an innate understanding of how to see light and predict what it would do. I very quickly picked up the fundamentals of how cameras and light work together.
Moving away from everything and everyone I knew definitely wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows but humans are great at adapting to new situations. When I got to LA, I started assisting a couple photographers (which was an amazing education in itself) before eventually being confident enough in my own work to go out on my own. It can be a long road but I’m a firm believe in the adage “nothing worth doing is easy”.
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?
Some of my favorite places to take people are The Museum of Jurassic Technology, The Last Bookstore, Iliad bookshop, and catching a concert at Disney Hall.
For eating, I would always recommend my favorite vegan spots: Double Zero pizza, Plant Food & Wine, and Donut Friend.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I know it’s cliche, but my parents are truly fantastic and raised me to have the confidence to do what made me happy. I started my adult life as a scientist and when I decided to give that up and move across the continent, they were nothing but supportive.
I also couldn’t make the work I do without all the amazing makeup artists, hair stylists, models, and creatives I get to collaborate with on a daily basis.