We had the good fortune of connecting with Ani Harutyunyan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ani, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
People outside of the photography industry might not know how complex and time-consuming producing good content can be. The photography industry has become highly saturated. With everyone having access to a camera and editing software, photographers’ work ends up not being valued. Some people think that if someone else can do it for free, why should I pay you? Unfortunately, some photographers will do the work for free, for exposure, or as a favor. Every artist should value their work and time. Learning about this industry’s business side contributed to my self-worth and success. As a result, I was able to educate others about what is involved in creating scroll-stopping content. Sometimes a simple talk and a walk-through about your process with the client can help them understand that “yeah, paying for this work is well worth it.”
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I pride myself on having excellent communication with my clients. I involve them in the process and try to learn as much about their brand as possible. Connecting with the product I’m shooting is key to capturing its essence. I’m very excited to work with my dream clients even more in the future. The most satisfying thing is not getting paid for my work; it’s when my clients tell me, “I love them.” I’ve been an artistic person ever since I can remember. Drawing and painting were my passion, but something about the career didn’t feel suitable for me. Later, I discovered photoshop. I used to be in an extremely dark place in life, and I photoshopped my pictures to cope with my insecurities at the time. Seeing how much I can change a photo was mesmerizing, so I thought I might as well buy a camera and practice taking all kinds of different photos. I fell in love with photography. After changing my majors numerous times, I decided to choose what I love as a career. I did not care about making money; I only cared about being content with life.
From the very beginning, one of the challenges was making connections, especially when I was going through extreme social anxiety. Another challenge was having a sustainable source of income with photography. If I could go back in time, I would tell my younger self not to worry — connections and relationships come as you decide to change your way of life and put yourself out there. And in regards to income, you can’t wait for people to come and knock on your door. You must show up and tell potential clients what you do. Market yourself no matter what level of expertise you have. Finally, another big challenge for me was changing my money mindset. I realized that the more I invest in my business, the more clients I’ll have. It is very accurate when people say you have to spend money to make money.
The two most important lessons I have learned so far are believing in yourself and viewing failures as challenges to get better. From my story, I want everyone to know that nothing is set in stone; anything can change tomorrow or a week from now. Put your mind to your dreams and goals, and try to change your life every day for the better to achieve them.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Such an excellent question for a travel lover! Los Angeles County has some beautiful places to visit. Personally, my favorite is the Griffith Observatory. I could go there every day. I would take my best friend there first, have a picnic and watch the sunrise. This sounds perfect, especially now, during the coronavirus. The observatory is very entertaining as well; I love learning about science. For the second day, I would include Beverly Hills and Hollywood in my itinerary. You can’t visit Los Angeles and not go to those two places. Hanging out with a loved one and shopping there would make the day go by so fast!
When I go to travel somewhere, I always love cultural tours. So, I would also take my friend to LACMA, The Broad, or NHM. This could take about two or three days to fully absorb all the unique art, history, and culture.
In regards to outdoor dining, Cheesecake Factory is a classic; going there is not a question! I would also love for my best friend and me to splurge a little and go somewhere more fancy, such as the Castaway restaurant with its gorgeous view.
Sometimes planning nothing at all and simply exploring the area can be just as memorable and enjoyable. So, I would love to spend time with my friend without an end destination for the rest of the week. This could help us come across less touristy places and discover some hidden gems. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Many people decide not to go to school for photography. Which is just fine; everyone has their way of learning and achieving their goals. However, taking classes and getting my photography degree has been the most significant investment for my business. In particular, I would like to thank my professors for educating me and giving their honest criticism. It is essential not to let positive comments go to your head. Criticism is key to improvement. Also, one of the perks of taking classes at a college is access to professional equipment that costs thousands of dollars for free. So a big thank you to the Glendale College Photography department for their immense help!
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