We had the good fortune of connecting with Gareth Taylor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gareth, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
What balance?… haha. It’s a constant and ever-evolving challenge. Over my 13 years in the entertainment industry, my life has changed drastically and with it the quest for balance has always been in flux. The biggest factor that has shifted my approach to it and made it more relevant than ever before was the birth of my son 5 years ago. That really threw my carefree lifestyle on its head and forced me to re-evaluate everything from priorities to my career goals. Before then I had never even had to think about the concept of work-life balance. I was just living and working and enjoying every moment in between. Becoming a parent threw all that out of whack and I had to learn to compartmentalize different aspects of my life. It took a long time and is still a work in progress to a certain degree, but I feel like I’m getting to a better place every year. And of course 2020 happened to put a spin on everything. However challenging and sometimes really difficult it has been, I appreciate the internal work it has forced me to do in finding what really matters to me. Work and professional success seemed to be the most important thing to me a few years ago. Now I prioritize life, and even if it seemed like it set my career back a little at times, I now see that the healthier balance between the two has made my work much better and more creatively fulfilling.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a cinematographer, aka director of photography, my craft involves telling stories visually while translating a written script, treatment or idea onto the screen. Before starting my career, I studied writing and practiced photography as a hobby, so it was natural for me to drift into cinematography. Like so many professions in creative fields, it’s extremely difficult and competitive, especially in Hollywood. I work all over the world on different jobs, but being based in the Los Angeles area, I have to deal with the added challenge of the entertainment industry’s leading market. And unlike many other professional endeavors, one does not get ahead solely based on seniority and hard work. Networking, knowing people, making connections and a ton of luck are also part of the equation, which is hard for me because I would rather put all my energy into my craft rather than investing a great deal of it going to events, meetings and other types of social gatherings with no guarantee of getting anything in return. The toughest pill to swallow is the luck factor. I want to believe that people are rewarded for their hard work, dedication and good personalities while making their way up the latter that way. I’ve been doing what I do since 2006 and I’m still nowhere near any place I pictured myself being by now. It’s not something I want to spend time thinking about because it’s all too easy to fall into despair. I’ve gone down that rabbit hole many times and it never yields anything positive. I now have a more zen approach to it all which is based on the fact that life is far bigger than my career and so many other things are more important. This way of thinking is much healthier and better for the soul. At this point in my career, I just try to find good people to work with, and interesting projects. In other words, I prioritize what makes the job more enjoyable. I don’t like arrogant and disrespectful humans so I avoid them to the best of my ability. I’d rather offer my skills, talent and good spirit to those who can appreciate it and share theirs with me. It makes for not only better experiences, but the end product shines from the positive synergy generated from those types of collaborations.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Los Angeles and nearby areas are filled with hidden treasures and wonderful things to do. There’s no shortage of options and it wouldn’t be hard to fill a week with fun discoveries and a variety of activities. I wouldn’t bother with the obvious tourist traps like Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Universal Studios, Disneyland or Hollywood boulevard. I would focus on the culture and different types of areas that make LA so unique, like the food, street art, funky museums, nature trails, or historical places. We also have an incredible music scene which offers everything from big bands to local artists. The Hollywood Bowl is a classic summer experience, but for the cooler nights and more obscure bands, the Moroccan Lounge is a great spot to discover amazing artists. For food, there a gazillion amazing high end restaurants for diverse culinary experiences. Downtown has a plethora of them, some with rooftop terraces which make for great views and special ambiance. But there’s nothing more rewarding than supporting small local spots. If you want the best BBQ in town, hit up the JNJ Burger shack. For Mexican food, there’s a truck parked across from the Teragram Ballroom that makes amazing tacos. For the best ocean view, La Playita in Hermosa Beach is lovely. Far from the best food, but the setting and friendly atmosphere makes it a place I go to on a regular basis (and I live nearby). One thing that makes LA unique is that it sits next to ocean but also an hour from mountain tops. You can literally spend a January day riding on the snow slopes in the morning and finishing the day on a surfboard in the ocean. I also love having the desert nearby where you can find so many equally beautiful and disturbing sights. Koreatown, contrary to what its name implies is to me the most LA part of town. Sure, most stores and restaurants are indeed Korean, but once you’re off the main drags, you’ll find the gorgeous architecture that resonates with Hollywood’s golden age, fantastic food joints, classic old bars and also some of the coolest gritty back alleys in LA. It is the defacto setting for a film noir. I could go on and on. There is no shortage of discoveries to be made. I’ve been here 20 years and am constantly amazed by new things I experience here.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There’s no one reason for anything in life. I am the product of so many things that I can’t pinpoint any over others. Of course my family deserves a lot of credit for setting me up for a good start to life. The rest just happened. Whether good or bad things, they all contributed to my journey.
Cover photo by Danielle Mathias. All other images courtesy of Gareth Taylor.