We had the good fortune of connecting with Isabel Moffly and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Isabel, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
As a kid I was always starting little businesses, whether it was selling hand drawn stickers at the lunch tables in middle school or covering my friends white converse and vans in colorful customized illustrations in high school. I never really dreamed of a specific job I wanted to be when I grew up, all I knew was that it had to be creative, and I wanted to be the one to make the decisions. So you’d think that when I started taking up photography, I’d have another business plan in mind, but I really just started doing it for fun! My friend Lauren had started a blog talking about her life and adventures and she inspired me to do the same, sort of as a creative outlet to do during graduate school. A few years later, my instagram page transformed from a personal blog about skincare, to a live portfolio of my skincare photography business. I think that’s maybe why I’ve stuck with it for so long and why I’ve found organic, sustainable growth!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Growing up loving art, I was always told that I’d have a hard time finding success, or I’d be a “starving artist”, so I did whatever I could to find an alternative route. I envied people who just knew what they wanted to be. Future doctors, lawyers, venture capitalists all marching toward their goals, while I spent so much time worrying about if I was on the “right track”. After studying illustration in college and interior architecture in grad school, my brain was a bit overwhelmed with precision and perfection, this helped me move away from that pressure, and subsequently finding a career! It’s still in the early stages, but I’ve been lucky enough to work with some global beauty brands, and I’m happy to say I learn something new with each collaboration.
When searching for my style, I pulled a bit of inspiration from my drawings, but also noticed that there was a hole in the market in terms of visual content. In the skincare and product photography industry, a lot of people focus on the packaging as the subject of their work. As a consumer, I always felt confused as to why the packaging seemed more important than the product itself. Of course in advertising that’s important, but it didn’t tell the whole story. When I began, I initially tried to emulate photographers I followed and admired, but quickly found my own groove through texture photography. Focusing on the contents of each product, the colors the consistency, how it moves and “poses”, I stumbled upon a more exciting visual style that quickly became my signature. After years of searching, I’ve made my own job creating artistic, custom content for beauty and lifestyle brands for their advertisements, social media and websites.
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.
While I currently live in Washington DC, I grew up in Pasadena, so if I was going home to visit friends, my itinerary would look roughly like this: I’m a pretty low key person, so my dream week in LA would be a balance of laying low with friends, going to the beach/just spending time together, and going out to explore. Of course, since LA has some of the best food, I’d want to get a roast chicken and pesto sandwich from this little sandwich shop in South Pasadena called Fiore Market Cafe (they have the most incredible homemade bread!), and I know my brother would be disappointed if I didn’t mention the tacos from La Estrella. I’d want to get drinks at Perch (they have an awesome view of the city) and shop for vintage furniture and clothes at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. I’d make them do some touristy museum visits like the Broad and LACMA (but come on, who doesn’t love a good museum day!) and maybe go to Highland Park Bowl and wander around the shops and galleries on York. I’m sure I’m missing a million things, but I think the things I listed are the things I miss most about living in LA (besides the people of course!)
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?
Oh gosh I have so many shoutouts to do! I have to first dedicate this to my incredible partner René for his unwavering love and support, for buying me my first professional camera, and always helping me improve my work and find fresh inspiration. I also have to shout out my best friend Lauren, for inspiring me to start my journey in the first place, and my family for being the best cheerleaders I could ask for!
All images shot by Isabel Moffly