We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Derai and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lisa, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
For as long as I can remember, I have always been passionate about dancing, singing and being creative in any way I can. My mom put me in dance classes at age 3 and that’s when my love for that art was born. However, I quickly realized that becoming a dancer was out of reach for many reasons (various injuries, dance school tuition becoming too expensive…), so I decided to turn to dance photography as an alternate way to express myself and tell stories while still feeling close to my number one passion: dance. Pursuing a creative career has allowed me to never been bored, to meet incredible people (fellow photographers, dancers, models…) and to tap into the deepest corners of my imagination, to form visions that I would then try to turn into pictures. I believe that pursuing a creative career was, and still is, the only way for me to keep my job fun and to never grow tired of it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I absolutely love the way I get to freeze time and movement through photography. I like to make my pictures pop with colors, and to highlight my models’ best features and technical skills. I would say, I am most proud of overcoming my fear to start my photography business in the midst of a global pandemic. Nothing about this process has been easy, between clients canceling last minute because of covid or going weeks without any inspiration. Through this journey, I definitely learned how to persevere, how to market myself online to be visible but also how to make my business profitable.
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?
When I have friends visiting, I usually start by a stroll around Santa Monica or a walk from Santa Monica beach to Venice beach. In Venice, I love to take my friends to the rooftop of the hotel Erwin for good drinks and gorgeous sunset views. I also like to walk through the beautiful Venice canals. Day 2 would probably include lunch at the Warehouse restaurant in Marina Del Rey that has the best view of the marina and maybe a hike to the Griffith Observatory and (in not covid times) even a show at the planetarium. Day 3 would be a tour of the best LA thrift stores in Melrose, Burbank (shoutout to “It’s a Wrap”), and west LA (shoutout to “Trove”). Day 4 could be Malibu day, with a nice picnic in Point Dume or El Matador beach and maybe, if we’re feeling fancy, dinner at Nobu Malibu. Day 5 could be the occasion to go hike in nature at Franklin Canyon and get the best honey lavender ice cream at Salt and Straw on Abbot Kinney. Day 6 could be a touristy day in downtown LA with a tour of the Broad, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Last Bookstore, Olvera Street, Grand Central Market and evening cocktails on the rooftop of the Perch. Finally, the last day could be dedicated to visiting the beautiful Huntington Gardens and Library and having really good dumplings at Lunasia Dim Sum House.
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?
I would like to give a shoutout to my parents, who had to listen to me vent on the phone every week about how hard it was to build a business from the ground up. I would also like to recognize the amazing support that my husband Erik has given me through all of this process, and has been by my side every step of the way (from buying my first photography equipment to driving me to shoots…).
I would also like to give a last shoutout to my friend Morgan for agreeing to be my first model and for being my OG “dance muse”.
Credit: Lisa Derai Photography