We had the good fortune of connecting with marisa vitale and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi marisa, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking.
I would definitely not be where I am today without taking risks! I quit my day job when I was 8 months pregnant with my twins to pursue my passion of becoming a photographer! Not really the most “safe” choice. However, I had started my wedding and family photography business on the side and I knew that the only way to see if I could actually become a photographer full time was if I jumped. And there it was, I was officially a photographer with newborn twins, ha! But it worked out. My husband and I did a dance for years juggling the kids and my work. After a few years of shooting on weekends, when my husband was able to watch our kids, and edit during the week while they were napping, the system started to break down. My kids were hard babies, they were hard toddlers and having them and trying to work at the same time took a toll on my sanity, on my energy, on my personhood. So, I took yet another risk, I completely shifted my work again. I stopped doing family and wedding shoots as my kids started preschool and being gone on the weekend no longer worked for me as I missed them during the week while they were at school. And with their naps dropping there was no time to edit during the day and it left me up till wee hours of the night and exhausted. I dropped it all and shifted my attention to anything I could shoot during the week while my kids were in school, interiors, products, lifestyle, events. I cast a wide net and somehow they all took. That was 4 years ago and I’m still photographing all of those things. But of course it won’t stop there. In two years we plan on doing a year around the world with our kids. At that point, I’ll have to figure out yet another shift in my focus to travel and international education and how I can continue my job as a photographer while on the road.
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.
Today I am a photographer that focuses on Products, Interiors, Lifestyle, portraits and travel. But 9 years ago I had a day job that I hated and longed to do something that electrified my creativity and passion. I went to grad school for urban revitalization and was supposed to be working in third world countries. That didn’t happen after graduation as I lost my mom shortly after. I was lost for about a decade. Finally, a friend of mine invited me to assist her shooting a wedding and my whole world opened up again. I thought that being a photographer was just for a hobby, I truly didn’t think I could make a living doing something I loved. I thought I was supposed to have a desk job. I jumped ship and dove in head first once I got pregnant with my twins. I knew there was no way I was going to go back to a desk job after having my kids, so either this photography thing was going to work or bust. And luckly, it worked! I did a lot of free shoots for friends to get my feet wet and this led to a word of mouth spreading. I photographed families and weddings for the first few years of my twins life. Still cant’ get over the first wedding client I had that took such a risk on someone who had never photographed a wedding before! However, once my kids stopped napping and started going to preschool, I was too tired to shoot on the weekends and missed seeing them since they were in school. So I took a risk and jumped ship again. I set a wide net to basically shoot anything I could during the week while my kids were in school. I shot products, interiors, headshots, events, retail stores, workshops, etc. And I pretty much still do that today! It’s scary jumping off into the unknown with absolutely zero job security. I just knew that I couldn’t spend another decade in a soul crushing desk job and had to take the risk. I love meeting new people, traveling and getting to capture my client’s visions into beautiful photos. It brings me great joy to capture someone’s art, creativity, self, products, etc.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in Venice, so I would say we start westside. Breakfast at The Butcher’s Daughter on Abbott Kinney and cruise the street after. Stop into Huset for fun goods, Urbanic or sending thank you cards, Toms for coffee and if you need a pair of sunglasses or shoes or intelligensia if just for caffeine and a treat. If we have the strength, head down to the skate park at the beach and watch the show. Grab a beer at Venice Ale House and maybe stay until sunset. If we’re ready to leave, dinner at Scopa Breakfast at Gjusta on bikes. Then head down to the boardwalk and cruise the strip. Take the bike path all the way to Manhattan beach and get a drink and food at Simzy’s. Or head north to the end of the bike path and jump in the water along the way. Annenberg beach house has food and a pool if you’re so inclined. If you want to come back to Venice, head to Rose Ave and eat at Wallflower or chulita, just the cocktails alone at these two places are awesome. breakfast at Great White in Venice, then head up to Malibu and get tickets at the Getty Villa. Either eat lunch there or head to Malibu Farm on the malibu pier and get lunch there. Stay for sunset anywhere you find a good beach spot that floats your boat, under the pier, paradise cove, sunset restaurant, matador beach, moonshadows For heading inland, start the day at The Getty. Take mulholland over to runyon canyon and do a hike. Drop down into hollywood for sight seeing and dinner at gracias madre Griffith Observatory for the views and the great show inside the planetarium. Grab a bite at the trails cafe and walk around Griffith Park. Head over to Palette in Atwater Village and shop at Individual Medley after. silverlake/echo park day. Need to start at Amara kitchen, lunch at Kitchen Mouse, dinner at Homestate and cruise the little strips window shopping all along the way. Downtown LA day, spend the entire day downtown, going into the museums (def gets tickets to the Broad) and eating at the Grand Central market. Make sure you head into the Arts District, eat at Manuela and cruise down Broadway and Santee Alley area. If you get there early enough, head into the flower mart, so pretty. Topanga day. Hike at Red Rocks or the backbone trail, then come back into town and peruse the little retail zone. Dinner at Inn at the Seventh Ray, breakfast or lunch at topanga living or cafe on 27. Dinner at the Reel Inn
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?
Cliche I know, but definitely I owe a lot to my mom who always told me that I could do whatever I wanted and strive to be whatever I wanted to be. But I was also scared and didn’t really believe that until after she died. It was only then that I truly began to take risks and attempt to create a career that truly made me happy rather than just working a day job I really didn’t have a heart in. If you work hard enough, you really can find ways to make it work. It takes sacrifice, it takes risks and sometimes they don’t work out. But, the power is in picking yourself up after you fall rather than letting the fall take you down completely. My moms words are always in my mind, but it is with a collective group of creative women here in LA that I find the strength and support to continue on when things get hard or confusing or too much. The power of a community to lean on is one of the best pillars of support I have today. Could not have made it through these last few years without these amazing women to call upon for advice, venting, direction and guidance and most importantly love.
all images taken by myself marisa vitale