We had the good fortune of connecting with Shaya Cohen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shaya, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I started out photography as I began college. I was not doing any serious shoots or events so it was manageable. As I began shooting actual families, events and products; balancing my social life, college and photography was a struggle. I started to prioritize one over the other which caused me to withdraw from one when I should have been more on top of my time management. As I began to become more organized, I saw that I had enough time for all of my endeavors and more. I had time for my nursing classes (Im becoming a Doctor in Nursing Practice), I had time for my photoshoots/events/editing and I had time for me.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I started off buying a canon rebel t3i off of my brother for $150. I brought this camera everywhere and had no intention of this becoming a career. As is the norm, everyone immediately started asking me for free photoshoots which I agreed to. I wanted to get out there and learn. I had no real vision other than creating what I thought was aesthetic images for my instagram. This went on for around a year and a half and I found myself overloaded with free photoshoots which took away from my schooling and social life. I decided it was time to change my focus from a freelance photographer to a more productive and business like system. I began by envisioning where I wanted to be by 2020. I invested in my first lens which was the canon 50 f1.8 and instantly loved the shallow depth of field that the wider aperture lens brought, and so did my clients. As I started to charge for photoshoots, more serious clients began to request more serious shoots like Bar Mitzvahs, graduation and regular portrait shoots. As I was seriously considering new gear, I began to search camera bodies and lenses that I wanted. As I was about to checkout I saw that my total was somewhere around $16k. I had no idea how much photography gear actually costed. Being seriously intimidated I began to purchase a lot of gear I didn’t need which I thought was a great replacement for the expensive gear. I ended up spending roughly $2500 on gear I don’t even use today. In summer 2017 I changed my entire business model; created a contract, a website, interned by many advanced photographers in LA and began to work towards purchasing gear that was quality rather than affordable. I shot my first wedding that Fall and fell in love with event photography. I began to invest in a full frame camera and bought the Canon 6D Mark ii along with the 85 F1.4. Event after event and I saw my images improving drastically. I got into off camera flash for my weddings and was able to start capturing the dramatic photos that have been on my Pintrest board for years. Fast forward three years and I currently am where I envisioned myself being in 2017 when my focus shifted to a more business oriented system. Throughout these five years I was unorganized, got stolen from, got taken advantage of and spent unnecessary amounts of money on gear I didn’t need. But all of my experiences were ones that resulted in growth and brought me to where I am today.
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.
My favorite spots in LA have to be: Runyon Canyon, Larchmont Village, The Grove, Will Rogers Memorial Park and Downtown LA. Being that I keep kosher, I only have insight into restaurants that keep up with those standards. On Larchmont there is a coffee shop that I used to study at pre-corona and its called groundwork cafe.
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?
Although there have been countless influences that have helped me along the way, the top three would be: Yoni Oscherowitz, Uri Arnson and Alex Hertz.