We had the good fortune of connecting with Shelly Xu and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Shelly, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When I first started working for myself, there was really no balance at all. I was hustling! I was working 24/7, which was not healthy or sustainable. I think everyone has that stage in their career as an entrepreneur. It’s extremely scary working for yourself full time and not knowing how much money you’re going to make in the first few months. As my business grew, I quickly learned that I didn’t want this hustle culture lifestyle. I wanted to be able to hang out with my friends and family whenever I wanted, take a vacation, sleep in on the weekends, and not have to worry about finances.

Since I was in demand and extremely busy, every year or 6 months, I’ve pushed my rates higher and higher. I still continue to. It’s hard to know your worth when you first start a business and figuring out your rates is difficult when so many people in the industry aren’t transparent about it.

The way I’m able to have a better work-life balance now is by upping my rates so I am able to work less and still make good money. I now also have more time to really work on editing and post production to create the best work for my clients. Setting boundaries with my clients (communication only through emails, set turnaround time, office hours, etc.) is also another way to help with balance.

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.
I am a branding + lifestyle photographer. I create lifestyle content (photos + videos) for entrepreneurs, content creators, and brands for their social media, digital marketing, and website.

My editing style is what sets me apart from others. My work is very bright, airy, magical, and lighthearted. When people look at my work, they feel like they have just stepped into a movie. That’s the feeling I want everyone to feel when they see my work!

I am also quite picky with who I work with. I’m lucky that I am at a point in my business where I am able to say no to clients that I don’t think align with what I believe in and what I want to work on. It definitely was not easy getting to this point. When I first started shooting, I would say yes to everyone, just to get as much work as possible. I think everyone does this when they first start out. As you get more business and understand what type of clients you like and dislike, you’re able to filter out the ones you know won’t make you happy.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to not compare yourself to others, especially others in your field. Focus on you and your business and it will thrive! People want to work with you because you are YOU, not because you are trying to be someone else.

I’m currently working on niching down my clients to wellness + lifestyle based brands and accounts. I love all things wellness, movement, and sustainability and would really love to work with more people and companies that align with this. I’m excited to share new work and reveal my new website soon later this summer!

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 Jersey City, NJ which is right across the river from NYC! I’d definitely recommend taking the ferry over into the city to walk around all day, grab yummy food, and see a concert at Pier 17. Being Chinese, I LOVE Asian food. I’d recommend going to Nom Wah Tea Parlor for some dim sum in Chinatown. For my vegans, I love taking friends to Spicy Moon in the West Village. They have the best vegan Chinese food.
West Village is one of my favorite neighborhoods in NYC. I also shoot there a lot. People-watching in Washington Square Park and listening to all the musicians playing is one of my favorite activities.
Speaking of musicians… if you love going to concerts, I’d highly recommend seeing someone at Pier 17. It is the most incredible venue. It’s on a rooftop in the Seaport District, where you can see the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridge, and the beautiful city sunset. It’s seriously a magical experience!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my community on Instagram! I have the best community of creators, photographers, entrepreneurs, and friends. Everyone is always willing to share and give amazing advice. It’s all about open communication, positive vibes, and support!

Website: www.someshelly.com

Instagram: @someshellyphotography

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shellyxu15/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SomeShelly

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.