We had the good fortune of connecting with Tess Bellomo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tess, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
I used to believe the phrase “The way you do anything is the way you do everything” throughout my entire twenties. As I think about it, our culture tends to perpetuate a toxic dialogue about success equating to staying busy. If your schedule is packed, that means “you’ve made it”. The pandemic taught me that just because my home may be an absolute mess, this doesn’t mean I am not organized in my business endeavors. Just because I didn’t give it my all in a workout and needed to stop early, this doesn’t mean I am a lazy person who does not take care of my body. When we look at everything in such black and white terms, it negatively affects our self-worth. While I do believe in being passionate and driven, and those are two qualities I am very proud of, it is okay to step back and not have to be a superhero in every aspect of your life depending on how you’re feeling in any given moment. Take it one day at a time, be kind to yourself when you need to rest, prioritize self-care, and stop comparing your life to anyone else’s, especially on social media. We’re all doing our best.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I just launched my photography business, Tess Bellomo Photography, which I am very excited about. I think a challenge for me personally, which I’m sure a lot of fellow creatives in Los Angeles can relate to, is “imposter syndrome.” It is so easy to compare your dreams and aspirations and actual business to others based on superficial factors. When I started doing photography again, I wasn’t sure how to market myself because I did not go to school for it, I had only done it before recreationally, my camera is a few years older, etc. All of those reasons do not matter if you have passion, drive, and motivation to learn and challenge yourself. Comparison is the thief of joy, and as I’m about to turn 30, I just want to promote positive self talk and love in my personal and professional life. My business stands out because I am extremely passionate about making people, especially women, feel good about themselves. I love the entire process from choosing the location, wardrobe, picking out a playlist, making my client laugh, catching the moments in between shots that create the most authentic version of them. I do think I see vulnerability in people, because I am vulnerable as the artist, and that makes a finished product you can’t find just anywhere. Everything I do in my work, from photography, to directing, to producing, stems from putting women at the front of every story, and amplifying and diversifying female voices. My mother motivated me to become the artist I am today, from what movies she chose to show me as a kid, making sure there was no female objectification, to the music she would play, being aware that every lyric would benefit me as a impressionable young girl. I see her in every portrait I take and every shot I direct.
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?
I’m a big believer in eating your way throughout a city to discover it, and LA has many amazing restaurants to experience! I’m a West Side girl myself, so I’ll stick to my favorite places over by the beach. I’d start out the week with a morning bike ride or rollerskating on Santa Monica Beach. I usually take that walk every morning and get a latte from Alfred Coffee or Go Get Em Tiger. If I’m feeling adventurous, I get the breakfast burrito from Go Get Em Tiger- they have the best bacon in the entire city. Every tourist needs to visit Malibu, and the drive is incredible. I do not go to many restaurants out there, but I recently discovered “The Sunset” which is a hidden gem and has the best seafood and views. Now that food is the only thing on my mind, and let’s pretend I have an endless amount of cash on me for this lovely day, I always take friends visiting to happy hour on Main Street. Another Mexican restaurant and that many people do not know about is Lulas- get a Margarita but be prepared for a hangover! They are too delicious. I’d finish my extravagant tour guide day with walking and shopping around Abbott Kinney, then going to The Waterfront in Venice, getting a burger and fries and a beer, and watching the sunset. To me, LA is all about the people you surround yourself with, being outside as much as possible, feeling that ocean air on your skin. My dream end to the night would be going to Winston House to listen to live music, around the people I love. And doing it all over the next day, but adding in Santa Monica Airport Dog Park in there, so my dog doesn’t feel excluded.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I cannot take credit for any sort of artistic success in Los Angeles, without recognizing my co-partner and co-founder of Poppy Entertainment, Claire Donald. Not only is she my dear friend, but she was the first woman I met in LA who had the same mindset as me in terms of what we wanted for our careers in entertainment, but more importantly, what we wanted to explore artistically. We both knew we always wanted to be making art, no matter who would see it, how many views it would get, or how much money we would make. There is a pure, youthful joy in our work and we thrive off our playful child-like imaginations that so many of us reject as we get older. It is so important to surround yourself with peers and colleagues who not only challenge you and inspire you, but you remember why you are doing it. If it’s not fun and collaborative, what is the point of the 14 hour days in production where you feel like you’re in a delirious dream by hour 13? I am lucky to have a partner with those same values and work ethic.
Tess Bellomo Photography Alejandro Reyes-Knight