We had the good fortune of connecting with Yoni Shrira and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yoni, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
I think for me it’s staying true to myself and the morals I have. Things like honesty, working with people who have the best interests of others, never doing projects that go against what I believe in, not losing myself and getting corrupted by the chase of money or success. Honestly, I feel like sometimes I do this to an extreme but that’s something I’m trying to be conscious of as I communicate and make decisions.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
When it comes to cinematography, I think of myself as being a supporting voice or vision. I am always in support of the story and the vision of the director. It took a few fumbles for me to realize that being collaborative and putting aside my wants and desires are always the ingredients to making a successful film or music video or commercial, etc. I remember being in undergrad and a friend of mine introduced me to a cinematographer who gave me this one extremely valuable piece of advice; be the person everyone wants to be around. He went on to explain that talent and hard work are necessary to being successful but there are many people who have that and only that and ten times out of ten people would rather have someone who is a friend and easy to get along with than someone who is talented but difficult to be around. I couldn’t agree more. This is a principle that I show up with everyday. When it comes to photography, that is my personal creative outlet. Photography is where I feel like I have a singular voice and where I can explore the themes and artistic process of creating something that I want to say. I’ve found that figuring out what I want/have to say is the hardest thing. I really do believe that everyone has something to say that will resonate with others. I’ve found it’s just a matter of connecting to myself and being present so I can access what that “something” is. Right now I’m in the final development stages of my first photography book. I’m currently submitting them to a number of publishers, book competitions, and first book awards. I didn’t set out exactly knowing what I wanted to say I just started shooting and over a two year period, it became clearer and clearer until it was nearly hitting me over the head. I would say I got to where I am today slowly. Everything has been incremental for me. Nothing has happened overnight. I’m not even close to where I want to be but when I sit and look back at where I started I can see many small steps have taken me a far way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d definitely take them to the beach. I love driving aimlessly at night and know a lot of great vantage points over looking the city that I would take them to. I also really like walking around downtown. It’s the closest thing that reminds me of NY. I always take friends to some great bookstores. Speaking of bookstores, I love going to “Stories” in Echo Park. It’s a great bookstore and cafe. I spend a lot of time getting work done there and it has a very communal feel. If you spend enough time there eventually it would be nearly impossible to go there and not run into people you know at any time. As for food, a lot of Mexican when friends come to visit.
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 say I have many people that have supported and encouraged me along my career. My friend Julian is a great cinematographer who was the first to bring me on set and teach me the role of what a cinematographer is. Then, upon my move from NY to LA I got connected to a cinematographer named John Rutland who allowed me to camera assist for him and he was the first to encourage me to go to grad school and make the transition from assisting to shooting. In grad school I was in the midst of extremely dedicated and talented filmmakers where I was constantly pushed to be my absolute best because I saw their greatness. These are just a small handful of the people who’ve pushed me along the way.