We had the good fortune of connecting with Yasma Alkoraishi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Yasma, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking.
“The bigger the risk, the greater the reward.” People should step out of their comfort zones, move to unfamiliar places, reach out to people they want in their lives, and find new job opportunities when they are unhappy with their current situation. I risked a lot when I lived in New York and did freelance retouching and photography work. Sometimes I found myself waiting a bit longer for higher paying (and higher profile) gigs, instead of taking the easier, lower wage jobs that were more frequent. It’s a constant balancing act because you want to be available when that great gig comes in, but you also need enough money to feed yourself! I always avoided admitting to clients how much I actually needed the money, and kept negotiating for higher pay. It really is a dog eat dog world; almost all of the clients are trying to make more money at any cost by hiring younger, less experienced creative professionals who will do the work cheaper and faster – and usually worse quality! It’s important to stand up for yourself and know how much you’re worth in the creative world. Because I took so many risks and had so many different work experiences, I was able to ask for higher pay, get published in magazines, and do more of the creative projects I wanted to work on, instead of just grinding away on projects to pay the bills. Bouncing around between different clients and in different roles, I gained a lot of experience and my portfolio grew exponentially. Although at the same time, some recruiters/employers have seen my lack of numerous recent long-term commitments as a bit of a red flag. This year, I am focusing on adding additional long-term clients. Those are the kinds of relationships that are essential for anyone looking to branch out into their own full-time business.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
This year I’m really excited to get back to more personal projects, editing previously shot projects, learning more video, pitching stories to magazines, increasing my reputation in the online and photography world, and saving for my own studio space hopefully within the next five years. Listening to your own voice and style can make or break an artist. Following trends may be popular and gain more likes on Instagram, but in the long run will not last. Trust your gut and create from the heart. I find great inspiration from reading Kubrick’s rejection letters for Lolita, hearing on podcasts about how DMC’s parents thought his first tour would only fund his college career, and Lady Gaga signed to Def Jam then was dropped a few months later. Not to mention the countless artists that only gained recognition after they were gone. Really motivates me to never give up. And because of the lockdown, I’ve been trying to nestle more into my home and make it my own. I used to have more of that safe space, creative vibe with my old apartment in California. Now that I have my own bungalow studio, I’m hoping to create more by shooting at my place and in the Long Beach neighborhood, scanning more film projects, retouching and experimenting with color grading, and just making an environment I feel I can completely be myself. I want to create a safe haven. Having a constant flow of new creative photography story ideas would be a blessing, but figuring out how to survive is a huge distraction always for everyone.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
Before the lockdown last February, one of my friends from New York visited for a short weekend. We drove around like crazy on my day off and hit tons of spots: Tom’s One Hour Photo for 90’s glamour photo studio portrait, the Broad for contemporary art, the Walt Disney music hall for silly selfies, Bottega Louie for decadent desserts, Santa Monica pier for the sunset, and the Echoplex for dancing. One of those wonderful pre-face mask weekends that I fondly look back on and treasure…
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I never would be where I am today without my friends. Many think of me as independent and self motivated, but it really gives me so much joy when friends compliment my art, buy exhibit prints, recommend me for gigs, inspire me with new music or art shows, and join my photo teams to create photo stories. Being creative is what makes me most happy in life; it’s nice to create on my own, but it’s so much more fulfilling to have people to share that with. And also my mom is a great support. She knows that she doesn’t understand my industry, and that it’s a long and steady road to the top. Before she used to offer advice, but now she sticks to what she knows by giving some encouragement and her thoughts. Sometimes, my parents will sugarcoat their critiques of my work a bit too much, but I try to remember my audience and always get a second opinion! Definitely the more I’ve gained in recognition as a photographer and success with retouching jobs, the more my mom believes in my work and vision – even if she herself doesn’t always get it. Also, I wanted to shout out about the importance of finding a balance between work and your personal life. I’m taking more time now to work on self care, and have really seen the difference in my improved mental health. As a creative professional, you need to take risks, hustle like crazy, push the limits, and know failure is a part of any success. Just don’t forget basic things like a good night’s sleep, exercise, and some nice meals that help to give balance to our lives and maintain our physical and mental well being.