Self Image Photography

Your Name: Rivkah Leah Gelb

Business Name: Self Image Photography

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Family? Pets? Hobbies? Etc.

Hi! I moved around a lot as a kid, but would consider myself a native Angelino – originally from Los Angeles, CA.  I currently live in Redondo Beach, CA with my husband and three kids.  I love reading, drinking tea, watching movies and taking photographs of people!

Tell us about your Photography business. How did you start and why? What do you specialize in? Would you go back and do anything differently?

I have always been fascinated by photography and enjoyed taking pictures even as a kid but never took it seriously until I was seeking a hobby a few years ago.  As a mom of three kids very close in age, I found myself needing an outlet that was just for me and took a class to learn how to use my camera to take better photos.  I enjoy taking pictures of my kids but even more so, when I started practicing on other families and their children, I discovered that I enjoyed photographing other families even more!  I now specialize in newborn and family photography and take a lifestyle approach.  That means that I do a little bit of posing and directing, but work to create photos that are reflective of the real life beauty in every family, as opposed to a perfect portrait look.  I don’t even spend a lot of time asking for everyone to smile at the camera during my sessions.  If I could one thing differently, I would have not charged any money for the first 6 months to a year and chalked it up to experience and treat it more as an internship.  I think I started charging a little early and wanted to rush being a ‘real business person’ before I was really ready to and that put me under a lot more pressure than necessary.

Has it been a smooth road? Have you encountered struggles that you could share?

It has not been smooth, but mostly I feel like that’s because I am impatient and sometimes want to succeed faster than I am ready for.  It took a long time to learn how to edit photos properly and how to use my manual camera settings so that I could fully control the resulting images.  In all honesty, I’m still learning how to make more intentional decisions so my finished photos can reflect my vision.  How can you expect to be a successful business owner when you just finished school? It takes time and I think new creatives, more than anybody really need to pound that into their heads to realize that sometimes, you can’t rush things.

What do enjoy the most about what you do? What do you enjoy the least?

There is something really magical about working with the environment and a group of people, with their own dynamic, to then create an artistic vision.  I love that photography isn’t a blank canvas like painting or drawing.  You are already starting with a base, whether it be a client’s home or a beautiful outdoor location and then you have the family themselves, their interactions and personalities.  Then, I get to use my creative self to photograph how I see this already beautiful foundation and make something beautiful with that!  I love that process.  The part I enjoy the least is when I have a vision or I expected a photo to look one way, but then I having a hard time photographing and editing it to look the way I envision.

What inspires you?

I love music and good reading.  One of my favorite books lately, where the author uses her writing to paint the most amazing pictures of otherwise day to day situations is “Cold Tangerines” by Shauna Niequist.  In addition, I get inspired by one on one meaningful conversations between friends and family.

What is your farewell piece of advice for someone interested in taking the first steps toward entering into your field?

Be humble, study, practice and don’t try to be a professional before you are ready.  Photography is an art and it takes time to learn.  There are so many people that get a camera, can take some good pictures of their kids and then say “I’m booking!” on Facebook but meanwhile don’t even have a business license!  Our industry is a mixed bag of varying levels of artistry and experience and I think that someone starting out shouldn’t put the pressure on themselves to go pro until they are ready to do it full on.  It’s an amazing field to be in but it’s also okay to be a hobbyist!  So if you are on the fence, journal, get a mentor, create a practice of photography for yourself and you will eventually know when it’s time to go all in.  Once you are ready, DO IT!! You won’t regret it!

What is your favorite Candy Bar?

I am actually not a big candy person :/ I prefer pastries, like croissants 🙂

What is your favorite Childhood Memory?

I remember waking up on my 6th or 7th birthday and my parents covering our apartment with streamers and signs for my birthday.  Then they taped little gifts going down the handle of the staircase! That was such a fun memory!!

You are a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be?

Deep teal.

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