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Daily Inspiration: Meet Simone Staff

Today we’d like to introduce you to Simone Staff.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I fell in love with cameras at the age of 15. I went to a small art high school in West LA that had a darkroom and was immediately hooked by the alluring peace that comes with the process of developing. You delve into a deep meditative state while watching your imagery come to life and are able to manipulate the process to how you want your art to be seen. While I knew I wanted my livelihood to be centered around cameras, I did not know in what way or form. I am a lover of the ocean, a sailor at heart and a surfer by nature. I went to college in Santa Barbara where I met the idea of combining my love of the ocean with my passion of camera work. I quickly went to work making environmental documentaries about my surrounding environments. This has taken me all over, from Santa Barbara to the unknown regions of Easter Island, Chile, to create films. I was entranced by the ideas and stories you can share with your audience while still making an impact to protect our earth. While I am a creative in both still and motion imagery, at this moment, I wanted to further explore the ideas of motion film.

I decided to then give Hollywood a try. I PA’ed for quite a few shows, finally landing with an amazing company in Santa Barbara that worked on feature films. For these, I worked in the Post Production side to see if I wanted to focus my abilities on filming or explore other options surrounding the camera such as editing or producing. While this was an incredible opportunity to work with the best and brightest in the industry, of which those people became family to me, I could not think of any other work than besides focusing on the camera. There is so much you can do and play with, explore, push yourself and you’re creative boundaries, and learn from with camera work. The knowledge you obtain is ongoing! So I moved to my next chapter: action sports.

I grew up a competitive sailor, traveling worldwide to race in different regattas. In my off time, I surfed daily to cross-train and loved (still do) the laid-back lifestyle of the surfing world. At the end of my Hollywood era, it dawned on me that I needed to combine all the things that make me so excited about the world–action sports and their lifestyles, protecting the earth, and camera work– into one. I have now been a freelance photographer and videographer for a brief one year after leaving the heart of Hollywood, and am loving it. I have found my focus, and it brings out the best in my imagery and visuals. I work with clothing companies to produce and shoot high-quality commercials and campaigns that portray the calming and happy nature the ocean invokes. I shoot action sport events as well. I spend much of my time in the ocean with my water housing, filming and taking stills of those surfing with grace and beauty. When I am not in the water, I am on top of it, shooting large sailing events with a goal to try and show the intensity and elegance sailing is all about. I have been so lucky to be able to follow my passions and make it work with the lifestyle I am trying to achieve. I push myself daily to grow as a creative, as there is always more to learn and grow from. I have big dreams, and although no one knows where they will be in 5 years, let alone 20, I am hoping that I am able to continue following mine down the road of adventure and action imagery.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I feel like the camera industry is never a smooth road to walk down. There are so many different paths to take to get into the industry, of which I am taking a very non-traditional approach. The hesitation, doubt, and worries are always floating in my mind, and for me, that is the biggest struggle. I know how to use a camera well and know what angles/lighting is great. When I doubt myself or don’t push for that big opportunity I could have, is when I find myself struggling the most. As a creative, the point of your work is to be seen. When doubt creeps in, you share less work, you are seen less, and the bigger picture of what you want to do in your life is lessened. My focus is to always push myself, learn something new every day, and try to maintain a positive attitude. With this, anything is possible.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am a videographer and photographer specializing in the action sports industry–mainly ocean sports. I am so proud to call myself an in-water photographer, of which there are not many women who do this. I feel that sets me apart in itself, and I constantly try and push my comfort zones to film bigger waves and feel more comfortable in the water while always trying to get closer up to the action.

If we knew you growing up, how would we have described you?
Growing up, I was a very dedicated person. If I set my mind to something, I had to make it happen. This was clear in my sailing–I was drawn to being able to push myself as an athlete in a male-dominated sport and show my abilities to the world. I loved how you could always learn something new from the ocean and its temperament as well: the winds always shift, the currents always change, and you must understand how and why this happens.

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