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Hidden Gems: Meet Bart Mastronardi

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bart Mastronardi.

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 am born and raised in Queens, NY. I moved to Los Angeles in 2017. Between NYC and L.A. I have the best of both worlds when it comes to being on opposite ends of the United States. I have always been drawn to visual images and movies since I was child. Comic books were fascinating to me as they were visual images telling stories. When I understood what a camera was able to do, I started to take photographs. I couldn’t afford a film camera so photography was the way to create images.

Through a lot of trial and error and ups and downs, I was able to understand what I wanted to photograph. At first, I wanted to capture everything, and I still do a lot of my own creative work, but in business I focus on Headshots, portraits, and fine arts.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Even a smooth road has bumps occasionally. I think much of what I struggled with was knowing I can actually run a photography business. Once I started understanding what my client’s needs were I began to understand where I had to focus my attention to in my business. I then started to take business online classes, ask other photographers how they operate their business and also still have time to enjoy being a photographer. Now it isn’t easy as your attention is about delivering expectations, sales, marketing, and reinventing the wheel all the time. Another struggle was getting out of my own way. Learning to jump off the cliff and into the river to swim. Photography is a love for me, so to also get to be a business person with my love for creating and capturing headshots for clients so they book an audition, selling my fine arts, teaching it, or seeing one of my portraits in my client’s house is quite a fulfilling endeavor. Being persistent with myself has been the struggle and the success. Waking up each morning, I see what my business gives to my life, so I keep on doing it.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Bart Mastronardi Photography is my photography business. I specialize in Portraits and Fine Arts. My headshots division is Headshots by Bart. I am located in Burbank, CA. I am a visual storyteller using photography and filmmaking to tell the stories. I am a filmmaker also, which gives to the narrative use in my photography. Much of my work is Portrait and Fine Art photography where I get to create stories using photography. At times I have clients who come to me to photograph them for fine art style portraits. What excites me most is the process of the session with the models and clients. The discussions we have to light up the ideas for the session. I am most happy when the clients are smiling while looking at the captures we created. I will admit there is nothing like working with the lab, Film Solutions in Burbank and going over the paper to print the photograph on. When the print is ready and framed it is magical in every way imaginable. If time permits, I’ll hang the frame up in the client’s home for display.

A job I was most proud of was when Wil Jackson, an actor and filmmaker here in Los Angeles, called asking me to photograph him for his 50th birthday. We spend three months prepping; working with makeup artist, Baexjing; costuming, getting the best studio to work in. It was such a special photographic session as we were celebrating his 50th. I was honored as he wanted me to be the photographer to create these images for him. I included one for preview here. I saw 50 as a golden high honor.

I am most happy when I am working on my photography or even teaching students to understand their own process. I was able to get where I am by taking huge risks because I felt like I had no choice. I had to do what I felt was in my gut. It wasn’t always that way when you start out. I do the work. I am a conduit for the creative energy to flow. When I am open to the process, it flows more easily. It’s tough at times as it is a business, too. However, that’s the joy in it at times. What I would ask the world to understand about me is it is important we share our talent to help give more to the world. I get to live my art every day. It’s a relationship within me that I cherish as I can share it with many people from all over the world thanks to social media. One lesson I learn each day when I am working is to keep investing in yourself. It’s your talent to work with so make it worth the time.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
The advice I was given I will share here is to invest in yourself. It is your responsibility to shape and mold your life. What that means is to truly dive into your art, your work and figure out how to accomplish it all. Ask questions, get help, be understanding patience is important when you are living a creative life. Also, please learn the business of running a business. I go to Sue Bryce Education, Creative Live, and Joel Grimes for so many lessons not just on taking a photograph or the technical side, but importantly how to earn money. Business is about learning about your client’s needs, what to sell at, taxes, offerings to clients, working with the lab for prints and costs, hiring assistants and more. Invest in yourself. Educate yourself in all the aspects of your art and turn it into a full-fledged thriving business. Learn that you can earn a wonderful living out of your photography or any type of business. It takes time and much work. If you’re willing to do the work then learn how to do it. It begins with you. Focus.

Contact Info:


Image Credits
Wil Jackson, Mélissa Guérin-Torres, Brandon Schlaegel, Brian Rohan, Niki, J. Borger, Charles Chudabala, Tyler Prince, Michael Knowles

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