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Meet Ani Tsatourian of Ani Portraits in Glendale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ani Tsatourian.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m a fine art portrait photographer. It’s not something I ever thought of as a career but always loved and appreciated. I went to college for arts and 3-D animation and in addition to my classes took photography for fun almost every semester. In the meantime, I was a full-time bookkeeper to pay the bills. In 2009 I got laid off. Being in the middle of economic recession it was hard to find a job, so I started thinking what I could possibly do on my own. This is when I thought to give photography a real chance.

I can’t say it was easy. It may have been one of the hardest decisions of my life. At that point, it was only a few years that I had been living in the US and I didn’t have many friends or connections to spread the word for me. I somewhat knew the craft but didn’t know anything about the business. I also had no money to pay others to help me get it off the ground, market it, or create a website. I had to do a lot of research and find resources to educate myself and build the business on my own.

I made an office space in my garage and would spend days and nights there trying to grow my business and craft and learn ins and outs of it. In the first few years, it had a very slow growth but I knew I really loved it and this is what I wanted to do, so I never gave up. Every now and then, I took part-time jobs to help pay the bills and stayed up nights to do what I love and improve my business.

For over six years, I would spend the majority of my day in my garage, alone. For every photo session, I would pack up an insane amount of props and equipment to take to a client’s home or an outdoor location for a photoshoot. At times it was very exhausting and lonely. In 2016 I finally reached a point when I could invest into renting a commercial space for my studio. Moving into my studio was such an amazing thrill. I was so excited and couldn’t wait for all the photo-shoots I could do in my new space. But, to my disappointment, for a year or so after the move, business was very slow and I had a lot of financial challenges. There was even a time when I thought to give up. I thought to myself “it shouldn’t be this difficult.” I was putting all my energy, all my time, and all my money Into this for so many years and it still wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted it to be. I was ready to give up and just go work at a 9-to-5 job with a stable paycheck.

Sometimes I can’t really explain what it was that kept me going despite all the challenges. Well, I am, of course, stubborn and I love my craft but it would have been so much easier to just give up. I am very proud of myself that I didn’t. I learned so much along the way.

Eventually, it did pick up and came to a point when often I have to turn clients away because my schedule is booked weeks, if not months, in advance. I now have employees helping me run the business and peace of mind knowing that my bills are paid. I feel blessed and I am very grateful to always have kind, wonderful people as clients who appreciate my craft and my efforts to provide them with an amazing experience.

Ani Portraits – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a fine art portrait photographer and own a boutique studio in Glendale. I specialize in photographing newborns, expecting mamas and children. I would say that my work is known for its timeless simplicity and elegance.

As an artist, of course, I am proud of the portraits that I capture for my clients. But aside from that, I must say that I am very proud of the customer service that we provide for each and every one of our clients. I want every person that comes to me not only have a beautiful portrait but have a great experience and fun memories to associate with creating their images.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment for me was renting a commercial studio. It was something I worked towards for many years. It was a dream of mine. One day I was driving to a furniture store to do some shopping for my newly rented studio and I had a moment when it finally sunk in that it was happening. I felt such extreme feeling of happiness and gratitude that it seemed like time stopped for a few seconds and everything was in slow motion. In that moment, my dream became a reality. It was one of those unforgettable moments that only happened a few times in one’s life. I felt extremely happy and excited to start a new chapter in my career.

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