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Meet Claudia Hoag of Hoag Studio in West Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Claudia Hoag.

Claudia, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m lucky. I’m mainly a visual communicator, a listener and observer. But I’m lucky I was dealt great card when I was born, with so many different talents and interests. I went to cinema school in Brazil (where I’m from) and ended up with a Masters in Software Engineering from CalState Fullerton. Go figure.

Photography is a way of loving people. And I especially love their uniqueness, the things that make each person different. I still work as a computer programmer and provide for my family while I also do what really makes my heart sing: shooting people. With a camera.

To make things more interesting, life has thrown a few curved balls, auto-immune diseases (systemic lupus, Hashimoto’s) and I lost an eye in my 20s, but I’m an optimistic and a dreamer and those things won’t stop me. We get broken and we keep going. I alternate periods wearing an eyepatch and periods wearing a prosthetic eye. You should try walking around with an eyepatch sometimes, people’s reactions are amusing!

I love California, my favorite corner of the United States, especially the coast but all of California, really. Los Angeles has a learning/loving curve for outsiders, though. So many people come here and have their hearts broken. For so many it’s a cold, rude city. But there’s a lot of culture brewing here… so many voices… it’s exciting, alive.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
You gotta keep going. It’s like skateboarding: when you’re slow, a pebble makes you fall. Just go faster! I tend to just keep rolling not only when the auto immune diseases raise their ugly heads, but also all the other things that might get in the way if you let them: being from another country, having an accent, having a fake eye that looks weird as heck (LOL), generally being a woman (yeah it’s a thing), generally being older (yep)… just keep rolling.

Losing an eye when young was unfortunate, but stuff happens and you adjust and move on. It does raise my awareness about people’s resiliency, such a great human trait, and so many people have crazy things happen to them, and they just adjust and move on. Like a bullet train.

Another great challenge that I was so lucky to live through was moving from one country to another. It seems to me that all those things get me to know other people better. There’s always a sense of loss: I don’t belong anywhere anymore. It’s like there’s no more a home to come back to, because after a decade or two, that old place you grew up in, it doesn’t exist anymore as you knew it; and the new places will forever consider you an outsider. But that feeling fades away, too, and you no longer feel that as a loss. You get to understand other outsiders. And you get to understand completely different mindsets, and that’s very cool.

Please tell us about Hoag Studio.
I do personal branding photography, which is a way of getting a person to connect to their audience through images. How exciting is that?! I also do headshot photography, which is a specific way of getting a connection between a person and their audience. I love images, I love connection, but most of all I’m a listener and an observer. When shooting someone, I try to get a connection from that person, and I’m great at watching and listening.

This means I’m very flexible and open. And I’ve been bitten in a few rare occasions… LOL, we just keep learning – I might not be the best match for all people. So best thing is get in touch with them before we’re set. I do shoot with my heart.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I can’t imagine. Everything I did lead me to here. And I don’t want to be anywhere else!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Susan Goldman; Jenny Pooka Hardy; Regina Blankenhorn; Claudia Hoag.

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