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Meet David Herschorn of PhotoBohemia in DTLA

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Herschorn.

David, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve been taking photos since my dad first let me play with his cameras. He’s an avid amateur photographer and is almost always carrying a camera. Along with thick curly hair and a distaste for a really hoppy beer, I inherited his love for taking pictures.

Starting in middle school, I’d taken on a never-ending series of DIY photography projects that cultivated a real passion for photography. By the time I finished college at UC Berkeley, I was shooting events, weddings, portraits and small editorial assignments.

After I graduated, my plan was to work on my photography for a year or two in SF and then move to Washington, DC, to pursue a career in international affairs. But I quickly fell in love with the photo industry. In the beginning, I found work assisting producers, photographers, and stylists, but eventually fell in as a photo assistant.

I worked on everything from national ad campaigns for major corporations to fashion spreads for European magazines to portraits for magazine covers. This experience taught me how all the elements come together to create a successful photo shoot and exposed me to the traits and work ethic of those who find success as creatives.

In SF, I was going to lots of events, and realized the ubiquity of the photobooth but how blasé they felt. I was spending my days on the sets of really incredible and fun photoshoots, and I thought perhaps I could channel that energy into something for events.

As opposed to a standard automated photo booth, I thought it would be cool to have something a little more involved. First, there would be a styling aspect, where a stylist would help guests pick out fun, exotic props, and costumes. Then, a live photographer (me!) would direct and photograph them, with a beautiful set and lighting. The experience and final image would be far above and beyond anything produced by any normal photo booth.

I thought vintage trailers were cool and hunted one down to turn into a photobooth set. I turned that into a photo booth and quickly started meeting corporate event planners who loved the concept. Early on I got a call from a planner interested in booking me, but that she didn’t think we could get the trailer to the event location: the 7th-floor terrace in SF’s financial district. That is when it clicked that I could create different sets for different events, and that has formed the basis for my business since.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Is starting a creative business ever a smooth road? Mine has definitely been a bumpy, winding road.

In the three years I’ve been doing this business, the struggles I have faced fall into two categories. The first category is obstacles that I ran into because of my own lack of experience or knowledge or that resulted from spreading myself too thin and running on too little sleep.

The second has to do more with the constant disappointments the world provides: vendors messing up my orders; costly equipment failures; salespeople who pass along incorrect product information; assistants canceling last minute; etc.

But I find meaning in these struggles. I’ve learned to operate with much larger margins for error, and I now recognize that as a key asset.

PhotoBohemia – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I have a very niche business of creating photo ops for special events. I work with event planners to create fabulous, elaborate photobooths for their events. From backdrop installations for selfies to full production sets where each guest becomes a model, we blur the lines between decor, entertainment, and photography to give each guest a unique photo from the night.

I’m most proud of the trust that my clients put in me. I end up executing a lot of unique, new ideas that have never been done before, often on very short timelines. The fact that my clients trust me to bring these concepts to life is really cool.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
One proud moment was when Jony Ive, Apple’s head of design, complimented one of my set designs.

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