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Meet Diana Feil of 901 Venice

Today we’d like to introduce you to Diana Feil.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In 2013, we – that is two daughters, one husband and me – said farewell to our life in Germany. Since then, we’ve been busy planting our roots in a city that never ceases to fascinate and inspire, a city I’ve come to love. L.A. is home now, and its palm-lined streets, vast beaches and diverse neighborhoods are my offices.

You never know what life has in store – when we lived in Germany, I was a director for television documentaries and children’s programming. Having worked with people all of my life, I grew to love telling stories about them. I consider story-telling as one of my strengths, and it’s how I approach photography.

Moving to the U.S. allowed me to re-invent myself. People told me that they loved my pictures and encouraged me to follow that path. And that’s what I did.

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?
The decision to start a new career in my forties was not that hard. Since I had worked with people throughout my television career and being a visual person is second nature to me, becoming a photographer was the obvious next step. I have to say I realized that photographing people involves a lot directing. The difference to my last job is that I’m in charge of taking the images myself and that the images are not moving.

But when I was ready to get out there and shoot, I didn’t have a work permit yet because I was in the U.S. on my hubby’s visa. We applied for the express version of the Green Card which was not only expensive but also a lot of work, tedious and incredibly frustrating at times. To name just one thing: one of our Green Cards got lost in the mail and they wanted us to start the whole process over again…

Then the language was a headache sometimes – nobody has taught me photography terms at school, and I had to get familiar with just basic commands like Scoot closer… or Bend your leg!’don’t tilt your head! etc. To this day, it still happens to me now and then that I struggle with an English expression that I just can’t seem to think of. It’s weird. But I am more relaxed about it now because people are always so happy to help me out and it’s also good for a silly giggle in between.

Please tell us about 901 Venice Inc.
I am a lifestyle people photographer. With a documentary approach – I am a passionate and patient observer. What‘s the lifestyle aspect? Maybe that I stage my subject in a certain way, in a certain spot, in a certain light. I also have some funky techniques to portray people as natural as possible. There is always a lot of laughing involved when you shoot with me, promise!

This would actually be a great question for my clients. I think I somehow help people relax in front of my lens. That’s maybe the most difficult task for a photographer, right? I barely know anyone who loves to have his or her picture taken, including myself.

What sets me apart from others? I think it‘s my European roots, my European eye, and style. And I don’t really think when I’m photographing. I probably know all the rules in the abstract, but when I am pressing the shutter, I am feeling driven. It’s a flow related thing, I guess.

And then there’s the fact that I am not conventional. People like that and people like to laugh about me and about what I‘m doing. Just recently, a client called me ballsy just because I decided to get in the middle of Abbot Kinney Blvd. in the busiest time of the day for the sake of a picture. I got honked and yelled at, but hey, it was worth it!

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I grew up in a little city in the Black Forest area. I loved exploring the town together with my friends and playing along with the little creek right behind our house.

I have always loved to take photos. I remember taking my simple film camera on field trips in elementary school. My dad used to be a decent photographer. I have vivid memories of him developing photographs in his darkroom – which was our family‘s bathroom, haha.

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