Today we’d like to introduce you to Dina Alkhoudari and Nasser Halabi.
Dina and Nasser, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born and raised in Damascus-Syria, a city full of culture, stories and jasmines. And there I met my husband Nasser. 6 years ago, we moved to Dubai we started our life there, him working for an oil company and me working for a university.
Dubai is a mix of cultures and the city itself is beautiful, so I never missed a chance to take photos with my phone or point and shoot camera. A few months after moving to Dubai Nasser got me my first DSLR – a Nikon D90- as a birthday gift. It was my baby and I took it everywhere with me. Even when I was invited to occasions with friends and family. It was our memory saver. After every session, I would hurry up to my computer to download the photos and start editing them. Four years later, Nasser and I moved to the US. We were determined that we are not going to look for a job. Nasser loves programming and so do I. We both are computer engineers. We started looking for clients who need websites and mobile apps. We had this spirit of entrepreneurs and we believe that California is the perfect place for us to start. Being “multipotentionalites” helped us a lot with having different tools and knowledge to start our own business. We started integrating websites with headshots for professionals. And I had a good portfolio of photos and galleries for photography. With more photography clients, I found out how I enjoy working with people and capturing their photos. Families started to call us for photo sessions. My biggest excitement is babies and new born sessions. I care about every detail, and I plan for all the props I use in the session (I even started making them myself 😀 ). Working with babies can be fun as much as difficult. You never know how the session would go with the baby is asleep or awake, had enough food or he/she is just not in the mood for photo-shoot today.
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?
There is no smooth road. We had many obstacles and challenges. The first one was moving to a new country, where there is a new culture and a new language – Yes, we did speak English well, but not the American English. I remember that we watching the full series of Friends – twice- to get our ears friendly with the language, we also joined a Toastmasters club that is close to us. Because it is not just about speaking the same language. It is about delivering what you want the right way. We’ve been in different situations where we had to repeat the sentence in different ways until we say it the same way people say it here.
Another challenge was deciding to start our own business after being employees for several years. This wasn’t easy for us. We needed to change our mindset, leave the luxury of the salary and to find out how to start a business. We started looking for networking groups on Meet-up. and took every chance to meet with people. It is not easy to compete in a new area and a new culture.
And like most new businesses, we went through a financial struggle especially that we didn’t have any other income other than our drained savings. I had to upgrade my photography gear and I could barely afford it, I got myself a new professional DSLR and the next day I was testing some lighting modes in the garage and the camera just fell down with the tri-pod… I froze for a few seconds but likely the guys at the photography shop were able to fix it quickly.
Please tell us about Dina Productions.
Dina productions is a photography and videography business. We do family sessions, newborn photography, headshots for businesses, events for businesses and non-profit organizations (we usually give very reduced rates for non-profits) and we are now building our portfolio for real-estate photography. We have also been working recently with Nour Tarzi of nour tarzi studio on a series of interviews that address immigrant entrepreneurs. And We worked with non-profit organizations like NAWBO-OC, and fundraising events for homeless children.
I treat every photo as a life gem because it is so precious to my customer and therefore to me, That’s why I’m known for my personal one to one relationship with every client, family and little one .
The thing I’m most proud of are the smiles on my clients faces when they see their photos, the “Oh wow!”, the “I look like a staaaaar :D” and the “That was to the point and professional” (when we are worried that a photo-shoot is going to be a mess and ends up going very smooth).
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
When I was a child, there was no digital cameras yet. We had to wait until the films are developed to see our photos and hope that none of them got burnt because of the camera or the guy at the studio. I have three sisters and one brother and I remember how we used to buy those 36 photos films and rush back home to make up our own fashion shows with my siblings, then wait for a couple of days to see how the pictures turned out.
- On Location Family Session: $100
- On Location Engagement Session: $150
- On Location Business Session: $200
- Address: 4118 Elm Ave, Apt 02, Long Beach, California 90807
- Website: www.dinaproductions.com
- Phone: 562 704 4395
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dinaproductions/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dinaproductions/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel