Today we’d like to introduce you to Frances Iacuzzi.
Frances, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Before I discovered the wonderful world of photography, I was a soccer player. I started playing at around age 3 and continued through college, where I played Division I at Colgate University. When my collegiate career came to an end, I felt rather lost, not knowing which direction to take. So, I packed my things and moved to LA to discover a new life, one without my identity as a competitive athlete. Luck was on my side, and I began working as a personal assistant for singer/songwriter, Lisa Loeb. One night I was at a dinner at her manager’s house, and it was here that my fate as a photographer would unfold. I met a highly-established wedding and portrait photographer named Justine Unger. She had just moved here from D.C. and was in need of an assistant to help her with editing, retouching, assisting with shoots, and eventually she would hire me as a 2nd shooter for weddings and special events. Like my father, I’ve always been drawn to photography, but just as a hobby. Shortly after I began working for Justine, I found myself itching to start my own photography business. I bought a camera and a few lenses and started taking actor headshots. My sister was enrolled in an acting class at the time, which was where I picked up many of my first clients. I instantly fell in love. I had found a new calling. And once I started, there was no looking back. During my apprenticeship, I learned a great deal from Justine, and after about 2 years I decided to take on my business full-time. I took a leap of faith in order to do what I loved most. Fortunately, the universe supported my decision, and after about two years, I had built up a strong portfolio and a substantial client base. Of course, it has been a gradual process of growth and expansion. But over the course of the last 5 years or so, I have been able to support myself performing my craft. One reason I love my job is that there is never a dull moment. Each job is unique, and I have been fortunate to work with so many incredible people. My camera alone has allowed me to be in situations I never could have imagined. This includes photographing several celebrities, like Neil Patrick Harris, Ed Helms, Craig Robinson, and Britney Spears. Photography gave me a new outlook on life, a new passion and purpose, filling the void where soccer once was. For that I am extremely grateful, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
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?
As with any business, there are high times, and there are low times. The most difficult part for me has been learning to have faith when things are slower than usual. Somehow or another, they always speed up and before I know it, I’m busier than ever. Learning how to ride out the waves, instead of fighting the current, has been one of my greatest challenges. As I mentioned earlier, it has been a gradual build, with each year busier than the last. About 90% of my work is referral-based, and oftentimes I never know when the next job is coming. But I have come to realize that photography is one of my primary purposes in life, and as long as I’m doing what I love and am helping others, the universe will always have my back.
Another struggle I’ve faced is realizing how expensive it is to be a professional photographer. The top gear is in the thousands, and it has taken several years to build up my collection. Yes, smartphones take nice pictures and all, but they pale in comparison to what high-quality, professional camera gear can do. 🙂
Lastly, I’ve found that most people are their own worst critics. About 95% of people I photograph preface their shoot by telling me how “unphotogenic, awkward, and uncomfortable they are” when they get their pictures taken. It is my goal to alleviate that anxiety and self-consciousness almost everyone gets (myself included) when a camera is pointed at them. My role as an artist is to find and capture the beauty in each person I encounter. Most people are the first to point out their flaws. But I want them to see what I see. To recognize their light and find love and acceptance of who they truly are, inside and out. There is no greater feeling than when I click with my clients, when we are able to laugh and let go and enjoy the process. By the end of the shoot, most people end up telling me that they surprisingly had a lot of fun and it wasn’t nearly as difficult as they thought it would be.
Frances Iacuzzi Photography – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I photograph people…in various settings. I specialize in weddings, portraits, and special events. When I say “portraits,” more specifically, I mean creative portraits, such as families and other artists who need material to promote their business. I’ve worked with yoga instructors, actors, models, dancers, writers and other photographers. I pretty much love it all…as long as it requires some level of creativity. I have shot on the red carpet a few times, and I can safely say that was not my cup of tea! But with anything in life, you have to try many things to discover what it is you don’t like so that you can find out what you truly love.
What I’m most proud of is also the same thing that sets me apart from others. One of my greatest strengths as an artist is my ability to make my subjects feel at ease. Whether it’s during a wedding or a portrait session, I find my best work is created when my subjects are relaxed and being their authentic selves. I am drawn to truth and beauty, and I think raw and authentic moments and feelings are the most beautiful. It is my job to bring that out in people and to capture that. While some shoots are easier than others, each time is an opportunity to practice. In the beginning, it was not so easy. But as my confidence as a director has grown – which is a large part of being a photographer – it has become much more natural.
During weddings and events, I like to blend in, in order to capture candid moments. It is not my day to shine, it’s my clients’, so I aim to be as discreet as possible. I still give direction when necessary, but magical moments often occur on their own. I have found that most people prefer a more photojournalistic style of photography as well.
Lastly, when I photograph couples during an engagement session or on their wedding day, I like to have some alone time with them so that I can create more intimate moments. I’ll often give them little games to play, which enables them to play and forget about the fact that a camera is pointed at them. A photoshoot should be a fun, memorable experience, after all!
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
It’s a three-way tie:
The first was when I received a photo credit for images I took of Britney Spears and her sons for her album booklet, “Billy Jean,” released in 2013.
The second was when Justin Bieber posted a photo I took of his manager, Scooter Braun, and his pregnant wife, Yael Cohen Braun, on his Instagram page. Although he didn’t give me a photo credit, it was still pretty surreal: https://instagram.com/p/x8HSXkAvi3/
The third was when I photographed Jillian Sipkins + Justin Willman’s magic-themed wedding, which went completely viral. People went crazy over their first dance, where magician Justin performed a levitation-type magic trick. The images I took appeared in several top wedding blogs, as well as on the news. Jill + Justin are friends of mine, which made it all the more meaningful. You can find images from the wedding as well as a link to their first dance here: http://www.stylemepretty.com/california-weddings/malibu/2015/10/01/romantic-magical-rancho-del-cielo-wedding/
- Address: Los Angeles, CA
- Website: www.francesiacuzzi.com
- Phone: 310-702-4332
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @fiacuzziphotography
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FrancesIacuzziPhotography/
- Twitter: @francesiacuzzi
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/frances-iacuzzi-photography-los-angeles
Frances Iacuzzi Photography