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Meet Rivkah Leah Gelb of Self Image Photography in Redondo Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rivkah Leah Gelb.

Rivkah Leah, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
As a young mom of three, I was hard-pressed to find time for ‘myself’ on most days. But any mother will tell you that you don’t have certain self-care activities in place to nurture your spirit, life can turn grey very quickly, no matter how much you love your kids.

I found myself in that exact space a few years ago and was in dire need of some form of self-expression and development, and photography became that opportunity for me. At first, I took a ‘boot camp’ style class in person for two hours a week over six weeks.

That class was HARD! I got easily confused and then frustrated with not understanding the terms and systems. But I pushed through and am so glad I did. During and after that class, I explored portraiture (as opposed to pictures of plants and landscapes) and practiced with family and friends.

As they say, the rest is history. I discovered a great joy in photographing connection and love amongst families, especially in a way that brings light to the amazing dedication mothers and fathers have to their children. I started my business in the fall of 2017 and have been growing ever since.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been a smooth road at all. I was really committed to learning the best business practices when I first started, but sometimes I’ve had to put a hold on those classes and ideas that look good on paper and go to friends and family, asking for their input and then going inward to decide if what I’m thinking or trying or working on is really me. Or is it really what my business needs. Or will it fit in my market? I tried a certain business model the first year that I’m not sure I love, and so this year I’m spending time to discover what I want and what will work for my lifestyle and market.

Starting and running a business on my own has brought out a lot of the anxieties, self-doubt, and fear that I may have learned to quiet in other areas of my life. I’ve found a unique sense of personal growth that has been initiated through owning a business, staying accountable, networking and serving clients.

Please tell us about Self Image Photography.
I am a lifestyle newborn and family photographer. Lifestyle merely means that I allow my clients’ relationships and personalities to unfold naturally during a session. Although I do guide and direct the activities that take place during a session, I want to help create the circumstances for family love and relationships to shine through in the resulting images.

I use natural light in client’s homes for newborn sessions and outdoors for family sessions, and I get to know my clients a bit beforehand so that we feel comfortable with each other, which allows me to get genuine and authentic expressions throughout the session. This is especially important for the kids that I photograph because they need to trust me to be themselves and once the parents see that the kids are relaxed, they can feel more at ease as well.

One of my end goals is that my client’s walk away with a form of printed artwork, whether in the form of framed prints for their home or hardcover professionally bound photo books. If we can’t see, touch and feel the images on a regular basis, what good are they? I want parents, especially mothers, to look back on the images from any session I’ve done with them, and feel how good of a job they are doing, and how even though being a parent is such hard work, they’ve got this, and they are fiercely loved by their family.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Right now I wish I would have been a bit more giving with my time and not worried so much about starting a business as soon as I did. I would have liked to have more time to experiment with my craft before having the pressure of creating an income. I also wish I would have purchased less online training and mentorship and just allowed myself the creative freedom of trial and error. I wanted to ‘get it all right’ the first time and although it’s a worthy endeavor, it’s not very realistic. Life isn’t that simple. It’s a hard lesson to learn and not running to ‘other experts’ is a hard practice for me to follow but hopefully in future endeavors, whether related to photography or not, I hope I can take that lesson to heart and trust myself and the process more. 🙂

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