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Meet Santa Monica Marketing, Advertising & Photography Pro: Vadik Swenson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vadik Swenson. (Sorry ladies, he this talented guy is soon to be married)

Vadik, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
A proud member of the Gator Nation, after graduating from the University of Florida I went abroad and enrolled in a Master’s in International Management program at IE Business School in Madrid. While in Europe, I bought my first DSLR camera. During this time I was able to travel to places like Tunisia, Istanbul, Paris, etc and developed an interest in travel photography.

Once back in the states, I started to shift from a career in business/finance to the more creative field of marketing and advertising. To advance my career I traded one coast for another and moved from Tampa to LA. During this whole time I kept developing my photography skills and being in LA has helped me take my knowledge of the craft to another level. Having great support and encouragement for my photography from friends, family, and people on social media, I was able to stay motivated and keep at it.

Here I’ve been able to meet a lot of great people in the industry and make amazing professional connections. Since my main job is now working at a creative agency in Santa Monica, I’ve had the luxury to be selective of which jobs and projects I take on. While living here, I’ve been able to start establishing my own style and honing into the photography I love doing: portraits and lifestyle. With new technology and changing expectations, photography is a constant learning process for me. I think its critical that photographers use the best resource that exists today, YouTube, and keep learning new techniques, tricks, and processes. There are a lot of photographers out there now since it’s so easy to buy a decent camera and just start shooting. However, there are nearly just as many lazy photographers that don’t invest in themselves and learn composition, lighting, posing, etc. This is where I see room for me to keep developing and building my exposure.

Has it been a smooth road?
I feel pretty fortunate for the most part. While I can’t say it was a smooth road, I feel like I’ve always known I wanted to end up here and have worked my hardest to make it happen. One of the most recent challenges I’ve come across was to start developing my own style, rather than feeling like I have to match what other photographers are doing. Now, I just learn from them but shoot how I want to shoot.

So, what should we be on the lookout for, what’s next in store for you?
Professionally – I’m excited to keep developing both my creative agency career and photography business in tandem and see where I end up. I think in today’s economic environment it’s crucial to be involved on multiple fronts and want to make sure I keep growing in both parts of my professional life. It would be amazing if in the future I’d be able to combine my love of world traveling with photography into something resembling a “full-time” job. I think my experience in the marketing and agency worlds would help me start my own small creative shop in the future. This would give me the flexibility to work on projects both locally, and around the globe.

Personally – Next summer I’m getting married in Barcelona, which I’m looking forward to, so I’d say that’s a pretty big life change. 🙂

Let’s go backward a bit – can you tell us about the most trying time in your career?
Hardly original, but a feeling that many people can relate to is struggling to transition between industries. I was in the financial sector after majoring in Finance and getting a master’s in International Management, but quickly became disenchanted with it all. However, just simply switching to the agency world with a background in finance is easier said than done. I was out of work for some time, and as you know bills and responsibilities don’t take a timeout and kept piling up. This was hard in and of itself, but then also seeing my colleagues from school do well in their endeavors made it even more difficult, and I started questioning myself on whether I had made the right decision. There was a lot of doubt and negative emotion, which in turn led to a lot of soul searching, but through hard work, persistence and my close friends/family support system I was able to turn a corner and finally get my foot in the door and have my shot. I’m a big believer in critical thinking and figuring things out for yourself, rather than waiting on someone else to do it for you, and luckily in my times of doubt, I was reminded of this by the people that know me best. Everybody has their strengths and I concentrated on keeping mine in the forefront through my interviews and networking opportunities to get where I am today.

What about “Wow-moments” – any moments that stick out? Any moments when you felt like you had made it?
Generally, I don’t like reading too much into milestones, or anything like that. Hearing even renowned photographers express that they feel like they’re still students of the craft in interviews and creative agency people say that they still feel like they’re fighting to get where they want to be, keeps me from getting too excited about accomplishments. Having said that, every time I get a referral from someone I’ve shot with, it still registers with me like it did the first time. It’s really the small things, referrals and people that have found my work online and want to shoot with me, that keeps me motivated. I feel like they are the stepping stones to truly “making it.”

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Phone: (321)298-6947
  • Instagram: vadik_swenson_photography


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