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Meet Stanley Wu of Stanley Wu Photography in Westside

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stanley Wu.

Stanley, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Being a photographer is not only my business, but it is my way of life. I don’t think this is true for many who live the business and personal aspects separately. I started photography at the beginning of college, a time where I had no clue what I wanted to do, studied something that I cared nothing for and had a general lack of confidence in myself. Wasn’t exactly the most radiant time in my history, but photography was the one thing that connected me to many of the amazing things in life during that time.

Through landscape photography, it drew me to experience the beauty of the great outdoors and being in the present. Through portrait and wedding photography, it drew me to really love getting to know others and the worlds that they live in. I feel like I’ve lived through a lifetime of rich experiences that have constantly broadened my horizons, and it’s only been a few years so far. I can’t wait to see what the next few decades will bring me! I’ve seen how beautiful life can be, and I want to share that with the world through my photography and through my relationships with others. This is my inspiration and why it’s my way of life, not just business.

I started my professional career with graduation portrait sessions at UCLA. It took off quickly, and within one year, I was doing almost a hundred sessions each spring. I feel very fortunate and honored to have had so many requests, and it’s what inspired me to make the jump into a full-time career. Now I shoot portraits, engagements and weddings after having gotten into wedding photography the past two years. I’m also getting into corporate headshots and events, as well as pursuing creative projects on my own. I finally have my own office space as of late 2017, and I’ve been working every day to build up the business.

Has it been a smooth road?
For me, photography started as just a technical obsession of mine rather than a way to create memories for people. I had to completely learn from the ground up how to pose people and how to make people feel comfortable and natural in front of the camera. Sometimes it’s not a big issue for some extraverted photographers, but I wasn’t one originally, though I now might be. That was my first big challenge. It was extremely awkward at first, but after many sessions, all that experience made directing people feel like second nature to me now. It’s absolutely true that experience (and failure) is life’s best teacher.

My second big challenge was getting into the business. I don’t have a business background, nor had anyone in my extended family and network done much with regards to any kind of self-employed venture. I feel like it’s often much easier to feel like you can achieve a particular something when someone close to you has done the same thing before you. It was quite the challenge to make the shift from a 100% photographer mindset to an 80% small business owner and 20% photographer mindset, (because that’s a pretty accurate reflection of my actual time expenditure).

Much to learn and many mistakes were made. It’s an especially interesting balance to be struck when photography is an immensely personal art, yet it needs to be priced and sold just like any other service in society. Now, I have a pretty consistent work schedule and am happy to say that I feel extremely empowered and able to make my business the absolute best it can be.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I think my style and approach creates a very unique client experience among photographers.

With regards to my style, I specialize in dramatic and atmospheric natural light portraits. I started out as a landscape photographer who loved to capture beautifully backlit sunset scenes. Starting in portraiture, I really sought to incorporate that style of lighting, coloring and framing into my work. The result is dramatic and atmospheric lighting and compositions that stand out as a unique blend of timeless and artistic photography.

With regards to my approach, I treat my business as an extension of myself. Unlike others who might separate their personal life and business more, I’m very personally invested in the work that I do for my clients. I spend time daily thinking about how to better improve the experience for my clients, even when I’m eating or showering. I also love meeting up with clients before each session to not only help them understand what to expect but also to get to know each other more as people. After all, I find it very strange to meet up for a session for something personally meaningful, while being complete strangers.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Yes! LA is a wonderful place to start with many colleagues around who will support and inspire you. There’s a huge creative industry around LA that has plenty of opportunities. Of course, all these opportunities won’t land on your lap – you’d have to go get them yourself.

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