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Meet Van Nuys Photographer: Angelina Paldzyan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Angelina Paldzyan.

Angelina, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Since I can remember, I have always wanted to be a fashion designer working in the industry. Truthfully, I never thought about becoming a photographer, but I would always play with my friends’ cameras in school. I loved taking pictures of others and capturing moments. I had a wall full of magazine tear-outs in my bedroom of my favorite photographs. Needless to say, I was obsessed with the idea of making something seem as beautiful as it can be and locking that moment in a photo. After I graduated high school, I started taking my general ed courses at the local community college in order to plan my path to becoming a designer. I didn’t want to rush into it since it was a huge decision to make (and not a cheap or sure-fire one at that).

Shortly after I started college, I was gifted my first camera by my dad, a Sony next 4r… a tiny little travel-friendly thing with a lot of potential. I used stay up late to test out different lighting effects in my bedroom and have my friends model. Shooting was fun, but my favorite part was editing. I enjoyed trying new things and playing with reality. I learned the most from my trials. Doing this helped me score a couple gigs while I was interning at various fashion brands, but eventually, I felt that the camera I had was limiting me in my own growth.

Last year, I finally saved up and upgraded to a glorious Canon 6D as well as a couple of lenses. This is when I started to shoot on a regular basis. I would go to school, then go to work, and a few nights a month, I’d shoot concerts and blog about my experience. I had a blog called Fashion Freedom where I would document my art, style, music taste, and photo adventures. Writing and shooting in my own time gained some attention from a fresh-on-the-scene music blog called Blurred Culture. I later started to shoot and review shows for them.

Fast forward to 2016, I am studying fashion design in Los Angeles, shooting & reviewing concerts, as well as working on building a solid photography portfolio. I am self-taught and still learning every day. I enjoy photographing people more than anything- learning about their lives and their stories. Although I do book events and client shoots, my next goal is to step up to working with modeling agencies and styling teams. Fashion photography has become a real passion for me, and I plan to make it a permanent part of my career.

Has it been a smooth road?
Most obstacles I faced stemmed from being a beginner photographer, not having much experience or education in the field, and trying to get someone to give me the time of day.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I plan to work in the fashion industry as a designer or creative director. I may branch out into other fields such as business or journalism, but will always continue to grow as a photographer. I would love to photograph for a magazine.

Let’s go backward a bit – can you tell us about the most trying time in your career?
This isn’t photography related, but throughout my childhood, I knew I wanted to do something creative. My mom and dad always supported me, and I am so grateful for that. But my relatives on the other hand, they weren’t thrilled about me wanting to become a designer. They would tell me that they didn’t think it was a solid career, or that I was talented or strong enough to pursue it. That broke me a little. I became hopeless, I went through multiple phases of not knowing what do with myself and my future plans… I thought I had to find a “better” career to pursue… But my parents always told me I was meant to be an artist, and not to waste the talent. (Even though I know she would have rather had another doctor in the family.) In my senior year of high school, I took an AP art class. It was a demanding, challenging, rip-your-hair-out-of-frustration type of class. But it made me prove myself. My aunt happened to show some of my relatives my work, and I guess they warmed up to the idea that this is what I wanted to do. Not medicine, not science, nothing so practical. I wanted to create and inspire. This made me feel incredible. I had not felt this kind of support before, and it was like new territory… I felt unstoppable. I wanted to make everything happen for myself and my family. I wanted to become successful. I really hope I am on the right path to it now.

Do you ever feel like “Wow, I’ve arrived” or “I’ve made it” or do you feel like the bulk of the story is still unwritten?
I haven’t had many moments that I think are worthy enough to call moments that made me say “wow I made it”! In the design world, as a student, all the sleepless nights pulling off crazy projects and having my professors commend me and admire my work, and getting the grade to show for it… That’s a great feeling where I definitely feel as though “I’ve made it”. And in the photography world, little things like getting great comments on a photo or having the artist repost it is incredibly flattering. A couple years ago, I posted a photo of me levitating on my Penny board on Instagram and Facebook. This was way before I started taking photos seriously. But they reposted it! And the comments I received were unreal, it felt really cool to fool minds like that and receive such great feedback. This was the boost I needed to graduate to a better level of photography. I wanted to become better at it, and more creative.

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