In today's digital landscape, there are hundreds (and thousands) of emerging photographers looking to break into the industry and make a name for themselves. What makes some creatives more successful than others comes down to their attitude and skills, and also a certain amount of luck.
It's always interesting to find out how up-and-coming photographers found their way in, and how they're shaping and riding the industry in general. We've been chatting to entertainment and portrait photographer Zusha Goldin. While Zusha is relatively new in the entertainment industry, he has a few collections of celebrities and business executives under his belt, and he recently had a big opportunity to Photograph TikTok's major influencer, Charli D'Amelio (opens in new tab).
From shooting for free to honing your craft, Zusha shares of his some quick top tips below for photographers wanting to follow a similar career.
Zusha Goldin a professional entertainment and portrait photographer originally from Brooklyn, New York. In 2019, Zusha moved out to Los Angeles, California, to create winning images for production companies, agencies, models, actors, actresses, and stills for feature films.
Hey Zusha. Where in the world are you and what are you working on?
Hey, nice to meet you! I grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and moved to LA in early 2020. I'm currently working on a mental health art series, and I also currently have multiple projects that I cannot talk about, but I'm excited to be able to share them in the coming months.
Tell us about your journey in photography. What made you start shooting professionally?
It was nearing the end of high school. I was 18 years old. I began to ponder what type of life I wanted to live seriously. I weighed my options. Remembering that I had an affinity for photography, my brain opted to pursue the thing I was most passionate about. I purchased my first camera, and it's all history from there...
How would you describe your images and style?
I enjoy capturing the essence of the people I'm photographing. I love telling stories through my art, and everybody has a story.
What was your first camera, and what kit do you shoot with now?
My first camera was a Sony A6000 (opens in new tab) with a 35mm lens. I now use a Sony A7III (opens in new tab) with a Sony FE 50mm f/1.8, and a Sony FE 24-70mm f2.8 G (opens in new tab) Master Lens.
What photographers or creators are you inspired by?
I love so many photographers' work but here are some names: Luke Fontana, Sid Avery, Nechama Leitner, Annie Lebovitz and Richard Avedon.
Do you spend a lot of time editing your work and are presets involved?
I spend hours editing each photo shoot. I don't have or use any presets... yet!
How do you plan and prepare for your portrait shoots?
It depends on what exact type of shoot. I always try to show up in the best possible mood and think that the onus of how the shoot comes out lies solely on the photographer. They kinda set the mood, and I'm a believer that failing to plan is planning to fail – it's one of my favorite quotes which my brother-in-law Isroel always says. And so, I choose to show up being as prepared as I can as opposed to just winging it.
How do you get the most from your models?
I recently discovered this amazing photographer named David Suh who has these brilliant videos showing people how to pose. One of the videos I recently watched was where he mentioned that there are no male and female poses, there are only masculine and feminine poses. I really resonated with that. I get the most from my models by becoming friends with them in the sense that I'm self-aware about the photo shoot and really working to create a healthy, safe and fun environment on set.
What are your top five most-used photography items (cameras and lenses)?
My Sony A7III (opens in new tab), my Sony FE 24-70mm F2.8 GM (opens in new tab), my two DB800 strobes, and my scrim/reflector. Oh, and the sun. Our glorious star is my favorite light.
What advice would you give to photographers wanting to turn professional?
- Create a portfolio by shooting for free at the beginning.
- Learn and perfect your craft as much as you can.
- Create a personal brand presence on all social media platforms and share your work and personality consistently.
- Network LIKE CRAZY. Find 10 target customers or key people you could get to know and connect with them online and in person.
- DON'T be afraid to charge your worth. As creatives, we don't know how to sell ourselves. We're the first people to undervalue our work. Learn to get comfortable charging. You need to pay rent!
Where would you like to be in five years?
I want to have already photographed Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harrington, all the Marvel cast, Lana Del Rey, and the list goes on... I would love to have already photographed work for Vogue, GQ, Marie Claire, etc, etc. I hope to start my own magazine in the near distant future. I'm very excited about what's to come!
Lastly, share something that'd surprise us!
I'll share three (because I love making lists).
- I'm the youngest of 10!
- I have one leg shorter than the other #legdiscreptancy
- I strongly dislike cilantro.
Best professional cameras (opens in new tab)
Best lens for portraits (opens in new tab)
The best Sony camera (opens in new tab)