The absurdly talented photographer Zoey Grossman gets candid in an exclusive interview.
There are photographs that possess a magical power over me, images all-encompassing and I can’t not look. And explore. LA photographer Zoey Grossman creates such magic photographs. Sensual and feminine, with a balanced touch of edgy grit, Zoey’s photos capture such a beautiful sense of mood that it makes it impossible to turn away.
We caught up with Zoey at our “Eastern Star” shoot in the hidden hills of Los Angeles. She’s kind, witty and smart. Truly collaborative and communicative, watching her work with her team was nothing short of an inspiration. Keep reading to learn more about this thoughtful and bright woman, and see all of her beautiful images here.
Where did you grow up? How has that shaped who you are today?
I was born in Manhattan, but grew up in LA. Growing up in LA has made me appreciate the fast-paced rhythm of a big city, but also more thoughtful, quiet moments in nature. I was able to have both of those growing up here. One particular thing that I am so grateful for is the open-minded people that I grew up around, and all of the exposure to the arts. I feel like LA is an incredibly artistic and inspiring city that supports creativity.
I completely agree. So, what kind of kid were you?
I was a very quiet, shy and thoughtful kid…-I remember being obsessed with decorating my bedroom and color-coordinating my clothing from like, the age of five. I think I had posters of Warrant and Poison that I would just stare at for hours, and I listened to “Cherry Pie” on repeat…no joke.
When did you first figure out you had a love for photography? What drew you in?
I have always loved looking at pictures. I dappled in photography throughout my life, but didn’t truly connect with it and learn the technical side of it until I was in college. Once I did, I was really hooked. I took a course in college called “visual diary” where we documented our lives — the good, the bad and the ugly. It was such a powerful class, and I got so into it.
Do you remember your very first photo shoot? How did it go?!
My first “professional” photoshoot went SO bad. I was soooo nervous. I wasn’t even getting paid, but I was shooting for a small clothing line I had found online. I rented lighting and had my best friend pretend to be my lighting assistant. When we got to the studio, I unpacked the lights and realized the rental place didn’t even give me the right ones! I was literally sweating, but I had to make it work. :)
Who are some of your favorite photographers?
So many. Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton, Camilla Akrans, Steven Klein, Meisel, David Sims, Nick Knight.
Do you have a favorite photo shoot of your own thus far?
That would probably be my senior thesis in college. It was when I was the most free and unjudgemental of my own work.
At our shoot last week, I noticed how well you and your team work together. How long have you been working together? Why do you think you vibe so well?
Thank you so much! I really love and value my team, and I couldn’t do what I do without them. It’s truly a team effort. I trust the people I work with and value their opinion and taste, so I like to talk about hair, makeup, lighting, angle, vibe, etc. with them. It’s so important to me to work with the people I love and trust, and who get me. I have been working with different people for different amounts of time. Luke (the amazing hairstylist I work with) and I have been working together for about three years, but it feels like 50. I totally trust his taste and know he has my back. We are always looking out for one another, so I think that is one of the reasons we vibe so well. Something that is really important to me when I’m working on set is to have good energy and good vibes. I like to include people in the creative process and have an open dialogue about what is working, and what’s not working.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration through so many things — everything, actually. I think nature is pretty spectacular and, if you pay attention closely, it will show you so many incredible things. I find a lot of inspiration from fellow artists, as well.
What is your ideal evening?
My ideal evening is one of no commitments :)
What would the soundtrack to your life be?
Hmmmm…it would be all over the place, so I’m not sure what that says about me, haha! It would consist of Fleetwood Mac, Drake, ELO, Empire of the Sun, Lil Wayne, Tame Impala, the XX, Journey.
Yes, great choices! What advice would you give to photographers just starting out?
Be patient and work hard. Don’t give up because someone says no or something doesn’t work out in your favor. Keep striving to improve your work and research art history.
Ok, here we go…rapid fire:
Where are you right now?
If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Most embarrassing article of clothing in your closet?
Hooters tank top (I’ve never worn it but I want to).
If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?
There is not anything else I would rather be!
If you could shoot any person, alive or dead, who would it be?
Too many to name. But within that list, only people who like the collaboration of having their picture taken — I don’t like photographing people who don’t want to be photographed.
What’s playing on your stereo right now?
Well, the sound that’s emanating from the TV is my guilty pleasure — “Real Housewives of Orange County”…sorry!
What does “being free” mean to you?
Not being judgmental and being filled with love. Coming from your heart.
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