Questions and Photography by Yulia Mikhalchuk
Make up and hair style for Ashley – Valentina Gretsova
Photographers are mostly hidden behind the cameras… But today we are going to reveal one and have the lens (and ears) aimed at him and his family. Please give a warm welcome to Moshe and Ashley Zusman, their son Noah and cat Baba.
Moshe, Ashley: We actually met on the Jewish dating site JDate.com. We used to be embarrassed to admit this, but we actually have a ton of friends that have met their spouses on JDate, Match, etc. so but the stigma is
Our lives completely changed after we met. I (Ashley) was in graduate school at American University at the time. Moshe had just moved here from Israel after spending some time in LA, and we were both smitten with one another and literally after our first date, we were inseparable. I was living with my roommate in Bethesda, and Moshe had
just found a place to live in Germantown, and let’s just say we put a lot of mileage on our car that year, driving back and forth to see each other.
DH: Moshe, was photography always your passion or it came on the way? What was your first camera? First experience – were you happy with the results? First models? First wedding? First paid job?
M: No, it wasn’t my first passion, but once I started taking pictures, I couldn’t stop! I used to take photos of my dog, and I wanted more performance out of my point-and-shoot, which led me to buy my first DSLR. As soon as I bought it, Istarted taking nightlife photos at some of the local clubs in my hometown of Haifa. Then I started second shooting weddings with a photographer I admired. I was hooked. When I decided to move to the U.S., I knew that I wanted to pursue photography, but photographing full-time felt like a pipe dream! My first paid job in the U.S. was second shooting with a photographer friend.
My 1st pro camera was an Olympus C4000.
DH: Moshe, what qualities, do you think, are the most important for professional photographer? Is it technical knowledge or artistic vision?
M: These days I think that you need to have both in order to really be a talented photographer. You need to not only have an artistic eye, but you also need to understand the fundamentals of photography before you can then be creative.
I believe the most important quality is to be a professional human being before being a professional photographer.
DH: Ashley, is it difficult to be Moshe’s model? Does he “set” a lot or just let you be yourself?
A: I actually hate to be photographed so I’m very rarely on the other side of the lens. Now that we have Noah, I’m definitely in my share of photos, but I’m okay with that since people aren’t even looking at me – they’re smiling at Noah (note from DH: yes she is also modest as well as beautiful)
DH: Moshe, how your hectic schedule weaves into more stable family schedule, and how do you work it out? ………. Ashley, now tell your side of the story.
M: I’m not going to lie – it’s a challenge, but one that we’re figuring out. Given my irregular schedule, I’m not always there for typical family time, but we make adjustments. Plus, I try to schedule around the important things – the doctor trips, the birthday parties, and I always try to be around for dinner. I’ve never been much of a morning person, but Noah loves climbing around in the early hours, so my personal clock is adjusting.
A: I’m used to the hectic and irregular hours by now, but we still do manage to schedule the day so that we spend a good amount of time together. Now if only Moshe wouldn’t go to bed so late, we could get up an have breakfast together in the morning.
A: I’ve been the communications managers for the the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit organization based in DC for the past 4+ years. I manage media relations, PR efforts, communications, etc. Since returning from maternity leave, I’ve been much better about not being as glued to my Blackberry, which makes a work/life balance much more achievable.
DH: Moshe, Ashley, have you ever worked on a project together? Not meaning Noah, of course! What kind of project was that?
A: The photography business is our ongoing project together – we both play a part. Of course Moshe plays the major role, I do support in many ways, especially with the opening of the new studio.
DH: Moshe, you see so many families being started… Madly in love, romantically, beautifully getting married… However, according to the statistics, about 40% of couples end up divorced in the US. Would you happen to have an advice for couples, how to preserve love in marriage (which you seem to have at great level in your family?)
M: Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously.
DH: Moshe, have you ever had the same client hiring you again?
M: Yes, I’ve had many wedding clients that have invited me in their life many times post-wedding — for maternity photos, family portraits and events, etc. I even have clients that Ashley & I have maintained as good friends!
DH: Moshe, what is the most common mistake among emerging photographers? Why, do you think, many of them “deflate” and give up, saying it is a “bad business and it is impossible to make a living out of it”? Didn’t they push hard enough, are they just unlucky or what?
M: Sometimes, photographers jump in head first and call themselves professional photographers before they master the craft and know how to run a business. You really need to train as an assistant for a long time and not immediately jump into making photography your full-time career.
DH: How strong is religious aspect in your family? Will you teach Noah the same?
M,A: We’re both connected to our faith, and we will definitely teach Noah to be the same.
DH: Does photographer’s family get enough photographer’s attention? I mean, are you being photographed a lot? Sometimes, I know, families miss that attention since “they are not going anywhere, next time, next time…”
M, A: Not nearly enough!
DH: Have you ever been involved in charity and what kind?
M: Yes, I try to donate my services when I can. Washington Humane Society, Got Your Back Network, Chris4Life. This year I’m an official sponsor for Fashion For Paws.
DH: Ashley, tell us some secret about Moshe that you (and him) don’t mind to share?
A: He watches an episode of Seinfeld on his laptop each night before bed.
DH: What is your favorite entertainment? You like to stay in or go out?
M, A: We love going out to the movies, concerts, restaurants and just exploring the neighborhood!
DH: How you want to expand your business, what are your plans and dreams?
M: The opening of the studio in DC will hopefully help expand the business. We’ve already begun renting the studio to the professional community and offering workshops – something I never would have been able to do if I had continued working from home.
Whole gallery of pictures is HERE
Make up and hair style for Ashley were kindly provided by