Photographers are fascinating. From their attention to detail to the excitement in their eye when they “get the shot” to the way they nerd out over their gear – they are totally my kind of people.
And I feel uber blessed to be surrounded by so many great ones. Including the sweet, talented lady we’re here to get to know: Azusa Takano.
I met Azusa through a mutual friend and have had the pleasure to work with her on multiple occasions. She is super fun to hang out with, is a fellow food (and cat) lover, is always down to lend a hand and is truly one of the kindest souls I’ve met.
I can’t wait to talk with her a bit today, so you can get a glimpse into the life of this lovely woman – I hope you enjoy our chat!
Hi!! To start, I was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley (where the best boba tea exists), but I’m always out and about in Los Angeles for work or fun. Taking photographs and creating memories are what I do best, but above all that, I definitely love to eat. I’m always open to trying new dishes from different cultures. It’s such a great gateway to learning about new cultures.
Yes – I couldn’t agree more (about the best boba in the SGV and the idea of exploratory eating). You and I are definitely too foodie peas in a pod. Tell me a bit about photography, when did you decide that you wanted to pursue that?
Well, I didn’t always want to be a photographer. I graduated from UCLA with a microbiology degree, in hopes of becoming a physician because I wanted to help people. But after realizing that path wasn’t right for me, I ventured off into the creative realm and bought myself a camera.
I didn’t think of photography as a career when I was younger; I used to play with my mom’s old Polaroid camera, and always thought of it as a hobby. But when I began getting inquiries for my work, I decided to fully commit to my business. It’s flattering to know there are people who appreciate and enjoy my work. It gets me all fuzzy inside.
Awe, I love that. And kudos to you for venturing out on your own to try something new. It’s so inspiring! I’d love to know – why is photography so important in the world? Why does it matter to you?
Everything I do stems from wanting to help people, whether you’re stranger or a close friend. With photography, I’m capturing nostalgic moments for my clients. Sometimes with our busy schedules, we forget to appreciate the small details and moments.
I believe my job is still helping people, but instead of doing so as a doctor, I’m providing them with a tangible memory bank that they can always look back on.
Very well said. So as a fellow business woman, I know it’s not always unicorns, rainbows and yummy boba (hehe) – tell me about the biggest obstacle you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome it. What helped you get over that hurdle?
Surrounding myself with people who are like-minded definitely motivates me. By like-minded, I don’t mean they also have to be in a creative field. If they have an amazing work ethic and are passionate about what they do, that’s what inspires me. Everyone has a story to tell, and hearing everyone else’s journey helps me with my own. I’m grateful to have family, friends and colleagues who support my passion (I think this is extremely important).
As far as the biggest obstacle – for me it was figuring out my self-worth in business. Back then, I had a difficult time putting a “price” on my work, so I didn’t know if I was aiming too high or too low. It took a lot of trial and error, as well as research to finally get to where I am today. I now have a better understanding of how to make my business valuable.
Girl, that is a struggle for all of us – pricing. I’m so glad you brought that up. As a woman in business, who do you look up to – who inspires you?
I get inspired by small and local businesses here in Los Angeles. I’ve attended giant pop-up events, like Unique LA and Renegade Craft Fair, just to discover new shops and meet fellow entrepreneurs. It’s nice to know there are other people who are in the same boat as you, simply striving to be creative and do better.
I love that – you’re right about small brands, there are so many great ones out there (and there’s so much to learn from one another). On a slightly different note, what does it mean to you, to live a life and have a business – with SOUL?
I believe the work you do is reflective of who you are as a person. So if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, it shows through in your craft. What a waste to live life doing something you dislike, why not do something you love to make yourself happy! You owe yourself that much, and it gives your life purpose.
I couldn’t agree more. As you might know, we’re big birthday fans around here, so tell us, what’s your dream way to spend a birthday?
Ultimately, I want to celebrate with good food and great company. As long as I have those two, I’m a happy girl. But I would LOVE to spend my birthday at Disneyland – have it closed to the public and just invite my close friends and family. That would be so amazing, I’m getting excited just thinking about it.
I love that! And just think, NO lines at all the rides!! A few more rapid-fire questions for you: what are the 5 things you can’t live without (like ever)?
- Google Calendar
- Hair ties
- My mother’s jade bracelet
- Disneyland Dole whip
Ok, why is that Dole whip so good? Seriously. Why? What are the top three places you’d send someone if they were visiting your ‘hood (Los Angeles, CA)?
- 101 Noodle Express – it’s cheap, delicious Chinese food! I’d recommend getting the beef wrap and dumplings.
- Le Abre – you haven’t had good boba unless you’ve been here. Everything is worth getting, from the boba milk teas down to the traditional brewed tea.
- Salju – shaved ice is one thing, but have tried shaved SNOW before? It melts in your mouth instantly, and there’s different flavors of ice so it’s not boring. My favorite is the green tea and the best part? There are toppings like cereal and fruit, so it has some personality.
Tell us what you’re working on right now that feels like a celebration?
Lately, I’ve been spending more time doing outdoor activities, such as hiking with friends. It’s nice to get away from technology and social media once in awhile. So I’m making a list of trails and parks that I want to visit – Yosemite National Park is on top of that list, and I’m hoping to go at the end of this year. There’s so much of this world to explore, I can’t wait to see what’s out there.
If you knew then, what you know now, what message would you have for your younger self?
Learn to love and take care of yourself first, and everything else will fall into place. It’s definitely easier said than done, but once you do, life is SO much easier.
And finally — what is one thing you know to be true?
What I know for sure is that laughter brings people together.
. . . . . .
I adore you Azusa. In every area of your life, you don’t settle – you pursue the creative and prioritize adventure. I feel so, so grateful that you’re in the world and sharing your work with all of us. Truly – thank you!
If you’d like to find out more about Azusa (or hire her as your photographer – can’t recommend her highly enough), be sure to pop on over to her website, say hi over on Instagram and check out the work she’s done for The Girl Who Knows on her contributor page.
Photos courtesy of Azusa Takano