We had the good fortune of connecting with Steve Limones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steve, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’m an actor by trade. After graduating with my MFA in Musical Theatre from San Diego State University in 2008, I set off and began working professionally, both domestically and abroad. While I worked solely as an actor, photography was a secret passion of mine. Prior to grad school, I had some extra time on my hands, so I took an Intro to Photography course at a local community college where I learned the basics of photography and film development. The passion furthered as I tinkered with my camera, and I began to assess photos around me (including fellow actors’ headshots). I would think to myself, “I can take pictures like that”. So, for practice, I would reach out to my actor friends who needed headshots and asked if they would let me take their pictures for free. They would give me a little money for my time, and eventually, I started to see how this small side hustle could potentially help supplement my income a bit. I continued to tinker with my camera making a few dollars here and there, but for the last five years or so, I’ve actively worked both as an actor and a photographer. What started as solely headshot photography, turned into photographing couples, families, events, weddings, lifestyle and editorial photography, and now portraiture.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I find it funny to think about my work as art, not because it isn’t, but because I view it more as play. When I started seriously diving into my business, I would create styled shoots that focused more on stories and imagery that I loved, rather than on a beautiful styled wedding shoot. In bringing other creatives to collaborate along with me, my goal was to make it as easy and comfortable as possible. The more we started doing these fun styled shoots, the more I realized we were playing together! Which so rarely happens as adults. Whether its life circumstances or “adulting” that hinders us from tapping into our inner child, we don’t typically play the way we used to. So, for me, creating these styled shoots was a way for me to combine playing dress up and make believe, and then photographing them like it was Next Top Model, haha! I have taken the play approach into my client interaction. As serious as the work is, and as much as it’s my goal is to provide my clients with photos they’ll cherish for a lifetime, I do my best to remember that this is all supposed to be fun! Part of making it fun is operating with my mission statement in mind: “To authentically connect, playfully create, and uniquely capture”. For me, it all boils down to that. When I can authentically connect with my clients, they feel seen, heard, and valued. Which then allows trust and vulnerability to take place for both them and myself. Once that foundation is set, we can relax a bit and play because we feel safe with one another. That typically leads to being experimental and fun in creating images that are unique and special. I want my clients to feel more beautiful, more confident, and more sure of themselves than when they first arrived. For me, a sign of successful play, is when we’re in the middle of a shoot, and I show them the back of my camera and I hear a slow, “Ohhhh myyy gossshhh, that’s me!?!?!?” It gives me chills every time! Another part of play is going back to where I started, which is collaboration with other creatives. My husband, James, is a fellow creative, so we often collaborate on projects together. We have a small network of creatives who work with us – make up and hair artists, wardrobe stylists, fellow photographers, etc. For me, it’s about continuing to build safe spaces for creatives to be experimental and learn and grow. I strongly believe that we are all born with a very specific creative purpose, and that our individual creativity is a talent and a gift not only for us, but to be used as a blessing for others. With that in mind, I try to activate this type of community thinking by creating opportunities and spaces where creatives can come together to help each other out. The acting world is highly competitive so embracing this idea has helped me learn and understand that there is room for everyone, always. And it’s fun!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh man, Southern California has so many great spots, it’s hard to narrow it all down! Between LA, OC, and SD, and then the mountains and inland, the list could go on and on. To get a taste of everything, I’d say let’s head up to LA, hit up some of the touristy sites like Hollywood Blvd, and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Then Silverlake or Los Feliz for lunch, and perhaps a drive down Santa Monica Blvd through Beverly Hills. For hiking there’s Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon. But, for views, the Observatory gives you all the ‘La La Land’ feels. Obviously, Disneyland is a must! Magic, Fireworks, Pixie Dust – who can beat that!? Of course the beach, and all the fun shopping that we have in Orange County. But, I also love historical landmarks like the Mission San Juan Capistrano , and the Pageant of the Masters is a staple. If we were in San Diego I’d say let’s drive through downtown a bit with a stop at Balboa Park. If it’s summertime some outdoor Shakespeare at The Old Globe is always fun. Then there’s Coronado which is a dream in and of itself. Maybe daytime at Coronado Beach, and then an evening dinner and drinks overlooking the ocean with a nighttime showing of whatever is being offered at Lamb’s Players. But really, if my best friend or family was visiting in town, on top of showing them everything Southern California has to offer, we’d most likely sneak in a fun photoshoot!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Yes, I’d love to dedicate my shoutout to my husband and partner, James! James and I met in Japan working for the Tokyo Disney Resort. I’ve never met anyone like him. He shines both on and off stage, and his creativity is off the charts! James is a fellow creative, and I accredit most of my success to him and his enduring patience with me. He truly is my biggest inspiration – not only in his creativity and talent, but in how he interacts with his clients and how deeply he cares for them. As a creative, he models clear intention and good business practice. As a husband he is generous, intentional with his words and actions, kind, and like I said before, patient! I’m honored that we get to partner together in life and in creativity. It’s really a blessing to be able to collaborate together on various projects. I bring my theatrics and storytelling, and he provides his refinement, attention to detail, and just the perfect amount of dramatics!
Steve Limones Photography