Jenny and Yaron Leshem
How your clients refer to you:
Jenny and Yaron
Leshem Loft LLC
195 Hudson Street, Unit 2A, NYC, ph. (917) 608-7818, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, studio website: www.leshemloft.com, Instagram: @leshemloft, personal website: www.yaronleshem.com.
How many years have you been in business in NYC?
We celebrated our 10-year anniversary on April 28th.
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to run my own business, I was always searching for ideas. Yaron and I actually met working for another company together. I was the head of sales and marketing and Yaron was the chief photographer. After working for other people for many years, we decided to take the risk and open up a business together, focusing on Yaron’s talent and creativity. We were so excited when we first started our business but also super naïve. I had assumed that because Yaron was so talented, we were both so committed, we invested in great high-end equipment, and Yaron’s work was in the MoMA that everything would just be easy. But I was so wrong. The first 6 months no one even called us. It took a really long time to build our business, much longer than we had expected. But it was always fun. Every little detail we were able to decide and we did it together.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
I think it is pretty unique that we are a husband and wife team and we live and work together in our space. Many people comment on how they could never work with a loved one. At this point we have been doing it for so long, I cannot imagine any other way of living. Maybe it sounds cheesy but we have so much fun together and I think that says a lot because we are pretty much together 24/7. We do different things in our company, so most of the time we do not get frustrated with each other because we are so focused on what each one of us brings to what we do. Plus, Yaron makes the best cup of cappuccino in the city which always keeps me smiling. I literally cannot live without it. We also never looked at what our competitors did or do. We always figured we lived in a big city, a big country, a big world, so there was enough room for all of us to compete in. We have a very specific style. It is awesome to hear that people can recognize a “Yaron Leshem” photo when they go in to a friend’s house. On the portraiture side of our business, Yaron is known for creating these magical scenes where every member in the family or group plays a role in the final piece of art. The shoots are so much fun and the outcome is a one of a kind art piece. We are looking to create a beautiful piece of photography as art in your home that you or your family or friends happen to be in. We aren’t really interested in the typical looking-straight-into-the-camera-and-everyone-smiling style of photography. Yaron also prints everything himself in-house and nothing is outsourced. Most photographers no longer print their own work. We have complete control over everything we do in-house and the outcome is always beautiful because of this. We have found that people have forgotten how beautiful an important an actual print can be as we are all so used to only looking at photos now on our cell phone or computer. When you physically stand in front of a Yaron print and it moves you as you feel the emotion, expression, details, and depth, you are reminded how important the printing process also is.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
Yaron is a big believer that if you do not constantly grow and change, your business will become outdated and obsolete. He is always working on the creative side of things. For the past couple of years he has really been obsessed with drones and weaving this technology into the portraiture scenes. He builds them himself; he taught himself how to fly them in bed at first with a simulator and last year was the first year we were able to use them on some of our portraiture shoots. The outcome is amazing. Yaron has a whole new series on the Fine Art side that he shot using the drones he built that capture military targets that have integrated back into the landscape. You can see his new work at www.yaronleshem.com.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
I feel really lucky to do what we do and I try not to take it for granted. I think we make most people feel really good on a shoot. A photo shoot is such an intimate experience and in a sense our clients trust us with themselves, their relationships and their vulnerabilities. This is the only way for Yaron to capture natural portraits. I love listening to the details our clients are willing to share and then figuring out how to connect with a person and what we have in common. Plus, I also know the images Yaron creates and prints will last for hundreds of years and multiple generations will cherish them and that is pretty powerful. I know from my own experience with the images that Yaron has taken of our kids that they not only make me happy now to see them on our walls, but looking back on them over time is also such a great feeling.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love that we get to travel and shoot all over the US. We have also done a few International shoots and we hope to continue to grow our business that way. Right now we are consistently shooting in NYC, the Hamptons, up and down the East Coast from New England to Miami, Aspen, and we are about to shoot in LA for the first time in June. It is so fun to visit new places and see the similarities and differences between people. I love working with the clients after the shoots on selecting their photos. We sit together in the studio laughing with a lot of wine. Many of our closest friends also started out as clients. We are lucky to shoot families over and over again, and we get to grow together professionally and personally.
What is your favorite secret NYC spot?
Because Yaron and I work together, we can sneak out, for example, on a Monday morning without having to ask anyone. We love aire ancient baths and have been known to sneak into the steam room and the salt pools in the winter when we are really stressed out and cold. We also are always scouting for cool locations for unique photo shoots. When the weather is nice we hop on Citi bikes and weave in and out of the streets looking for cool spots to shoot our clients. Many of the examples on our website and Instagram are places we found on a bike expedition.
How do you benefit mamas?
It is really important for us that we focus on shooting the essence of the subject or the family. I speak a lot to moms and dads prior to their shoot, during their shoot, and when selecting their photos about how it is more important to document who their children or their family really is. It is ok if someone is not happy in a photo; why not also capture sadness, silliness, spunkiness, insecurities and fear? These are also beautiful things and Yaron and I have no interest in projecting out perfection. It does not exist and we should all stop pretending our lives are so perfect. We all feel insecure sometimes and there is no reason to hide this in person or in pictures.
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
A few years ago we did a photo shoot of a family, and the grandpa was there and at the end he just looked at me and he said ,“You just make people happy,” and that felt really good. It is not exactly a job title but it feels right. We have another client who we have been lucky to shoot multiple times. They always collaborate with Yaron on some of his most creative pieces and when they told us that their kids wait each year to be a part of the shoot because it is so fun working with an artist, I realized for the first time that it wasn’t just about the outcome, but also the process.
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field:
I am obsessed with jewelry, it is a true weakness of mine. Some ladies like their handbags, some ladies like their shoes, but I love my jewels. I represent the jewelry line Heather Moore Jewelry and have for almost 10 years. I am really sentimental and have stamped every personal memory I can think of on a charm or bracelet. I have my kids’ names, places Yaron and I have travelled to, letters from my parents for my birthday, and my favorite foods (pasta) and drinks (bubbly). I love working with our clients to customize special pieces that can also be passed on from generation to generation. If I am not wearing Heather Moore, I turn to MUSE Showroom; they carry the most insane designers. Every single piece is a true piece of art. I also love everything Jennifer Fisher, she is a brilliant artist and designer. I seriously had to start piercing more holes in my ear to showcase all the insane earrings out there. I am also a fanatic, diehard Soul Cycle person. I go almost every day and now that our two older daughters can spin, it is such a fun thing for us to do together. I think I would go crazy without it. Working full time and raising three girls at very different stages in their lives can be a bit stressful and after a soul cycle class I feel like I can face whatever is thrown my way.
What is the best advice anyone's ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
Yaron is probably laughing at me right now, as he is definitely not a mantra kind of a guy. But I have been known to secretly say to myself “Plow Ahead”. My parents always raised me to work hard and do my best and to never give up. It did not matter what I did but I needed to do it 100%. I am very grateful for the way they raised me and there is something pretty amazing about knowing that no matter how difficult things can and will get, that I just need to persevere. Again, maybe it is a cliché, but I can hear my dad’s voice inside my head telling me the harder I work the luckier I will be. And this motivates me.
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
I think Yaron really helps me with this, as I actually do not think there is a real trick. I used to freak out about flying with the kids, especially when they were much younger, as I was petrified I would forget something. Yaron just looked at me and said, “as long as we have our passports, we can handle forgetting anything else.” This took a lot of pressure off me as a mom. And, of course, he was right. And yes, one flight I did forget to pack wipes and we were traveling to Israel which was 11 hours away, and I looked around and found the nicest looking mom travelling with a toddler and she graciously said, “I have an extra package keep it.” We also do not do it alone. Even though both sets of grandparents live far away, we lean on them a lot to help out with the kids and we have been known to leave the kids with them when we have needed to. I never feel guilty about this, as I think the experience our kids get to have with their grandparents is really unique, and I am happy to admit that I cannot do it all. I do the best I can and I ask for help when I need it. I wish more moms and women would share the struggles we all face daily with parenting and life. For me, everything always feels better when I am not in it alone.