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Josh Piha Explains How Photography Changed His Plans

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Meet the Venice-based photographer who used his passion for photography to transition from 24 frames per second to one frame at a time.

There’s something undeniably exhilarating about Venice Beach. Who are these eclectic, chic people, and why are they all congregating in coffee shops with laptops at the ready? Venice Beach is much touted as one of the most creative spots in California and the U.S., a place where independent entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business owners like to gather.

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Josh Piha is a perfect example of this hip, inventive and resourceful crowd: he oozes effortless cool. On any given day, you might find him at one of these establishments, eyes glued to his Macbook Pro with his German Shepherd rescue by his side.

If you’re lucky, you may even see him in action. Piha is a professional photographer with the ability to transform everyday moments into something extraordinary. His camera is an extension of himself, always with him to capture a sliver of everyday life.

In Piha’s former life he was an enormously successful movie trailer editor. For nearly two decades he occupied the confines of edit bays around Los Angeles where he sliced up bits of movies into trailers for theaters and television.

So why did he drop everything to become a photographer?

“Editing is an all-consuming job. I was in editing rooms for untold hours, doing the same thing over and over. To keep myself from burning out and to stay inspired, I took up photography.”

Piha attributes his success in the editing business to his perfectionist streak. While he was a natural at editing, his passion for photography turned into an almost constant ritual. He carried his camera everywhere he went, capturing candid moments from his days off on the weekends to his travels around the globe.

In 2008, with the financial crisis spreading across creative industries, Josh decided to take a chance and take photographs full time.

Time flew by, and before he knew it, he had an entire portfolio full of images. He didn’t know where it would lead him, but he knew photography was something he was passionate about.

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Back in Venice Beach, his love for photography continued to grow. He found inspiration in everything around him: the Venice skate culture; its everyday people, art, food, and culture.

“My passion is street photography, candid shots usually involving people. It allows me to capture a time and place, and maybe just a small piece of humanity.”

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“I realized that I missed a certain structure in my days. Having a regular job and being required to accomplish something at the end of the day kept me sane. It’s a paradox. I flourished when I was accountable to someone, but at the same time wanted my freedom.”     

Piha realized that he needed to make an active change and plunged head long into his photography business. He started using his favorite coffee shops on Abbot Kinney Boulevard as his open-air, no-pressure “office.” He is often spotted at TOMS, where he might be networking or editing photos for his gigs. He is a product photographer for an up-and-coming vitamin company, photographs local events, shoots portraits, and much more.

While reinventing himself is an ongoing process, he has learned that he doesn’t have to sacrifice his freedom to create structure in his life. His biggest piece of advice to fellow freelancers?

“Find a way to create structure in any way you can.”

So get your photography on — you might end up with a portfolio as impressive as Josh’s. For any of your current photography needs, download tispr today!

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