We had the good fortune of connecting with Maya Bary and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maya, what’s your definition for success?
I think success is such a difficult thing to define, or even put into words. I think there’s a very tough line to draw with defining success, which is, personal and career success (tangible things or achieving goals) and happiness. So far in my career, I have been so lucky and thankful to have such amazing opportunities that I have worked hard for. One way I define success is how many photoshoots I do, that I have a result that both I am happy and proud of, and my client is. I define success as achieving personal goals and going out of my comfort zone. I love surprising myself with what I am capable of and growing both as a person and as a photographer. I have learned that I feel successful when my clients feel confident in themselves after, and during a photoshoot. I love being able to make other people happy and excited with their photos. Success for me is also meeting new people, and connecting with people through my photoshoots, I love being able to hear stories and make new friendships through my job. I have found a passion for learning about mental health and putting in effort to erase the stigma around such a common issue, especially in teenagers. I have combined my love for photography and my desire to help people in collaboration with the brand BTR (Brought to Reality). I have been so lucky to be able to take photos to promote the message and clothing. At the same time, I have realized that I can be doing the coolest shoots ever, with amazing props and the best equipment, and it doesn’t mean as much to me if I am not happy. Don’t get me wrong, I am still grateful for the experience, but happiness comes before anything. As a teenager, it seems to feel as though small problems are big ones, and there’s always something going on. I can wake up, feeling sad or alone, or drained, and drag myself to a shoot, but when I come home, I still feel the same way. Although this may seem sad, I am not writing this in a negative way. Although I don’t necessarily think it’s a good thing to feel the emotions I listed, I can look back and really say that even though in the moment, things don’t feel the best, I have been able to learn from feeling sad, and alone. I have learned that although happiness is not always easy, it’s the best choice and self care should always be a main priority in order to do well in things that I love doing. Genuine happiness is something that is so overlooked and so important to try to achieve. I think success is all about the little things. My little things that make me happy are going to the gym, spending time with friends, and getting some good photoshoots in. Once I feel happy and fulfilled, I am able to put all of my focus towards my photography and doing the best at what I love. Life is all about ups and downs, most of which you cannot control, but what matters the most is your outlook on life during the downs and the way you treat yourself and others.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I do all types of photography, including individual portraits, group portraits, sports photography, and concert photography. I think what sets me apart from others is my approach to my job. I go into each photoshoot with hopes of meeting someone new and being able to connect as friends, not as a photographer-client relationship, while also maintaining a professional environment and getting the job done. I make sure to create a fun, bubbly and exciting environment during photoshoots, so my clients feel comfortable enough to let go and be their true selves in every photo. I am most proud of my growth personally that has led to professional success and growth as well. I am so excited to continue to expand and try new things, meet new people, and establish myself further. I got to where I am today by always pushing myself to go out of my comfort zone. I grew up being very quiet and shy, and I really had to overcome that to become a photographer, who is always working with new people. I also push myself out of my comfort zone by challenging myself with new things, whether that is trying sports photography for the first time, or trying a new creative idea. Professional growth for me is all about trying new things and learning from each experience to get better. It has not been easy to get here, especially as a younger photographer, who is competing against people with many more actual years of professional experience. Another challenge I had to overcome was moving here from California and starting over. Making a name for myself professionally in a new state was not the easiest thing to do, and I hope to continue to grow. I have been able to overcome the challenges by using anything difficult that came my way, and turning it into motivation to do better. One of the main lessons I have learned is that I have the power to create whatever I want for myself. It has been so cool for me to be able to be doing something, like traveling to Los Angeles for photoshoots, and reflect on how that was one of my biggest dreams a few years ago. If I want to make progress as a photographer, I have the power to, and if I want to grow my business, I can do that as well. I have also learned that it is so important to love what you’re doing. If I didn’t really love my job, I wouldn’t have had all the motivation to keep going and branching out. One thing I want people to know about my brand is that I want all my clients to feel like they can be their 100% authentic self during photoshoots, and feel comfortable in front of the camera. If you don’t have experience in front of the camera, we will make it work, or if you model for a living, that is perfectly good too. I can’t wait to meet you and shoot with you!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my best friend was visiting the area, I would want to make it the most fun trip possible, with a combination of things that I know in the area, and places I’ve been, mixed with a lot of new things for both of us. To start off the trip strong, I would take us to Urban Egg for breakfast, a super cute and tasty restaurant (with a few branches in the area). From there, we’d head to Denver for a day of walking around the city. I would take her to meet one or two of my friends from the city and continue our trip. We’d make sure to stop at the Capitol, Larmier Square, and RiNo. We’d end off our day by stopping at Bonnie Brae Ice Cream on the way home. When the sun starts setting, we’d bike over to my favorite creek, a place that I have been when I start getting stressed, which helps me clear my head. I would show them around the creek and we’d continue biking around. The next day, I would plan a more low-key day, with most things in the city I live in, a peak into my personal life. We would drive around with one of my friends and listen to music, stopping by a few of our friend’s houses to say hi. On our drive, we would go to our favorite neighborhood and look at the houses, an activity my best friend and I from here love to do, which sounds a little strange, but it has become one of our favorite places to just relax. From there, we’d get ice cream at our favorite place, get our usual vegan chocolate waffle cones, and continue on with our drive, blasting music and talking. We’d finish the day off by getting some pizza and eating it in a park, then heading home and having a girls night, catching up on everything and watching movies in my basement. On the third day, we’d get up early and get breakfast with one of my other best friends in the area and then head to Vail for two days of sightseeing, going on hikes, and shopping. We would take lots of photos to capture every moment and stay up way too late at the hot tub. On the final days of our trips, we would go to places that I’ve never been before, and try new things together. We’d stop by new coffee shops, parks, and attractions. I would let her pick things to do as well and be more spontaneous about the final days, to really get the Colorado experience.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I think it would be so hard to pick one singular person to give credit to in “my story”. I think that all-around, the people you surround yourself with are going to influence your path. I have learned that although it’s not always easy, it is so important to put my wellbeing first, and pick the best people for me to spend my time with, even if that means distancing myself from people who tend to bring me down. Starting with my best friends from California that I grew up with, who aren’t physically around me, but show me their constant support through calls or texts. They have shown me that friendship has no distance and no matter what they are there for me. They always show me constant support, and I rely on them the most when I need to talk. I can count on them to always pick me up and motivate me to keep going, they’re the people who have kept me on track since day one. They have seen the photographer in me since the day I picked up my brother’s camera in sixth grade, and would spend time with me at the park or out in cities so I could practice and get better. They were the first people to “book” me for a shoot and promote my account. It’s been so amazing to be able to look back at that and realize that those same people are still with me today supporting my every move. There are really no words to describe how much I love them and value our friendships. Another group of people that deserve credit are the people I surround myself with in Colorado. I am so lucky and thankful to have a family that believes in me and keeps pushing me to get better and believe in myself more. My friends here that motivate me shoot after shoot to keep getting better and pushing myself to further limits. They see how much I love photography and also put in so much effort to help me get better, whether that is trying out new shoot ideas that don’t sound like they would work, or just talking me through things I need help with. They help me calm down when I get nervous about a shoot and help me navigate business challenges I am encountered with. I have surrounded myself with people who challenge me to be better and people I can learn from and grow with. I am so thankful for all my friends who stick with me through everything and help me become better.