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Professional Photographer and Academy Graduate Gabriela Hasbun Shares Experiences and Insight

Chances are, you’ve probably seen a photograph taken by Academy alumna Gabriela Hasbun before.  The School of Photography graduate’s work has been featured in diverse publications from 7x7 to Forbes to Teen People to Vibe! Since she was a teenager, Gabriela has always wanted to make a living from photography. Now, equipped with the knowledge and skills she picked up at the Academy, she’s fulfilling this dream.

AAU: How have you developed as an artist since graduating from the Academy? In what ways did the Academy prepare you for future endeavors?

GH: At the Academy I learned to stay true to myself and to not be afraid to show my unique vision through my images. Since then I’ve learned so much. Because I’m working with clients, I need to be more concise about my vision and scout locations ahead of time, so on the day of the shoot I can focus on my subject fully.

AAU: You’ve photographed a lot of well-known musicians, artists and celebrities. Who was your favorite person to photograph? Who was the most reluctant to be photographed?

GH: One of the hardest persons I’ve had to photograph is Bay Area rapper Too $hort. He showed up 5 hours late to the shoot. When he finally arrived, his mind was elsewhere so I couldn’t get him to focus much less have a conversation with me.

By far, everyone in my Fat, Fit & Flabulous photo essay was  so much fun to photograph and get to know. They are all so full of life and energy I was intoxicated by them – in a great way.

AAU: The series on Mission District [in San Francisco] storeowners is fascinating. What was this series for? How did you come up with the concept? What was the experience like?

GH: The Mission story is a very dear story to me. The idea was brought to my attention by a friend who had started to do research on the subject. We had decided to collaborate on this project. I’d take the photos and she’d do the writing. Except, after a few months, she was too busy to do any collaborating so I started doing research on my own regarding the stores and restaurants.

Every time I would visit a new shop I would get a brief history of the area and they’d point me in the direction of the next storeowner I should include in my project. The series in the end turned out to be a huge success in my portfolio. People responded really well to the idea behind the images and to the images themselves.

AAU: You’ve been published in a lot of nationally syndicated magazines. How have you gotten these opportunities?

GH: First off, I met a few local photo editors while I was a photo assistant in the city. They gave me some of my first assignments. Then I met others at photography workshops like Eddie Adams who continued to enjoy my work so they would hire me from time to time. The photo community is a small world. Once you get to know an editor at one magazine, its very likely she’ll hire you again if she moves to another magazine. Self-promotion and marketing is always a great way to get your name and work known, so I work hard in those areas.  It’s also important to send out promos and make sure your work is seen.

AAU: Do you have any advice for current students at AAU?

GH: Learn as much as you can from your teachers while you’re in school. Ask them about their careers in the field and about the financial aspects of the industry. Because without any business skills you will not survive in the industry, regardless of how talented you are.


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