#SomeoneSocial: Claire Leahy

Claire Leahy

Introduce yourself to the Something Social LA community via your top three favorite Instagram accounts!


For the art – @inezandvinoodh

For the accuracy – @costarastrology

For the laughs – @stressedstylist


You’re a woman of many talents. Actor, photographer, excellent piano player… what is your secret to balancing multiple creative pursuits and giving time to each hustle?

Wow!  Thanks for the compliment!  I actually don’t think I have a secret to balancing it all, I just have learned to lean into my *breakdown in tears every day* as part of the process of being an artist LOL.  It’s really hard to have so many different creative outlets and pursue them all with attention, specificity and excellence at the same time. I want to do SO much and accomplish SO much that it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like I’ve not worked hard enough or I’m not doing enough to accomplish my goals.  I give myself a lot of grief when I focus more on one thing for extended periods of time without giving the others a second thought.  The best advice I’ve been given as an artist is that you CAN have it all, just not at the same time. What I’ve started to do more now, which helps with this idea of ‘balance’, is instead of pumping my schedule full of “work”, I let the work come to me.  I am in every sense a workaholic. I love being busy, I love working and I love creating which is why I love all these fun jobs I get to do! Before, I would panic that I’d never work again and fill my schedule with unfulfilling shoots, bad auditions or lazy piano practice just for the sake of feeling “busy” and “working hard”.  But then the work and the art begins to suffer because I had less time to do my job well and I actually was less excited to do it. But now, I enjoy my free-er or slower seasons as a photographer because it gives me an opportunity to focus my energy on my other creative pursuits and vice versa. When I’m working more as an actor, those other creative pursuits take the backseat, but they’re never going to go away.  In fact, I really believe all of my creative pursuits inform and inspire the other. Art inspires art. It’s all ebb and flow and I guess I’m just starting to be OKAY with knowing that I CAN do it all, but just not ALL at the same time. That paradigm switch has helped keep me really excited about each creative project, be able to enjoy the process and not feel overworked or uninspired. Most importantly it’s helped me become less anxious about what I’m NOT doing and celebrate all that I AM and HAVE accomplished!  


You do photography work for brands, businesses, weddings, events, individuals and the list goes on. What differences go into the preparation, execution and post-production of these vastly different types of photography?

I actually think the intention, preparation, execution and post of each project always stays the same: Creative Collaboration.  Let’s all create something awesome together and that starts with making sure each client has a kick ass time. In fact, my goal is always to make it the most fun shoot they’ve ever been a part of so that everyone leaves thinking WOW that was so amazing I can’t wait to see what we created.  If you go in with *THIS IS GOING TO BE AMAZING*, you bring amazing and you create amazing.  

-Portraits are really simple!  We choose location, wardrobe, hair and makeup and then the connection between photographer and subject does the rest of the work – but it’s always collaborative from head to toe!

-Preparation for each project is going to be a hair different pending budget and deadlines.  But it always starts with: what are our goals and expectations. What do you need and how can we make that happen.  If it’s a quick turn around and a tighter budget, I rely mostly on day of direction and creative collaboration. If we have time to work out the specifics, I always ask for moodboards to see the direction / vibe of the shoot itself and the brand identity in terms of editing style – which in turn helps create shot-lists that keeps everyone organized and gives a clear set of expectations for post production.

-Post production for each project is always different because I like to give each client specific branded digital assets that are immediately ready for social + web implementation.   I don’t want two jewelry companies to be getting the same exact images, because then their identity is lost. It’s important to me that they get imagery specific to who they are.  My style is always in there, but I want the brand to shine.

-Weddings are just a whole different world.  Preparation and planning is excruciatingly specific and if the preparation is lacking the whole thing kind of crumbles and feels like a scramble.  I just make sure to take as long as I need to get every little drip of information and detail from my brides so that come their big day, the only thing they need to worry about is marrying the love of their life and not if I’m missing a shot they really want but forgot to tell me about.  I always have a second shooter with me so if I miss a moment, they’ve got me covered! Post Production again, is just A LOT of work so I allow myself to take breaks and I have a way longer turnaround time so I’m not stressed to meet a deadline and can still implement other jobs into my workflow!  Key for weddings on my end are: be present, be patient and take breaks!


What kind of photography is your favorite?

I love LOVE love shooting people in general.  Fashion and Portraiture are my favorite things to shoot because fashion feels very creative and artistic and portraiture is so simple and intimate.  There is something so special about being able to work and connect with people that makes any type of project really fun and rewarding.


Any secrets or tips you could give to anyone just starting out in photography?

Do your research.   Be patient. Learn as much as you can.  Say yes to everything. Buy lenses with great glass, even if it costs more.  Invest in your tools and gear. And most importantly: it’s not about how much money you make, it’s about how you make your clients FEEL.  If they feel great, the pictures will be great and they’ll keep coming back because the experience is extraordinary.


Being the start of a new year, we can’t ignore the talk of resolutions. Do you have any goals for 2019 or things you are working to improve this year?

I’m not much for resolutions but I do have some specific career goals, I won’t bore you with those details!  Mostly, I hope 2019 is a year of being kinder to myself. I tend to put a lot of pressure on what I’m not and instead, I want to celebrate what I am and what I have.  Less excuses, more hard work, more gratitude, more time spent with people who make me feel full, more creative projects that validate my existence as an artist, more love, more family time, more wine and more travel.  Less guilt over sleeping in that one day or eating too much or not booking a job. I just want to celebrate getting to live this life exactly as it unfolds!


Quick rounds:

Favorite spot in LA?  Anywhere my family is.  (or The Now in Studio City haha)

Top destination for a getaway? In California, The Ace Palm Springs; Abroad, Thailand!

Dream photography subject?  I’d love to do a portrait sitting for W Mag at the Oscars!

Favorite lens? 24-70mm II 2.8!! I think it’s the most versatile and has great glass!

Favorite editing tool? I love coloring with soft light layers on Photoshop!

Piece of equipment you want to get your hands on?  A few Alien Bee octodomes!

Dream acting role?  Anything that has come from the brilliant mind of Aaron Sorkin.

Favorite meal?  Chips and Guacamole (yes, it IS a meal with my portion sizes!)

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?  

Best of 2018: The more favors you do for other people, the less you can do for yourself.  That website you wanted to finish? That book you wanted to read? The scripts you wanted to work on?  That exercise regimen you wanted to start? The editing you need to get done? The more favors you put on your plate, the less you can do for you.  

Best of Life: Pursue Excellence. It’s the purest journey I know. I write, teach, parent, love, be — because I choose to be. Because I CHOOSE to do these things with my one big life… You are pursuing excellence. What it means to have an excellent life. You are brave because you are living the life you want and you cannot lose.

Follow Claire at @claireleahy

Interview by our Chief Operations Officer,  Marissa Stahl