Spotlight Feature: An Interview with YURU

 

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YURU Studio is a photo studio located in La Jolla which captures the wisdom and image of seniors through videos and portraits.

Their mission is to record video and create portraits of senior citizens to memorialize their life’s story and beautiful image. YURU’s foundation is family, and their efforts to create a lasting memory of their loved one(s) for families to share and keep forever is admirable.

The YURU process honors and celebrates elders’ lives as they thoroughly interview and photograph them to capture their essence.

We had the pleasure of talking with Marci Adams of YURU.

I understand that Eric is a fourth generation photographer, going back to his great-grandfather! Were they all portrait photographers?

Yes, his great grandfather, grandfather, father and himself were/are all portrait photographers. His great grandfather used to call himself “the best second-rate photographer in the country.” His grandfather was known as “The Chicken Man” because he used a rubber chicken to get kids to have an authentic smile and laugh for their portraits. His father started and co-owned Kiddie Kandids. Eric opened, hired and trained the staff at every Kiddie Kandids location. He’s trained literally thousands of photographers.

What made you decide to open up a studio for senior citizens?

I LOVE the elderly! So I told Eric that I thought we should make a shift and focus on senior citizens. I could spend hours listening to people’s interesting stories. We need to memorialize the elderly! Celebrate them! Document their legacy and their legends! So YURU (“Why You Are You”) Studio was born. We want to know why people are who they are – and the elderly know this. They’ve had the years to figure it out. They don’t care what others think about them anymore. They are authentic – REAL. They have so many amazing stories to tell, history to leave with us! Our society doesn’t listen to and respect their elders as in the past, and this is a shame. We want to allow those who have wisdom the opportunity to pass it on. Stories to be shared generation to generation, to learn from our past, our ancestors.

 

In addition to photos, you also offer video interviews. Can you tell us a little about this?

The video interview idea came because we knew a picture wasn’t enough to capture these stories, wisdom, and legacy. I would have loved to have had a video of my ancestors. We have journals, and some letters, but their voices and their expression are missing. This has been so precious for families. We have had a couple of families bring parents to us for a session because their parents are in the beginning stages of Alzheimers and we’ve been able to capture them when they are in their “aware” state, as well as their “forgotten” state. These moments are so cherished by the kids and grandkids.

Eric and I have also conducted Yuru sessions with our parents. I cry every time I watch my dad’s video! He chokes up when he talks about his kids and how important they are to him… and his “little girl” (I’m the only girl of 3 brothers). It’s so precious, because my dad is this big, strong, important, intimidating guy and to see him get emotional about his kids and hear his voice crack- wow!

After Eric interviewed his mom, he realized things about her that he hadn’t before. He saw her in a different light. She became less of a mom and more of a person to him. I also think so many people were really important in their younger days and then when they retire, they aren’t recognized anymore. My uncle was a very prestigious judge and when he talks in his video about his working years, the awards and recognition he was given, how important his position was, his eyes light up. These sessions bring families closer together and nourish family relationships!

I imagine in these video interviews you hear some pretty great stories. Do you have a favorite that stands out?

Oh boy, that is difficult. There are favorite stories in every session. We are currently weaving clips of our favorite stories together into a compilation video. We will add these compilation videos to our website as our business continues to develop.

We understand that you have two other photo businesses – FotoFly, FotoFly Santa, in addition to the FotoFly Academy. Can you tell us a little more about these?

For FotoFly, we have four studios in Utah that focus on children and families. FotoFly Santa is unique in that we have a ‘real’ Santa at the location we are shooting pictures but we have the parent of the child dress up like Santa so that the interaction between the child and Santa is more authentic. It’s a brilliant idea and we see around 5500 families every year. It’s become a family tradition.

Eric and I both have backgrounds in training. Eric has trained thousands of photographers. I was the training director for big beauty companies like Aveda and Wella, as well as my own company M2Beauté. We have a passion for sharing information and watching people learn and grow. So our Academy fulfills our dream of giving people knowledge to become better at the skill of photography. Eric teaches local seminars once a month. Some are free, some are for a small fee – but we want people to feel comfortable with their photography skills.

Our Academy is a four month program that is very intense. It is selection based, which means we interview and accept only a few students. In those four months we take people from not knowing anything or little about photography to being really good professional photographers.

I have used the 4Mat methodology of training for years and we have incorporated that into our curriculum. We develop our trainers to be very good at training others. We will offer online training this year – including a subscription based model that allows people to learn at their own pace. We will also have a very humorous “what not to do” YouTube channel for people to watch photographers make mistakes and learn tips on correcting bad habits.

What is the most rewarding part of what you do at YURU? I’d imagine it’s very rewarding!

The most rewarding part of YURU is getting to know people in a deep and meaningful way. They are so vulnerable which makes them so real and there is so much love felt after you learn about each and every one of them! I feel every emotion during the interview – I laugh, cry, feel concern, I feel their regrets, their pride. I feel with them. Eric said, as he was taking his mother’s picture, that he had never seen her in that way – she was so beautiful. She wasn’t just his mom, but this amazing, loving, funny, charismatic, sweet, beautiful women. It strengthened their relationship.

What is the best part of having a location in La Jolla?

We love La Jolla and think their are so many amazing people here with grand stories to tell. The senior demographic is here. We also have a studio in Utah that we will be taking Yuru sessions at, and we definitely want people to known that we are available to travel also. We can go anywhere in the world to capture someone’s story. La Jolla is special and we know the customers here will appreciate the opportunity to document their stories that will talk to their posterity.

Are there any exciting events or specials coming up that you’d like to tell us about?

If people join our Yurustudio MeetUp site and Facebook Page, we regularly post photography classes that we teach, activities we are doing, and models we may need. We try to interact with our audience and keep the public informed on social media and invite people to our training courses.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to aspiring photographers?

Discover and stay true to your style. There are a lot of photographers. It’s very hard for customers to choose. It’s much better to be known for something – even if it eliminates 90% of your potential customers. It’s worth it to be known as the best at that one thing than to be all things to all people.

We are first and foremost here to know YURU!

To learn more about YURU, visit www.yurustudio.com


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