Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month Spotlight: Robin Sgambati Photography
Thank you to Robin Sgambati for answering our questions! Check out Robin’s photography business here. Learn more about the Chamber’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility (DEIA) Committee here.
Where were you born and raised and, if it was someplace else, when and why did you come to Loudoun?
I was born in South Korea and moved to Reston, VA as a young child. I grew up there, got married, and settled back in Reston until 2015 when I moved to Loudoun with my family. Loudoun has great schools, parks, an international airport, beautiful countryside, and such amazing diversity of people.
When did you launch your first business and how did you get into your current line of work?
My first career was a professional engineer, then I was a defense contractor. For both of these careers, I was working as an employee. In 2018, not only did I launch this third career as a professional photographer, but also as an entrepreneur. The problem-solving skills I developed in my previous careers still help me every day.
But that doesn’t mean I started taking pictures in 2018. Way back in high school, I picked up my dad’s Pentax K1000, a beautifully simple yet elegant SLR camera. I had to learn about light, exposure, settings, as well as how to develop film and do everything manually. I am grateful for that foundational knowledge of photography. I photographed for my high school yearbook, and I treasure those photographs still today.
Have you had any special mentors or inspirations that influenced your career?
My mentor with SCORE (a nonprofit business mentoring organization) was critical to getting me on the right track to start my business. She was not afraid to tell me hard things, and along the way, I realized that I love the business side of having my own company. When my mentor retired, I found a new business mentoring group with Tina Johnson and the CEO Consulting Group. She encouraged me to join the Loudoun Chamber, which I gladly did this year.
I am also a part of the Headshot Crew, a global network of headshot and portrait photographers led by Peter Hurley (who took my current headshot). I passed Peter’s portfolio review to receive his Associate status. It was grueling, but so worth it, and I’ve become friends with so many other photographers who help and support each other.
What is the best part of your job and why?
My business mission is to treat every single person as worthy. So having someone look at their photos and feel confident in themselves is wonderful. I’ve had people come to me and tell me they are nervous or not photogenic. When I can show them a photo I just took of them – before any editing – and they can see first hand how amazing they look, it’s beautiful to see their reaction.
I get to also have fun at corporate events, taking photos of people having fun, and encouraging that to happen. I’ve been on different rooftops overlooking the Capitol or the Washington Monument and zooming around on golf carts at golf tournaments. A new venue I get to photograph at this year is the Spy Museum!
And the icing on the cake is that my clients are a joy to work with, and my employees are the BEST.
What is it like owning/running a business in Loudoun?
Every day I’m grateful to be where I am. When I started, I had so many questions, and the folks at Loudoun government were always helpful. Last year, I bought my studio space in Loudoun, many of my awesome clients are in Loudoun, and I’ve learned about so many Loudoun-based companies that make a big impact not only on the local economy but globally. I’m so proud to help them achieve their goals and successes too.
As part of the Loudoun chamber, I have also met so many people who truly care about others, are making a positive difference in the community around them, and have become friends.
What does Asian Heritage Month mean to you?
Every different heritage/history month, I get stories in my news feed of individuals who did extraordinary things…and their story wasn’t widely told. I love reading these accounts, and celebrating human beings. I love my Korean heritage, including the yummiest food ever, but it really means to me nudging us forward to celebrating all heritages every day, valuing the intelligence and tenacity of people who may look very different from us.
It also means being brave enough to learn about the not so fun stuff that has happened, and is still happening unfortunately, acknowledging that, and making it a part of our collective knowledge.
What are some of your favorite things to do when you are not working?
Spending time with family and friends over good food and theological discussions.
Check out Robin Sgambati Photography, LLC