AIWA-SF Thrive: Hilma Shahinian

THRIVE is an AIWA-SF April project dedicated to highlighting Armenians who are doing amazing things in their personal and professional lives to better themselves and those around them. These individuals are inspiring, dynamic, innovative and interesting. Today, we feature Hilma Shahinian.


Name: Hilma Shahinian, Owner and Lead Photographer at Hilma Photography

Instagram and Facebook: @hilmaphotography

Hilma Shahinian is the owner of and lead photographer at Hilma Photography based in Glendale, California. She is a talented artist who has covered events both in the United States and around the world, at places such as Dubai and India.

“I genuinely enjoy connecting with my clients and getting to know them and their family members, and being a part of capturing the memories on their special day,” says Hilma. “I stay present in every moment, absorbing and capturing joy, tears, interactions, and the spirit of the day.”

She takes her responsibility very seriously. “After all, what do my clients have at the end of the day after their hard work, planning, and sleepless nights? They will have moments memorialized through my lens for years to come, reminding them of their special day.” Her enthusiasm for her craft comes through as she confesses that she’s humbled, honored and grateful for being trusted with such an important responsibility.

A professional photographer for over 14 years, Hilma’s passion started at a young age, always documenting life events of family and friends. At gatherings she has always been the one with a camera in hand. Hilma received her bachelor’s degree in film production with emphasis in cinematography and editing from California State University, Northridge, and over the years, she has created a great portfolio of nature, portrait and event photography.

Before venturing out on her own, Hilma worked for–and still collaborates with–prolific Los Angeles-based photographers. However fifteen years ago, realizing she could use her art as a way to earn a living, she turned her passion into a profession and started her own business.

Aside from event photography, Hilma has also been a photojournalist for the Armenian Reporter, covering news and events in California. “Hilma Photography is not just the name of my business. It is a brand that represents a unique approach,” says Hilma “I do not follow trends and filters of the day. I follow my artistic instincts to capture images that convey my perspective.” And indeed, her photos have an air of joy and lightness that are like her own uniquely spirited personality.

Hilma’s areas of emphasis are weddings, events, and portrait photography ranging in head-shots, family, and lifestyle. When she’s not capturing life moments for her clients, she loves to travel, go on road trips, visit National Parks and capture landscapes and nature.

Question:  What is your life philosophy?

I consider every day an opportunity to reinvent and improve myself. My life has taken many turns and I always look back at some of the low points in my life as important life lessons that helped me move forward in a better direction. I consider myself at the prime of my career, and as a woman in a male-dominated field, I feel that I’m paving the road to equality.

Question: What is your hope for the future?

I have always loved mentoring youth. When my sister was young, I hired her for several years to work for me. At the moment, my 17 year old nephew works for me as a photography assistant. I hope that I can inspire young girls to pick up the camera and see a lucrative future in photography.

Question: What is your favorite thing about being Armenian?

Our values. I believe my family and the environment I was raised in made me the strong person that I am today. Also, living in the city with the largest population of Armenians in the diaspora has taught me to appreciate who we are individually and as a community.

Question:  How has the Armenian culture shaped / influenced you?

I’ve never considered Armenian culture as an “influence” since it’s always been woven into the very fabric of my life. I do not know myself in any other context. I have lived in the US since I was five years old, but my childhood and adulthood have been surrounded by the Armenian culture, from Armenian private school to Homenetmen Scouting and Athletics to working within our community capturing traditional weddings and events. Yet, I consider myself a well-balanced hybrid, with an open mind and heart to amass a wide network of friends from many cultures. In fact, I realized just how adaptable I am when I shot a beautiful wedding in Jodhpur, India. My Armenian culture informed my sensitivity and respect for the Indian culture, and my American sensibility allowed me to adapt to the environment in a matter of hours.

About AIWA-SF:
The Armenian International Women’s Association is a dynamic global 501(c)3 dedicated to empowerment, education and enrichment. Through many projects and initiatives, AIWA is dedicated to inspiring, empowering and connecting Armenian women worldwide.
AIWA-SF is an affiliate chapter of the Armenian International Women’s Association, the EIN #: 04-3113182. Donations marked for AIWA-SF are routed to the affiliate chapter.
To get involved with the AIWA-SF affiliate, please visit http://www.aiwasanfrancisco.com or send an email to aiwasanfrancisco@gmail.com. We are grateful for all donations. To help us promote progress, contributions can be mailed to: AIWA-SF 15559 Union Ave #227 Los Gatos CA 95032

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