Interview with Yumi Matsuo: Mom, Photographer, and New Yorker
Can you tell us about yourself and how you became a photographer?
I’m based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with my husband Eric and 1 year old daughter Saya. We’ve both been here for decades (Eric for 20 and me for 10), and we have a house upstate in Gardiner, NY. It’s truly our happy place and we do our best to get up there most weekends.
I started my photography career in 2017 - really as a means to keep my schedule flexible. My dad had fallen ill the year prior and I just needed a way to get back to Tokyo as much as possible. I’ve had the most loyal, amazing clients help me build this business over the years, and I am so grateful!
Tip for prepping for holiday family photos?
Get on your photographers calendar! October is the most popular month for holiday photos. You want to make sure to secure the date with your photographer so you have enough time to order prints.
In the age of social media and iphones: can you give parents tips for capturing the best photos of their children?
Lighting is everything when it comes to taking photos. Try to snap your back-to-school photos outside in the natural light. Early morning light is the best (super soft!) so try to catch them before they head off to school.
iPhone Tip: Make sure that Live Photos is turned on at the top of your camera. Kids are never still and their real smiles often come out while in motion, so it’s nice to be able to toggle through and pick your favorite key photo from the Live Photo.
Best platform for printing out candid family photographs, especially from vacations or celebrations?
As a New Yorker, what are your top favorite locations for capturing awesome pictures?
The list is endless… There's so much to work with in the city!
DUMBO/Brooklyn Bridge for the skyline
NY Public Library/Grand Central for classic city backdrops
West Village/SoHo for downtown street vibes
What items from Meems would you use to style a kids for a photo shoot?
I’m really into bold colors these days so I’m loving these looks!
What are your top 3 recommendations for things to do in NY with young kids?
Central Park Zoo: We’ve done this when we’ve had friends visiting from out of town. It’s great for kids of all ages and you can stroll around the park afterwards.
Picnic at Domino Park: We bring a picnic blanket to the park and get takeout from the restaurants nearby. Pizza from Roberta’s, frozen marg from Tacocina and ice cream from Odd Fellows! There’s also a really cool playground at the park if the kids need a little dinner break.
Ferry Around: Getting on the subway can be challenging with kids in strollers so I’ve opted for the ferry whenever possible. We’ve done day dates with our friends in DUMBO and FiDi, and used the ferry ride as part of the outing!
Most family friendly NY restaurant?
Jack’s Wife Freda: We tend to spend most of our time in our neighborhood and Jack’s Wife happens to be on our block. It’s a great place for brunch or early dinner - they give out stickers/play mats at the table & have water cups for kids. Rare to find in Williamsburg!
Margaux at The Marlton Hotel: full disclosure, my husband works here, but I have found that restaurants inside hotels are usually super kid (and stroller) friendly!
What is the most challenging and rewarding part of running your own business?
Rewarding: Getting to do a job that doesn’t feel like a job. I really want to be intentional about where I spend my time, especially if it’s away from Saya, and I’m super fortunate to be able to take on work that I truly love and enjoy.
Challenging: I’m not great at dealing with conflict and if I have an unhappy client, I tend to take it personally and bring work home with me. I’m learning to lean on my team to get through the challenging times and doing my best to leave work “at work.”
How do you juggle motherhood and running a business?
I am very lucky to have an incredible support system at home and at work. My husband makes my work a priority, especially on weekends, and our nanny Alli holds down the fort during the week. Alli is super flexible with her work schedule and cooks all of our meals for us. I feel like my home life is more organized than it used to be, pre-kid!
I also have an amazing team behind Yumi Matsuo Studio. Our studio manager Kelly makes sure emails are responded to in a timely manner and handles all booking requests. Our associate photographers take on a lot of our workload and can step in to help if I have an emergency!
Where can we follow you to see all your beautiful content?
@yumimatsuostudio on instagram and tiktok.
www.yumimatsuostudio.com for our portfolio and to book a photo session!
Christine Russell Janis writes about life as a mom of four children, living in Paris, and travel on her life & style website ashadeofrose.com. You can also follow on social media @a.shade.of.rose.in.paris.