One on One with Frieda Schweky

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Ellen Geller Kamaras 

 

“I love my craft and improving my skills. To me, it’s an art. I want to give my clients the very best experience, family memories, and of course, portraits. This means continuing to grow and learn whenever I can…”   ~ Frieda ~ 

 

 

Frieda Schweky is a vibrant woman of many talents.  She shoots events, portraits, branding sessions, corporate headshots, and more. She’s based out of New Jersey and travels to New York frequently for work.   

 

I was thrilled when my editor recommended I interview Frieda, a co-columnist at Community Magazine. Frieda writes a popular monthly column, “Roundtable.” 

 

For several years, Frieda was the official community events reporter for Sephardic.org.  In addition, she is an ADHD activist and food blogger.  

 

Growing up 

 

Frieda was born and raised in Midwood, Brooklyn, to Miriam Mizrahi Chirazi from Egypt, and Danny Sabzehroo from Tehran, Iran.  

 

Frieda was a social person even as a youngster..  She attended East Midwood Hebrew Day for elementary school and Bay Ridge Prep High School. She loved the social aspect of grade school but was not what she called a “cookie cutter student.”  Frieda’s mom had her evaluated and she was diagnosed with ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder. Bay Ridge Prep was a great fit for Frieda.  It had smaller class sizes designed for individualized education. After her freshman and sophomore years, Frieda was thriving and ready for mainstream classes. 

 

“I found out how I learn best, and I became a competent student. I’m so blessed. Baruch Hashem, I turned out even more (or just as) religious than some of my peers who studied in yeshiva high schools.” 

 

Frieda’s next stop was Fashion Institute of Technology with a major in Fashion Merchandising Management.  

 

Growing up, Frieda was obsessed with fashion magazines. Following her passion, she pursued fashion at FIT.  It was only later that Frieda realized it was the editorial photography that was attracting her. 

 

 

Her Core 

 

Frieda’s friends describe her as witty, fun, friendly, kind, positive, energetic, ambitious, flexible, and hard-working. “She is brave in putting herself out there in new social settings and has a young soul.” 

 

I would add warm, easy-going, authentic, and comfortable in her own skin.  

 

Frieda’s guidepost is to do the best in anything she undertakes. She invests time and effort in learning as much about photography as possible.  

 

Marriage, Family, and Career 

 

Frieda met her naseeb, Billy Schweky, at a hesed fundraiser, a volleyball tournament for Hatzalah and the two were married a few years later. 

 

Frieda enjoys athletics and focuses on mastering one physical activity at a time, such as yoga, surfing, and cross fit. 

 

The Schwekys live in Long Branch, NJ, with their children.   

 

Community 

 

“I am extremely involved in our community of which I couldn’t be prouder. I feel so privileged to live in a community that seeks to take care of those who need it.” 

 

As a former community writer at Sephardic.org, Frieda has written about dozens of amazing community organizations.   

 

Frieda is actively involved in PROPEL which enables community women to earn and help support their families while maintaining traditional values.  When Frieda decided to pursue photography, PROPEL’s ambassadors supported her to learn about her new profession and even hired her to shoot multiple events.  She was honored to give back to PROPEL by speaking at fundraisers about their influence in launching her career.  

 

Passions 

Frieda was always drawn to photography. “I was the high school kid with a DSLR camera strapped to her neck. I submitted pictures to the yearbook simply because I had them to share. However, I took pictures simply because I loved it.” 

 

To Frieda the title of “photographer” indicated a high level of expertise, so it took her years to confidently call herself a photographer and own it. 

 

Frieda’s main focal points are giving her clients an awesome experience as well as incredible pictures. 

 

“I focus on the experience aspect. I want my clients to look back on their photos and think ‘wow that was a fun day,’ instead of, ‘we got that over with and at least these pictures look good.’”  

 

She is proud of the client feedback she gets. Here is a typical example of a message she received after a brit milah.  “I really thought that it was going to be a stressful morning, but you managed to make it flow with ease and it was actually enjoyable.” 

 

Frieda views her photographs as art and that is what rouses her. “Art to me means using different angles or tools to make a portrait that is unique. An example of this is using a prism by my lens to alter reality.” 

 

She partners with families to make art that they will enjoy for years to come.  

 

Writing 

 

“For me, writing is like talking. It always came easy.”  

 

A creative writing class in Frieda’s high school freshman year really sparked her interest.  She went from writing a short story to starting on her own teen novel.  “I was eight chapters in before my social life took off and the project was left in the dust. It remains something I am proud of and may revisit in the future.” 

 

Around six years ago, Frieda’s friend Melanie Falack, who was working for SBH Career Division at the time, told her that Sephardic.org, a community website, was looking for a writer.  Frieda didn’t have much schooling in journalism, but she jumped at the chance to get paid to learn on the job.  Her talented editor, Shelly Forman, trained her along the way.  “It was writing bootcamp. I had to produce eight articles on community topics every week.” 

 

Frieda became the go-to person regarding community events and at times photographed the events, too.  She got her articles published in Community Magazine as an advertisement for Sephardic.org. This led to her next writing role. 

   

Frieda’s Feature Column 

 

Frieda began writing for Community in 2020. She crowdsources her ideas for articles, tapping into her contacts, usually her Instagram followers, for hot topics. 

 

Frieda’s style as a writer is similar to her style as a photographer, which feels comfortable and unique.  She interviews community members about the chosen hot topic for the month and shares their views. Included in her Roundtable column is her introduction to the subject, quotes from community members weighing in on the topic, and a conclusion, summarizing her findings.  The range of themes is broad and has included opinions regarding Pesach preparation, the back-to-school process, living with parents/in-laws for the summer, and more.  

 

Work-Life Balance 

 

“Achieving balance as a working mom is a learned skill. It took time to figure out and it’s still not perfect, but the goal of life isn’t perfection.” 

 

Frieda learned more about actively finding a balance during the pandemic.  Parties were paused at first, but in June 2020, there was a boom of events in Deal, and Frieda was eager and motivated to grow her photography business and take as many jobs as possible. 

 

Frieda’s husband is very supportive of her professional goals, encouraging her to be the best version of herself. 

 

Frieda volunteers at her children’s school by taking class pictures and photos for the yeshiva’s website. They also hire her for picture day.  Frieda’s kids enjoy seeing her at school and are proud of her profession.  She also adores taking pictures of her kids at her leisure. 

 

In raising her children, Frieda concentrates on all the positives so that they can see a determined mom who can have both a family and a career.   

 

Accomplishments 

 

Personal growth is a priority for Frieda, and she likes the person she has become. “I feel blessed to have learned incredible life lessons in rising to the occasion, when presented with life’s tests. Every hurdle is an opportunity Hashem is giving us to grow. As I get older, I better understand why we must earn olam haba and why it’s not just gifted to us.”  

 

Her secret to success is confidence. It’s the #1 thing she mentors young photographers/entrepreneurs about. “When you are confidently sharing with your clients what to expect and you believe in your business, you will succeed.” 

 

Downtime 

 

Frieda enjoys hanging out with her local friends, being in nature, hosting classes and get-togethers, and self-care.  She recently hosted a s’mores night for young mothers, many of whom had just moved to Deal with little-to-no family or friends. They played an ice breaker game, recited Tehillim for Israel, and mingled around the campfire.  Frieda’s other hobbies include skateboarding, hiking, and gardening.  

 

For fun, and to support local businesses, Frieda reviews food on her Instagram story.  Her segment is called “Feeding Frieda.” 

 

What’s Next  

 

Frieda’s next ambition is to photograph weddings. She photographed a small covid-style wedding in 2021 and the bride was thrilled with her pictures. 

 

“I can offer something different than my male peers: fresh originality to the portraits, a positive attitude to assure a good experience, feminine sensitivity on one’s most significant day, and stunning pictures to enjoy for years to come. I’m launching a wedding campaign soon, so please stay tuned on Instagram.” 

 

Connect with Frieda on Instagram @ friedaschwekyphoto or at friedaschweky@gmail.com 

 

 

Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach.  Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching.  Ellen is active in her community and is currently the Vice-President of Congregation Bnai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights.  She can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com(www.lifecoachellen.com).