Mercy Hasselblad, Los Angeles unit photographer, describes what the job means to her and what she likes about being a Los Angeles set photographer

Los Angeles Set Photographer Mercy Hasselblad

Los Angeles Set Photographer


Born outside of Boise, Idaho, Mercy received her BA in Sociology and Psychology from Northwest Nazarene University. Fueled by a deep fascination for humans and what makes them “click,” she studied marketing and visual persuasion. Both during and after college, Mercy traveled to developing nations and worked with charities and non-profits in marketing and design. While abroad she started creating photographs of people she met. When she got back to the USA, people began asking her to take photographs for weddings and events, which began her career as a portraits and events photographer.

Mercy’s interest in motion pictures began with her high school sweetheart and now-husband, Matthew. His deep love for movies sparked an interest in the common ground between movies and still imagery. Of course, the idea of using imagery to persuade and trick the eye was also something that had always interested her. So, they began to travel together and work on documentaries and commercial films.
They finally settled in Los Angeles, where they continue to work together in film.

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Artist Statement

In our daily lives, we often look at things, but rarely see them. Actually SEE them. I pull out details in daily life, using light and focus, to point vividly at the beauty of common (or rare) moments that we would otherwise miss. Because of my design background, I’m always looking for and creating those magazine-worthy pictures, the ones you could use for posters or articles. I want to be the invisible historian who rarely interferes, but finds and records beautiful snippets of life. I shoot mainly on DSLR, with film mixed in, and focus on being versatile, highly observant, and always ready.

Some of My Favorite Challenging Work

I love a good challenge. Contrary to wilting under pressure, I push against it, flex my creativity, and come up with a creative solution. So here are a few of my favorite images that were a challenge to capture.

Low Ambient Light at Midnight

As this couple started walking down the street to wait for their car, I asked them to pause by some neon. I used the ambient light from the sign in the window, plus a street light, to capture this moment.

When I was starting out, I didn’t use a lot of artificial light. I focused on observing light that was already there, using natural light, and finding just the right angle to make it work. Working on sets, this sort of skill is even more important.

Natural Interactions in Documentary Photography

One reason I love blending into the background is the ability to get real reactions and interactions. Between actors, creatives, or even younger ones. This was one of my favorite photos from documenting farm life in a small, rural town. This mother carried her young child on her back in the chill morning air at 5am. The child watched in fascination as the goats devoured their morning oats. I used the natural, stilted light from the bare bulb overhead and watched for the child to come into the right light.

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