Shooting Star: Shay Velich goes to great lengths for memorable photos

Photographic artist Shay Velich (pronounced Shy) says it’s time to step away from your camera phone. Yes, put it down. Now look around.

“Really look before you click again,” he advised. “You don’t need 500 photos. No one will ever sit down and browse through even 50 photos. You just need four or five good photos that are the best of the best.

“If you even have one or two great photos, you will look at them 1,000 times,” he said.

Velich, 35, should know. The Las Vegas newcomer who moved here from Israel is an architectural and interior design photographer who helms Velich Studio.

Working from different bases in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New York, he produces eye-popping imagery for top hotels, resorts, developers and architects along with luxury real estate agencies and home builders worldwide. Local clients include MGM Resorts, Aria and Tropicana, plus luxury communities such as The Ridges and Tournament Hills in Summerlin, and Ascaya, DragonRidge and Anthem country clubs in Henderson.

Velich also has a limited-edition fine art photography collection that delivers a fresh perspective on larger-than-life, museum-quality photo prints. The Joshua Collection is composed of photographs with seven unique collections that feature more than 50 stirring pieces.

“I was going to many homes and I saw how people had invested millions of dollars in art to make their rooms special, but the truth was the artwork looked the same in each house,” Velich said. “I would go to homes with so much art, and we would talk about everything but the art. Nobody would engage in conversation because there wasn’t much to say. I believe great art should spark imaginations and talk.”

The Infinity Collection highlights a day-to-night fusion of landscapes with stars. Velich had to travel to remote locales far from city lights and hike several hours into the wilderness to capture the night stars.

“Photography is a physical job,” he said. “In order to capture the stars, you do have to be in a remote location in the middle of the night. I did hike to places that you couldn’t reach with a vehicle. I don’t want to disturb Mother Nature. …You hike in the blazing sun and in the freezing cold six or seven hours with food and water, and wait for nature to reveal itself.”

He frequently takes the road not traveled. “If 100 people have already been there, it’s not my place to discover.”

His Desert Collection spotlights awe-inspiring landscapes and American landmarks and monuments such as Bryce Canyon, Utah; Death Valley, California; and Valley of Fire.

“In many cases, it was just me and the animals surrounding me, which can be a bit scary in the desert,” he said with a laugh. “But you must be adventurous and go where others don’t go for the right shot.”

Velich and his wife, two children and two dogs moved to Las Vegas four years ago. “The first time I was in Vegas was at age 13,” he said. “My family had been going to Vegas for the last few years. There’s something magical about the town, plus we loved the weather and the people are nice.”

Acclimating to Vegas after living in Israel near Tel Aviv wasn’t difficult, Velich said. But “I still miss the food and the hiking. You do a lot of walking daily in Israel, which really allows you to explore your neighborhoods and meet the people who live around you.”

Velich, who was handed his first camera when he was just a young boy, spent years honing his craft in Israel.

“My Mom bought me a camera back in the days when you had film in the camera and could only take a set number of photos. You really had to value what you photographed. Later, you valued the story told by that photo because it conveyed an emotion unique to that moment.”

As for people’s personal photo collections, he advises, “You can see an entire year in 10 to 15 photos, and you will really look at them again and again for a reason: That’s your story.”