Multi-passionate creative, and long-time Kin community member, Leslie Carvitto, shares how years of experimentation lead her to becoming a photographer for female business owners and conscious creatives.
Who modelled “success” for you growing up?
My grandparents and father modelled success for me growing up. My grandfather and great uncle opened up a clothing business (Schipper’s Clothing) in my hometown back in 1949, and my father succeeded in running it until they sold it in 1991. For 42 years, Schipper’s Clothing operated on the main street of our small town, and our family was well known in the community. My grandmother would often talk about how hard they all worked to build a positive reputation, and caution us from doing anything that could tarnish the family name or cause a loss in respect. There was a huge sense of pride in the success of the business, but success was also modelled in being of service to the community. My grandparents and parents were all active members in clubs and organisations that brought together business and professional leaders to provide services for their communities. There was a big emphasis on giving back and using your skills and time to enhance your communities wellbeing.
What did you think your career would look like?
I had a hard time choosing one industry to focus on. I didn’t have a name for it then, but I’ve always been very multi-passionate. Depending on the year, the answer to the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” would vary significantly. I wanted to be an actress, an Olympic gymnast, a veterinarian, an interior designer, a naturopath, a publicist, a journalist, a travelling yoga teacher, and a photographer. That last one stuck.
Did your expectation match the reality?
I’ve done a lot of sampling when it comes to jobs. I’m a curious gal by nature so I like to say “yes” to new experiences and give things a try if it sounds interesting. It has enhanced and enriched my life in so many ways, and it’s also shown me what I don’t want to do (which I think is just as important as knowing what you DO want to do.) Eventually, through working with a coach and diving through layers of old narratives and blocks, I connected with my purpose of uplifting and encouraging women through photography. I’ve been on that path for three years now and it fuels my fire everyday. Though I’m still very multi-passionate and always have things going on the side, photography is the constant and what I see myself doing in some capacity for the rest of my life.
What inspired you to start freelancing and what did that journey look like?
I went to University in Hawaii and studied public relations. Shortly after graduating I interned at a large, luxury hotel chain and management company for a little while. I’ve never been one to enjoy being inside or sitting for long periods of time and this was my first job that required me to sit behind a computer and be indoors all day. That alone didn’t jive well with my personality and I decided that I wasn’t quite ready to commit to a 9-5, Monday - Friday type job. It was also the first time I recognised how important freedom was to me- specifically freedom over my time and how I spent it. So once the internship ended I worked odd jobs, nurtured other interests and travelled until moving back to the mainland and starting work in corporate.
My last job before I started freelancing was as an account manager at a digital marketing and design agency. I had been managing 15-25 projects at a time and though I was constantly working with creatives, I wasn’t able to express my own creativity (I was the link between designers and the clients but spent more time on operations.)
Three years in, the call to work for myself and explore my own creativity was too loud not to answer. For years I had talked about pursuing photography and hadn’t taken many steps to make it a reality. I already had copywriting clients on the side and a bunch of ideas to pitch so I thought ok, why not give myself a year to try out freelancing. The worst that can happen is that I have to turn around and go back to a 9-5. So I put in my notice and started networking like crazy. I reached out to photographers and asked if I could take them out for coffee to talk to them about their careers. I asked about the realities of freelancing and the most important lessons they learned along the way. I picked up an assistant job with a local photographer and followed her around on photoshoots. I wrote blogs, newsletters, and social captions for businesses in the health and wellness industry and pitched to brands I wanted to work with. I took classes and went to workshops and practised photography with my friends constantly. I dove straight in, which I think is what you have to do when you begin working for yourself.
How do you ensure you have enough juice in the tank to be creative on demand?
My mornings are sacred and really allow me to fill up before I give to others. I stay off the internet and social media. I write in my journal and read. I meditate and write out affirmations. I move my body by either surfing, running or yoga. That movement helps me tune into my breath and usually gets me outside into nature. The combination of these things fill my tank with an abundance of energy.
What are some of your favourite rituals to stay connected to yourself?
Writing my morning pages (three pages of stream of consciousness writing) connects me to myself. It connects me to my energy levels and how I’m feeling. I’m also able to see what’s consistently coming up, or issues that haven’t been resolved. When I’m in the groove of writing everyday, it’s easy to see thought patterns and ideas or concepts that I need to explore deeper.
Surfing is also one of my favourite rituals. It’s one of the few activities I do where I feel completely absorbed in the moment. There’s a special flow state I enter when I’m out in the ocean, a radical presence that’s only felt when I’m sitting on my board waiting for waves.
You moved to Australia in early 2019. Has the experience of living in a new country changed the way you approach your rituals? What’s different? What’s the same?
Living in a new country has shown me how important my rituals are. When everything around me changed, I needed to have my familiar constant rituals. They are more or less the same as when I lived in the states, however now that I live on the Surf Coast I get to walk the beach everyday. That’s a new ritual that I love. At the end of the day, my husband and I will close our laptops, leave our phones at home and go for a long walk around sunset. It’s the perfect way to wind down for the day and transition from work to relaxation.
Oooh that’s a tough question to answer. Anything by Brene Brown.
Currently: “now is the season to know that everything you do is sacred.” - Hafiz
A plumeria flower or a pikake flower (a nod to my days living in Hawaii)
Waves hitting the shore, bird calls in the early morning, my nephews laugh
Favourite morning ritual?
Morning pages, walks on the beach, surfing, and cuddling with my husband.
What’s next for Leslie?
More photography with women owned businesses and creatives, a coffee table book full of my photography, a print shop, mastering film photography, and starting a monthly women’s gathering (post-COVID when it’s safe to do so) with workshops and classes related to creativity, health and wellness, business and personal development.
Learn more about Leslie and her photography services on her site.