Callie Gates of CameraCallie tried to commit suicide and photography has been her saviour. I read a post inside the Looks Like Film Facebook group (which you can read below) after her set portrait caught my attention as I scrolled quickly through the feed. After reading her post, I invited Callie to be interviewed about a subject that affects many in the photography community but rarely talked about – depression.
Although there is less “actionable business content” in this episode, it's a subject and topic I feel is worthwhile discussing in a way we rarely get to… candidly and openly with someone who has been through it and come out on the other side a changed person. Not only changed in respect to her personality and behaviour, but her photography.
Callie is building a portfolio any photographer would be proud of and I feel bad not having talked more about her work, creativity and style in the interview. To know that Callie has only been shooting for a few years, her work is absolutely outstanding. I've added links to where you can find and see her work below.
Here's that FB Group post, the catalyst for me reaching out to Callie for this interview…
Emotional photography post warning!
Four years ago today I almost committed suicide. I remember that day like it was yesterday, but I'll spare you all the horrific details of what happened.
I was two months pregnant with my daughter Laina and found myself in a tough situation.
The paramedics that were called that day saved my life and brought me back to life after suffering massive blood loss. Years leading up to that horrible day, I had been struggling with my self image and didn't love myself one bit. Every day when I woke up I told myself I would find something worth living for, but each day that passed, I never found that one thing that I wanted to live for.
After the paramedics saved me I made a full recovery and it's a miracle that my baby girl survived that ordeal in my womb.
After a few months passed I found photography. Photography literally saved my life.
Some people think that it's just snapping a picture that is nice to look at from time to time, but for me it's much more. It gave my life meaning because my pictures meant something to the people who were in them. Each time I did a session I could feel that I just created a new memory for that couple or family.
One year after I started my photography journey I had found out that the mother of one of the families I had taken family pictures for had passed away from suicide. She had struggled with postpartum depression and it got to be too much. She was only 26 and left behind two gorgeous baby girls.
After crying until I couldn't see after I had heard the news I remember thinking how much of a blessing it was that her daughters had been able to get pictures with their mother before she died. This story really hit home for me because of my story. It made me fully appreciate the importance of living and also the importance of my job and our jobs as photographers. When we give someone pictures we aren't only giving them pictures, but a legacy to pass down.
Today I mark this 4th anniversary of celebrating life with self portraits watching the sunrise. I might not be the most beautiful girl in the world, but I've finally learned to love myself the way I am which is why I did these self portraits.
Warning – in the interview, I ask Callie to describe in detail what happened and how everything unfolded at the time she attempted to commit suicide. Some of what Callie shares is graphic and detailed. Please be aware of this if you are listening in the company of others.
Here’s some of what we cover in this interview:
- Why it's ok to take a break from photography
- Depression and how it affects your day to day life
- Callie shares her experience when attempting to commit suicide
- How people around you normally reacts when they become witness to suicide attempts
- What was running through Callie's mind once she decided to cut herself?
- Do people regret committing suicide and how can we know?
- Depression feeds on the feeling of pressures to be successful
- Why Callie invents stories when people ask about the scar on her arm
- Why Callie became interested in photography
- Photography as a therapy for depression
- Will your love for photography vanish if you don’t get featured and become well known?
- Why you need to take self portraits
- Understanding depression and people suffering from the disease
- How Callie turned things around to overcome her emotional problems
- What’s the best thing to do when trying to cope with depression
- Meditation as a good technique to get rid of depression
- Callie’s advice to photographers suffering from anxiety or depression
- Surrounding yourself with positive people to see the change in your disposition
- Callie’s thought process behind her Facebook Group post about her suicide attempt
- Surrounding yourself with positive people and letting go of the negative people in your life
What’s on Offer for Premium Members
If you’re a premium member, you'll have access to a “members only” interview recording with New York wedding photographer Chris Szulwach who has one of the fastest turn arounds for wedding clients I've heard.
In the interview, Chris covers his workflow in detail and explains not only why he takes the approach he does but how it's positively affected life within his family. As a stay at home dad who home schools his children, being organised is critical if Chris wants any chance of building and running a successful wedding photography business.
Not only is he doing great in business, family life couldn't be better and he still has time for other interests outside both.
How can he possibly be doing all this when most of us struggle to just build a decent business and maintain some kind of normalcy in family life? It all comes down to his commitment to wedding clients and a structured workflow he will rarely sacrifice for anything or anyone… not even this interview which had to be scheduled weeks in advance because it was the only week Chris was wedding free.
I honestly don’t know what happened. I think a part of me wanted to die but when it actually happened, I just was like “No I don’t want to die anymore” – Callie Gates
If you’re on the fence about becoming a premium member, join with the $1 trial today and get access to the Members Only interview with Chris, get access to an amazing back catalogue of interviews and ALL future interviews delivered automatically to your phone or tablet.
Plus, access to a members only Secret Facebook Group where you can connect with other members and interview guests to help, support and motivate you to take what you hear in each episode and put it into action. You will not find more friendly, more motivated and caring photographers online.
What is your big takeaway?
Following this interview, I’d love to know if you're taking anything away from what Callie shared. Is there something you heard that excited or motivated you to the point where you thought, yeah, I'm going to do that! If so, let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments below, let me know what your takeaways were, what you plan to implement in your business as a result of what you heard in todays episode.
I’ve kind of just gotten rid of all the negativity in my life. After I’ve done that I’ve noticed that I do not focus on negative people anymore. I don’t focus on negative comments anymore. And I just kind of go on with my day – Callie Gates
If you have any questions that I missed, a specific question you’d like to ask Callie or if you just want to say thanks for coming on the show, feel free to add them in the comments area below.
iTunes Reviews and Shout-outs
Each week I check for any new iTunes reviews and it's always a buzz to receive these… for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it's confirmation that I'm on the right track with the interviews and that they really are helping you improve your photography business. That's awesome!
Secondly, iTunes is the biggest search engine when it comes to podcasts and it's your reviews and ratings that help other photographers find PhotoBizX. More listeners means more interviews and ultimately a better show.
If you have left a review in the past, thank you!
If you haven't and you'd like to, head to https://photobizx.com/itunes and you can leave some honest feedback and a rating which will help both me and the show and I'll be sure to thank you on the show and add a link to your website or blog if you let me know the URL of your website and your name.
Alternatively, if you've left a review for PhotoBizX and are looking for more backlinks to help your SEO, leave a review for the new Photography Xperiment Podcast and email me your key words or keyword phrase and where you'd like me to link to.
The NEW Photography Xperiment Podcast is live and available
Following the success and support shown by listeners after the experimental format of the recent interviews, the new Photo Xperiment Podcast has been launched and is available on this site and in iTunes now.
Interviews are underway and I'll be looking for new guests, not restricted to wedding and portrait photographers. If you have someone you think would be a good fit, let me know in the comment area below or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The idea behind these interviews is to get into the headspace of the photographer and find what makes them tick, what drives them, their thought process, philosophy on shooting and how they achieve what they do with their photography. So yeah, a little technique type content too.
These interviews will not focus on the business of photography – that'll be preserved solely for the weekly and unchanging format of the PhotoBizX podcast.
To hear these interviews in your podcast app, you will need to subscribe to the podcast – these interviews will not be delivered automatically if you're subscribed to PhotoBizX. Open your favourite podcast app and search “Photography Xperiment Podcast” or enter the feed URL, https://photobizx.com/feed/xperiment/ into the search field of your podcast app.
Links to people, places and things mentioned in this episode:
Thanks again for listening to the show and thanks to Callie for coming on and sharing part of her life journey in such depth and detail. Please go and check some of Callie's gorgeous work and feel free to leave a comment below on how she made you feel during the interview and what if anything you might change in your life as a result of what Callie shared.
I think part of me wanted to die because I had been so depressed up until that point – Callie Gates
If you have any suggestions, comments or questions about this episode, please be sure to leave them below in the comment section of this post, and if you liked the episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post!
That’s it for me this week, hope everything is going well for you in life and business!
Thanks and speak soon