Photography, mental health & the creative journey with Steph from The Soul Echo

Creative Chats: Photography & Mental Health

Oh hey party animal! Do you like to perve on other creatives and know all their secrets and the things that light them the eff up? Ok good, us too. Welcome to our new series on the rag that centres all around creatives ❤️

First up we have our beautiful friend, photographer and soul sister, Steph from The Soul Echo. Steph and I met back a little while ago through a mutual friend and I don’t think we knew back then, the impact that we would both have on each other. She is a creative genius behind the camera and off. Her work is beautiful, bold, exciting and inspiring on so many levels - yes, we have a girl crush on this gal.

So without further adieu, I bring you an interview that will move and shake you - especially if you get to the song at the end 🙊

Tell us about The Soul Echo and how you got started?

I've always loved photography and I have pursued different journeys with it - which is a very long and involved story. The Soul Echo came to life after a biiig soul nudge to start a blog and share an echo of my soul with the world (a nudge I ignored for many years). Once I started, I was very conscious of using others' art, plus I knew I could take photos myself. So I picked up the camera again and started snapping my own photos, which was a lot of city landscapes to start which then blossomed into taking photos of beautiful humans!

Did you study photography or self teach? Do you have ant tips for anyone who wants to pursue a passion without going down the traditional route?

I am completely self taught, over mannnyyyy years of experimenting! I think I've probably cracked at least a million photos in my time of creating with my camera(s) over the years. I have always thought I've needed a piece of paper to say I can do something, and I think when I left high school (about 10 years ago) it was very much focussed on getting a piece of paper. 

When I picked up the camera again, I investigated the study avenue but decided that for me I would keep experimenting and practising. I know I'm a kinaesthetic learner, and while I believe there is a place for formal education in arts, I know at the same time that my potential clients aren't interested in the paper - they're interested in what I can create for them. 

Has The Soul Echo evolved since it’s first iteration?

Yes! So many iterations of The Soul Echo! I believe it is a constant journey and evolution, which is something I'm really owning and leaning into now. It has flowed from a hobby of wordy blogs and cityscape photos to blooming into a business where I have the honour of sharing other human's stories. It's a different beast now that it is my full time focus as I now look to other creative outlets that are my hobby (without trying to make them a biz, which I've found is a bit of them, so reminding myself of the power of creating for the sake of). I think you can visibly see the evolution in my feed, fo' sho'!

We have both been challenged recently in both our personal and business lives. Can you tell us a little about those struggles and your process of getting back to a happier place?

Oooft, it has been a very interesting and challenging time in my world. At the end of November, I felt as though I was at my 'peak', in my biz and in my life. I thought it was only up, subconsciously aware this wouldn't always be the case. Within a week, I was faced with big challenges with my health, having a car accident and honouring my late Mum's birthday. Along with cancelling my third social event three days out as a result of the events. It made me question EVERYTHING, especially how I show up as a leader in this world. It's been a few months now and I feel like I'm able to process the events and start healing. A big part of this is a) giving myself time to just BE and FEEL, and removing the judgement and expecations of processing, b) finding and doing the things that replensih and nurture me (mediating, journaling, talking, exercise etc) c) at the time, saying no to anything 'extracuricular' with love to create more white space and d) (the biggest) reaching out for support from my friends, family and community AND ACCEPTING the support that was offered to me. I find myself fiercely independant, and wanting to do everything myself, but it's so wonderful to allow someone in to help and support you in these challenging times. 

I feel like a big part of this journey and struggle for you has been in relation to your impact on the world. Can you tell us a bit about what makes you tick and what your goals are in terms of impact?

Purpose is everything, it's at the core of everything I do and what drives me to show up every day. This is something that I became accutely aware of when I was studying paramedics when I was 19 and was about to embark on my first prac. I said to myself, "if I could save one life, then I'll have achieved my goal". And I was lucky enough to experience that impact. It's also shown up for me processing the grief of losing my mum - the night that she passed I said something along the lines of - if I can help one other person, then this heartache will have a bittersweet glow of positivity. 

So now, it still looks like that - if I can save one life, then that is f*cking powerful and such an honour! However, I'm learning that it can be smaller than that, a vulnerable IG story can offer a new perspective or introspection, which might impact the person watching as they move forward in their journey - which is such a potent cycle! 

At the end of the day, it's all about how I make people feel - to feel loved, empowered and seen. I want people to feel into their power, to claim their space and ownt heir energy and share that with the world - which is a part of my photography work. Reflecting to them what I see and what the world sees - it's really just holding a mirror up for people to see how exquiste they are in those moments of unapologetic joy. 

Mental health is something that you are really passionate about. How do you marry this with your work in photography and do you have any exciting projects coming up?

I'm currently on a really beautiful journey in how my mental wellness advocacy ties into my work. I do think that there is power in showing someone the depth and beauty of their soul, in celebrating them in an experience together which results in epic imagery. I'm starting to share more with my clients in how I feel into their energy and the qualities that are abundantly magic within them. I'm also big on creating a safe space with my clients, to feel condfident in their shoot but to also claim the layers that make them, them. Giving them the time to speak about what's on their heart, feeling through their challenges together, then taking photos to celebrate those small moments of healing to celebrate. 

My current project is working on an event centred around mental health advocacy. I'm still figuring this out - how it will look and feel - but there are plenty of charities raising $$ and what I really want to bring to the game is raising awareness to break the stigma of mental health challenges, in a safe container for us to share and receive whats on our hearts and the struggles we're experiencing. I also want to empower the listeners and the supporters out there, to encourage them to lean in and to not be afraid - we don't need an answer to the problem, all people want is the connection, to be seen and to be heard.

Do you have any advice for anyone going through their own struggles or a creative block or just not feeling the mojo?

Current mojo is going outside and getting in the sunshine and nature, which also allows me to people watch. I'm constantly fascinated by humans and how we interact and express ourselves, so I love taking a wander around the inner city to bask in all of the human and sunshiny joy!

If you could do or be anything right now, what would that look like?

I would loveee to be publishing a book right now (wow, extreme) or eating hot chips. Oh, the polarity in those two!

Fave song currently?

JUICE BY LIZZO. Seriously, get onnnn IT! Particularly the line "if I'm shinin', everybody gonna shine". 

If you want to go give Steph some love or find out more, you can find her over HERE or on Instagram @thesoulecho

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