Today we’d like to introduce you to Charlotte Lea.
Charlotte, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in the UK, surrounded by design. My parents ran a menswear design consultancy, and naturally I jumped straight into the fashion industry after leaving school and worked in menswear for 12 years. In 2016, I took a trip to LA to visit my brother after he moved here the year before and a switch flipped while I was there. I came back full of so much inspiration and realized I needed something more. The day I got back to the office, I asked myself, “what if I just quit?” In that moment, I had an overwhelming gut feeling that that was the right thing to do – it was too much to ignore. Two days later, I quit my job of 12 years with absolutely no idea of what was next for me. Piece by piece came together after that. I’d always been passionate about photography and after leaving my job, I threw myself in with no expectations of where it might take me. I started just shooting every meal that I made and from there built my clientele and was shortlisted for the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I applied for my US visa, sold my five-bedroom house and everything in it and I moved to LA in January 2017 with a suitcase and just five boxes. I started again.
My US Food Photography career didn’t turn out as expected. I worked with a lot of clients remotely from my studio which I found fairly lonely but little did I know there was something else in store for me my career. My boyfriend is a furniture designer and I was photographing some of his work that had been staged in a new construction. That is the day I knew that shooting interiors was exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I lit up inside. It inspired me to take a leap and reach out to a designer that I’d admired for some time and shared my work. Soon after that, we booked our first shoot together which was then published by Domino. Things just started to flow from that point. I now have the most wonderful clients and it really has been an absolutely incredible journey. As cliche as it sounds, what is meant for you won’t pass you by.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Running your own business of course comes with challenges. You have to learn to juggle so many different balls; from marketing to accounting and everything in between.
You definitely have to be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. I’ve had to make sacrifices along the way, like sleep and going without some of life’s little luxuries when investing money back into my business.
Add that to being in a new country, away from your friends and family and there has no doubt been days that I have shed some tears but I have been able to build an incredible and successful business, doing what I love so I feel very blessed.
Charlotte Lea Photography – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a Photographer specializing in Interiors. I mainly work with Interior Designers, Developers and Architects. I also sell my personal work as Fine Art Photographic Prints.
Growing up surrounded by design, I came to understand visual subtleties. I think working in the menswear industry for such a long time influenced my eye and that is portrayed in the way I shoot – both in Interiors and my Fine Art Prints. Clean lines, minimal, balanced and maybe noticing that little something special that might go otherwise unnoticed.
Selling everything you own and starting from scratch is a very surreal feeling but so freeing at the same time. It gave me a chance to really evaluate all the things you just acquire vs need and taught me to be present. It enabled me to renew my sense of design. Not many people have the opportunity to start over and with the California aesthetic being so different to the U.K. it has given me a fresh pair of eyes.
I still find myself noticing things that I used to just walk passed, like how a shadow plays against a wall or how light catches on water and I started photographing those moments too and then selling my art.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Ultimately for me, it means waking up in the morning with excitement for the day ahead, doing what I love and sharing that with those around me. Being constantly inspired whilst continuing to inspire others with my work. I love seeing progression – setting goals, meeting them and making new ones.
I have figured out that although there is always something more to learn, not to get too far ahead of myself. One step at a time, it’s all progress.
- Website: www.charlottelea.com
- Phone: 424-278-0542
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @charlotteleaphotography
Designs by Natalie Myers of Veneer Designs, Ashley Scott of Scout Modern, Leigh Jendrusina of Salthouse Collective and Kristin Lewis of The Garage Collective. Photo Credit all Charlotte Lea