Novita Family Photostories' Mission - Why It's So Much More Than Birth Photography

Updated: Oct 1, 2019

This post comes directly from my heart and soul. It may get a little vulnerable...


If you’re here for a birth story, sorry to disappoint. But if you’re open to hearing the real, raw story that has inspired me to build a business that’s so much more than pretty and powerful birth pictures, read on.


I’m a birth photographer. I feel like I’ve made that pretty obvious. But I recently discovered, through my own personal development, that my mission for my business and my PURPOSE on this earth is so much more than that.


First, I have to bore you (maybe not) with a little life-history background for this all to make sense. I grew up with two sisters and my mom, who had been divorced from my dad since I was 2. He was not a part of my childhood at all. We did not have money, and my mom worked constantly. From a very early age, all I could dream about when I grew up was having a happy, complete family… something that would elude me consistently as I grew into adulthood. My dad was missing and my mom was physically and emotionally unavailable. She did the best she could, but she was exhausted and had her own battles to fight... usually without much support. As I was growing up, I had no dreams or goals or passions of my own, besides dreaming about what life would be like when I finally had the happy family I imagined. I wanted it soooo bad that it clouded my judgement in so many areas. I didn't know who I was, but I knew I wanted someone (a man) to love me. This ultimately led to some really poor choices and two really bad marriages.



As a young child, I would sit for HOURS quietly, alone, making things. I once spent an entire afternoon dreaming up and crafting a board game. My grandmother gave me the supplies I needed - cardboard, markers, paper and even a garment box to decorate. I made up the rules, drew the path for the game, made a "spinner" with numbers that determined how many spots you took on your turn - the works. It took me hours to create and one ever played that game, but I had so much fun making it that I didn't care.


But, as my left-brained, Mr. Spock idolizing mother made clear - creating things isn’t a respectable job that will actually pay you money. She didn't have to say it in so many words - but her belief was loud.

Eventually, I started to believe her.


I forgot how to create. I actually believed for a long time that I wasn’t creative at all - I was analytical and logical. I even started college as a business major (which didn't last long). It took me literally until I graduated college at 26 to remember that I am creative, and to start exploring what that actually meant for me.


I ultimately got my degree in psychology, after leaving my first marriage. I had no idea what I wanted to do with it, but I knew it was interesting to me, and at the very least, my professors were extremely understanding when I had to miss class or bring my toddler with me, as I was now a single mom.


As graduation grew near and I had to decide what I was “going to be”, my anxiety soared. I agonized and obsessed for hours and hours, looking through job boards and graduate programs and labor statistics trying to figure out what career path I should take. I wanted to do something that was interesting and meaningful, but I also really needed to be financially stable as a single mom. I knew a bachelor's in psych wasn't going to get me very far in the field, but I also didn't know enough about who I was or what I wanted to commit to grad school. This obsession lasted well after I graduated.


As a graduation gift to myself, I splurged and bought my first DSLR camera. The learning curve was steep, but for the first time in YEARS I had something I didn’t mind spending hours working on and learning about. It was a fun hobby, and I started to remember that actually I enjoy being creative. And I maybe even had a little bit of natural talent with this photography thing. I began to play, and to really see the beauty that was around me for the first time in forever.



I took pictures of my kiddo, my cat, and flowers and food and leaves. Looking back, they weren't good. But everything worth doing gets better over time. I quickly realized I preferred photographing faces, emotions and relationships more than anything. Since my kid was getting tired of constantly having a camera in his face, I started offering to do sessions for my friends. Then for people I didn’t know. I charged a few bucks here and there to help cover software and gear expenses, but I would’ve happily done it for free if I could. It didn’t matter if I had an awful day or was exhausted, as soon as I got behind that camera with a face in front of me, I came alive. I was self-aware enough (thanks, psychology degree) to recognize that there had to be something to that. If I was having this much fun, could this be what I was supposed to “be”?


But photography is NOT a viable career option. Society told me this. Other photographers trying to make it told me this. I told myself this (probably to protect myself). It was just for fun, and if I could make a few extra dollars doing it, cool.


The agony over what I wanted to be when I grew up continued. I scoured the internet, read career self-help books, took all the personality quizzes, and obsessively checked Indeed.com for any hints.


NOTHING.


It took way longer than I want to admit to come to the realization that I really just wanted to be a photographer. I wanted to capture the beauty I saw, and share that my clients, with the hope that they would see the beauty in them that I do. Capturing people, emotions and relationships brings me so much joy. So I finally got out of my way and allowed the story to unfold.



FAST FORWARD.


When I decided to take the leap into owning my own business for real, I knew I would need to surround myself with people who would support me. I had just left an abusive marriage (marriage #2), had a child with severe behavioral and emotional challenges, and a toddler who needed a lot of attention. I felt very alone, exhausted and BROKE. I knew I wouldn’t find the support I needed with my family, so I had to search a bit. I found inspiration and mentorship through books, online entrepreneurs and other business women. I found a spiritual community that shares my beliefs and reminds me to never stop giving back. I found my tribe. With no money, 2 babies to raise as a single mom, and a dream - I found the strength and power to make shit happen.



Novita has been around now, officially, for one year. 12 months of showing up for myself and my clients, taking my passion seriously and growing my business. In the last 12 months I have made more progress through following my inner guidance with the right support than I did in the previous 12 years (crazy, right?). And while I'm still working a full time job to make ends meet, I know that I'm finally moving in the right direction; showing up fully, following my heart and living my truth.


Over the past few months, I have been thinking a lot about my bigger purpose in this world, beyond taking pictures. Yes, I love taking photos and I know that they mean the world to my clients. And I won’t stop until the day I die. But I know there’s more. I want to make an even greater impact. I believe we are all here to fulfill a BIG purpose. We are not meant to play small. And since I have mastered the art of finding (and actually charging) clients to provide them with beautiful images… NOW WHAT?



And then it hit me. Like a giant, loving face-palm from the universe - DUH. My perfect job - my perfect business - is not in the classifieds. It doesn’t exist yet for a reason. Because I am here to create it. I finally realized that my purpose for being on this earth is so big that there’s no way it could fit in a job description on Indeed.


And all the struggle - financially, emotionally and spiritually - was ABSOLUTELY necessary for me to recognize and understand why I am here.


So what am I here to do, exactly?


Empower women, who also happen to be moms.


I empower moms through imagery with my photography. I’ve had multiple clients tell me that looking back at their birth story images makes them feel like they can do anything. And others tell me that looking at my images empowered them to take control of their own birth experience.


I empower moms through education. Women who understand their options and rights in birth are able to feel more confident and capable of moving through this challenge, trusting their body and intuition. This confidence then translates into the hard (yet rewarding) work of parenting as their kiddos grow.


I empower moms through support - by believing in them, holding space for them and making sure they know that, while they’re badass and capable of doing amazing things, they don’t have to do them alone.


These are the same three things that have been 100% instrumental in taking me from a woe-is-me, lost, sad little girl with daddy issues and a host of emotional and financial problems, to an empowered woman who truly believes that, not only is it possible for me to do amazing things in the world, but necessary for me to. No one ever made a difference by playing small.


I truly believe that empowered women empower women. And when moms are empowered, they literally change the world. Not can. DO. My vision is to empower as many moms as possible to show up for themselves first so they can generously give their gifts to their kids, their family, and the world. We need every. single. one. of. them.


To me, a business should be about more than just profit. Yes, we need money (lots of it) to take care of ourselves and make big changes in our world. Money is an incredible tool which can be used to do sooooo much good, or the alternative. Our businesses, and the businesses we support, should be an extension of our values so the tool called "money" can be used to bring more good into the world.


So here’s Novita’s mission:


To empower moms through imagery, education and support.


It’s simple, yet powerful. And everything I do in my business now and forever will align with it. Before setting a goal to book a certain number of new birth photography clients, or sell a certain number of sessions, or make a certain amount of money I will ask myself: Will accomplishing this goal empower more mommas?


There are some really big things coming for 2020 that I can’t wait to share with you. And they all align with this mission.


If this resonates with you, I’d love to connect to share the love. Whether that’s for pictures, brainstorming ways to create an empowerment empire, or just for support. My door and inbox is always open. If you haven't already, Join my VIP list to be the first to know when new things are on the horizon. Oh, and come hang out with me on Facebook and Instagram - if for nothing else than to admire all the badass mommas featured in photos there.


Namaste

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Lincoln, NE birth photographer serving southeast Nebraska

Leslie Castleberry

Tel: 402-217-1495

leslie@novitaphoto.com

© 2019 by Novita Family Photostories, LLC.