Spirit Sister Series - Michelle Swan from Eyes of Love Photography
Her energy is warm and caring and she has this special knack of making women feel super comfortable in their own essence, whilst, at the same time she seemingly effortlessly stands in her own power, directing each shoot with pure heart energy.
Let’s start with the basics, how old are you? And where did you grow up?
I’ve had 36 laps around the sun. I grew up on a farm in country Victoria, in a little town called Coomboona. When I started prep, there were 12 children in the entire school!
Where are you currently based?
I’m based at Palm Beach on the Gold Coast. I’ve lived down the southern end of the Gold Coast for a couple of years now and I absolutely LOVE it!
What three words best describe you right now and your Intention/Essence/ offerings?
Connection. Encouraging. Playful
Can you share with us a little about your Journey with Yoga and or Spirituality, whatever that means to you?
I’ve never found sitting in meditation easy or natural – but I have a deep knowing that there’s so much to be gained through slowing down and connecting with my inner wisdom.
Enter yoga – I consider it a moving meditation. I love how yoga connects me with my breath, how it brings me into the present moment just by moving my body with intention, I find once it’s time for savasana my mind has naturally quietened.
Yoga is just one of the ways I connect spiritually.
I also love journaling, cuddles with my pups and time in nature. My hubby and I also go for gratitude walks and share our intentions out loud.
Can you Share with us a little about what led you to begin starting your biz/ sharing your current offerings?
In 2009, I married the love of my life, Jacko. As we drove home from planning our wedding album with our photographer, I vulnerably admitted to my new husband that if I could do anything in life, and knew I’d succeed, I’d be a photographer.
Fast-forward a few years, and I quit my fulltime job. This time I was heading to university to complete a Bachelor of Education. And on the outside, it looked perfect for me: I threw everything I had at the degree and worked my butt off, got excellent results, and was offered a job as soon as I graduated. I adored ‘my kids’. However, even after three years of teaching, that sense of unease came sneaking back; the knowledge that this just wasn't ‘it'. It was while I was at uni that I bought my first DSLR camera. Truthfully, I had no idea how to use it; but time disappeared when I played with it.
Then one afternoon in 2014, everything started to change. I was taking photos of a friend at her family farm, and she suggested I share my photography with the world. Intrigued by the possibility of turning this passion of mine into something more, I nervously launched an Instagram account and within the days that followed, enquires started coming in. One leap of courage and Eyes of Love Photography was born.
My new path found me quitting my teaching position; completing a short photography course at TAFE; building my skills and portfolio by working as a second shooter with a brilliant wedding photographer; and jumping at any opportunity to learn, to improve, to grow as an artist.
As a photographer, I believe I have a responsibility not to perpetuate unrealistic body ideals for women.
We live in a world filled with false imagery and unattainable standards – which leads to unhealthy comparisons. I’m here to call it out. Gently, lovingly!
I passionately believe that every woman – regardless of age, size, race, or stature - can photograph beautifully. No exceptions.
I celebrate and work with women of all ages and sizes, capturing what makes her beautiful and unique.
I’ve carved out a niche working with women in business and it absolutely makes my heart sing. I’ve never felt so grounded and on-purpose!
What have been your biggest triumphs?
I feel so blessed that I get to do what I love for a living! I regularly work with women locally, from interstate and overseas.
Some highlights include:Holding space for hundreds of women to feel free and confident in front of the camera
What have been your biggest Fears, obstacles and challenges along the way? And what has really helped you in overcoming them?
I worried I wasn’t good enough.
I’d often fall into comparison. Looking out at those more skilled and experienced, I felt like an imposter.
I’d always worked in a team environment and suddenly I found myself working solo without any colleagues to bounce ideas off. It felt overwhelming and isolating.
The most courageous and beneficial leap I took was to reach out to other photographers, I gratefully discovered they are ordinary people, just like me! Ordinary people that crave connection, like I do.
I started a mastermind group of female photographers and I’m so proud of how we’ve championed each other. We give feedback, share knowledge and expertise and we regularly refer clients to one another.
What lessons are you most grateful for in life and in what you do?
There is more than enough for everyone.
Others may have the same career path as you, but no one does it like you. And that’s your superpower!
What advice would you give another facing a similar challenge?
Get clear on the type of support you’d love to receive.
- Have the courage to reach out to others and ask
- How can you show up and support others?
There’s so much support available. Online groups, in person meet-ups and opportunities to reach out and build connections via social media.
What are the biggest challenges you face now? either personally or in what you do? or both?
As I’m typing these words, we’re facing a global Corona Virus pandemic. Completely uncertain and uncharted waters.
My next three months of bookings postponed. With no certainty of when I’ll be able to resume work. It’s scary. I’ve felt a myriad of emotions in the past week and most of them, not positive.
It’s hard to believe how quickly I’ve gone from a flourishing business to having the rug completely pulled from under me.
Now more than ever, I need to anchor into my spiritual practice to ground and receive guidance.
We all deal with fears and insecurities; how do you combat overwhelm and self-doubt?
I speak to myself like I would a friend, with kindness and compassion.
I really love EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) it’s a great way to acknowledge and shift fears.
I’ve also found kinesiology really healing and supportive. It’s one of my favourite healing modalities.
What do you currently most crave in life and in what you do?
I’m a first-time mama, our little one Sienna is 9 months old. As any new parent can attest, it’s a massive life transition.
There’s a huge push-and-pull. Craving quality time as a family and equally craving focused (and uninterrupted) time for work and time for self-care.
It’s a juggling act. Sometimes I feel I’m nailing it and other times I’m sinking and frustrated.
Fortunately, I have a wonderful and supportive hubby. We both have our own businesses – our new normal looks like sharing calendars and tag-teaming parenting duties. I’m so grateful we’re in this dance together.
As challenging as it can sometimes be, it’s SO worth it. I’m amazed at how my capacity for love has expanded since Sienna has arrived.
What’s next for you, any exciting plans on the horizon that you would like to share?
The most truthful and honest answer I can give right now; I don’t know! I truly don’t.
Corona Virus has tipped things on its head and the dust hasn’t settled yet, so it’s impossible to know.
What I know for sure…when the time aligns, I’ll be back, camera in hand and feeling more grateful than ever for the simple pleasure and joy of spending my days doing what I love.
Spirit Rituals, can you share with us any practices or routines that you do to keep you feeling inspired, grounded and connected?
I love a mindfulness walk:
- No music
- What can I hear?
- What can I feel?
- What can I see?
Reconnecting with my senses to ground and bring my awareness into the present moment. Once I’m feeling grounded, I’ll then bring to mind all that I’m grateful for. Next, I’ll set intentions and ask for support.
My absolute favourite place to do this walk, around the Burleigh National Park. That headland is magic and grounds me like nothing else!
Who have been the most influential or inspirational people/ teachers/ Books or places on your path? and why?
Everyone who knows me knows how much I love Oprah. Hands down my favourite teacher. Her Super Soul Conversations Podcast is my favourite. I’ve listened to every episode, some multiple times.
My favourite book, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. A brilliant book on how to cultivate and nurture creativity.
What does #iamspirit mean to you?
It’s an energy game, always! What I focus my energy, attention and intention on, I get more of.