Please share with us a little about you, describe yourself in five words?
These are the first words that came to mind today…
Compassionate, Creative, Adventurous, Curious and Insightful
Tell us about your journey? What brought you to where you are now?
As of right now, I am a lifestyle and branding photographer predominantly for those in the creative and wellness industries; a mental health advocate; and a life & wellbeing coach for millennials! I’m aware that’s quite a few things… so let me delve a little deeper.
I’ve always been quite a multi-faceted person who was interested in anything and everything. I have wanted to do and be most things at some point in my life – athlete, dancer, detective, lawyer, scientist, researcher, writer, psychologist, event manager… I could keep going! It was always clear that doing one thing wasn’t going to work for me, and that’s what ultimately led me to dabble in different areas of work. I also don’t think this is necessarily where the journey ends, there is every possibility I will have new businesses, careers or lifestyles in the future, but I think that’s super exciting.
Getting here was not straightforward. It wasn’t always fun or easy and it definitely wasn’t linear! I went to University twice (I dropped out after 3 months the first time around after realising I’d chosen the wrong course/location), achieving a first-class degree in Psychology the second time around. I have also worked in a few different roles since graduating but always felt like they weren’t quite the right fit for me. At the end of 2018, I trained as a coach alongside setting up my photography business and working for a mental health not-for-profit, and this was the real turning point for me ending up here today.
Ultimately I think what brought me to where I am today was my open-mindedness to trying different things (often simultaneously), my multiple ‘failures’, and my desire to have a positive impact on others and in society as a whole.
What has been your biggest inspiration with the work that you do and share?
My biggest inspiration is probably making other people feel seen, heard and like they can have an impact in the world. Despite predominantly working 1:1 in both my coaching and photography, I think the work we do on an individual level is what accumulates to create collective change, hopefully for the better.
I love taking photos and looking at other people’s work, but it’s the intention and meaning behind that work that really inspires me.
What sparks joy in your life that truly lights you up? (This could be big or small).
I’m a keen cyclist (roadie) and getting out on my bike really lights me up most of the time (if it’s cold and raining then maybe less-so). I love pushing my body and being amazed by how much it is actually capable of.
Learning something new that I find fascinating (usually, it’s something to do with human behaviour or the brain!). This is why I love listening to podcasts and reading.
Feeling like I have impacted someone else’s day, week, year or life in a positive way.
What are your favourite soul or self-care practices right now that you can share with us?
I absolutely love slow mornings and really try and allow myself the time to start every day in a leisurely way. Recently I’ve been getting up and having breakfast and then going back to bed to read for 30 minutes with a cup of tea and it has become one of my favourite things. I think it will be something that stays even after restrictions are lifted.
I also switch off from work at the weekends unless I am actually doing a photo shoot. It can be hard to have boundaries around work when you are self-employed but this has been absolutely crucial for me, otherwise, I find my mind is just in this ‘always on’ state. Almost like I can minimise the browser in my brain but all the tabs are still open and running in the background. Making weekends off limits means I can fully close all those tabs and be more present. If I do happen to do a photo shoot at the weekend, I will try and take a different day off in the week instead.
During these times that we are experiencing as a collective, in what ways are you seeing the importance of community?
For me, the importance of community has been showing up in a variety of ways during this time. I think for small business owners, entrepreneurs and creatives especially, the community has really pulled together to traverse the uncertainty we’ve been plunged into. It’s been easy to feel left behind or forgotten when you don’t qualify for any form of support or your industry is stuck in limbo (as is the case with creative industries specifically), but it has also led to some really genuine and meaningful connections with people in a similar position, and that’s pretty amazing.
The importance of community doesn’t only show up in these overt ways though. Sometimes it’s in the subtle moments, sharing a smile and ‘good morning’ with a stranger walking past (which previously may have seemed strange), like an unspoken acknowledgement that we all know times are tough right now.
I don’t know about others but I’ve also spoken to my friends on the phone and over video call more in this past year than I probably have in the rest of my life put together – and that includes friends that I wouldn’t usually see that often anyway due to location or schedules. We all seem to be making more effort to stay in touch from a distance and I hope that is maintained beyond the pandemic (to some degree anyway, I think we can do away with all the quizzes now though!).
Inspire our Breathe Love community, share an affirmation, or favourite quote, poem, song or playlist?
I love everything Matt Haig writes at the moment. Here is a recent personal favourite from him…
“The sky isn’t more beautiful if you have perfect skin.
Music doesn’t sound more interesting if you have a six-pack.
Dogs aren’t better company if you’re famous.
Pizza tastes good regardless of your status.
The best of life exists beyond everything we are meant to feel bad about lacking.”
I also highly recommend his book, The Midnight Library. Specifically for anyone questioning their direction in life or wondering if they should have done things differently.
What was the last sign you received from the universe (if you had one)?
Probably this pandemic and the lockdowns we are experiencing due to it in the UK! I was spreading myself very thin before all of this and trying to cram way too much into my schedule which would often lead to getting sick or feeling too exhausted to function. This time has forced me to slow everything down and also reconsider what is truly important to me and what I want to focus on going forwards.
However, I don’t want to give the impression I have viewed the pandemic as a positive thing, because it has also caused unimaginable pain and grief for so many.
Share with us something that you are really proud of?
In 2019 I put together a photography campaign series called ‘This is Wellbeing’ with the aim of promoting more diversity and accessibility in the wellness industry specifically. The campaign was created in collaboration with enthusiasts and professionals whom I photographed and spoke to about the impact of not feeling seen and heard in spaces designed to improve our health and happiness. The campaign launched in January 2020 and received some great press coverage and a really positive response on the whole. It prompted a lot of small businesses, influencers and consumers of ‘wellbeing’ to consider what role they play and how they can contribute to creating a more diverse and accessible industry, which was one of the core aims of the project.
The campaign won ‘Best Campaign’ at the Creative Impact Awards in November 2020. You can see it in The Metro here.
“You don’t need to have all the answers right now.
Just take a step.”
What will you never take for granted?
My family. I have a pretty close immediate family and an especially great relationship with my mother which I feel extremely grateful for as I know not everyone has that.
Also my health – both mental and physical. I have been through periods where my physical or mental health has not been good, and it has meant I really cherish it when I am healthy!
What is your favourite practice that connects you to your heart ki/energy? (Please share a tip, tool or technique to support our wellbeing?
Taking 5 deep, slow breaths in a quiet space and having some time to myself to process each day is so important for me. I also regularly make time to ask myself what I need/want at the moment. Stripping away the pressures of expectation, pleasing others and the need to be productive, instead of focusing on my true thoughts and feelings for a moment. It’s not always easy to do but on the occasions, you manage it, it can feel quite freeing.
Rest the palms of your hands on your heart centre, take a soft breath and share with us a message from your heart?
You don’t need to have all the answers right now. Just take a step. It doesn’t even have to be the ‘right’ step long term (I’m not sure I believe in right and wrong in that sense), any step will move you forward and give you a new perspective. With that extra bit of clarity you can always change your mind or your direction.
Thank YOU for breathing love with us, Ellie.
Tune in to Ellie’s offerings:
If you are a brand or business owner who uses visual content in any way, you can get my free guide to planning authentic photos for your brand here.
I am also offering one-off 90-minute coaching sessions just through this third lockdown to anyone who is struggling with overwhelm, self-doubt, and direction during or beyond the pandemic. I usually only offer to coach for a minimum of 6 sessions, so this is perfect for those who need a little boost and some actionable steps to keep them moving forwards. You can enquire about 1:1 coaching with me here.
Coaching/mental health/general life Instagram
Photo credits: Ellie Jade, Will Alexander and Amy Dickinson
Ellie Jade is a transformational coach, mental health advocate and freelance photographer based in Surrey, but often in London.