"My reality is that photography reflects the world in any number of ways from any number of different viewpoints but photography is never truth."
As someone who has always believed in the passion and power of the arts I enjoy speaking to fellow artists who can connect with that feeling. A powerhouse when it comes to photography Leila Seppa has taken her artistic love and turned it into a full on business. Taking photos for clients in lifestyle, fitness, and architecture all while showing her love for the fine arts through photos about identity and immigration.
It's said pictures are worth a thousand words, and true they can tell you lot, but why don't we let Leila give you her viewpoint when it comes to her life and where the love of photography has taken her.
WHAT LEAD YOU TO PURSUE PHOTOGRAPHY?
It's in my blood, since I was a child taking photos. I took photography in high school and then went to work and then decided to go back to school and photography was still something that spoke to me so I went to CCA in Oakland. I really decided that was the calling, that was the passion, that's where I needed to be. I actually did what a lot of people do to put themselves through school, I started working in restaurants. And ended up comboing a lot of what I was doing managing restaurants. I moved into Operations and Marketing and ended up opening my own art gallery in San Francisco. Did the whole shebang but in a completely different direction than in photography. Then decided after 10 years of that I really needed to get back to my soul passion and dropped everything else and said, I'm going back to photography and jumped in.
THIS ISN'T CONSIDERED A "NORMAL" CAREER PATH. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE THINKING OF TAKING A SIMILAR PATH?
You know that's hard because it's so personal but I would say follow all sides of passion. I don't say, jump off a cliff and go for all passion all the time. Sometimes I think people are meant to do passions on the side and I think that sometimes the careers we choose prior to becoming full time artists are what set us up for success as artists. Because it gives you a well rounded life that you can then implement into a photography business. And other times I say, people who know immediately and from the beginning... go for it, full force, full passion.
YOU DO SO MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF PHOTOGRAPHY. WHAT STYLE IS YOUR FAVORITE?
My main focus these days is lifestyle with fitness. And there are two parts of it, there is the commercial side that I do, the parts that I'm really really into are the lifestyle/fitness, and architecture. Which are in some ways really polar opposites, and in other ways really compliment each other because they are completely different forms that can then speak to each other. And then on the Fine Art side, the projects that I'm most interested in are things about identity and immigration - and that's been forever.
AS A BUSINESS WOMAN, ARTIST, AND ENTREPRENEUR WHAT IS THE HARDEST AND THE BEST PART?
This is a discussion I've been having recently a lot with a lot of different women. I think the hardest part can be for some women, is the ability to get past feeling badly for going for it. You know, we have this thing in our mind, this mindset, that we need to feel bad if we're being strong, or we need to feel bad if we're going full force to grab after something and to be passionate and crazy about it. And I say be unapologetic, go for it. Grab everything you can and sustain those dreams and those passions and get past the hurdle of feeling badly for aggressively going for what you want. And the best part is being your own boss, it's being a bad-ass boss woman. (laughing) Seriously it is. And it's getting to effect change in a way that you can't when you work for somebody else. For me, it's thinking holistically about how I can then offer aid, mentorship, and sustenance for other women who are really trying to make it.
IS THERE A SPECIFIC TIME IN YOUR LIFE THAT MADE YOU WANT TO PURSUE PHOTOGRAPHY?
There isn't one specific memory...but I've always loved that it's continuous...and this goes back to the Fine Arts side. It goes back to being aware of what is going on around you in the world. It's being socially aware, it's being supportive of other females and artists, and it's staying connected because I feel like art is so connected to life. And one of the struggles I've always had, (especially in California since the late 80s), is the struggle to keep the arts supported. And, how do you actually function as an artist being really socially responsible and aware. And then commit yourself to outside acts that can further the arts and help humanity in a general sense.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF PHOTOGRAPHY?
Photography in general is such a changing medium, I think that's what I love the most about it. It's boundless. Especially today with the technology that we're given. There is one side of me that grew up learning film, and I love the feeling of old film in an old camera, hearing the wind and click, developing in a dark room. I mean the smell of black and white chemicals brings back specific memories for me... and I love that aspect of it. But today's generations, with the technology that we have at our fingertips today it's boundless, and that's the thing I love about photography. It's not a static medium, it's completely changing, and who has access to what. I think that's brilliant.
HOW DOES PHOTOGRAPHY REFLECT WHAT YOU SEE IN THE WORLD?
My reality is that photography reflects the world in any number of ways, from any number of different viewpoints but photography is never truth. My take on photography is that people from the very beginning have an assumption when they look at a photograph that the photograph speaks to truth. And that may be true from a viewpoint, but it also may not be. It's one of those things, you can manipulate a photograph and you have been able to from the very beginning via cropping, via editing that don't necessarily speak to an entire truth. Which is a beautiful thing, and is also a flaw because of the general perception. But that being said, I think photography reflects minute aspects to giant universal truths if portrayed in the right way.