CreativeLive Student Profile: Ireland-Based Photographer Berit Alits


CreativeLive is an international community of students taking bold risks to make their dreams come true. Every week, we turn the spotlight on a creativeLIVE student’s unique story and vision. This week, we chatted with Estonian-born, Ireland-based photographer Berit Alits, a longtime creativeLIVE student whose portfolio was recently featured in Get Inspired Mag. Here’s what Berit had to say about quitting her office job to focus on photography, how she gets and stays inspired, and the current business challenge she’s facing head-on.

Describe yourself in 140 characters or less:
I am a creative photographer based in Ireland. Recently received a degree in multimedia, now focusing on developing my photography style!

Do you have a day job?
I used to have a well-paid office job where I worked as a business travel and visa coordinator. It didn’t fit my personality and I decided to quit my job to go to college and focus on photography. I made this decision three years ago, have now graduated BSc in Creative Multimedia and fully focusing on photography. Even though it has been harder with money, I am so much happier and wouldn’t change a thing!

What is your dream job?
I’d like to make a living being a full-time creative portrait photographer with a cute studio space.

What is your biggest business/professional challenge?
My biggest challenge so far has been believing that I am creative and I can do this. Until I was 24 years old, I didn’t even consider myself creative. When I picked up the camera, I never thought I could actually do good work — it still feels weird to call it “work.”

In high school, I was mainly involved with sports and being an editor of my school newspaper. I really wanted to be a journalist, but that didn’t happen and instead I became a travel coordinator. I worked in an international company with people from various backgrounds, and I started taking their portraits. This turned into a project I called “Faces of the World.” That project sparked the need in me to take portraits.

At some point shortly thereafter, people started wanting to book me to take their photos — and I just went with the flow. Then came another challenge: I knew that if I want to start doing this for living, then I can’t just go with the flow. I knew I needed a plan and this is currently the challenge I am going through. creativeLIVE is an amazing resource for helping to overcome this!

How do you get inspired?
The funny thing with inspiration is that I really have to take time to allow the inspiration to soak in. I look at a lot of photography online, I educate myself through cL and Phlearn, and I watch films. Inspiration comes from all of these things, plus my own personality. When I plan a photo shoot, I think about the model and envision what I see there. What I feel, I try to put it into my pictures — along with my own personality. My pictures show exactly who I am. My brain starts to create ideas when I am just about to fall asleep, so I keep a notebook right next to my bed.

If you could live in any other decade, what would it be?
I love the times we live in right now. Technology is developing fast — social media allows us to make friends everywhere and anywhere. This decade feels like possibilities are endless and everything can happen fast if you put your heart into it.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
If I could, I would teleport myself into every country, stay there for a week, and take lots of portraits and listen to people’s stories (that would take me about 4 years — around 195 countries and 52 weeks in a year).

Who is your favorite cL instructor or workshop — and why?
One of my favorite instructors ever is Lindsay Adler. She has shown so many useful and quirky in-camera tricks, her Photoshop techniques are easy to follow and grasp, and she taught me the importance of having a strict workflow. Brooke Shaden is another favorite — she opened my eyes about how to use props and how to plan a shoot by having a backstory. Bambi Cantrell is another creativeLIVE instructor who’s taught me so much — about presentation and elegance of the packaging when delivering images to clients, and of course the way she poses and directs shoots. Sue Bryce is so motivational and inspiring when she teaches, she is one of those instructors who has inspired me so much that I’ve  finally started believing I can do this. Lastly, Jennifer Hudson showed how to push the boundaries of posing a model (in Fine Art Portraits). These are just the tiny examples, but made such a difference!

If you could teach anything on cL, what would it be?
This is a tough one! I can only teach what I know, and I feel like I know very little about photography! I feel that there are endless amounts of information I still have to learn. But if I could teach, then I would show and explain how I shoot creative portraits, how I conceptualise, how I come up with the ideas and how I feel and see something in different people and how I come up with the ideas for photographing them.

What topic would you like to see covered on cL?
I love seeing creative photographers such as Jennifer Hudson, Brooke Shaden, and Lindsay Adler in action. It is always so inspiring to watch them work. Also, it’s always helpful when the business side of photography is covered, because this part is the toughest! I’d like to see more assignments given to cL students — and perhaps a competition where 10 selected amateur photographers are given an assignment every week and then team of awesome judges eliminate one photographer every week and then there is one winner! I’d love to see how amateur photographers grow and struggle in this journey. And, of course, the hardcore critique helps us be better and grow!

What was your first-ever introduction to cL (class/instructor)?
Jasmine Star’s Building Your Wedding Photography Business. I instantly fell in love with the concept of cL and haven’t  stopped watching my favourite topics since!

If you attend a cL class with any instructor in the world, who would it be?
There are so many awesome instructors, cL viewers are spoiled with the choice. But I would probably pick Jennifer Hudson or Sue Bryce.

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Topher Kelly is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and editor at CreativeLive. Follow Topher on Twitter@Topher_LIVE.