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Positivity First

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Positivity First with Elise Swopes

Elise Swopes, Kenna Klosterman

Positivity First

Elise Swopes, Kenna Klosterman

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1. Positivity First with Elise Swopes


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Positivity First with Elise Swopes

Hello, everyone. And welcome to Creativelive. Welcome to creative life, TV or wherever it is that you're tuning in. I'm your host, Kenna Klosterman. And I am here with you coming from my living room to yours for another episode of we are photographers. That's our podcast hair creative life where we talk to photographers, filmmakers, creative industry game changers. And we go deep into why they do what they dio. This is not a podcast talking about gear. Ah, we like Teoh get into the winds, the struggles because we're all creatives and we all have them. So we like to connect with use that you know you're not alone. So if you are tuning in, wherever it is on Facebook or YouTube or Twitter, if you're watching live, you can join the conversation. But the spot that I'm gonna be seeing your questions and comments first is over on creativelive dot com slash tv. So feel free to join the chap, and I will see you there. Got Kate Desa, who is also in those chats, helping out and chatting with you ...

all. So let's just get right into it. I am super excited. Ah, for today's guests She is one of our favorite visual storytellers. Here at Creativelive. She is full of energy and positivity. Her name is Elise Slopes. She is Chicago bread and recently moved Teoh Brooklyn. Ah, and she is a photographer. Graphic designer. She is a visual storytellers. I said a videographer, a speaker. After we do this conversation, you've gotta go listen to her Ted X talk and go subscribe to her podcast called Swoops. So dope she has since 2011 was an early instagram er where she first started her own brand and then was able to start working with some of the biggest brands on the planet Apple, Adobe, Adidas and so many more. Ah, and she is still discovering what her inner power is so welcome. Welcome to were photographers at least swims thinking so much. That was one of the best intros for me I think I've ever heard in my life. Thank you. That was amazing. If I could just keep bad and replay it for anyone ever be great. Well, goodness is you can't exactly exactly about and send that to you, Director. Fake. Perfect. I put it in my podcast as long as you could be. Give me all the rights. Hopefully, he let me. You know, e. I love it. All right. Well, elites, first of all, super excited again. Thank you so much for joining us once again here from your home to mine to our audiences, homes all over the world. And by the way, again, if you are watching online, let us know where tuning in from because we love to give those shout outs. Uh, and so, um, I'll be looking for those to come in. So, Elise, not everybody knows because you lived in Chicago for so long. Ah, and you had this incredible view where you would show us the sunrises every morning and so much of your art And with Chicago based, tell us about the big move. And also why? Why now? Oh, great question. All good points. Yeah. Have you had a beautiful view? I lived in the 21st floor in River North Gorgeous sunrise. Every morning I wake up at five. AM every single day. Eso seeing the sunrise was just a nice little tree, you know, to set that set the tone for the day. But, um why I decided to mix it up, I think, honestly was, because I like being uncomfortable. Maybe e. I think I think that that's what I've kind of learned. At least a little bit of my time started to practice more mindfulness and more awareness and more just positivity. I think that that kind of shift to from really comfortable and really happy, I think was like something that you know could be a story down the line. Or maybe just, I don't know, help me grow a little bit or help me just see something that I haven't been seeing for a while. And I think it has its I mean, maybe that just the move, but quarantining itself, the pandemic, everything that's going on has truly shown me and taught me who I am, who I want to be in, who I want to become. So I there's so many things in there that I want O to go a little bit further into all the topics. But first of all, the getting uncomfortable. I mean, a lot of well, we often talk about this like you got to get comfortable being uncomfortable for growth. Can you take me back to the first time where you realized that that that it was the discomfort that you were probably like we're all afraid of at first and confused as to what to do with, but then realised you come through the other side. Can you Can you take us back to one? Yeah, um I mean it to be completely transparent. I think it was when I really hit my lowest. It was in 2016 specifically where I had just kind of lost my way. I mean, six externally, maybe I seemed successful. Still, getting jobs was still creating. Cool are. But I think internally I wasn't I didn't know myself and I didn't really, like, make the right decisions with friends with with just like, I mean those drug issues. I mean, there was just decision making issues, and I think I woke up one day and was like, OK, I need to take responsibility and accountability for the way I feel instead of trying to blame everybody else for the way that they make me feel. And that's where the drugs came involved. Like the Zannex and Admiral, these thes doctor prescribed things for anxiety and depression and stuff like that that I thought were trying to help me were actually trying to cover up something that I was supposed to really analyze and work on and kind of just like really fixing on for a little bit. And so that's really what I did in that point was went cold turkey a started meditating. I started reading and writing. So waking by 5 a.m. I started working out, and I think that's when everything in my life shifted from it wasn't just me living day to day by fear it was me really living day to day and excitement for the unknown It's in, It's now it's it's a it's a different feeling and it I feel like almost that was a different person. A little bit of that, that shift and that's, I think, where sometimes that uncomfortable like, kind of like the memory I have of being uncomfortable doesn't make me so uncomfortable now because I think back of all those moments that brought me to where I am now, those uncomfortable moments where I did make all those mistakes and failed and stuff where I tried, and now I've gotten to this point where I'm positive I feel in control and even what I'm not. It's OK, you know, like it's it's nice. It's nice to wake up and feel good. It especially like you said when you have been to those lows. I mean, I also myself have ah dealt with struggled with anxiety, depression and you You come to realize that like you just said specifically, once you realize that you are responsible for everything in your life and that you have the choice to make to to overcome those things, to integrate them all of that. But that is the pivotal point. And we all kind of realize that in different moments of our life, when we were talking about moving to New York and earlier, before we started the show, we're talking about your creative alive. Then you taught a class a credible. I've had such a blast with you in Seattle her, But you talked that you were talking about how much you've grown since as and talk to me more about that specifically and including during this quarantine time. Because I've seen some of the writing that you've done on your instagram posts a well, talking about that. So what Have usually don't we face ourselves? So what have you given? What have you discovered and grown in these past couple of years? I mean, it's interesting, even with quarantine when it started happening, I was like, Oh, I've been preparing for this for years now. You know, I'm like, I'm I could meditate. I'm pretty mindful it pretty aware, you know, But I think it was more so now, um, not so much about all the stuff that that was good for me. And now it's more about Okay, what do I do? Good for me. That's good for others to. And I think that's where the shift happened, where I was like, Okay, what's my purpose? What's my mission? With all this stuff? Instead of being so endless in my approach to what I do like do I need to create a newsletter just because all my friends have What do I need to do, twitch? Because all my friends do twitch, Do I need to do a YouTube consistently? Because all my friends to YouTube, like Goudeau visual, visualized myself as as an older person or as a retired individual or someone who dies and leaves a legacy. Who is that person to me and does stuff add up and lay the bricks to the foundation that I'm hoping for? And some of that stuff doesn't at all. And a lot of the things that I think the reason why I mean that that's coming to face for me now is because of what's going on because of the uncomfortable positions I put myself in because off the way that I'm trying to stand up more for what I have always believed in its It's a different approach now to what I've always felt, but now it feels way more authentic, and I think that anxiety, that depression, that we're kind of like heavy feeling on my shoulders. I have been feeling for years a little bit, even though I've been practicing the mindfulness and awareness is being lifted because now there's like this is true nous it just feels right. What would you say your mission is now? I think my mission is to push accessibility, to push understanding and to push education and to push um, not holding yourself back. I think I'm trying to at least live by example as much as possible instead of trying to recreate other people's stories because that's successful. I think that's really at the under there with the purposes, and what comes from that is some very specific things. I don't know what will come from those, and I hope that I can collaborate with your companies and other people to help that happen. But until now, I'm gonna keep working as hard as I can, so that one day I could make that happen for other people. Well, at least you already are. Uh, I'm gonna give us a couple shoutouts right now because they're an in Ah, we have, um, Abhishek Sharma from India, who saying It's really it feels really great and inspirational to listen to you and then ah, gee, I O. J says, I have just learned that other people's opinions are have nothing to do with me. Yeah, and now I don't now I don't worry about other people's opinions, and, um, he's tuning in from South London. So it's so interesting how long it takes us to realize that we don't need to worry about what other people think about us. Um, so I it's a It's a beautiful mission. And you already, um, are are spreading that positivity those messages working with the brands, running your own company. Let's go back to when you first started with Instagram itself. And I've read that you weren't even if you weren't really doing photography when that all started. But you were early days Instagram. So take us back to sort of those origin stories. Absolutely. Um, so I mean, the origin begins as a broke college dropout, to be honest with a broken IPhone four. I had a cracked IPhone for the screen was just in shambles, and I really had nothing. I mean, I could barely, but I could. I say I barely but like I couldn't I didn't pay my rent. My mom helped me a time all the time. Um and I just was living day to day with kind of no direction. No purpose is to what I feel right now. Just being just young, though, of course. I mean, I'm 20 years old 1920. I mean, there's no you think you know everything then and it's a you really don't know much. Um, and of course, people know stuff, but I had a lot to learn through experience, of course, but, um so through that that desperation through that struggle through having nothing, I found this free platform Instagram where, you know, there was really not much happening on there. But I found this really cool community of people who created with their IPhones. I was able to shoot with my IPhone for to use free APS to edit and being a graphic designer. Since I was about nine or 10 years old. I owned my first website when I was 11 um, and designed it myself. And honestly, that's that kind of inspired. I think that that kind of surrealistic, interesting, different approach to shooting and photos. And I think that's kind of where, like, I just kind of built something for my own on Instagram because there wasn't anyone doing that. There wasn't anyone kind of going outside the box and putting drafts in their photos or mixing it up and kind of cutting it apart on these really intricate, different APS like art studio and snap seed. And I was just really but acting like there was no limitation, you know, they're to me when I was this is still the way I talking. This is why I talk about accessibility. And the way I want to inspire people is that you know, if I can come from having nothing, absolutely nothing and, um, build something for myself through this in but still have access to a phone. Which ton of people do you go to certain places and you realize that everyone has a phone somehow, regardless of really what they're going through. But I still think there should be accessibly like people should have free phones they should have. They should have access to free phones, I believe, Um and so that's the type of stuff I'm trying to work on is like using my past experience in my my actual story, to be able to make a change, because that's where the truth comes in a play. That's where it's actually really life example, but eventually going back in the instagram. I I just was posting consistently all the time, and eventually Instagram made me have suggested user, and the suggested usual list at the time was this list that kind of pops up when people sign up for Instagram and it shows you you know who's doing Instagram, right? You should follow these people, you know, Let them set a tone and a standard for how you should create. And so from that I gained about 100,000 followers within a few years. Of course, Instagram changed up quite a bit, uh, with it, and those taught those years and the the the explore page changed algorithm changed the all everything change. And I think I just had to kind of learn to do it on my own. And so I kind of gain the rest of 100 50,000 myself by just being consistent by being myself. You know, sometimes people are like, how do you used How do you have a theme on your page? How does it all look so good together? But I just tell them like it has everything to do with me doing what I love by listening to my gut. That's where my theme is is I'm my team. So just being trying to trying to, like, be myself a lot, um, has been difficult, and that kind of, I mean, that stems from just like high school and middle school in an instagram. I mean, it's all very political, no matter where you go in your life, and you have to either fall victim to a lot of the pressure. A lot of the you know comparison or you can keep being yourself and have your failure years have your lessons, have your successes, but also just know that you're still being your authentic self. And that's what makes you last. You know, that's really what it is. But sometimes it takes a long time for you to kind of see you know, those seeds you plant kind of come through the dirt. But, uh, yeah, I'm I I think that Instagram has blessed me a ton. I think sometimes, of course, there's a lot of fear of where that's going. I mean, that's my job. So, uh, I try not to rely on it too much. And that's where even times like this where you know, as much as I am blessed still with a lot of different gigs with it, I think, um, it's the wake up calls. Okay? With this one away tomorrow, what am I really doing? You know, what can I create within myself? I had no one else can take away. And so that's where that mission that purpose kind of shifted quite a bit. Well, I think there's such importance, Like you said, And realizing that you are the only you and you, nobody else can do that or take that away from you. And so earlier you were talking about Well, my friends are doing twitch. Maybe I should do that. You know, the blogging on the regularity of all these things. But if you don't listen to your gut and to what it's telling you that you want to dio like, if you don't want to do things, you're not gonna do them. Well, usually, right. Uh, it s so a couple things. I want to go back to the draft. Okay? Yeah. And you being you, You adding your little you know, magic and creativity. Because what you post for people who for the non 282,000 people that are not following you yet on its degree of, uh, one of your themes is the draft. So take us to the draft and how that is integrated into your creativity in the art that you create. Yeah, of course. The giraffe is very accidental, to be quite honest with you. I thinking initially I was putting lots of different animals in my art of doing like monkeys and wolves and elephants. And I think something about the giraffe in Chicago's architecture just worked. And the more I kind of do like interviews and people ask me about it, I think I kind of talked myself through what it really was is it's It's the composition, I think. I think it's the contracts between kind of like a ah gritty kind of city that's kind of known for just, you know, a little bit of negativity, but also its beauty. Um, in just contrast ing that with this big, bright yellow sometimes orange, depending on the edit, uh, Draft, you know, and I think it's tall buildings or tall. Um, it looks really well, but I also I think in due time have become friends with it, and I think my followers have to weave personified it in a way where it's actually kind of a thing. I have giraffes, like all over my apartment. I have a stuffed one to the side of me right here that I always keep around. Um it's It's like you. Sometimes if I don't post it in a while, someone will ask me where it issue. No. So that's they hold me accountable. But I think that's fun. And I think it's I owed that to them. I do. I truly for keeping me on top of it, but also reminding me why I do it. Well, that was one of your recent posts on Instagram was ah, New York City. Now, um, and you often involve water as well, whether that's waterfalls or rivers going through the city. Ah, and in the draft. And you said something on the post like you know, you were you were reminded again about why you do what you dio and and so tell me more about, like, falling to the wayside as a quarantine. Is it just like trying to figure out? Is it a new city like And what What brought you back is the draft and and water itself and tell me about the water and the water falls to, um Well, honestly, I haven't really gone out to shoot much here because of, like, the the because of coal bid. Um and I I have asthma, And I'm very scared of getting sick. And I've been hospitalized for my lungs before, so I just I'm, like, very weary about going out about it. And that's the worst part. I wanna go Shoot. I just got a scooter to so, like it's I'm just scoot around. The best kind of shooting to me is like excluding around getting it leaving. Um, but I think that's something that's been kind of weird. Uh, but also I think to, you know, with everything happening, there's so much more important stuff. Kind of. You know, you try to, like, think about how are you making sure that you're still empathetic to everything that's happening to people who are still dying. I have friends who have grand parents, have died from co bid. Um, you know, I'm sending them. I'm so sorry. You know, sending all my love well, thinking about what I should post for the day, Like it seems a little weird, you know, Um, so I think that sometimes where it comes in a place just your new city and then this this cove it and then, like also like all the injustice that's happening to you know like it's that everything is hitting the fan. But I think it's important to hit the fan because now we're seeing really, what's important? What's, um, like for me? You know, what's my mission? What's my purpose? Who am I trying to cultivate a community for its not There's no more room or like What do you think? What do you know? Like it's It's all about just like being very empathetic in riel and honest. And that's tryingto that that sometimes is not pretty. You know, that's not instagram Herbal that sometimes not creative. It's not. It doesn't feel good, you know. So sometimes I have to take a week or two to, like, sit with myself and be like, OK, what am I really trying to do? And that's that's It's all coming into play well, to your point on top of quarantine, we are in the midst of a revolution. Black lives matter and, you know, like you said, the social injustices that are finally becoming more talked about, you know, mainstream, if you will. That's a strange way to put it. But well has has being in a new city New York, where there is so much going on, um, different than if you were in Chicago are or what? How is how was this experience for you? As especially if you can if you, you know, aren't necessarily going out protests, you know all of that to cover those because of the asthma and all of that. It's I think this is why I'm here just to open my eyes, to see more, to know that there's more to be done to understand that I'm not just gonna live in the 21st floor on an ivory tower in River North in Chicago. Like, uh, like I in New York. I'm lower. I've I'm in a different neighborhood. I see everybody. I see everything that's going on. I hear everything I and just more in tune. And I think that's what I needed because I think I was just, like, almost separated myself too much. And this is where started my mentor program. I have 17 mentees. 15 of them are black. Um, I started like, um, I started ah swap shares project where I, uh, feature a photographer that's not known where I edit their photo and they get surreal and cool and I interviewed them and share their story. Um, I honestly think this brought me to a place of just, like, humanizing everything, and that seems really ignorant and stupid almost because it's like, why haven't I know? Not the whole time, but like, it's like, it just feels like this is the time for me to just be really and honest about my ignorance. To be honest with you, I'm not afraid to be honest about this stuff that I was afraid to talk about, to say that I was afraid to speak up, to say that I was, you know, maybe enabling certain people are certain situations by not saying the right thing, you know, like there was tons of events I would go to and I'd be the only black person, And I'd be I'd say something sometimes, You know, I tended email afterwards or something, but, like, why in the moment of wasn't I like Okay, what's going on here? Why's there no black people wire and to help, you know, like saying something, But like the me now is like, I'm going to say everything that I think I'm gonna trust my gut. I'm gonna trust my intuition and the feeling that I get because it's riel and that's like something I've been pushing. But like pushing back for many, many years is like no more ignoring the intuition because more times than not, it's always right, right? And that's I mean, that's what I feel like makes or breaks our not only our day but feeling true to ourselves. What? Let's go back to two childhood. And I know you were home schooled by your dad until third grade. Ah, that you talk about kind of being introverted. And like you said, you built your own website in sixth grade. We're building it for others or, uh, we take us back to that. Take us back to, you know, was there growing up is in a bi racial household. Um, you know, how did all of those things sort of influence you who you were, um, and who you become? No, my so much. Honestly, my dad is a black man. He is darker than your average black man. Um, when we were growing up, he was homeless. He was living in his car while my mom who's white IRS, German green, hazel eyes, blonde hair was being really successful in winning and at life. And I think for a very long time when you're young, you don't really realize what's going on. When my parents were divorced to since I was really young as well. So my dad would come and like, take care of us and teach us during the day. And my mom would goto work and, you know, just, you know, to be successful. And it seemed like that to me, was always the experience. I kind of hat was just seeing the two sides of what, like life iss Um and it always made me really empathetic. I always had talked to different people, have tons of different friends and every kind of ethnicity. Every everything, Um, I am understanding. I am, I communicate. I mean, all my mentees are completely different, and we all get along and every single sensible way. But some of them are completely different than me. Um, that's what I love. I love difference. I don't I don't I don't I would be worried if all my friends were the same as me. Um, and that's kind of the community. I don't want it in bed almost, but like, I don't know, I Yeah, sometimes I go off the rails, talk a little bit, but when I asked you, like five questions in one eyes by bad I mean, I think that but that concept of from early childhood, seeing many sides of life like you said from having a father who was in his car to a mother who was successful, you know, and and yet integrated into your daily life, Um, that's a lot to take in. Is it as a child s and especially those early years where we're sort of living an emotional life and you know that taking it all in that's a little I wrapped you, but I mean, and I think you even asked me about being like a mixed kid like me individually having to go to school and like, I think I was really kind of lonely for a really long time. When I was a kid and I had a lot of emotional issues, I cry a lot, and I think it was because I really didn't look like anyone. And I think when you're that young, you don't realize that there is a separation that happens naturally a little bit, but not on purpose. I don't know how to explain it, but I think that was what happened in middle school and in high school where there was sometimes I had to pick a side, like in my more black Or am I more white like there is no culture for mixed people like you just don't have, like that doesn't exist, you know? Um, so I think that was a lot of my struggle for a very, very long time. And who am I to myself of who might have people who might in my family even, you know, like going to different family functions, You know, with my parents being divorced, my mom being from Wisconsin and me having to go to, you know, an entire white family for Thanksgiving and holidays and stuff, and then going to the other side of being the lightest person at the things you know, It's like it was weird sometimes, but that's but that's it. And it's a weird thing to talk about even now, because there's more important things happening, you know, and I try Teoh, try to not be like, Oh, you know my mixed problems. I like skin problems, you know, because there's a thing about that were like, Sometimes we may try to, you know, push the narrative that light skinned people have more issues than darker skin people because of that separation, because that difference. But at the end of the day, it's really also stomach, and it's not anyone's fault. And what I try to do is not limit my speech of what I said, but just watch and have tacked on on What is the rial problem at hand? You know well, and to that point I mean you, you are who you are going back to. We're all individuals, and all we know is our own experience. And, you know, that's that's all you can do, is is BU and and know what you're experiences. And I just want to give some some shout outs. Kate is saying, I agree with what you're saying so much right now. Um, Tony is commenting about being brave and generous of you. Ah, and and so long comments. I'll have toe you to go and read that afterwards. But, you know, inspiring folks with anxieties and doubts tearing down walls between what we want and what we think we're capable of. Um, so I mean, it's it's like you said. I mean, we're all learning. Um, and and you know what? Implicit biases we might all have and and, you know, being complicit and and all of these things. And and but yet and yet, you know, like you said, your we can't minimize ourselves either, for you know who we are and what we're doing. Um, and so I want to talk about your podcast watching gear, switching gears, Hopes so the I love it. I've been listening, and And I What was the origin for starting the podcast? And, um, you kind of you always go through sort of three topics and and ranging from Will you tell us. Tell us about the partner. Of course. Yeah. Thank you. I mean, I love your interest. I wouldn't let you keep going. Um, but yeah, the podcast. Um, you know, if you noticed yet, but I like to talk on, and I could talk for a while, and I think I have a lot of thoughts about a lot of things. I think my podcast was a long time coming because I would had a lot of fear about maybe not knowing and offer not hat like trying enough or just being afraid of like what it entails. Maybe it's to Harvey. It's system, is that? But it really wasn't my first podcast I recorded through my laptop and I know Mike. I had no editing on it. It was the whole message on that horrible Um and but I think people liked it and they liked what I was saying. And I think OK, so we do the next one. But that one I was like, I think it was a two wine glasses deep, which gave me lesson herbs, which is really helpful. So I tried that Teoh. I don't do that anymore. I think I'm episode or maybe about 29 maybe 30 measure. Um, but I don't drink during them anymore. I'm not as nervous, and I have organized very well with them, and I feel like I'm trying t o. Just in. The thing is, is when I do them, it's not about me acting like I know everything. It's me studying and reading books and just like putting everything together so that we can both learn together about what's necessary, but also me sharing my experience through each of those topics. Um, yeah. I of the podcast is, uh it's random, but I don't have any guests. I, uh And it's just me talking. Sometimes with 30 toe an hour there have been stealing our, um but yeah, Well, what I appreciate about it, like you said, is you, um you talk a lot about presence and you talk a lot about you. And I have one of the same favorite authors, Eckart Tolle. Yeah, and and this sort of mission Teoh also help people with actual real tactical things that they can do A Z. You talk about to help yourself with those anxieties with those depressions with those anything that's sort of rocking you, Um, and those routines. So can you continue talking like what topics I like to see? This is I've done so many nothing and no idea what ever even talked about like Elvis. It was just the last one I did was on emotions and restorative justice and personal growth. Um, I think I did what? On stress leadership. In balance, though, this is my favorite one. The accountability, self respect and Mondays. The reason why I talked about is because some of them I will be so inspired by what's going on, obviously, and I just have so much to say that I don't think there's enough for me to tweet about it or anything. So this is why I think that I try to do these. And I think that's kind of why it started. Maybe, um, but the Monday's one started because, like, I just always saw people complaining about Monday all the time. And I love Mondays and I used to hate them. So I think I need you guys to understand why I love Mondays and how you can love Mondays, too. So that's why do you have a lot of guys? It's why do you have 11 days, I think, are the beginning of the unknown. There's so many opportunities for an amazing week for you to write your intention sound. To write you to do is to think about your test, to conceptualize an intention for yourself in order to create the life you want. Like I didn't even realize that that's how exciting life was until I started thinking that way, but it takes a lot of years toe such shift the mind well, here's the interesting thing about Monday's is like with so many things in this world like time is a construct of society. Yep, like what is actual Monday? I mean, great created society has created a typical work week or whatever, but like times, just a construct. Which is why talk to us about your meditation? Um, and this concept of presence for you presences everything. I'm you know, I'll get pretty honest right now to I've never really been a religious person. I had never really believed in God very much. Um, but what I think is God now is presence. I think God is everything. I think God is just our ability to be aware and to be mindful and to be empathetic and to be loving and to be kind to ourselves like that is God to me. And that's the coolest thing about presidents. I figure it out. It's like just there's no more worry. There's no more stress about the future of the past, even though sometimes, of course, that's necessary because you just got to figure stuff out and learn from it. But I think there's so much opportunity now for me in the present. And I see it like Manifest. I see it happening in front of my high. So I and there's never a day in my mind. I'm like, OK, this isn't working like it definitely works. So I think that's why just trying to remember that that that works to remember the outcomes, to remember that there will be struggle and, you know, with things and nothing is ever going to just be perfect and easy. But that's where lessons come from, and that's where growth happen. Absolutely. And it it is in, like you said, um, feeling those emotions. But as they are like you talk to have an episode about emotions and emotional life and that it's really like, let yourself feel those emotions and and those things can fuel you. So you know, let's talk more about you and your creativity and sort of this. How did you develop this style of integrating Zor the graphic design with the photography and creating everything on your phone or a lot of it? Not necessarily anymore. But who's at the edits on on Mobile. And, um, how did you develop into your style? I think it has everything to do with my limitations. I think I'm such a person who sees a limitation. And I tried to push past it as much as I can, um, and show people that it's possible that you can do it, that I could do it on and to show myself that I could do things I don't know. I'm a very maybe give my mom and my dad, but my mom especially she's always been really, really hard worker. And, like, always, trying to, like, just do better and do do more than than what's necessary and like for me, I do like to give a little more and so that that that might, um, come into play with my art is just seeing what is there for reality, Whether it's like the, you know, skyline and architecture and then looking at like, you know, what don't we have in Illinois? Um, join the mountains, don't have water photos, and we don't have draft. So, um, you know, I don't know. I guess I just think about how can I feel that empty space How can I make it different? How can I take us out of reality for a second? When sometimes reality can be a little messy and and weird? Um, in You know, maybe it's in my my subconscious. Uh, but it's not intentional all the time. It's not like when I'm putting together a piece I'm like, Oh, this is supposed to be inspiring. This is supposed to be the duality of whatever it's it's Honestly, sometimes I just feel like OK, I think a waterfall would look good here for some reason. Uh um, and it just I don't It just feels right. But I I think I just I do like to fill empty space truly. Well, that's interesting. Filling empty space because isn't that what creativity is, right? Like a blank slate, a blank space, You know that? Especially when you allow your your mind. You're sort of your magic to create things that aren't there. And this you wrote something? Um, you said just on a recent I d. Post admiring what I can from reality and adding a little bit of my own magic. Oh, where do you think Magic for a Salas? Individuals So that comes from. I think it comes from our soul. I think it starts with love. It starts with kindness. It starts with no judgment. I think that's what magic stems from. Doesn't come with questions it doesn't come with, Um, you no doubt. I don't know if I said doubt yet, but ah, I think that it just I think that's what magic is. It's like that. And I mean, it could be magic. Like, you know, here's a deck of cards. This pick your car up, everything like that. Sure, that could be in comparison of, but like, there's a magic that we all have within us that it's so pure and so authentic. Separated from our mind, you know where our brain is always, you know, trying to problem solve and try to protect us and do all those things. Sometimes that a full where are sold at the end of the day is super authentic and loving and just wanted to try and and grow and do better and to be good with everything. And sometimes you just gotta, like, figure out who's being right in the moment because our brainers are sober, our soul is always, always right. And so that's where I think that that magic for me kind of stems from its just trusting that magic and knowing that sometimes the magic might not be felt by other people may not be bought by other people. But it's my magic, and that's the type of community that I need to try to remember. That I want to create is I don't want to have to keep begging people to be a part of my life. I want people to be a part of my life because they want to be, because I actually care about what I'm doing because they like what I'm doing. Um, but that takes a long time to learn. You know, I think for a long time I was begging people to be in my life. No people that seem cool. Cool O r did stuff or whatever, I don't know. But, um, I'm just trying to be a little bit more intentional with with my community and what I'm what I'm enabling at the end of the day, and I get into what we talked about earlier. I mean, that's this'll concept of seeking validity from other people um, wanting to be in the cool deal with the cool kids. Um, and that goes back to middle school, you know, s and and then versus finding your own validity. And you know it self worth in yourself. And I think that that magic is, you know, is going back to that imagination that we that we lose as often lose don't lose, uh, and becoming adults or whatever getting into this mental world or fear based world. And and it is that are in creativity that can bring us back, especially right now in these times of quarantining in these times of black lives matter And really, um, seeking out ways to process things. Injustices, you know, just things that are scary. Ah, in terms of the getting sick, you know, all olive it, um and and so that imagination, you, uh, I'm starting to see more three D work and what you're creating. Ah, tell us about sort of some of the new things that you're you're exploring for yourself. Um, you know, we're not Yeah. Thank you. Of course. Um, I was trying to paint for a little bit, too. That didn't work out. So, uh, I like, uh, uh, past ills. So? So I think I might keep doing that bad idea time. Um, three D design, for sure is one of those. I still have so much to learn. I've been doing tutorials, every tutorial confined online. Um, I have been doing every type of search. Um, I just I want to just learn as much as I can do. They feel like I've been holding myself back from that fear that that were Syria, like it could be harder. And I don't even want to know if it's hard, like, I don't know where that comes from, but it happens. Um, but I I think also, uh, I started I went back to my my original kind of love for illustration as well. So I started, um, playing Roland, playing around in illustrator and creating this slopes draft illustration that I have I haven't looked on the instagram, but I've just created this character out of this giraffe, um, again different rooms in different scenarios and stuff like that. And I think that's something to where I just forgot how much I love doing that. For some reason, I hope that I don't think I want anything to come from it, but I hope that, um it e hope I continue it and stay consistent with it. But it really does bring me joy. Uhm and I guess those are the things right now. I'm really trying to hang out with and try because when I sat down a few weeks ago, already was a month ago or two, I was really, really myself. I was like, What are you doing? Like I just really who's trying to figure out, like, Where are you trying to go? Who are you trying to be? What do you love like? And it may seem like from the outside, of course, of that other stuff going on it. So much success. I've done over 100 brand projects. That's great, whatever. But like, if I don't know where I'm trying to head to, I'm just aimless and just tactically checking things off, just cashing checks like, really, what is the point like to any of it? And it's there wasn't it didn't feel like there was anything, and now it feels like there's an actual point. There's an actual position in place where I hope to be in time, but if things change, it's fine, you know. But it feels better because it doesn't feel like distraction is. You know that heavy. It doesn't feel like anxiety is that heavy When I see something you know a friend is doing or being successful at and it doesn't feel like a loss to me, it doesn't feel like a jealousy where it's like, Oh, you know, maybe I lost something from that, like, it's more like an excitement Now It's like I could be happy for everyone in everything because there's enough room for everyone to 60. There's enough room for everyone to do what they love. If you just be authentic to yourself in your experience, in your story, what is what are some of the things that you've learned to let go of again? That we were saying like, Oh, my friends doing this? It looks successful. I gotta try that. I got to try this other thing. Um, what are some of the things that you realized you didn't really want to dio? Um I think just like having a be, like, so consistent all the time with YouTube and twitch is of, um I didn't have to, like, be like, Oh, like posting a new YouTube every weaker showing. Everyone like food or something. I don't know. Like if I don't feel like it's up, then take. I don't feel it, like in my gut, like I should not be doing it. And, uh, I think that was kind of like the things that I'm just trying to just lean towards. I also have been removing, like, some friendships, you know, some connections with people. Um, just based off the mentality of realizing, like, maybe some friendships are one sided. You know, maybe you're being used. Maybe someone is not doing what they're supposed to do. You know, just cutting certain people, often cutting off certain situations and energy that's been given. Um, So I think that was a lot of that was a lot to is just to prove now, personal, Um, an external I often say that my daily practices letting go, and that and that sort of some of the themes that I hear you talking about, whether that's unhealthy relationships, whether that is, you know, yeah, toxic people in your life that you're just holding on to for some other reason or all these things that you think you should be doing. Um, whereas if you're gut, isn't telling you that your intuition your soul isn't singing It? I am again. It's not, um, it's not moving you forward with that growth that you you have been talking about so well, so I mentioned it earlier. But you have on your instagram you mentioned earlier to the's on your instagram stories. Thes beautiful daily is it isn't every day that you do your reminders you were writing. Ah, and then you marry it with your own voice, which I just happen to love. Uh, so are you Tell us about those, and then are you writing those again? Talk to talk to us a little bit about your morning routine. And are you writing those every day? Uh uh, yeah, those. I like to call them reminders because, I mean, I call the reminder. So I think we all know like what I'm saying. There's just something. Forget I and I think that the greatest Diggins mean not pretending like I know everything I'm really trying to remind myself to. And that's really where it came from, is me being in that. Like, I talked about that position of being so low and so lost and kind of just trying to reestablish like my thinking in my my habits and the way that I wanted to be. And that started with writing and just trying to ingrained my gratitude and in grain, um, an affirmation. So to say, you know, like I just really I wanted to make sure that I was practicing what I preached a it, uh, And that had Teoh until me sitting down for, you know, an hour or 30 minutes or sometimes two hours. When I first started, uh, it was like there would be days or I could get something out every day. So I was like, I don't want to write. I don't feel anything. I want to do anything. I'm just like, whatever. Have no nothing to say. But I would sit there and I make myself do it. And now it feels like like me pushing myself to go a little bit past that. Besides being tired of my brain, kind of like pushing me to give up. Um, it's taught me a lot, and it's helped me grow so much with just the way that my brain naturally reacts in response to things. So the writing is it's not, and I don't like to say sometimes, but I guess it's true. I don't like things that are very corny, huh? I like stuff that's too like just like I Everything's great, like, I think my reminders are very realistic. They're very approachable and they're very just like you got this, you know, like it's very just smart and not like it's your ex factual like not, you know, science. I like science, and I like, um, you know, just stuff that makes sense. And I think they just make sense sometimes. And that's just what I wanted and what I need it. Sometimes it's something that just made sense, and so I kind of made what I needed and what I lacked and was consistent with it for like, thanks been like four years now that I've been writing them almost every single morning. I've written them when I was out of the country, have in them when I'm traveling and on a gig when I'm busy in the middle of some things because I have been posting them an exact same time every single morning. Um, no matter where I am in the world, and, uh, it's it's interesting. It's I think sometimes people come up to me more now about them than they do my actual art. It will say, I love your morning quotes They, you know, they changed my life. There's some people have told me that they, you know, they quit their job and I started their personal project, and it just makes them happier every single day. Some people started an LLC for their business. Um, some people picked up photography, something picked up like different things. I mean, if that's like if I can enact a little bit of change just by sharing stuff that I need myself, dad, that's like, That's that gives me enough joint wake up every single day, but it also with a lot of pressure. Some things I still don't want to write. But I do it anyway. So those days and I don't feel like writing I might like. So the nice part about my writing is that all of its own Twitter and I'll post a tweet of it every day, and that's why I write it, too, so I'll write in my tweet. And I've been effort since the beginning, and I like writing in the tweet because it has a certain amount of characters, so I don't go over under whatever. So I have. It's very specific, um, amount of words. So I'll write it in there. I'll tweet it, Um, but it's also kind of nice, because Twitter gets to be like my database for it all. So if some days I don't feel like writing, I'll just go into Twitter and be like, Well, how my feeling today with what I need to hear, you know, I'll just, like, type in my name, my Twitter name and type in a word that may be talked about in one of them and, like, copy and paste that one. But I might like shit did around or change it, because what I realize is like when I was tweeting them in like 2017. That 2017 me was very different from the mean now, and there was word that I would say that I was like, uh, there's things that I didn't believe still that were like to that that I should be thinking about, you know, since then and so I'll change some of the words or some of the meaning of it. But other than that, it that's it's a it's the been the best thing for Be the best. That's best. Well, it really kind of sums up everything that you've been talking about in terms of. You know what? Dedicating yourself to something being consistent, Um, getting on, you know, the mornings that you don't want to do it or middle of the night wherever you are in the world. Like putting yourself yet in my bones to I was terrified, according my voice on there, like someone was like, Oh, you sure quarter voice And I was like, I don't think so. That sounds corny, weird and horrible. And I did it one day, and then everyone like you doing Oh, okay, well, it adds an additional for me. It adds an additional layer of yours under your voice, like I literally sometimes because I like none of that's enough. But some days I'm like I'm actually, it's getting I'm getting better at it. I would love to do some voice acting, so I think it's now me, actually like having fun with it and seeing if I can, you know, inflect here, do a little bit of they're just at least show a little bit of emotion because when I'm recording, sometimes I actually have, like, a smile on my face because I think you can hear the smile You can hear the facial expressions in. And I tried Teoh just embody that. It's what she's like in and you dio but an and and so going back to like that, you're fulfilling your mission and yeah, of all those things that you just talked about, like we never know how somebody is gonna take what you've written or said that day and because we're all in different places, like you said, you are three years ago today. Tomorrow, like what we take in means something different based on our experiences up until that exact moment, right? Actually, so I want to wrap it up because it's already I could talk to you, you know? No, I know not it or not, but, um, this concept of for your first swept so dope your podcast you talk about, you know, positivity first. Ah, with positivity for supper. Get how it is exactly. But you know, anything is possible. What does that mean to you? And what do you hope that you know, you can apart some of final words for our listeners. Viewers. I think that we just have to know that there's never an end and there's always a beginning. Um, and that's where I think positivity comes from. It's just realizing that, you know, like, I mean, there's unlimited opportunities. Unlimited possibilities is limited judges feelings and expressions that we can attached to that can shift everything. And I, for one, have been in my past, and I apologize for any trigger warnings but have been suicidal. Have been, you know, to hospitals have been in psych wards have been in situations where I felt like my life was over. And I didn't wanna live. But that positivity for me with that first with that practice with that consistency, I promise you any anything is possible. Well, thank you for your vulnerability. Um, when you are, you're being honest and riel. Uh, because that is what connects us all. And that is what allows. Hopefully you know somebody out there who has gone through similar experiences. Um, too, you know, to hit them at that right moment. Uh, and because life ain't easy, and yet we are in control of what we choose to dio and and, you know, that's what I take away from learning from you as well. Uh, and just take back that control. That's right. That's right, Elise, thank you so much for being on the show. Um, for everything you do, where can people follow you? Find you? Ah, you know, see what Europe Teoh. Watch your videos, all of you. You buy me at slopes on Instagram S W O P E s, um, on Twitter at slopes to tweet a lot, you find all my all my complaints on my positivity. All my things is the thing about positivity, though, and I'd like to explain to people is it's not perfect. Positivity is still very riel, and it could be negative sometimes, and it could be anything that's a little bit, but I think with positivity there comes, you know, not running away from stuff. Being being very aware of what's happening in taking action with it and accepting it not so much is you know allowing it to happen. But accepting is that you make change. So, um, something I like to remind people of of my positivity. But yes, that's hopes everywhere, at least hopes. And so it's so don't my podcast could be I think it's on like apple, uh, podcast Google Spotify everything.

Class Description


Our weekly audio podcast We Are Photographers brings you true stories from behind the lens and behind the lives of your favorite photographers, filmmakers, and industry game-changers. From their struggles to their wins, host Kenna Klosterman discovers the real human stories about why they do what they do.

Listen to this and other audio episodes on our audio Podcast page.


In this episode Elise Swopes explores topics of personal growth, mindfulness, mental health and creativity. She talks about how her childhood influenced her emotional life in both challenging and beautiful ways. Elise shares how she discovered her mission to push accessibility, provide education and encourage people to not hold themselves back. Learn the morning rituals that frame the daily inspiring Reminders she's published for years. From college dropout to entrepreneur with 280k+ followers on IG who's collaborated with 100+ brands, Elise’s positivity has influenced her ability to release her own limiting beliefs.


Elise Swopes is a Chicago-bred, Brooklyn-based photographer, graphic designer, videographer, and public speaker. When she first joined Instagram in 2011, she couldn’t have imagined that she’d one day be featured on billboards, in commercials, and on mood boards at agencies across the globe. She just knew that the phone in her hand held incredible power, one that would allow her to inspire others while showcasing her unique vision. Since then, the self-taught creative has used her business savvy to spin influencer marketing on Instagram into a full-fledged career. Don’t miss Elise’s inspirational TEDx talk and subscribe to her podcast Swopes So Dope.