Today we’d like to introduce you to Leslie O.
Leslie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Art was always something I gravitated towards, but coming from a military household with Filipino & Mexican heritage, art school was not an option for me in college! I ended up becoming a Registered Nurse and have been doing that for almost 9 years now.
I never let go of the artistic side of me though, it was my way of decompressing after a hard shift at work. It’s was that juxtaposition from witnessing suffering & pain while at work to creating beauty and fantasy with my set design and photography.
I really got into photography and working with models when I moved to Atlanta in 2012. I used to scout out cool “LO_cations” and have photo-shoots out in the streets but then found that locations are not exclusive and can be easily recycled by someone else. That’s when I thought to bring back my art and incorporate the two #setbyLO.
Unlike the locations I used to shoot at, my sets are my own creation and cannot be easily duplicated. I’ve only been building sets since January this year. It takes tremendous work to build and I’m only one person, but I’ll do whatever it takes to get my vision out there and provide people something fresh. I’m excited to see where this goes!
Has it been a smooth road?
This is my second career, so it can be challenging to find a balance between the two while also remembering to save time for myself to just relax on my days off. When I’m not at work I’m either building new sets & prop pieces, shooting with people, editing photos, or making business contacts & running my social media. I’m busy every single day! That’s what it takes though to succeed. Eat, sleep, breathe my goals into existence!
As for obstacles I’ve found along the way, my current workspace is a little “comfortable” but I found that by working in such a small space, it has pushed me to think outside the box – literally. I’ve turned my obstacles into assets which help give my set design and photography a unique creative aesthetic. I used to feel limited by my small workspace, but then I watched a documentary on David LaChapelle and he mentioned how he started in a small New York studio the size of a box and then it dawned on me that if he could do it, then so can I.
I’d also like more help, like an intern who’s great with painting and carpentry, that would be nice. I build all my set pieces and props by hand which can take hours or weeks to complete! But I’m still learning to let go of some of the creative control. I’m still in the “I can do it all by myself” phase right now.
Oh yes, and money, is there an investor out there interested in commissioning me? Haha, who couldn’t use the extra funds? But seriously, email me!
What’s your outlook for the industry over the next 5-10 years?
I most definitely expect to see myself working with the music industry here in Atlanta. This is the new Hollywood they say. Every day there is a photo-shoot or film production happening in this city. I would love to be a part of that movement!
I see myself really going harder on my set designs as well. In this day and age of Photoshop and high-quality digital cameras, everyone can be a great photographer and take clean images. I want to differentiate myself from the competition by going full force with my set designs.
What would you say has been the biggest challenge for you over the course of your career?
My biggest challenge is the fact that I’m still working full time and also putting in work every day I have off into building my brand and vision. It’s become really hectic at times and I’m still learning how to find that balance.
What advice do you wish to give to those thinking about pursuing a path similar to yours?
My advice is hard work and perseverance. Also, timeliness goes a long way in this industry. I’ve had many clients and even paid people show up late to photo-shoots. It’s a bad first impression.
- prices starting at $100
- Website: www.leslieo.photo
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @leslieoshoots
- Other: #setbyLO