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Conversations with the Inspiring Caitlin Fullam

Today we’d like to introduce you to Caitlin Fullam.

Caitlin, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
As a self-taught photographer, sometimes, I feel like my story is just beginning. But when I look back at the twists and turns of my life, I can plainly see how everything built up to now, and every ‘diversion’ or random job taught me useful skills.

Growing up, I was an artistically inclined kid but as the years went on I became much more focused on academic achievement and sports than on art, so by the time I had graduated college and was working my first real job, I felt a nagging hole in my life. Something was missing. I tried painting but it felt really rusty and frustrating. I knew I had to explore this more, so I saved enough to quit my full-time job, bought myself a nice beginner DSLR, and spent a year and a half teaching myself how to shoot on manual and how to edit photos in Lightroom. I started out aimlessly shooting everything but over time I found what feels like my ’niche’ or my ‘style’ and I also learned how to photograph people in a way I find really fulfilling.

I wound up going back to work 9-5 in order to save more money and have just recently launched my full-time freelance photographer career, this time with so much more experience, confidence, and stability. I know I’m at the beginning of something really good, something that feels right.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I feel extremely grateful to even be able to pursue a passion in this way. To have the freedom and resources and the ability to work on art is a huge privilege. That being said, I’ve undoubtedly experienced lots of personal struggles along the way. Money is the one that jumps to mind first- the ‘starving artist’ is a timeless cliche- one that I definitely plan to defeat. Depression is another one, though luckily, I’m currently feeling really strong mental-health-wise. Then, there’s imposter syndrome, a very real mindset struggle that I’ve felt off and on, but have finally managed to overcome. I now feel really comfortable in my work, like it’s what I’m meant to be doing.

The last struggle I must mention is the dark side of social media. It’s so pervasive and by no means limited to artists, but when you’re putting your art out there and it’s subject to comparable numbers of likes, comments, and follows, you have this awful quantitative way of measuring your work against others. Then, before you know what happened, your art and the likes become synonymous with your self-worth.

There was definitely a time when I felt trapped in the comparison game and Instagram really brought me down. My suggestion to others posting their work on Instagram is this: take breaks, delete the app for periods of time (even a half a day will do the trick sometimes), remember that what you see is a curated highlight reel and not real life, spend more time creating real-life connections, and only follow accounts that genuinely inspire you and uplift you. I’ll unfollow an incredible photographer whose work I admire if seeing their work makes me feel inadequate. Instagram is such a small part of the world and yet for photographers, it can start to take up an inordinate amount of brain space. I think you have to make a conscious effort to keep that in check.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I’m a photographer based in Boulder, CO and I shoot many different things! Depending on the situation I might call myself an adventure photographer, a portrait photographer, or self-portrait artist.

In my personal project “Barefoot Atlas,” I create self-portraits, depicting myself out in nature in curious, often playful ways. I also craft dreamy landscape images that reflect a kind of alternate magical universe with slightly surreal colors. My personal work is probably what I’m most well known for, and what I’m most proud of since it feels so deeply personal and yet people around the world connect with it, which is so cool!

I also love shooting people and find it incredibly fulfilling. I do individual creative portrait sessions ranging from senior photos to professional headshots to boudoir and anything in between. I also shoot couples, such as outdoor engagement sessions and adventurous elopements. It’s seriously so much fun!

And lastly, I’m doing more product photography lately, as I’m finding that it allows for a lot more creativity. In the coming months, I hope to work with more companies to create thoughtful, engaging imagery.

For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?
I think women are the backbone of the world and are perfectly capable of every opportunity, but unfortunately, due to deeply entrenched societal values, it’s just harder for women to pursue opportunities because there are more things working against them, even in invisible every-day ways.

I’m surrounded by such incredible, hard-working, ambitious, successful women, and yet, I’m still aware that gender discrimination is at play all the time in this country and around the world. I hope that our society moves to a non-binary gender system and becomes accepting of all marginalized groups, as it’s not just women who face challenges in the face of opportunity. I hope that as equality and equity grow, women and people of all genders/races/orientations will feel more empowered and safe pursuing anything they want without having to expend so much energy defending themselves.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Caitlin Fullam, Stevi McNeill

Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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