Generator Ep. 015 – Carey Sheffield: The Power of Self Portraits

In this episode, Maine photographer Matt Stagliano speaks with Carey Sheffield. Carey is a Florida based photographer who doesn't just take pictures—she weaves stories of connection and emotion.. She dives deep into the soul of the craft, staying emotionally engaged with each image, each moment, as if they were threads in a beautiful tapestry of human experience. She uses the lens to look inward as much as outward, and let me tell you, that journey of self-discovery? It's a powerful one. It’s raw and it is real. It's not just about capturing her own image; it's about peeling back the layers, and having a conversation with herself that’s as intimate as it is revealing. So today, we're not just talking about photography. We're diving into a story of connection, emotion, and the kind of self-awareness that comes from truly seeing—not just with the eyes, but with the heart. For more of Carey's work, please visit her website at or on Instagram at @careysheffield

Audio Version

Full Transcript of Generator Ep. 015 - "The Power of Self Portraits"

Matt Stagliano 0:00
Carey, welcome. Thanks so much for being here. This kind of came out of the blue, but I’m really glad we had a chance to get together. How’re you doing?

Carey Sheffield 0:08
I’m good. I’m good. And thanks for having me.

Matt Stagliano 0:10
I saw you’re doing these mini sessions like Santa’s sessions? Is that what you do?

Carey Sheffield 0:14
Oh, no, no, we try and keep it a little bit more sophisticated than that. It’s just family sessions and get them in and get them out. You know, I kind of work in the affluent market, but I try and create these little bite size opportunities for people to come in. And it’s kind of funny for me being British, because it’s not something we really do. And, and I’ve been here for eight years, but it’s combined a flash, but so yeah, it’s interesting. And we did I did do it a little bit in the UK, and I did far more families back then, you know, I did everything. But But yeah, I’m just buying into it, hey, look, this injection of money is not bad in October, November. So I intend to take all of December off, I’m

Matt Stagliano 0:57
always the type that will say, you know, I’m going to take these weeks off, and I never stick to it. I just work, work, work, work, work. And it’s a known problem with me. But I’m envious of anyone that could say, I’m going to take December off. I’m like, I wish I could take a month off.

Carey Sheffield 1:13
I think we’re just those kinds of people. And I hear I’ve heard you talk in my few interviews and a few people. And I think it’s we suddenly have a panic attack when we’re not out there being seen heard and whatever. I mean, when I say take time off, this is when I’ll do marketing and plan my life next 10 years and all this stuff, I can actually put down the camera and not pick it up for two months and not miss it. So it’s fine. I

Matt Stagliano 1:38
kind of look at it the same way. Haven’t had a ton of bookings this month. So I’ve really just been working on all that background stuff, right? Setting up content, working on workflows changing website stuff, right. There’s always something to do. But let’s take a real quick step back. So you said you’ve been here for eight years. And you were in the UK before that. Is that? Yeah,

Carey Sheffield 2:01
yeah, absolutely. And I’ve came over here because of my husband’s job. But I couldn’t work here for the first three years. But I’ve been in photography for about 1718 years,

Matt Stagliano 2:12
always doing portraits. I mean,

Carey Sheffield 2:14
I started our show, do a quick like, I’ll give you like the try and keep it in three minutes career path. I left home school like you know, 15. And then. And then I went into sales and marketing. And I’ve been in advertising and sales and marketing. So I’ve been around the entertainment industry and events and, you know, the music industry and stuff. I met my current husband, I say current because it’s my second marriage. And then we he ran golf clubs, and I worked there and we started having kids and all these things. So I was in sales and marketing, but doing events, so opened an events company, I trained as a florist, and then third child come along, and I sold my very successful events and Florida company. I had like seven staff, it was a big enterprise, and I sold the business. And then while he was about a year old, I just decided to go to college and do black and white film photography. So white school, and I did Photoshop. So I started off in photography when he was like two years old, doing schools and kids and school for free, which was a massive turnover of money, but a huge amount of work. And I wanted to do it better than everyone else did it. So I wasn’t so formulaic about it. And there was a lot of manual work involved. And yeah, I did the job actually, because I had three children under 10. And I was just 30. And you you’re paying for childcare. And so being a photographer and working my own hours seemed appealing, but also glamorous. And when you and I both know it’s the hardest job on the planet and you work more hours than anyone on the rest of the world and but it’s gone from there so that was I started off there doing schools and portrait we’re not we’re not portraits like I do now. But yeah, families schools, or if it moves in you needed a picture of it, I took it so if if

Matt Stagliano 4:07
photography wasn’t the thing coming out of sales and marketing coming out of events and florals and and all of that, if you never went back to school for black and white film and Photoshop, where do you think you would have landed?

Carey Sheffield 4:22
It’s really interesting because my career was born not this one. But all of them. My career was born out of necessity. So when I first I left home at 15 And so I had to go to work and you know, I was an academic I did very well at school but unfortunately if you know if you’re alone then you’re not going on to further your education. So no one’s paying for that but me but had to pay the rent to so I just go into sales and you know, I was good at it and I never loved it and I never sold either. I just turned up said this is what got you on it. And you know, and I was quite successful. But I did love imagery, and I loved marketing, if I’d had the opportunity to pursue my academic, my education, etc. I wanted to be a journalist I wanted to write, and I wanted to tell people’s stories. And actually, photography has given me that, and I don’t mean the commercial work that I do. I mean, all the projects and the places I found myself off and working in, it’s been really good for me. So projects have helped me a little bit of me as found that I just need to pick up the pen a bit more than I take pictures, which the balance is a little bit off right now.

Matt Stagliano 5:40
Have you been writing much lately at all? And

Carey Sheffield 5:43
I’ve had fits and starts so you, I think might use on my Self Portrait Project? Did we know each other then that was that and that came about from still not being able to work here. And now I’m a greencard, they’re not going to kick me out. So easy. I know, I’d never done anything like that before. And actually didn’t amazing things for me. And I used to write the words for it to the picture. But before that, as well, I did my 50 5050 project, which I’d already done once in the UK, and it was published, everyone was doing these 365 projects, and everyone was so cool. And everyone was becoming a photographer. And that yeah, doing everyday projects, like ship 50 365. That’s far too much work. I’ve got all these kids. And so I bought a beautiful, beautiful, and I still have it, I’ll never get rid of a 50 millimeter 1.2 lens. And it was old school lens. And because I’m an idiot, and I got to have a damn, it’s manual focus. And you know, and I’m worried about being able to not want to use it, I can use it, but just using it fast and in sessions. So I decided if I did 50 portraits for 50 days, with 50, more or less, I’ll get to know the lens, I’ll be very comfortable with it. And it’s a really like rhyming things. The project was great for me. And actually the trophy magazine, Europe published it, which was funny. I didn’t know where that came, I just sent off a press release. See, I’m good at that stuff. And they published it, you know, housewife with the camera, and which was very demeaning, actually. Because I was always more than because I went to college I studied, I’m a professional, you know, I trained constantly anyway. I won’t hold it against them. But they publish it. So I did it. When I first came here. The difference from the first time to the second time, although I’ve literally looked for a stranger every day, I never lined up these portraits, coming here with a British accent and we’re walking out into the American market. Nobody said no, the conversations. And this is I think, well my superpower is that I’m very in tune with people’s emotions. So I would literally be standing in the street, I’d see a person and they look desperate. And I knew they had to be the person I had to speak to. Somebody was telling me you know, and I, you know, I won’t bore you with all the long stories of how I got some of these people. But literally I found myself driving somewhere I’d never been in my subject was right there that day. And I had a little kit with a camera and and a release and all that stuff. And you know, it’s like, sign him I recorded everything on my phone, and I have all of the recordings on my phone. And they are very precious, because we’ve lost some of the people that were in it. But I would turn up to someone and say, Look, I’m doing this project. It’s seven questions. Everyone has the same questions. I’d love to sit and talk to you. And I tried to be diverse and whatever. And there’s some days you know, it might be a pretty young girl or something, you know, and if they if it pretty young girl has a good story. She’s been through a hard time. Do you know what I mean? That gave me I fell in love with the project. I made it hard for myself in the fact that every day I took the picture for 15 consecutive days regardless of what I was doing. I wrote a foreword and a conclusion and probably not the right words. And then this is where I’m crazy. I wasn’t that technical. So I literally verbatim tight the whole interview. So I listened to it and I would type to help date not knowing that I could like come pacing, whatever. Anyway, I will be getting phone calls at 2am Getting when’s the next one coming out. I’m waiting for it. If that didn’t take much of my time, and I got paid to check for it. I would do that every day. And it was actually I can I just say I did this before Humans of New York was a thing. The very first one. I think it was 2017 I did the first one. It’s just so powerful. And people love to see it and people love to read it. I don’t know. I don’t know maybe now it’s not so popular. Because the world has a phone and the world’s recording everyone and everyone’s watching video. But at the time and then back in what 2018 was a Portrait Project and 2016 I did the 50 5050

Matt Stagliano 9:57
that Humans of New York really did get a lot of attention. And I think it changed a lot of things in the way that people look at photography, especially looking at street photography and journalism, or photojournalism, or documentary work, whatever you want to call it, that it brought people closer to folks that they don’t know, we’re so stuck on seeing the same celebrities in the same, you know, talking heads and the news cycle and all of that to see real people in real locations in a different way has always been super effective. And, you know, I noticed in your work, too, that a lot of the documentary photojournalism sneaks in, right, you’re great with candids. But you’ve also got this connection almost. I don’t like to use the word voyeur. But it’s voyeuristic insofar as the viewer is outside watching this incredibly emotional moment. You’re doing it in a in a way that has taste and class and do you feel like you intrinsically shoot in that kind of documentary style? Is it any easier or harder than doing studio work in your studio work?

Carey Sheffield 11:08
I shoot in the studio a lot. And then I rent spaces and I shoot. A lot of my portraits you’ll see are of actors and people, you know, talent. And you know, one of my favorite things along with women. If I do not have an emotional connection with the subject in front of me if I don’t feel something, and I often get an emotional reaction, sometimes it can just be like a ref taken away kind of thing. I didn’t do my job, right? I see a lot of especially in the headshots or not, I mean, I say I do headshots, my pictures go far, far beyond the headshot, and even my headshot sessions. It’s not just a headshot, unless it’s you know, mini clinic that I do. The people that the actors I photograph, always say to me, Oh, my God, you know, we need to get out of a carry moment, because I call so much out of them. And I really work them. And this is gonna sound and especially coming I think people that know me really know me know this to be true, that if you sit down in front of me, it’s like, I’ve got a temperature on everything that’s going on with you right now. I remember it. This just came back to me. And I think I irritated the crap out of him feel it? So I want Felix when I first moved here, 2016. And I went to Tampa and I did I spoken to him online and stuff before and I went to do is lighting workshop. And I watched him working. And when I go to workshops, I’m very much at the back of the room just watching and learning. I don’t want to take photographs that other people are taking because I’m the same way. Yeah, yeah. And I never gonna show those pictures or use them or whatever. And we were we got to know each other for three days. So we did get shooting, but it was different energy. And so he was there working, and everyone’s around him. And I could just feel him, you know, and when he’s doing his thing, and he’s got all the confidence, and he’s just like, he’s vibing, you can just tell it. And then when he has to be connecting with people around him while he’s trying to connect, I could tell he was getting overwhelmed. And I just kind of went, sure, we’ll just sit back for a minute and let it and he wasn’t giving any sign to anyone else that this was a thing. And I could feel it. And it looks to me when you do that. And you know, like how do you reach people like that all the time? And I just do and it’s funny, I know when people are fronted when they walk in front of me because all they’re abrasive and I know we’ve most of us have got an intuition. But I can literally say to someone what happened this week, and where I can tell, and I know who when when I’m taking their picture, I know who they want to be? And I’ll ask them if they want to be that person or is expected of them. Who do they need to portray? And I try and tap into all of those things. I think for people that aren’t photographers of people, they’re like, you just making the sounds, but honestly not I think I started in photography, yes, because I liked pretty pictures, but more so because I wanted to be seen the only person has ever really photograph me and seen me is me. And will how I want to be seen as evolved. But I think so yeah, I try every person in front of me as a different energy. And I try and capture that whilst understanding those things.

Matt Stagliano 14:42
You know, and I got that the handful of times that we’ve been in the same place and have had a chance to talk. I’ve always gotten that connection that it’s you know, I don’t have to sit and make small talk with you. We don’t have to talk about the weather or we had for lunch. Like it’s immediately like we’ve already talked for four are five hours and now we’re getting to the good stuff. But that happens immediately. And there’s very few people that I can do that with because I don’t generally don’t trust anyone with anything. So being able to open up as introverted as I am, believe it or not being able to open up or at least feel that instant comfort, it’s an absolute vibe that you have when you’re talking to someone. So I can only imagine what it’s like as one of your clients where you’ve, you know, been working with them and really getting to know them, how connected that must be in, in your studio. And you know, I had a very similar experience when I first started portraits. I don’t think I really understood how connected you need to be to have that emotion come across when you’re doing documentary work, or photojournalism, the emotions already there, you just happen to be capturing that moment, it really comes down to what’s your timing, and composition look like, for studio stuff, you can you can miss that emotion in a split second, if you’re not really in tune to the person in front of you. I think when I first started shooting portraits, I didn’t realize how important that was, I just wanted the pretty picture so that I could impress other photographers, and people would say I was good, and pat me on the back. And you know, everybody would be proud, right? The second that I released myself of all of that, and really just started to focus on the person in front of me, everything took off from that point, my network got better my connections got better my sales went up, the emotional draw for my portraits got better. Everything improved, by me generally shutting up and listening, and to giving a shit about the person in front of me not looking at them like a checkbook, but looking at them as a human that is just as scared and nervous, and contemplative and unaware of what’s about to happen. Yet they courageously give of themselves, to let us direct them, and bring them to a place where once we got you, we got you right, and we can kind of pick and choose where we want to go with your images. And I think it’s something that really can only come either through years and years and years of experience. Or you either got it or you don’t. And I know a lot of people that are phenomenal photographers, that just you cannot connect to them whatsoever. It just seems to be like it’s such a paramount part of your business. Is this connection? Do you feel like it’s something that’s super easy for you? I know, you said you can kind of, you know, take the temperature of everything, but has it ever gone wrong? Or if you’ve ever like off the market?

Carey Sheffield 17:47
I think it’s funny because, um, yeah, it’s the nature of my business. It’s just the nature of me. It’s interesting, because it’s the nature of my business. And it always has been whatever that business was, and I was a good salesperson, because I understood the person in front of me, I mirror people. And you know, this is a trauma response, right? I’m old enough to know that now, like, so I know that I’m just reading the room. And I know how I need to be in order to make whoever’s in the room feel happier and more comfortable. And all those things is relatively easy. I look, it’s funny, I see people’s work, and they share their work now. And somebody was horrified when I said don’t really enter my work into competitions, I’ve won things. And I didn’t even enter it was just like, you know, when people are sitting in my body of work. So I haven’t entered because I feel like, I’m not shooting for photographers, I’m absolutely not. And so if I enter something, I really have to go and create that thing to enter it because I’m not shooting for photographers, because I really am shooting for that person. So I’m not ticking the boxes that are required for me to win awards in photography. And I was kind of like disgruntled but there wasn’t a genre that I fitted into so I could get where all those badges. I haven’t needed or required the patches for some time. And actually, most of the people that I know that I love and their work I adore, they don’t know any of us and they’re busy doing what they do, and they don’t have any budgets. So you know, in terms of the photography, I’ve done all the things I’ve shot over 200 weddings, I’ve worked with celebrities and royalty and children in Africa and all these all these different things it wouldn’t when it comes back down to it. What I’m really interested in is not a particular genre. I’m interested in a certain kind of person and largely adults. Like I said, children are only really interesting to me when they’ve got more of a story maybe one on one it’d be fine but toddlers and babies and all that stuff together. I’m really not interested. The thing that I find hard I’ve just done a project that took you know the 40 over 40 When I first moved into here My rent extortionate and I just on a whim, got the studio, I decided to do 40 over 40 project as well as photograph dogs photograph everything that will pass the window, the 40 over 40 project for me, although it’s been great, and I’m almost finished, it’s taking me too long, was emotionally exhausting. I gave so much of myself, when I have someone in front of me that’s feeling bad or exhausted or low or dry. It literally I become that emotion, although I can tap into it when they leave me, I’m left feeling, you know, it comes home with me. So. So that’s the only difficult thing. And you said about documentary photography, you go out and you watch. And you see, and you capture that moment, I’ve taken myself off to like, you know, places where tragedy has happened, or I’ve gone to a hurricane site, or you know, to go document and tell the stories, I know that you’ve done the same thing, I actually don’t agree necessarily, that you’re just watching and shooting I’m very much in it and involved in and amongst the people who are feeling the things and getting involved. And it’s not just taking pictures. And I think that in terms of portrait photography, and there’s not a problem when we connect with people. Actually, I had a bit of an epiphany today, I went to an event without my camera, I’m trying to network a bit more locally with society. And you know, a lot of people know who I am. So I have a big group here on Facebook, I went along, I didn’t have my camera. And the past couple of years, I’ve had a bit of a bit of trauma in my life. And it’s it’s got really difficult and as extroverted as I seem, that’s become hard for me. And I went to this event I got in the car, and I was I called a friend that I want on my podcast next week. And I said, you knew what I realized, without my camera, I’m terrified. And I realized that having my camera on me and having it all gets my body gives me confidence. I’m easily identified. This is who I am, this is what I do. That’s how you know me. I don’t have to show up. I’m hiding behind this thing. And I’m protected by it. When I go anywhere without it. I can’t bear to be there. And I can’t wait to leave. And I only found that out today.

Matt Stagliano 22:22
What is it that you feel in terms of discomfort, like you just you don’t have something to do? Or your identity is so wrapped up in being a photographer? Do you feel like vulnerable and open or, you

Carey Sheffield 22:36
know, I you know, in my group because there’s a lady only group, but um, I am literally walking talking open book, and oh, I’m sure I’m sure. In my group, I share a lot of stuff, you know, I’ll go on there stands maker, you know, in my dressing area, oh my god amount of fucking nightmare day and about to die. And it’s all for. And I’ll just tell everyone, and they know a lot about me, I think that my camera is my superpower. And when I’m holding that camera, they want to impress me. When I don’t have my camera, I have to impress them, or I feel like I need to be somebody and I feel like I need to show up a certain way. But when I have my camera, suddenly, I’m more valuable to them. Without it, I hold no value. This is me in my head. I know. But this is I realized today that’s how I feel when I’m out in the world. Without it at places where I’m not in my comfortable space. I mean, I’m only comfortable at home on the couch. But you know that that’s the reality of my life nowadays. But I realized that today, it was quite empowering to know that about myself in just saying it to my friend, I realized that’s who I am.

Matt Stagliano 23:53
I love when we get to discover those little parts of ourselves. And it’s always when you least expect it. And it’s always something that blindsides you that you’re like, I’m perfectly well adjusted. And all of a sudden you get triggered by something someone says or walks by has nothing to do with them and aren’t even saying anything to you. But it brings up some strange memory or some strange feeling. And all of a sudden you’re out of sorts. And I love that because you’re at least self aware enough to identify it and be in the moment rather than just feeling the feeling and being uncomfortable and letting that dominate you. You were actually able to view it and say alright, noticing this about myself, and we’ll deal with this after the meeting. But it was great that you’re able to recognize that does that happen from time to time? Does it happen a lot? Do you You seem pretty centered, pretty self confident. So I’ve got a I’ve got to believe you’ve worked out a lot of those issues. I’m

Carey Sheffield 24:53
a good actress. No. I really am. My kids are actors as well. I think I’ve pass that on to them. And yeah, that’s something else I wanted to do. But no, the portrait masters and actually it was Felix’s turn to notice how I was feeling. I was to back out for ring of people and he was like, No. I think that yeah, I got up, I made an effort with how I looked at dressed out, you know, I, you know, normally it’s not me, and I want you to be there. But I didn’t, and I went back to my room a lot, and I stopped peopling a lot, and I definitely wasn’t the life and sold the party. I’m overwhelmed. I think I’m more overwhelmed by a roomful of women not gonna lie, I think that’s probably stems from you know, my past. It makes me nervous, you know, I got bullied and at home and at school, so, you know, women terrify the crap out of me, which is funny because I’m a nurturer of women, I have a group of 3000 women and I take care of them. You know, I’m like the local wag Nyan, and, and I don’t say that with him or I meet, you know, it didn’t intend to be that it just turned into that. But I can stand tall, you won’t bloody believe it. I’ll walk into the room of 500 people and I’ll stand up on the stage and I’ll speak and I’ll blow it away. But inside I’m like,

Matt Stagliano 26:17
you know, I think if you’re not feeling like that, then something’s off. There isn’t a gig that I go to whether it’s speaking or podcasting, or even any photoshoot, if I don’t have the butterflies, I know, I’m way too comfortable. And, you know, I don’t want to trust that at all. Like, oh, yeah, everything’s gonna go swimmingly. Because that rug gets pulled right out with the least the least expected moment, you

Carey Sheffield 26:44
have to realize I need to go out, I need to be present, I need to be seen. I want to I want to grow my business and not quite sure what direction. So if you’re hiding away, you know, people forget who you are. But I do get to show up online. And so I get to share what I do in video clips constantly. And that’s been a really good way for me to grow the business and for people to see the process. Yeah,

Matt Stagliano 27:12
you know, I’m totally jealous of the tiktoks that you put out, because I watched them and they’re always so well put together and like, again, probably from your sales and marketing background. You just intrinsically get it. It’s so well branded. It’s so when I look at you, I think class put together well dress, right? I don’t know what it’s like behind the scenes, but just the entire image that you’ve put. Yeah, it’s spotless, right, of course. But everything that I see you put forward is always so well crafted, and so well done. I can imagine that it’s doing great things for you. Whenever I’m scrolling on Tik Tok, and I’m looking for you know, some dog talking back to its master, I pop across your feed, and I see and I’m like, Oh, there she goes again, with just like another perfect video for her business. So it’s just it’s awesome to watch you from the outside. Because it’s so consistent, and you get such a great feel for what it is you’re doing behind the scenes. A lot of photographers can’t get that across without seeming campy, and there’s nothing but authenticity that I see in some of those videos. So you’re crushing, crushing.

Carey Sheffield 28:21
And I wanted to just dispel the myth that there’s a plan and a process. There’s no There’s no consistency. There’s not a timing I don’t know what’s the best time I haven’t looked at my insights. I’ll literally Oh, I’m you know, and I try and do something every day. But the videos so I try and do behind the scenes shooting of every shoot we do of interest and if a client’s okay with that, especially the actors in when they love it, and my daughters are one when I’m traveling, largely doing all those clips when I’m in Pittsburgh anyway Boston, la in New York, if I go there to show you I’ll get one of the students that are working with me to just come and assist and they just take these clips and I know that I just need 10 clips with few seconds showing the best spots and and we work with good audio on it. I mean I’m constantly saving other people’s audio and I’ll hear something and go Oh god this that would be great for this. So there’s no I’m not you know, we’re not a well oiled machine and marketing. It’s just I actually love filmmaking and we I just made a film with a colleague for a hair salon locally. And we did you know a bunch of social media clips for the we did one minute film for each salon. We did a 32nd film for each salon. We did a three minute film for all the salons put together. And she came to me for the film even though nowhere does it say I’m a videographer. And I was free to director on that. Just because she likes my style of photography. Back in the UK. I did have a bigger came and we had I had filmmakers, whatever and we made boutique films for small businesses. I really love video, I love to see it. And what I don’t love my time of life is the idea of training to edit video. So I love reels and Instagram because I don’t ever do anything, I just pop it on there and it looks cute. And away we go. They’ve actually given me this new lease of life in the fact that I get to be a filmmaker without making any films.

Matt Stagliano 30:27
You know, this is this is something that as someone that teaches video for photographers, I look at it and I say, All right, well, I’m going on 10 to 15 years of video experience and really getting heavy into production. And being able to teach photographers especially that already kind of know their camera, how to incorporate video into their work that they can then take to their clients, right if you have salons or small businesses, right how you can use the equipment that you have and create videos out of it real basic editing, storyboarding, audio, like all of those pieces I really focus on, because it’s more about the story than anything. But now, right? Seeing so I’ve been doing this stuff for ever. And I’ve been trying to craft this video for photographers course for probably a year and a half now. And every time I think I have it ready to go, I see something else that just makes it easier and easier and easier for people, right, especially for what we do. And we need behind the scenes, short form content, 30 seconds or less, right? It’s find a template, throw some video in and all the editing is done for you, right. And I love the fact that it takes basically zero effort to produce really high quality stuff. There is something to be said, though, by like having that approach, which you’re very in control of. And then also understanding that good video production is a separate thing altogether. It’s not just throwing it together on your phone, right? And I think that’s where people get a little bit confused. It’s super easy on my phone. What’s it like if I do with my camera, and it’s a totally different workflow. I love hearing where people draw their inspiration from so as you’re making these videos, as you’re shooting our youth see seeing anything that you get inspired by Trend wise? Are you trying to even keep current with that? Or do you just get inspired by life in New York and your children and the people in front of your lens? Where do you draw that inspiration from to create some of this content? I’m

Carey Sheffield 32:43
very emotionally led clearly. Yeah, I’m definitely not buying into any trends. I’m too old for that. But I think that understanding what how people feel most of the time, if I wake up feeling a certain way, my message is going to be reflective of how I’m feeling that day. So if I’m like, fuck you, I’m amazing. I’m like, my video is gonna be that kind of energy. And I’m gonna look for the video clip that I have that’s got that energy. If I’m feeling tired, tired and vulnerable, and yeah, my videos gonna have that feeling. You know, sometimes I just have a pretty face. And I’ll make that film and I’ll put that out. But often I think it is really. And that’s it, I actually beat to my own drum. When I tried to conform to what’s expected of me, I feel that I fall short. And I get in myself. And if I try and live up to other people’s expectations, I just it leaves me cold. I feel like it’s not very fulfilling for me.

Matt Stagliano 33:52
I had the same conversation with Johnny last week. And with most photographers that I talked to, you know, you have this conversation about trying to be the photographer that other photographers want to be right or at least known by them. We all carry this thing as artists where we want to be recognized and affirmation feels good, especially from our peers. But then you look at the greats, right? And they were just kind of off whether it’s writing, photography, sculpture, music, whatever it is. They’re just kind of off doing their thing. Those are the folks that typically create a body of work that we just never forget. So being off on your own isn’t a isn’t a bad thing at all. And same kind of thing here. I’m in the mountains of Maine somewhere and like, there’s no one close to me. So I’m forced to do my own thing. When you get into that low spot though, where you’re starting to feel a little bit bad about yourself, maybe disconnected. How do you get out of that? Where do you where do you go? What do you do is it just put the camera down get a cup of tea card up on the couch, is it go for a run? Is it produce something, create something? How do you get yourself out of those spots where you’re feeling a little bit lower than normal and don’t have that big fuck you energy in

Carey Sheffield 35:12
that energy is not been very present for me. For the past couple years, I’d grown up around depression, and not me personally. And so I’d seen it. And you know, if I came home from school one day, and the curtains were closed, you know, it’s not a good feeling in that. So I lived around that. So I never really got depressed, and I never really got low, I was always and whether that was high energy and happy or explosive, and I have a real manage, I have a much better I don’t have explosive so much anymore. Like, you know, I’ve tempered that too, but for my own health, and for the health of the people around me. But when I’m feeling really low, I’m visually stimulated. So no, I’m not gonna actually one day will three hours locked up on my couch with a blanket. And I’m like, Oh, this is boring. But so you know, and I don’t, I don’t want to do that anymore. What tends to happen is I’ll have like a six week drive of high energy, and then I kind of crash. And I’ll have a day of not doing much. Yeah, and I can have a day of just Doom scrolling or whatever. But coming here to the studio really picked me up out of a rut. And it was just on a whim, you know, and but now I can go out and I can take the roof off my car, I can feel a sunset, I live in sunny Florida, I ignore the people that are around here. And just enjoy the sunlight actually reading. It’d be really hard for me to leave this climate because I definitely think I have that sad disorder where I mean, when I’m in the gray, it makes me miserable. I absorb podcasts, I listen all day, every day. And then I you know, I find something, something will stimulate me. And I’m listening to a lot of your work and the things you’ve been doing lately. And everyone talking about being more creative, Johnny was saying, and I was saying with UCCS, and oh my god, and yeah, laughing out loud and whatever, and wondering how much YouTube and drinking before the podcast. But I thought to myself, that’s the thing that’s missing, I need to create a little bit more. And the thing where I created the most that was the best therapy for me, was my Self Portrait Project. And when I dabble in that, I think that at my age and and surrounded by some of the people that know me and family and family very judgmental about not my family and my house, but family judgmental about you doing the stuff that I did, and even people around my husband’s work. We’re like your wife’s naked on the internet. Did you know like that kind of thing? And so And how dare I, at my age be naked on the internet. But that that stuff that lifts me up a day where I get time to just shoot and play. And once I’ve got over the horror of seeing myself on camera and then picked one night, you know, that I can barely live with then that that will feel those fires, I

Matt Stagliano 38:24
saw the self portrait stuff that you did, and it’s phenomenal. It is so it is so connected so directly. It’s a great word for it felt extraordinarily intimate, right, but connected. And I felt like there was a conversation that was happening, like looking at some of these portraits and you referenced it early on, about how connected you are to your clients. And no one can tell your story but you and that is absolutely what I saw. Now the interesting part of the self portrait work anytime I’ve tried to do it, it man, I struggle with self portraits I do them I forced myself to do them because it always leads me down cool pads. Was there in a way that you started with your self portraits that was just like, I’m going to do this and then wound up completely in another place or did you always look to go with that much more connected, intimate route?

Carey Sheffield 39:27
The initial idea to do the project was I couldn’t work for you. So and I did work but abroad so I literally I started the Self Portrait Project and I found myself in India, China and Africa. So that was interesting. So I still had to do it because I was putting the portraits out once a week, but I almost had monkeys run off of my camera at one self portrait. I write in my head 24/7 And I talk in my head constantly. I’m sure a psychologist will tell you what that is but I I’m. So if I have an overriding emotion, that’s where the project, the portrait would come from that week, I didn’t really have any preconceived feeling if I was getting towards the end of the week, and nothing was manifesting itself, and I might post a pretty picture. And they were the hardest ones I, I struggle with, there’s a picture that everyone has, I really like that picture that I hate it. And I’m lying in a photography skirt, yellow skirt, or blue tarp or something on my blue couch. And I’m just, you know, and, um, that picture so much. And I said in the write up for that picture, I could, I felt nothing. I had no feeling that week, I was completely numb, there was nothing happening. And so that that showed for me in the picture. Every other picture really more largely most of the pictures, I felt something my husband will tell you when I’m looking all dark and sad is because he personally off that day, but he’s probably right. But you know, most of them were either a strong emotion, or a feeling or a message I was trying to convey. Sometimes I was trying to speak to people, and they didn’t know I was talking to them. I’ve been judged for it. I’ve been judged for that project. And I’ve also been applauded for it. The doing that project for all the women to my door. They want me to tell their story, the way I talk mine. Well,

Matt Stagliano 41:29
I mean, they saw on you, right? That power, that confidence, that ability to control your own life and put yourself out there however you want to be seen. I think, you know to get back to the original point of no, no, no, no soul ties in but like we started with, you know, creating for yourself. And I think self portraits are so much a facet of that you can go in and you can bring a model in and you can set up a set and the lighting however you want it and shoot, right, maybe you’re shooting for competition, right? Or you’re just shooting to create, it’s different than going in to just create, you’re the only subject you get to see your own emotions, right. And there’s so much that you learn in that when you’re not doing your own creative work when you’re not creating for yourself, and sometimes making yourself the subject, you miss all of that. And I think we learned so much about ourselves and our own process, and what we’re looking for and how we pose and how we shoot and just how we talk to ourselves how we talk to people, what we see what triggers us what doesn’t, all of that comes out. When you’re shooting self portraits, we can all run businesses where we make the money, we produce photographs, everybody’s happy, right? But it can often feel dull and flat, which is why I try to go to one or two workshops a year to really just throw myself for a loop and say, All right, I’m gonna do things that I’ve never done style, the way that I’ve never styled before or use lights that I’ve never used before whatever the case is, but it keeps things fresh. And if you’re not creating for that creation sake, I think you’re really doing yourself a disservice. No one ever has to see anything that you produce. But it’s getting into the arena, right? It’s shooting, it’s sculpting, it’s writing, it’s doing whatever it is that you do for art or business or a hobby or love, whatever it is that you do, you’ve got to be able to do that on your own. For the love of it.

Carey Sheffield 43:39
I think that I do all of this, because I was trying to fit a whole the project and how it made me feel and and how it made other people feel. It was really very honest and very raw. And I felt vulnerable around it. And I guess I wanted to learn how to develop techniques. So for people that are listening here that are photographers, and they’re very, very tuned into their photography, and they want to grow their photography, and they want to build their business. Number one doing a project like that. And if you share it will get you out there and you’ll speak to an audience. They’ll recognize you, too. I tried to integrate techniques into my project that I hadn’t done before like levitating. There’s a picture of me levitating over my bed. And then I rented a house for a week up in Savannah or something because the whole bathroom was baby blue, but vintage will roll top bath and all that sub now wanted a picture with the light rays coming through the window. And so So I learned how to do light rays in Photoshop and just so many things. So yes, I was it was a teaching thing. It was also therapy. It was also self discovery. It was like a journal and and I need to do more of that. What do I love about people’s responses from it? Not? Oh my God, you look so pretty. And please don’t stop telling me I look pretty, because I really need that too. But the thing that and just lately as I get a bit older and a bit thicker, people say, Oh, you’re so real with other women like, Oh, you’re so real. And I’m like, yeah, what you mean this? Yeah, no, no, I let I let that hang out. But what I want is a narrative. When I start a conversation with an image, it fills me up, when someone says something a little bit more than Oh, that is so cute. Or you look so nice there. And well, you know, I don’t want to hear that. Actually. What I want to hear is, when I looked at that picture, I felt how you felt or whatever is there one person I took a picture when I was in Pittsburgh, I was in this old old hotel, and not fancy, but it had a fireplace and everything. And it was a proper autumn day in Pittsburgh, which we don’t have you in Florida. And it’s afternoon light. And I just curled up on a chair, and I only took about 50 frames and you know, as a self portrait, that’s not a lot like you take nine out. Yeah, so and I realized I shouldn’t shoot that site that I’m better on the other side. But I took this picture, and I’m just curled up and I posted a bitch, I haven’t really done anything to it. I don’t like editing myself, it makes me hate myself when I do and one woman. And I’ve had her in my studio. And I think I sent one of the pictures of her to you. She said you project so much in your pictures of you. And that’s what I’m doing. I’m projecting. I don’t know how to tell you how I feel. So I’m trying to show you. That’s what that is for me. So yeah, and I think more and more people have said to me that in my work, that they feel something when they look at these strange strangers. And I never knew that that wasn’t a goal. That wasn’t what I was trying to achieve. And that’s still not it, maybe it is now and maybe I do it subconsciously. It wasn’t like, Okay, this is what I need to make happen. It’s just happened that way. And I think you have to identify what it is you’re trying to achieve in your work, and stock, please go and learn. Please get technically astute. I’m so tired of seeing the most ridiculous questions online. So we’ll go there. But learn your craft, so that you can go out and decide what your message is. And that’s, that’s so I think self portraiture really, really taught me how to show how I’m feeling. And I find it easier in my own self to be creative than using any model. It gave people the ability to see that I have that ability to, you know, share their message if they have one, you know, in

Matt Stagliano 47:45
terms of mastering your craft, right? I’m a huge believer in it. And it’s a lifelong journey, right? You’re never in my opinion of mastery, you just get better at it more more subconscious with controlling everything. Because when you get to that level, the camera stops being in the way, right? You know how to manipulate it. Now you can look out and around and not be worrying about what’s going to happen in the camera. That’s, it’s your tool, it’s gonna make the picture for you. But it’s a matter of being observant and aware and in the right frame of mind. And you can really only get there once you’ve mastered the tools that you use, right. So the other thing that I wanted to get to was you take your self portraits, people see your stories in them. Is there a story that you have from your life that you would love to capture, but haven’t had a chance to yet? Is there any one thing that you’ve been driving towards, like someday I’m going to take that picture? Have you built anything like that in your mind?

Carey Sheffield 48:48
I mean, in terms of an actual image? I didn’t know if there’s, I mean, I have I have like a Pinterest board. You can probably go and Snoop. See where I put self portrait ideas and stuff. I mean, I love I mean, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching the supermodels of the 90s show recently because, yeah, I always saw love and the Limburg and the Testino and all that kind of work. I find that really quite beautiful, I love I photograph women, but I call it she all I am is me, which is also the name of my group that I have online. And that I created that like 18 years ago because I think every woman looks different. So I photograph women for women. So I do love beautiful role and touch, you know or lightly touch pictures of women or men actually now I think, can I do my favorite subject and something I really I feel I’ve come into my own way and that’s with actors, photographing non binary people has become a sheer joy for me and I I think what I love most about it is they’re safe in my hands. And they know they are. So the expression that comes out is just stunning. And it’s just a, I don’t know, it fills me up, I just really, really enjoy it. And, you know, I feel very maternal towards the subjects, most of my subjects are in their early 20s, or actors, whatever. So I really enjoyed that. In terms of a picture of me where I can be super expressive. I think it’s not about the photograph, it’s about me feeling I’m in a place where I’m the best I am right now. And so I’m going to put myself out there, I’m probably gonna get braver as I get older, because I’ve got less to lose less people to annoy. I’m already breaking the taboos are starting to expect it from me. I think for my 30s and early 40s. I still was restricted by people’s perception of me and what was allowed. And I wished, what was it and shits creek where she said, Take 1000 naked pictures of yourself and put them all over the internet. I wish I had, you know, and now I’m a bit less brave about it. But I should know. So it’s not one particular picture. It’s just about lots. Do I have stories to tell? Is there things that I need to share? Yes. And I don’t because I don’t want to hurt anybody. And not because I did something wrong. But I don’t want to I don’t want to tell those stories yet. There are some people out there that should be hung drawn and quartered. And I could tell those stories, but Well,

Matt Stagliano 51:33
I’ve got that book laying around somewhere. So yeah, with that turn to land this plane, trying to think about everything we’ve been talking about. I’m looking at all my notes.

Carey Sheffield 51:44
I know in terms of photography, and people listen to this. I feel like I’ve just been here, they’re in everywhere. And I will say, this is the whole

Matt Stagliano 51:53
point of why I do this right is I love the freeform conversation. I don’t like having just a set of questions, and everybody gets the same thing. I just feel like I try to come into this with as little preconceived understanding of who it is that I’m talking to outside of the basics, right, so we can start somewhere. But I love this bouncing off the wall and connecting different topics. I think, you know, one thing that I heard you say early on, right? You’ve been kind of out on your own since you were about 15. there abouts, with this wealth of experience. And the woman that I’m seeing in front of me right now, confident, successful, accomplished, has lived in a remarkably full life. What’s the one thing that you would tell that 15 year old that didn’t know what was coming next? Is there a piece of advice or something that you could say to her that you wish you had heard at that point? Yeah,

Carey Sheffield 52:51
I mean, I think that and this relates the trauma I’ve had the past couple of years that I would have stopped trying to prove myself to everybody. People underestimated me and my entire life. And I always enjoyed blowing them out of the water by you know, taking away their estimations. I wish I’d sat down on the carpet and play with the Lego more just noticed a little things appreciated the little things not been in such a hurry to be successful. Because I missed out on lots of things. I was so busy surviving and growing and thriving, and trying to be something that I thought I needed to be in order for the world to see me that I missed the things that really matter. And you know, you find that out later in life and young people hear it and they don’t hear it. And for me what was missing my entire life was peace. And when I say that, I mean internally, peace. And the trauma that I’ve had the past couple of years has driven out all the ambition I had to be something and there’s might be happy with what I have. That doesn’t mean to say I think my daily goals change. I’m still part of me a fire burns for the world to know what I do and you know how I do it. But for the most part, what I want is all my children around their dinner table. I’m an empty nester now too, so what I want is just all of them in the same room again, and to just be a voyeur to that and yes I still want to travel the entire world I still want to take pictures of it all I still want to write more I still want to feel fulfilled, but I would have told her to just enjoy those moments. And you’ll be okay because at 15 to 27 There was a lot bad shit happened. Do you know I needed but I was all I was always As strong as an ox anyway, but it was what the whole time you’re being strong. I think you’re not taking care of yourself. So yeah, I think it take care of myself. I just Yeah, I just would have said that words come in. And I chant I strongly believe wherever you’re supposed to be, you’ll be whatever supposed to have will come. And all of those things, and I think we run away from what is coming to us. What if we just stay still it will land where it needs to let you just need to be receptive to it. So I was meant to go for the things I was meant to go through. I was always strong enough to take care of myself even at 15. No, it wasn’t right. No, it shouldn’t have happened. And no, I you know, I missed out on opportunities. I definitely did. Yeah, I just would have said, enjoy those things. Enjoy those moments, I think you’re racing through your 20s trying to make a name for yourself, and you miss all the good stuff.

Matt Stagliano 55:56
I agree. 100%, we never take the time to just relax and see things as it is, right? And so you talking to your 15 year old self and saying, don’t stress about it so much, you’re gonna wind up where you wind up and everything’s gonna be okay. And it’s all works out the way it’s supposed to? Do you feel like you’ve achieved some of that peace, some of that contentment. Now?

Carey Sheffield 56:21

right now, I’m actually in the state of limbo. And in terms of my work, and where I’m going next, I’ve signed a lease on the studio for nearly two years. So I’m still going to be here for a while, I am waiting for the universe to tell me where to go. Next. I hear a lot of people talking about education. And the only reason I haven’t gone down that road in a big way is because so many people are doing it. And that’s a part of me feeling like I’m not good enough. Maybe. I mean, actually, I know I am, I’ve got far too much knowledge. It’s ridiculous. But I don’t think I’m gonna go down that road, I think that I’m interested in facilitating people to know what they’re capable of. And so that doesn’t mean photography, necessarily. That means I can see you and I see your power. And I’m gonna let you know how to share that. And whether we use words where we we use conversation where we’re, I actually bring people together all the time. And the podcasting thing has been kind of part of that I remember being like, I was a loved English, and, you know, in school, and they would put me with all the quiet kids in the oral exam, because they got a better score by sitting at a table with me, because I made everyone talk. So I asked the deep questions. And I think there’s something in there. I’m not sure what it is yet. But I have these meetings I have I bring people together, I created this charity, what’s called bear face branch where people meet monthly and they don’t get to dress up and they don’t need to look fancy, you show up without showing off. And I suddenly realized yesterday, we had one yesterday. And I was sat in this coffee shop and I text my husband, I went you might need to come down here. I think I might be lonely, nobody’s coming. And then he turned up and there’s all these people were, you know, like, and he was like, Okay, I’ll go there. And he came to rescue me in case I was sad, Billy, no mates, and all these people were here, and I’m sat there. And I realize, yes, they came and they’re helping me with this charity, but they really just wanted to be around other people where they felt safe, and they could talk. And I’ve created that community. And because I’ve said to people, I don’t care if you’re wearing pride of your new logo, Primark, wherever it is in America, I don’t want you to, it’s not what I want. And you don’t have to wear makeup, wear it if you want to. It’s not a rule, but just show up without any judgement, and especially where I am in this society where I live is very bougie. And you know, there weren’t Lilly Pulitzer. Not this girl. And, you know, and I think people are intimidated or wherever. So I don’t know, what can I do with that, Matt? Tell me and,

Matt Stagliano 59:05
you know, it’s you were made for this platform you were made for podcasting. It’s, you know, I was gonna say, Well, what’s next? And

Carey Sheffield 59:13
when I record 10 episodes next weekend, and

Matt Stagliano 59:17
that’s fantastic, right. So I think your ability to connect so easily and comfortably. Clearly, you don’t have a problem with words. Right? I think your writer background really comes in there as well. Being able to explain what you’re feeling, connecting with people helping them explore parts of themselves, right. You do this with the photography, you do it with the writing. Now, it’s going to be on to podcasting. I think, you know, you mentioned the education space. Yes, it’s saturated. I think people are all trying to do the same thing. I would love to see you teaching what it is that you absolutely love, whether that’s film in the darkroom, whether that’s black and white, right, whatever it is, but I think we we think that We have to teach XY and Z and we don’t we just have to teach what we know. But the podcasting is going to be the thing, are you calling it sad Willie no mates? Or is there a place that people are gonna be able to find you,

Carey Sheffield 1:00:12
I’ve stuck with the she theme and that she networks before COVID happened. And I had this notion that I wanted to get a building, and I was going to put experts in it. This is so funny, I had no girlfriends growing up, I was beaten up at school. So bad, I was blind for six weeks, I couldn’t see like, you know, because I was academic, and they I got moved to a better school. So being around women, so I’m kinda like that, if I’m afraid of the fire, I walk into the fire, you know, and we had COVID. So I couldn’t have the building. And you know, and I needed money. So I started the group, she all m is me, which is round my photography genre, which already had. So now I’m in here, and I think you might still want that I’m thinking more on my vision board, if you like, was presenting and sharing and enabling, there’s not one thing, I’m not going to teach you how to tie your shoelaces, but I’m gonna lead you to knowing that that’s what you need to learn, you know, I’m going to find out, I bring that out of you. So we create issue networks, my original thought was, it was going to be an online platform for people to share their businesses. It kind of wasn’t sitting comfortably with me and the websites that there but it’s sitting there not happening. And if it’s if I’m not in totally in love with it, I’m not. I start lots of things and then always finish them. And that was one of them. I love the podcasting scene. And I used to go live in my group all the time, until I thought everyone was sick of me, the silent listeners really enjoy it. And then they come back and tell you that you know, you don’t realize who you’re reaching. So she networks. And the reason you’ll laugh the reason I’m still pulling it that is because I’ve got so much printed marketing material. It’s

Matt Stagliano 1:01:55
too late, it’s too late to change.

Carey Sheffield 1:02:00
It just fits in with who I am. And everyone knows me for being the sheet woman like maybe I shouldn’t be my next self portrait. She would be like some hairy person in the woods.

Matt Stagliano 1:02:12
You’re swimming in a sea of printed marketing materials. Yeah.

Carey Sheffield 1:02:17
The pens and the mouse mats and everything. So she network. So the what terrifies me more and I do I do do these things is talking or clearly I can do it is talking without a guest. But I have, like I’ve written to about 10 girlfriends that will have businesses or entrepreneurs on some level. And I’ve said to them, I want you to be raw and be honest. Don’t come to me if you’re going to be afraid of the honest answers. I want you to show people what it means to fail show people what you believe in success how you got there, where you still are where you want to go. I want to dust do away with the bullshit that we see online and I want people to feel that oh my god, she looked at her and this is what she’s going through and listen to her and I’m like this is this is happening to her and I see her and she drives a nice car and she’s got a great handbag and she has all these things but actually beneath it all she’s dying somehow like I want that out there because I see those women come in my studio and they’re fucking disaster and I mean that with love, and I’m taking care of them but the entire world at large are seeing people and they have this perception that they’ve got their shit together and they really have it everyone’s broken in some way. And so that’s what the podcast is about.

Matt Stagliano 1:03:39
I I’m all in like from the get go I’m all in because this is right up my alley. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do with generator in terms of like get get past the fluff and you know really just get into some stories and that’s a perfect place for us I think to wrap things up it’s a great lead in so the sheet networks is going to be the podcast to be on the lookout for that in the next couple of weeks. And then where else can folks find you for photography for networking, speaking appearances whatever.

Carey Sheffield 1:04:11
Well I carry Sheffield photography is my Instagram and my tick tock cylindrical baby but you know I’m always posting reels and things because I’m that generationally does rails you know, we’re two weeks behind tick tock but you’ll find me there. And that’s probably the best place to see me everywhere else is not as love and nurtured as that places at Kerry Sheffield.

Matt Stagliano 1:04:37
I think what you’re putting out is phenomenal. I can’t wait to see more of it and I can’t wait to hear you really start to develop your voice in the podcasting world and just continue with all of this. You are remarkable. I am so so so happy we had a chance to talk. Hopefully I’ll see you sooner rather than later. Whatever the next conference is I’m getting cold in Maine so maybe I’ll make a trip south. Maine is

Carey Sheffield 1:05:05
my favorite but you’re always welcome to come and see me and stay with me we have loads of room their house is empty but I did I drove from my car sorry from Florida to Pittsburgh to Michigan all through Canada and down free Maine. I think we talked about maybe me going across to you but and so far in all my travels in my jeep Maine is my favorite.

Matt Stagliano 1:05:27
The best kept secret. Don’t tell anyone about it. We’ve got this thing on lock. Like we’ve got a great thing going here. It’s Thank you, Kerry for all of your time. I’m sure we’ll connect soon. Thank you. So

Carey Sheffield 1:05:38
absolutely. Thanks for having me. It was great.

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Generator Ep. 015 – Carey Sheffield: The Power of Self Portraits

In this episode, Maine photographer Matt Stagliano speaks with Carey Sheffield.

Carey is a Florida based photographer who doesn’t just take pictures—she weaves stories of connection and emotion.. She dives deep into the soul of the craft, staying emotionally engaged with each image, each moment, as if they were threads in a beautiful tapestry of human experience.

She uses the lens to look inward as much as outward, and let me tell you, that journey of self-discovery? It’s a powerful one. It’s raw and it is real. It’s not just about capturing her own image; it’s about peeling back the layers, and having a conversation with herself that’s as intimate as it is revealing.

So today, we’re not just talking about photography. We’re diving into a story of connection, emotion, and the kind of self-awareness that comes from truly seeing—not just with the eyes, but with the heart.

For more of Carey’s work, please visit her website at or on Instagram at @careysheffield

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