Lessons in Confidence from Film Photographer Leanne Haskins


The confidence it takes to shoot with film has many life lessons that anyone can take with them. Leanne of Leanne Haskins Photography shares so many nuggets about standing in your worth and your truth in this episode.


Leanne has been baby whispering and cheering on mothers from behind her camera for over five years. She's a firm believer that amazing portraits are the result of a great relationship between you and your photographer. She takes time to get to know her families on a personal level. Based in Nicholas Sparks country, she travels from the moss covered oaks to the southeastern coast to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, documenting growing families. Leanne's work has been featured in online publications with Lemonade and Lenses, Let the Kids, Clickin Moms, and Little Bellows, as well as printed in Wilma Magazine.


Make sure to stick around for after the interview with Leanne when I recap different messages we covered, such as confidence, having hard conversations and being true to yourself.


Links to Connect with Leanne:

Leanne Haskins Family Photography

FB & IG: @leannehaskinsphotography

Twitter: @LHaskinsPhoto

YouTube: Leanne Haskins Photography

Pinterest: @LeanneHPhoto

TRANSCRIPTION OF EPISODE:

Ashley Baxter

Hey, it's Ashley and I'm so excited for you tune into today's episode of the Courageous Worth Podcast. My guest today is Leanne of Leanne Haskins Photography. Leanne has been baby whispering and cheering on mothers from behind her camera for over five years. She's a firm believer that amazing portraits are the result of a great relationship between you and your photographer. She takes time to get to know her families on a personal level. Based in Nicholas Sparks country, she travels from the moss covered oaks to the southeastern coast to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, documenting growing families. Leanne's work has been featured in online publications with Lemonade and Lenses, Let the Kids, Clickin Moms, and Little Bellows, as well as printed in Wilma Magazine. Make sure to stick around for after the interview when I recap different messages we covered, such as confidence, having hard conversations and being true to yourself. I am here with my friend Leanne Haskins Gilbert, the photographer extraordinaire to families, friends, felines, but primarily families. Leanne, if you had to give someone a snapshot of what your life looks like right now - you know, where you live, who you live with, etc. how would you describe that to people?

Leanne

Well, I live in Wilmington, North Carolina with my husband and our two cats. And currently we are in a one bedroom apartment, but we are in the process of buying a home that we get to move into in two weeks. Yeah, that's my snapshot.

Ashley Baxter

I want to do a little bit of rapid firing questions. So there is no right or right answer. Just

Leanne

There's no right or right answer? You were wrong from the start. It's all a trap.

Ashley Baxter

Say whatever first comes to your mind.

Leanne

Oh no.

Ashley Baxter

ice cream toppings?

Leanne

Chocolate.

Ashley Baxter

Favorite cat?

Leanne

Pete

Ashley Baxter

They have two cats. That's why - sorry. I didn't mean to. It's just, it's just what came to my head.

Leanne

Oh man, I'm sorry Alex.

Ashley Baxter

Bike or motorcycle?

Leanne

Oh bike, bicycle.

Ashley Baxter

Mountains or beaches?

Leanne

Both, yeah.

Ashley Baxter

No, that's good. That's

Leanne

Why didn't I say both for the cats?!

Ashley Baxter

You can take that up with Alex or cat later tonight cause I'm pretty sure that's about to happen.

Leanne

We're gonna stop and record both cats. Alex and Pete. And then you're gonna put that in there? Yeah.

Ashley Baxter

Favorite drink?

Leanne

Oh, gin and tonic. I also drink cold coffee.

Ashley Baxter

It may have been a hot free that went to a cold brew or it can start out as a cold brew, whichever I mean, what is the true definition of a cold brew? Who knows?

Leanne

Well, I do actually because I've looked it up. Yeah, I looked it up. I tried to, I was gonna make a cold brew one time, but it's pretty much you like brew it overnight in the refrigerator in the cold. So it's a cold brew.

Ashley Baxter

This is also why I keep you around because who needs Google when you can help me?

Leanne

That's what I say. That might have been like one of the very few things I've googled myself instead of asking other people.

Ashley Baxter

Well, last question, although I do know the answer to this. So it's a trick one - film or digital photography.

Leanne

Film. I'm kind of a snob about it. And I hate that but it's more so because to me, the other digital just becomes work a lot of times, and then I don't even I don't do anything with them.

Ashley Baxter

Let's talk a little bit about the type of photography you do. You know, describe it, what things you shoot. I'd love to hear more about that.

Leanne

Yeah, I am a family photographer here in North Carolina, which means I focus on everything from maternity and newborn babies. First year to families with older children, which are always a lot of fun. And I've been doing that for five years now, a little over five years. And I shoot film with all of my family sessions now. So I I used to shoot weddings and I used to shoot all digital and have grown up a little bit.

So describe a little bit more about what it is about film that you love shooting with it?

Leanne

Film is, it's a medium that I learned growing up. So in high school, I mean, I'm a child of the 80s and 90s. So I learned that in the darkroom in high school, and I shot my first wedding on all film. That was so stressful my freshman year of college. It's insane to think someone someone hired me for that. And then the digital age came around and it was cheaper and it was so much faster and you could see what you were taking a photo of. So there was a lot of you know, guesswork taken out of it. And a lot of photography one-on-one taken out of it as well. But again, it was cheap and it was easy at the time, so. So that's what I did for a long time, just more of as a, as a hobby. And then I started dating Adam, my husband, and he was shooting film at the time. He's also a wedding photographer and videographer and he was shooting film and he was always so excited about it. I remember going on walks with him, and at like in the evening it would be sunset based on the clouds or something he would say "this would be perfect on Portra" or Fuji, or whatever it was, and that's kind of how he saw the world in terms of film stock, and it intrigued me so much that I bought some film. And so he was kind of reteaching me how to use it again and I loved it so much. I love the the anticipation of receiving it back like my scans because you don't get to see what's what what you're taking a photo of it's not on the back of your camera, you can't just reshoot it because someone's eyes were closed or you think it was blurry. So that's a lot of fun. I love it. It's like Christmas morning every single time. I'm actually waiting, I should be getting some scans back today and I have that same feeling. Well, there's this sense of nostalgia, I guess, with film, the grain and the way. . . Light and film are very romantic. It's a very romantic relationship. And it's also very nerdy, so I won't go into it. But it slows you down as a photographer, and a communicator. So instead of taking 20 pictures of the same thing, you're taking one picture at a time and you're being, I'm able to communicate with my families with what I want them to do, and how to talk to them to evoke those emotions that are, you know, seemingly candid in the photograph. So, there's just there's a lot of things about about film, but those are probably my, my biggest, my biggest takes.

Ashley Baxter

I love it well, and I would imagine that, especially when you're first doing it, that you really have to believe in yourself and have confidence. Because, it's like you said, it's not like you can just take 20 shots and be like, I bet one of these is going to turn out well.

Leanne

Right? Yeah. And because you, I mean, it's, well, it's not like a wedding where you have just that one day and that's it. There is no redo. You could possibly reshoot maternity, or newborn or something like that, but you don't want to. And yeah, there is a sense of confidence. I think going into it, it was more just experimentation, just like learning anything else or relearning something. And I just got to a point where I did have more confidence in my work as a film photographer and I, I do not love editing. I don't think I'm great at editing digitals, digital files, getting everything to look consistent and cohesive. And it takes a lot of time, whether you're editing 50 images or 500 images, it takes a lot of time. And I'd rather spend my time somewhere else, you know, creating a better experience for my clients than I would editing all of their images just to give them these 500 images, which no one gets 500 images. But yeah, I think the more and more I was shooting, the more confident I became. And then one day I was like, this was the ultimate test to I want I said, Okay, I'm going to shoot this session, with no digitals at all. I didn't even bring my digital camera and it was very nerve wracking, but I was so excited with the results. And from then on, I was like no more. So I tend to not even bring a digital camera. I do sometimes the newborn sessions because I use off camera lighting so it's easier to help see where shadows and stuff are with that. But that's really, that's really it. So it has, it has built up my confidence as a as a photographer for sure.

Ashley Baxter

What's the different education curriculum for a film photographer?

Leanne

Oh my gosh, I think for any photographer, really, I think film in itself as a whole is a whole course. And there's a lot of photographers that offer those courses. Everything from metering film, to how to load film to what film stocks to use. Labs even offer those sorts of things, but photography in general, there's there's also tons of courses and I've taken one for off-camera lighting because I go into my my families' homes, so new board sessions are always shot at home generally. Maybe not right now, or in the near future, but typically they're shot at home. Yeah, during Covid they're not shot in people's homes.

And when is off-camera lighting sorry, what does that mean?

Leanne

So off-camera lighting is where, like, typically people think that like you see a flash up at the top of the camera sitting on top. This is where the flash is sitting off somewhere else. There's a trigger. So it goes off the camera. Yeah. So I did a course with that with someone who lives in Seattle, and it's always dark in Seattle, and so she has she also shoots at her families' homes. So she 98% of the time is using a flash or off-camera flash. So she's amazing at what she does. And yeah, so I did that one and I've done a like a posing type of course with someone who just like her images are just so full of joy and like playfulness and all these all these emotions that I want to evoke in my my families. And I think you can get stuck as a creative in anything that you do. You can get stuck doing the same thing over and over again. And so it's nice to be able to listen to other people, in any any form of creativity to get that get those wheels turning and to try to try something new. I'm actually in the middle of business coaching right now with like my business coaching hero. And it's, it's exciting, she's a photographer, but I kind of forget she's a photographer sometimes because she's so great at what she does as far as marketing with creatives and and really just helping people empower themselves. So she's she tells you how it is she there's no handhold It's more fist bumping. And that's where like they she says on her podcast. So anyway, it's yeah.

Yeah. Well, and you were talking about how you've learned from different creatives about how to evoke different emotions in your work. Is that, is that a, is there like a theme? Or is it kind of that every different family you see differently? Like, I'm really trying to tell this story with this family.

Leanne

So I think initially, that was the way I approached it. And then I realized that I, I have my own definition of family and what that looks like. And so I placed that on my families. And so I'm trying to bring that out, you know, a strong mom, strong dad and also playful. The kids are just having fun. I mean, there's more to it than that, obviously, but it's more about telling my story of family through my families.

How does your definition of family, how is that captured in your work?

Leanne

What you're gonna see on my website and stuff is mostly, you know, parents and with their children but to me family is more than that. My husband and I at this very moment are not planning on having children. I have friends that are not having children and I don't think that makes any of us less of a family. Fur babies are always your babies. So I know I know our cats are ours. And so families, families just look so different these days. Or not these days, I think they may be always have, and we're just now able to spotlight the differences. But I think my, the way that I shoot families from that perspective is that I came from, like in my childhood I lost - like I've known loss for quite awhile. I lost my my grandmother and like my favorite aunt very young age, and I lost my dad when I turned 30. And I've always had this sense of like, I love photographs, and I love portraits. I love, love, love a great portrait. And I think I'm just now learning to be okay with that the fact that I love portraits, because so many people in the family photography world are all about candid lifestyle and, and those sorts of things and I love that as well. And there's definitely a story in that in how families play together and how you can get different emotions from your families, but there's just something about a strong portrait of dad holding his baby or Mom, you know, comforting their three year old after she's fallen because she was chasing the five year old. So trying to combine those two things because in the end like what I framed are really strong portraits of our family of my dad's dad, whom I never met, and my dad never met, my grandmother on both sides. So I love, I just love having those because I think they tell so much as well about those individual people.

Ashley Baxter

I love that so much. And I know that you used to do wedding photography. So what, tell us about that transition, why you went from wedding photography to family photography, how you fell in love with that.

Leanne

Yeah, wedding photography. I was working for a local wedding photographer here in Wilmington. I was second shooting and working in the office and editing and doing all kinds of stuff. And I would guess I was there for three, two or three years I think. And I had a lot of weddings between my own weddings for that company and then second shooting. And that's a lot of weddings. I mean, there's what how many weeks in a year 52 Yeah. So you know, if you have 3035 weddings, sometimes they would be to a weekend. And it was a lot and everyone tends to live life on the weekends, which that's a whole nother subject. But I was missing out on things that I did it, what are you missing out on? And then at the time when I started to become weary of all of that my friends and family started having children and I was photographing them. And I realized that I liked the intimacy of those sessions, more so than the long day of a wedding. The weddings are beautiful, and they're fun. And they, when you look back and you were like, I was a part of this day, and I was able to document it for this family. That's something to be proud of. But there's also I don't know, just something very intimate that I love about, you know, that part of a family story after they say I do.

Ashley Baxter

We're in the middle of COVID-19. So I know that everyone's life was differently. How does your life look as a photographer?

Leanne

Surprisingly, I'm not too different. I, because I don't photograph events and weddings. I haven't had tons of things that have been cancelled or rescheduled. Not in that way. So I did I guess in because we're in May, it's May, right. In April, I did reschedule a lot of sessions, because that was when we were kind of in the, in the eye of the shelter in place, and we weren't sure what was really going on. So I rescheduled a lot of sessions that included children especially. And I did have I did have maternity sessions that I I did and I would just go to their house in their front yard or their backyard. I had my mask on. A couple of them I had gloves on but I was maternity sessions, especially if there's not another child that you don't either You don't have to touch anyone. And I always ask people if I can touch them anyway, even during sessions, can I touch your belly? can I fix your hair? And there really wasn't a lot of that I would get, you know, their partner to do that. Yeah, so I did maternity sessions, because some of them did have photographers that were canceling on them or not accepting them for numerous reasons. And I don't judge anyone for doing that. For me, I wanted to be able to do that because it was it's just me and my husband and I knew that we were staying I mean, we came home from Thailand and we were quarantined for 14 days. And, you know, we continued on doing that for a while afterwards and so I felt good about providing the service for them with all of the precautions taken. Because you know, when you're expecting especially if it's your first you have all these expectations of what is supposed to happen in those nine months. You know, your partner is supposed to be able to go into the After the doctor's appointments with you, you're supposed to be able to have showers and your family can come and visit you and help you, your parents can help you get your nursery ready or transition once the baby's here. And so many of my clients weren't able to have any of those things. And for a while, they were afraid that their partners wouldn't be able to be in the hospital room with them. So I really just wanted to be able to offer them something that they can look back on and remember that there was there was hope. And there was beauty in this time, and there's still things to celebrate.

Ashley Baxter

Yeah, when I love that, you're bringing them a sense of normalcy, whatever that means yet. I imagine that those times are almost like a breather for them from everything that's going on right now. So it's again, multiple ways.

Leanne

Yeah, I hope so.

Ashley Baxter

This year, your photography business is five years old

Leanne

five. Yep, I've got kneecaps now kids don't get kneecaps until Actually Oh.

Ashley Baxter

I was like that's a business term I haven't heard of, but I got it my kneecaps. Yeah,

Leanne

no, it's a joke in our house because it actually I don't think it's five. I believe it's three or four. But yeah, babies are not a doctor. Babies are not born with kneecaps. It's like something that that forms over the course of a few years. And I told Adam that and he was

Leanne

he just loves that like to know that bit of trivia and he'll bring it up.

Ashley Baxter

You're teaching us about cold brews.

Leanne

Things I know.

Ashley Baxter

Well, in these five years of you being in business, what are some of the big mindset either shifts or that you've had to adopt to continue your business going this long and being so successful?

Leanne

Yeah, gosh, it's definitely been a builder in college. evidence and and that's not to say that I'm like confident all the time.

Leanne

And let's see just

Leanne

I mean when you are a small business owner especially creative and you're putting everything out there for people to see and judge you know not everyone's gonna like your work or you or any of you know it's to each his own and being able to find that place where you're accepting of that and that not everyone has to love it but the people that do and the people that value what you do and your work and the the blood sweat and tears that you put into it are the ones that you want to invest in and value as well. That was a I've always wanted to make my my families feel valued and and feel like you know, this investment was was totally worth it. was for many reasons not just the photography but I think valuing my time and and learning boundaries, setting boundaries. Those It's crazy how much that actually built my competence like setting boundaries and adhering to them. And then once those things were set and seeing that people will, will follow them. I was like, Oh my gosh, this, you know, is a life changer.

Ashley Baxter

I am so thankful for you being here and answering your questions and laughing with me and we'll let you deal with Alex's jealousy ever. You saying that Pete is your favorite cat.

Leanne

Luckily, headphones in he doesn't know.

Ashley Baxter

Well, and I'll have one final question for you in a second. But first, where can people find you connect with you all the details?

Leanne

Yeah, well my website Leanne Haskins photography calm. So you can go there and see portfolio and you can contact me through that. I'm also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. Not on tik tok yet, that's not true. I am I have a have a an account. I just haven't done anything with it.

Leanne

I'm waiting to be able to get one on one.

Leanne

courses from you.

Ashley Baxter

Yeah, they may not be the kind of courses you want, but I will get.

Leanne

I'll take it. But no. Well, and speaking of courses with COVID, I was really just trying to think in the beginning of all of this, I thought, well, you know, who's going to be hiring photographers right now? Especially with weddings and events and stuff being rescheduled for later in the year next year? I thought, well, you know, surely family photography is going to be a thing that people don't think about. And so I didn't want to come. I wanted to keep you know, a presence on Instagram and social media, but I wanted to be able to come from a place of service. For my families and for other families, so I, like I had this idea like on a Thursday and we did it on a Friday that's like, sometimes how I do my, I get my ideas out there which there may not be the right thing. But I had the idea to have a three part series on YouTube on how to take better photos with your smartphone, and it goes through the camera basics, photography 101 to some of my tips and tricks to photographing children. And also I have two interviews myself on there where I interviewed a family counselor from here in Wilmington, and a local doula agency. So again, with all of with the the family counselor and I we talk about the signs of anxiety and children and how to cope with it and also coping with the anxiety that parents have during this time because this is all very new to Everyone and and then with the doula again, it's kind of like how they are helping virtually how they've changed their practices so that they can still provide support to new and expecting families. Without they're normally it would be one on one, and it's very intimate. And they would be in the labor and delivery room. And so they've had to redo all of their, all of their services in a virtual way. But and I'm glad to know that they're still doing it. And so I wanted to make sure that I was providing my families with that knowledge.

Ashley Baxter

I love it. Well, thank you so much for being on the show.

Leanne

Thank you. This was fun.

Ashley Baxter

As you may know, this is the second episode of the courageous work podcast and the very first interview for the show, as with many new things, you learn stuff along the way. And I realized a couple days after we complete this interview, there was one more question I wanted to ask her and all future guests on the show. So here is an audio recording of Leanne answering my question of what is one of your favorite qualities about yourself and what are some Unless you live out that quality, I guess one of my favorite qualities about myself is, I'm a straight shooter. I try to be my sister, even in her maid of honor speech, said that one of her favorite things out me is my tough love, which I didn't take well at first, but I understand it. And it's not perceived as a positive thing for everyone. And I understand that now, taken me a while, but like that I can be honest and straightforward. And I just know that not everyone can handle that. And so I do try to make things a little bit softer when I'm being honest, and it may not come off. Well. Yeah, I think that and trying to have honest conversations, and they don't always go well either. But I think when you're true to yourself and your feelings, and you're courageous in those things, and moving forward and listening to that, I think that that's a that's a big step. in adulthood.

Ashley Baxter

Yeah. Okay. I don't know about you. But I am so glad I asked that question because that answer was amazing. There were so many great nuggets from that conversation and I want to go over a few of them. Number one is gaining confidence when you don't have the luxury of a redo, as she talked about, that was one of the big differences that she experienced when going from digital photography, to film photography, talking about how a digital, you can just take thousands, hundreds, whatever a time, you can go back immediately and check to see if it was right. If someone's eyes were closed or not. And with film, you don't have that luxury. You take it, you send it off, and then you get it back several weeks later. I don't know how long at some point you get it back. And what you took that day is what were the final results. And I think that there is a really great lesson there. You know, we live in this world where we typically don't step forward and show ourselves until we feel like we have it perfect. You know, it's like I'm gonna take a selfie. Only if it's perfect, I'm going to use it. And that I know is just in the example of images. But I think that we can all relate that there are so many things that we're like, I've got to get the words perfect, or I just shouldn't say it. We're hindered so much by what we think other people will think when we do step out. And lots of times that keeps us from even showing up at all, which I think is one of the worst things. For me personally, this podcast is a relaunch. I had started a previous podcast a year and a half ago. And I learned so much by going down that route. There are so many things that you don't learn until you try. And when you try, it builds confidence. But it builds confidence so long as you take away the idea that you have to get it done perfect for it to be worth showing up. But I do think that you know, even when we show up and we consider that we crashed and burned or basically that things just didn't go as we expected. Are people that react the way that we had hoped they would react? Not to see it as failing, but as learning, it's an opportunity to learn and to grow. And the more that you do it, you gain more and more confidence. Just as Leanne said that she did, the more that she used film. So I loved that message. And I hope that there's maybe something that this conversation has sparked for you. It's like, Yeah, I just need to do this thing. I just need to show up. If I crash and burn or you know, if things don't go the way I expect, that's okay. I'm still going to show up because I believe that I'm worth showing up. I believe that what I'm showing up for is worth it. So that's your challenge. The two remaining things I want to talk about were actually from her little audio clip that she did at the very end. So one thing was about having hard conversations. I was someone that hated any type of confrontation. very passive aggressive and it has taken a lot of work for me to realize that I need to enter into hard conversations when they are warranted. And I've learned that hard conversations are only hard. Because what is at stake is very important to us. It could be the thing of you just being heard. It could be that there's a conversation needs to be had and the outcome is what's worth it. But again, I think it helps when we realize that having a hard conversation means that we are honoring our own thoughts and feelings and honoring the relationship with that person we're talking with, or whatever is at stake. They aren't fun. But if you try to avoid it, or be passive aggressive, it's just gonna be like putting a cardboard box over the problem. You might think, well, I don't really have to, you know, I can just pretend it's not there. But it's still there. And depending on the size of the issue and how much it's affecting you, that's just going to cause it to fester, it's not going to go away. So I really challenge you to have the hard conversations when needed. That is something that I'll be talking about on some of our Thursday times together. So you know, definitely stick around for those messages. Hopefully those will help you in your hard conversations. And last, I love, love, love, love loved when she said when you are being true to yourself and true to your feelings, you are being courageous, and I could not agree with that more. I love that so much because it's so true. It is so true. It is really hard to show up as ourselves. So many times we think we need to be like someone else. We need to make everyone happy. And it is a very big act of bravery. When we show up as ourselves. I promise you though, the more that you do it, it does get easier, but it's still hard. And they'll still be up situations when it's hard to show up that way but it is worth it and the confidence that comes the more that you step into who you are and not trying to be like someone else or trying to appear a certain way but just show up as your self. It is a game changer. So I have Hope that you walk away from this episode with all of those nuggets that we just covered and really think about them because they are some great words of advice and lessons to take away with

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