Sandra Costello is the Owner & Chief Hugger at Sandra Costello Photography. From the moment a mutual friend pointed out this great shot of Sandra laughing on her website, I knew she was the photographer for me. Fifteen years after starting her business, this sassy, sometimes pink-drenched dynamo is still living her purpose - drawing out peoples' stories and capturing them in a photograph. We talk about the power of hugs, how lists were her path to freedom from debilitating anxiety, making money, and shaking off judgment. Also, learn why you need to keep Sandra away from your PA system on Fridays.
Learn more about Sandra and her work here.
Listen to the complete episode in any of these fine places:
Selected link love + resources from the episode
- Connect with Sandra on social media: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
- Calm (meditation app)
- Wunderlist (task list management app)
- Kickass Theme Music: “Things Are Getting Better” Written by Rishi Dhir. Performed by The High Dials.
- Stay in the loop about future Le vital corps Salon episodes: Twitter | Facebook | The List (sent monthly-ish to help you get your shit together)
Quotes + selected highlights from the episode
All of this wisdom is from Sandra herself (with some minor edits for readability).
[00:06:08] Shaking hands with someone is a lovely way to introduce yourself. But if you're willing and able to embrace someone that you have just met, you just get off on a totally different foot. And I love that. [15.2]
[00:07:01] If I am feeling something, you will know about it. You know, I like to think that I am kind, but there really isn't a lot of bullshit and I'm going to get right to things. And that also means I'm going to get right to the good stuff, which is: I really want to be with you. I want to get to know you. [19.2]
[00:08:51] Every time I get to be with a group of people, whether it's something I initiate or I'm invited to, I feel like it is an opportunity to hear the stories of these people that I've just met.
[00:09:05] And I think that that genuine curiosity is part of what allows people to be themselves and to feel excited about having a conversation. And I think that's what it's about to have a party. It's about a celebration of life. [34.1]
[00:11:44] Earlier on when I was a teenager into college and even into my later 20s, I think that there were things that were a struggle for me - whether it be feeling insecure about something or feeling inadequate. I think some of that joy that was always close to the surface felt more like I was compensating for those feelings of insecurity or self-doubt. I think for a long time I felt like a poser. [38.0]
[00:13:54] When people are given the opportunity to talk about the things that light them up that creates this radiance that I get to see when I'm holding a camera in my hands. It is a magical experience because people get to be themselves. They get to show their happiness. [23.7]
[00:15:54] I got to do all of the things that I love to do without, you know, coming across as being creepy. The camera is like this conduit. It gives people a feeling of safety. And I think it gives me that same feeling. It's not like it's just the two of us staring at each other. We have this other thing that allows us to create a conversation. [30.4]
[00:23:23] If you had asked me when I was 16 years old if I could imagine myself both as a photographer and or a business owner, I would have said, "No way." Because I struggled so much in just being able to do day-to-day stuff. I couldn't ever imagine running a business and running it successfully. I feel like I've come a long way. [25.2]
[00:26:29] It was really, really challenging for me to actually make my way to school and stay there. And it really got to a point where it was so difficult that I spent the rest of the year at home with tutors and really spent a lot of time working on myself. And I knew that I didn't want to live my life like this. Even at that young age. And so what I would do was I would create lists about things that I was feeling. Then I would create goals for myself. I would create things that I knew were hard to do, but that I would go ahead and do them. [44.8]
[00:27:38] And so I would set up things that I could do to make myself feel better and to cope with those feelings of anxiety. And after a while those things started to dissipate and then I would create bigger goals for myself. I think that just as time went on and I also became interested in other things, I think that my anxiety started to calm down a bit. I also got a chance to get to know myself a little bit better. [36.0]
[00:33:14] Working by myself all the time has its pros and cons. The big pro is that my confidence is built every single day because I am always trying to figure out how to do things I have never done and I don't know how to do. And either I look to other people for help or I figure it out myself. Every time I work it out, I'm like, "Holy shit. I did it again." [28.9]
[00:34:01] Ultimately everything that we need is within us. [4.1]
[00:49:34] I think that there was a lot of stuff about myself that I wasn't giving proper attention to because the whole coming-out process was so draining to me and so fearful that I couldn't really investigate the fact that I wanted to be a photographer. That I wanted to be a business owner. That I wanted to be an entrepreneur. That I wanted to be a part of my community in a big, big way because there was so much joy living inside this little body of mine. [35.3]
[00:53:44] I have this quote on my computer that says: "Comparison is the thief of joy." I'm going to say it again because it's a good one: "Comparison is the thief of joy." [13.0]
[00:56:17] I really work hard to stay focused on what I do and what I do well and why I think people come to me. I try to stay focused on that, but the social media piece, I think, is another part of where perfectionists really can get into trouble. It's not just perfectionism. I think it's everyone. I think that there's something about social media that makes us feel bad. [29.3]
[01:06:27] I would say success is doing work that feels connected to my soul and that includes both the personal relationships that I create with my clients as well as colleagues. So that's one part of it. Then the other part of it is creating work creating photographs that speak to my creative side. [24.5]
[01:09:40] I find myself in a really interesting place. I have always been a humongous extrovert, which means: I want to do. I want to go. I want to be. The brain is never stopping. There are people I need to be with at every moment of the day. Now that can be really challenging if you're trying to get stuff done. [26.1]
[01:15:55] I'm not really sure what it is about P.A. systems, but I love them. So, I asked if I could make an announcement at the end of the work week. At 5 o'clock on Friday, I would get on the P.A. system. I'd say a couple things and then I would play Gary Glitter. People would rock out for a couple of minutes and then we would be onto our weekends. It was awesome. [24.7]
[01:21:45] I think being your true authentic self is beautiful. Unless, of course, you're an asshole. But I do think that being yourself is the way to go. [10.4]
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