Written by: Harrison Gough
Carlie Statsky’s journey in photography began in Australia, when frozen hailstones hit hot earth and melted together during one summer caught on camera. While growing up between two continents, she had learned to carry a camera with her on her journeys; traveling and making tangible memories of her experiences instilled in her a sense of purpose and a drive for photography. It was this summer, however, that resulted in a discovery that would inspire her work. “These images of my brother walking through fields of steam captured the magic of the moment,” she says, thinking back to what started it all: a marriage of fire and ice, and images of something truly rare and special.
Statsky’s high school in Australia didn’t offer any photography classes, but it didn’t stop her from pursuing the craft in any way she could. Eventually, she found her way back to California to pursue higher education at UC Santa Cruz, where she designed her own major around photojournalism. As with her previous experiences with photography, she made a discovery that would echo throughout her photographic career. Her thesis was a photoessay on joy, exploring the concept through pictures and words. It was this concept that continues to reverberate in Statsky’s work.
Although Statsky had always appreciated the field of photojournalism, she realized the inevitable conflict that would arise from two completely different lifestyle choices. Globetrotting photojournalism was an idea that proved difficult to reconcile with her dream of becoming a mom, but once motherhood was realized, Statsky began to document her own family. This resulted in a shift from freelance photographyto weddings and lifestyle portraiture,but it also brought her full circle—she was once again documenting joy. This emphasis on joy is something consistently brought to light in her work.
There are challenges and rewards in their own measure for Carlie Statsky. Her work as a photographer often requires weekend trips to shoot on location, which unfortunately also means missing some important celebrations with family and friends, and sporting competitions with her kids. She makes the effort to be there for them in any way she can, though—live-texts from the grandparents are a standby, as is documenting them through her lens when she’s not working. Reflecting on the nature of the business, Statsky sums it up aptly: “When you’re running you’re own business,your homework’s never done.”
Of course, working out of Happy Valley has its challenges. According to Statsky, it is a surprisingly well-placed spot and allows relatively quick access to shooting locations in Santa Cruz and the surrounding areas. Additionally, the solitude is also a great tool to keep her focused on her craft. However, as expected for such a quiet location, internet connectivity is a bit of an issue: Statsky typically relies on external hard drives and locations with better wi-fi when she needs to do large uploads to online galleries. But, as she is quick to point out, she gets to be her own boss, her clients become her friends, and she becomes personally invested in their events and photos.
Luckily enough, her husband Gabe photographs every wedding with her and is always willing to go the extra mile. He’s also part of the reason she decided to move back to California from Australia. When back stateside for her brother’s graduation from Berkeley, Statsky met Gabe and made the very quick decision that she would move country for him. Gabe is now not only the man she married and the father to their two kids, but also her partner in capturing the best moments in people’s lives.
According to Statsky, she was fortunate enough to have an entrepreneurial father and a creative mother. As a daughter of the two, she is unafraid of change nor risk, and photography as a career is something she pursues equally fearlessly. To Statsky, however, what she offers is a much deeper service than a simple business: she makes connections with the people she photographs through shared experiences and joy; she is there to document their happiest days and their freshest beginnings. To her, wedding photography, maternity photography, portraits of newborns and family connections—these are some of the most impactful and cherished memories people can keep, and she feels honored to help document them in a way that does them justice.
To learn more about Carlie Statsky go to her company page: www.carliestatsky.com