I fell in love with Abby Wilkes about a decade ago, wow what a woman! We instantly hit it off and she's felt like a soul sister ever since. She's bold, beautiful, passionate, soulful and powerful, she believes in you and has this incredible presence about her that just wraps itself around you, and you know that from that moment on, whilst you are in a space together, YOU are the most important person in the world. She listens, she sees, she hears and she uses those unique gifts to tell your story through her authentic creativity. Perhaps that's why now she travels the world seeing change makers through her lens and giving them the platform and space they deserve to shine.
3 years ago, Abby sat in my first workshop that I was putting together as I began to explore my new path. Listening that day as Abby declared what her next steps were going to be, and watching her evolve like the powerhouse she is, has been inspirational. Her creative career has taken on a whole new life of its own, her authentic voice so strong, so beautiful and oh so needed. You can't help but admire from the sidelines as Abby's expansive heart and passion carves her way, leaving her mark in the world everywhere she goes as she lives the purposeful life she was born to create.
Abby Wilkes - The Purposeful Creator
Tell me about your creativity - who and what inspires you? My creativity which has always been there yet only emerged approximately 14 years ago. My creativity has always been inspired by the difference that people make by beautiful actions, planet earth and how she gives and gives. People nowadays seems to be bogged down by the technology and as my dad always used to say ‘Look up!’
There is not one particular person who inspires me, it’s an accumulations of people’s connections with each other, the earth and their surroundings and the difference they make whether it’s people’s lives or giving back to planet earth.
What is the life experience that shaped your life the most? Phew, well, one of many to be honest yet it started when I was 25 after being very unhappy in a job I hated and walked away. I traveled around the world for 2 years, I had no one to be responsible for but myself. Did I get to know people including myself, or what? That’s when I learnt to listen to my gut feeling, be the rebel that I am and the trailblazer that is emerging once again which I neglected. It’s through travel that I get inspired by people’s stories, people’s true believes and the change makers that they are.
How has this reflected in your creativity? It taught me that although you can be inspired by the outside world, your creativity comes from within. Whether you’re looking for the work/life/creativity balance, it’s not about that; it’s all life. The balance has to be within you and there starts your vision, your imagination; your creativity and life.
What drives you to keep evolving creatively? I love co creating with people; literally this morning I got off a Skype call with an amazing soul who I just met a couple of months ago at a conference. Her energy is out of this world; her personality is bigger than the universe; I tell her how I see her; now we’re planning to go to Bali to go deep within so I can truly photograph her the way I see her and how I would like the world to see her; how she truly is; a soulful change maker. We need more people like her and it’s my purpose to create a platform to show the world why we need to pay attention.
What are you really passionate about? It is photographing people who are here to make a true, deep, meaningful difference. You can feel it in the air, they enter the room and you feel it ‘They’re different’, you can feel the empowering energy, when I pick up on that, that’s when I come alive. People don’t always see it themselves, I see them. It’s my soul speaking to their soul.
What is an absolute no for you? Disrespect. You don’t have to agree with someone but no need to be disrespectful. Everyone is entitled to their view/opinion. If your view is compelling and respectful, they might change their view, or not.
What are you most curious about in life right now? Life. What makes people ‘tick’, where they are now, through what experiences. I’m always curious about people’s stories, why the choose to do what they do across all cultures, what drives them. Ask people’s stories and sit back and observe;
What are your biggest life lessons to date? My biggest life lesson is that I have a choice. Do I want to feel sorry for myself ‘poor me’ attitude, or do I want to see this as a lesson and experience; learn from it and move on; I will always chose the latter. Do not hold on to the past; you deserve more; let it go with love so you can move on.
How did your parents help shape you? My parents were very caring, I grew up in a safe environment and they always protected me and come from a place of ‘be safe’. I would say my upbringing was slightly formal, something that, although caring, I did not aspire to this. I’m grateful what they taught me so I can be more the person I am now.
Who was the one person that influenced you the most and how did they helped shape who you are today? It has to be my dad; he was a quiet, wise man and gosh the most patient man I’ve come across; the evenings he sat by me explaining over and over again an algebra sum I just did not get. He would never ever judge; always say ‘try to understand their view’, you don’t have to agree but do listen. Always trying to answer my why questions. He was the one who always took photos of our family and it’s thanks to him photographing us throughout our lives, that I’m now a photographer. I’m grateful to have had him as my father.
What one thing are you currently working on trying to improve? It never stops as we all know. It’s stop pushing that relentless wheel of life; let go, step back and go with the flow. I’m working on with a coach on keeping me on track what works for me and not what I’m supposed to do in the social media world.
What has been your biggest obstacle in life and what did you learn from it? Six years ago my business was not doing well,; I was close to having to close it down. I had a choice, feel sorry for myself or get up and fight. I decided to fight for it; I borrowed money, took some business courses and that’s where my destination photography started and I haven’t looked back since. No one believed me people would book me to fly to exotic place; I loved proving them wrong. Now I’m being flown around the world on a regular basis, whether it’s for portrait, personal branding or retreats. Don’t ever let other people tell you what you should or should not be doing; you decide. The more I was told ‘hmm, I wouldn’t do that’, the more I was driven to prove them wrong.
How have you used challenging emotional experiences to expand your creativity? Hmm, not perse to expand it but definitely to get out of emotional impasse.
What was your life defining moment that shaped you into the person/creative you are today ? It’s not a life defining moment it’s more events that have happened in the past that have had a big influence on me in my views, my belief in myself, not to judge and not allow other judgements of me to influence me.
What is the one creation your heart is calling you to create? My dream is to one day join the Survival team on one of their missions; supporting uncontacted tribes, to capture the authentic ways and that we have to start looking after them. In my present world I’m on this mission to support authentic changemakers, so many doubts, so many inhibitions, indoctrinations, it’s time to show the world the beauty there is around us and inside of us.
What is your vision for your future? Your hopes, goals and dreams? For me it’s to be that platform people go to to be capture who they truly are; my soul will connect with your soul. I see you if you let me. My hopes are that it’s time to let go of wanting more in material things; it’s time to go for the experience
What do you want to be remembered for? How you are remembered begins with who you are today, so start living your life you want to be remembered for. For me? Live life, make a difference, and look at the things I’ve done by knowing I could do it.
How has accessing your authentic creativity impacted your life? It’s still of work in progress. I’m working towards solely working from the heart; I’m still a student of this life so still fine tuning I notice that I’m more focused now of what I want and happy to say no to a project if it does not feel true to me. I’m embarking on new projects that get me closer to be fully me in my creative ways, or so I think... time will tell and that’s what I love about life too.. just go with the flow.
What were you most afraid of when you started following your passion and how did you overcome those fears? That I wasn’t good enough of what people expect me to be, I then came to the realisation that it was me who made that story in my mind so I let go with love and now follow my passion from the heart.
Do those fears still show up today? How do you keep pushing through them? Yes, of course, I’m human, we have emotions. I embrace it, thank it and tell it I don’t need it anymore and move on.
When was the last time you attended any kind of learning/development workshop/programme and what was it? I never stop learning; whether it’s for business, self development, creative projects; only recently, because I travel to much, started listening to podcasts. I think I’m addicted now and learn so much!
What impact has that had? It’s part of the learning process; you become more aware. Improve process, that could be work process or thought process.
How important has personal development been to your life, creativity and business goals? Vital! You have to have ‘me’ time, whether that’s for me, my creativity and my business. I do it at least a couple of times a year, usually January and September.
What are you celebrating right now? That I’m still in business after 12 years, with all the challenging events that come with it. I still love what I do because I look after myself and don’t take life too seriously.
If you could speak to the heart and soul of all creatives what would be the words you would want them to know? To truly do what you love from an authentic place. That does not mean that you should not ask money for it. Don’t forget money is an energy; people give what they think it’s worth. So work on your own worth, belief in yourself and the people will come.
Have the last word … what is the one question I never asked that you really wanted to answer? What is your ‘to go to’ mantra/what you live by? From a very young age and having been extremely shy as a teenager, I promised myself that, then by the age of 70, now I will say by the age of 90, I want to look back at my life, not thinking’ I wish I had done that, but to say, look at all the things I’ve done! I remind myself and can be part of my choice making to go for something I would not easily go for.