Aiste Saulyte is a UK-based photographer. She creates personal brand photography to help creatives & small business owners connect with their people and show up fully in their light. Her work is stunning, she manages to capture the authenticity of the human experience. I’ve had the opportunity to chat with Aiste to find out more about her inspiring story! Check it out below, and make sure you follow Aiste on her website, Instagram and Pinterest.
Hi Aiste and welcome to LIFT ME UP. You were born in Lithuania and moved to London at the age of 18. How traveling has shaped the person that you are today?
Hi Charlotte, firstly – thanks so much for inviting me to this conversation. I feel blessed to be part of this lovely series you’re creating here. As to your question, I’d have to start by saying that moving to a different country at a young age was definitely intentional in terms of my personal growth. Not only was it a chance for an adventure of a lifetime, but I knew that by moving abroad I would grow enormously as a person. I think it’s beautiful when people stay in the same place they grew up, surrounded by their family and friends. But I do think that it has a negative side which is that is doesn’t push people to interact with and learn different ways of being. I strongly believe that narrow-mindedness is bred in that stagnant and closed place. I know I’m getting quite political, but truly moving to a different country, especially such a cosmopolitan place as London was a political decision for me. I grew up in a place where people were not allowed to travel beyond Soviet Union for decades and I saw what that does to a nation. I also saw how the ability to travel began to change our culture and mindset in such a positive way. And I knew that it was up to my generation to travel, to see the world, to expose ourselves to different cultures, languages and ways of being. I also think that facing different political, social and economic problems allows us to gain perspective on those of our own and find new creative solutions. But most importantly it educates us, it makes us better and more open-minded people, it allows compassion & common understanding to grow. I feel so lucky to have been able to make this move in my life. I came to London to do a BA in International Politics and that expanded my horizons in ways I didn’t even know it will. I know that education and travel are a huge privilege. But most importantly, I am really grateful I had this chance to meet and be around people from so many different places accross the world, because that has given me so much knowledge, understanding and humility. I really do think it is about how we travel. I don’t think just going somewhere and seeing all the tourist attractions is as valuable, whilst an exciting thing to do. I think to really travel in a way that helps us grow as individuals and a society it is important to travel a little slower and take time to really get to know the places and the people, and learn of their way of life.
What lessons have you learned from living in London?
I think there’s such a variety of things I learned from my time there it’s hard to narrow it down. But most importantly I think I learnt a couple of things. One, as I was saying earlier, it expanded my horizons. I got to meet people from all sorts of places, all walks of life and with such different attitudes, beliefs and ways of living that it really changed the way I make decisions about my own life too.
Mostly it gave me a better understanding of the beautifully colorful world we live in. Lithuania is such a small place and everyone is so similar it was really a huge cultural experience to see so much variety of cultures and lifestyles going on in one place. And just hearing people’s stories, it’s really mindblowing how insanely different the life of a person standing next to you can be. Even just at university, you might be sitting there worried about that assignment you’re late to submit, whilst your coursemate next to you has just lost multiple members of family due to bombings back in their home country. It really gives you perspective.
The other thing I think was a really big lesson and a catalyst for my moving to a small town is realising just how much the modern way of living has left people so detached from themselves, their communities and their land. London is a really intense place. And whilst there’s so much exciting stuff and world-shaking progress happening there, there is also so much unhappiness. My experience of growing up in Lithuania was quite different to that.
The countryside was always an integral part of our lives in my family. There’s no avoiding potato harvest, no matter how busy school or work gets. I think being brought together by these events and being so close to nature and a natural seasonal way of living keeps you grounded. After several years in London, I realised I felt imbalances and lacked that part of my life that kept me calmer, more in-tune with the world and simply more down-to-earth I guess. I think being closer to nature, to where your food comes from as well as nourishment for your body and soul keeps you healthier. It helps with mental health issues and physical health, too. As difficult as life got in Lithuania, I never felt the sort of anxiety as I did living in London. I do think you can find a way to lead a better life in a city, but it’s much harder and moving to the countryside has made a huge difference in my wellbeing and happiness.
You’re a UK-based photographer who helps creatives & small business owners. What do you seek to capture when you photograph people?
I look for their soul, their life-light if that makes sense. I’m never just trying to make someone look good. They do as a natural consequence. But the key for me is to capture that essence, the shine in their eyes that keeps them passionate, alive and so excited about doing the work they love in the world. Of course, then there’s the other strategic aspects to a photoshoot with a creative or small business owner.
There’s trying to tell their brand story, show the behind the scenes of their business to really help their audience to connect with what they do. I work with them beforehand to make sure that the aesthetic is also aligned with their business and we’re generally showing them and what they do in the best light and are inspiring their audience to follow along their journey & to connect with their services or buy their products. But really most important thing of all for me is to show that person shining and stepping into the light. My hope is that when they come to me, they’re ready to be seen and to be vulnerable with me. And that’s where the magic happens.
You’ve written an inspiring blog post about ‘Your Purpose’ (that I really enjoyed reading). You proudly write that your purpose is to share the magic of this world with us through photography, illustrations. For those still looking for their purpose in life, what could you tell them?
People spend their days chasing the next high, next goal, next achievement and so on. My goal with my work is to make people stop and bring them to the present moment. I do that by creating photography that shows the magic of that present moment. I think it has the power to remind people how important the most simple moments and things around us truly are. I think it’s so important for me, because that’s what makes me feel so alive. It’s when I see those simple moments of magic that my heart is full of life and gratitude for getting to do this thing we call life.
So my advice to those who are looking for their purpose is to think of what makes them come alive? I think our purpose is a mash-up of what makes us come alive and how it can positively impact the world and the people around us. I think you’ve got to think about what you really really love to do and explore that first. Sometimes the purpose isn’t very clear. But if you keep asking yourself why you love that so much, why you do it, why you carry on, then the answer surfaces eventually. You just have to dig through layers of what you think your purpose ‘should be’. If you simply just enjoy yourself and what you do positively impacts others in even the smallest way, that’s a purposeful thing to do. Especially with creative pursuits. Most of us start, because we just love the process. It may seem selfish, but even if what we create just brings others joy or inspiration or a good time, then that’s great. I don’t think purpose has to be this grand world-changing thing.
In your opinion, what can we do to lift others up?
The biggest thing that helps me is when people are just unapologethically living their lives and they share their stories, their struggles and what’s in their heart openly. It reminds me I’m never alone in what I’m going through. We all have self-destructive thoughts, bad days and difficult times. The more we share about this openly with each other, the more we are reminded we’re all going through stuff and none of it is forever.
I try to be really honest with my journey and my struggles and I do receive thanks from people for sharing, because it helps them with what they’re going through. Inspiring, encouraging, educating each other is a way we all grow together. It’s all about creating a space, a community, a society where we all feel welcome and ecouraged to be true to who we are, and loved in our imperfections. There’s that saying that goes around Instagram a lot as an inspirational quote: “A rising tide lifts all boats”. I think it’s so right. I think lifting each other is about making this world a better place and I’m always so glad to see projects like this dedicated so lovingly to inspiring and uplifting people. So keep doing what you’re doing!
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