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Life & Work with Rachael Galipo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachael Galipo.

Hi Rachael, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I am a Jersey girl at heart though my path has taken me all along the west coast. I grew up playing a lot of sports such as ice hockey, soccer, lacrosse, and ballet. I expressed myself through the clothes I would wear and how I did my hair. Then on my 12th birthday, my grandma gave me my grandpa’s 35mm camera. To this day, I stand at 27 still with that camera in my hand and many more. I found a place in creating art for myself and for others to enjoy or not.

In high school, I took extra classes to ensure I took all the art classes that were offered. After high school, I went to the University of New Hampshire where I majored in psychology and minored in art and outdoor education. New Hampshire was where I discovered my love for the outdoors with sports like climbing and snowboarding. This is also where I discover the meaning of therapy and intertwined it with my interests. My goal was to become an art therapist working in wilderness therapy. During my time in college, I experienced a life-altering moment and decided I would move forward with my life by taking chances because I learned that life is too fragile not to. Shortly after I graduated, I worked 3 jobs to save up enough money to drop everything and move into a van and travel. All along this process, I had a camera in hand. Though it was more of a hobby for me.

During the 4.5 years of traveling and simply living, I worked as a field guide in wilderness therapy for Evoke in Bend Oregon. Wilderness Therapy is a program for individuals to escape the struggles of their lives and use the outdoors as a place of heaven, an opportunity to learn, and experience therapy. After being a field guide I decided to become a teacher. Which then I found The Climbing Academy (never would I have thought I’d be a teacher but taking risks was enough of a factor to try). Here I taught AP Human Geography, English, Seminar, and Media Productions. The Climbing Academy is a fully accredited international school with a focus surrounding climbing. I taught in this program for 2 years. I loved every second of it.

Then halfway through my second year of teaching one student asked me why I didn’t work within the realm of photography full-time. From that moment on I’ve made the adjustment to become a full-time freelance photographer and do all that it takes.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The road is neer smooth and I don’t ever want it to be.

Growing up I struggled with some health issues and they seemed to re-present themselves in college and in my early 20s. This definitely put somewhat of a hold on my confidence and motivation.

Growing up in New Jersey, my family was into the life that they were brought up in – education, money, career. I always found myself in my wondering thoughts knowing that this was not the way I could do life. No one brought me to this point of adventure and exploration of different options. It kind of fell into my lap and my family, though it took time, to understand and support my decisions. Looking back on this now, I fell into this place of “newness,” ran far with it, and never looked back. Looking the unknown dead in the face was extremely satisfying to me.

As of January, I became a full-time freelance photographer … Whoof seems crazy to say and also a little nerve shacking but what i’ve learned and how I have lived my life, taking risks is what excites me. This means countless days of sunrise to sunset on the computer searching for your next client. Many moons wondering how to stand out from the crowd. Hours of failing to see only a little of success. Building connections that might not be sought out to the end. Being vulnerable in your work to collect critical feedback. Being an assistant on shoots you are trying not to wish that you yourself were shooting. Saying yes to all the random jobs just to have money for the month.

Lastly, I think the biggest bumpiest, pot whole filled section of this road is navigating personal relationships. First and foremost my family. My family is my everything they have supported my very different lifestyle the whole way. Sadly with moving out west and the amount of traveling I do, I see them less. This is one of the hardest pieces of my life. And I am still working toward being better with balance. This always extends to my friends.

I guess what I am saying here is that sometimes chaos and the challenges that come with it. It’s good for me to experience but it’s the work and effort you put into it that makes it worth it.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I just became a freelance photographer. I am not booked out every week nor have massive constant clients that I do one job and am good for a few months. These things take time and I’ve realized how hard you have to work for what you want. Since January, I’ve assisted photographers that I looked up to growing up, I have been a production assistant countless of times, and modeled here and there. Even if I am being offered a job where I am not being hired on as a photographer, I take it. Every opportunity is a time to learn, grow, and experience.

As for my photographery, I am a freelance commercial photographer with a focus on the outdoor industry. I have been hired on as a photographer for companies such as Black Diamond, Arc’teryx, Wrangler, Backcountry, Wolverine and a few more. I think my style is unique through the emotions and stories I am able to tell through each image.

As for my personal work, I use a 4×5 film camera. I am actually currently in the heat of building work up for an art show I have in SLC. This show will hold all of my action 4×5 work at Essentail Photo Supply July 15th from 6-9.

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
Connecting with people is more than just taking their pictures.

Far From Strangers Project:

After my uncle gave me his 4×5 camera I had to leave it at my house for a while living in a van.

After he passed away I was back home in NJ and had a shoot in NY. I decided to randomly bring it as NY was his old stomping ground.

Sadly my shoot in NY got canceled and I was left not knowing how to fill my creative time in NY. Until I realized that I wanted to shoot with the 4×5. The project was called Far From Strangers. My goal was to escape my reality and step onto anyone that would let me.

I would look into the crowd and try to connect using energy. If they were open to it before taking their portraits I would ask them to tell me about themselves. Turns out people really enjoyed and the emotion that came from the images were breathtaking.

Contact Info:


Image Credits
Carlos Guzman
Caleb Robinsonn

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