Casey Littler | the branding photographer making her mark in Tauranga
Originally from South Africa Casey’s New Zealand story started in the Auckland township of Pukekohe. We caught up with Casey to find out how her successful career in photography has led her and her family to settle in the Bay of Plenty.
Casey, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey so far?
I’ve been a portrait photographer for 13 years now. I have had incredible success and a fair few failures too, its been quite the journey and I’ve loved every step of it. My family and I are originally from Johannesburg South Africa and my family moved to New Zealand in the 1990’s, settling in Auckland. I grew up in Auckland and went on to complete a Bachelor of Visual Arts majoring in film production at the University of Auckland. I started my own business straight out of university at 21 years old. I landed my first job with an incredible photographer Sue Bryce, who ultimately changed my life and career path. I fell in love with portrait photography, and I have never stopped. This passion took me to Australia where I travelled with Sue and continued to learn the art of photography.
My now husband and I first settled in Perth then the Gold Coast where I started my first studio out of a converted garage. This was where it all began and as the years went on my career grew and so did my studio, moving into a bigger and better space. In 2013 we moved back to New Zealand as my husband was made redundant and it felt like the right time to come home. I opened a studio from our home in Karaka, Auckland and got back to it.
Can you tell us your brief career story?
I have had 4 studios in New Zealand, all focusing on portrait photography. Which have all been run out of my home. This enabled me to have my children and still be able to work. It also kept my overheads down. Once my kids were at daycare and then school it was time for the next step. I took on a full commercial studio space in the Heart of Pukekohe town centre. It was my dream studio. My husband, who is a builder, helped me fit it out and transform it into a beautiful and practical space. It was heaven!
Unfortunately, like a lot of people, I didn’t expect for a worldwide pandemic to hit. Taking on a big commercial lease and fit-out didn’t come cheap, I managed to scrape through and survive the first nationwide lockdown in March 2020.
By the time the second lock down hit for Auckland my husband and I looked at each other and both said, let’s sell our house! Why don’t we move to Papamoa!
To be honest, I had never even been to Papamoa, only the Mount and Tauranga. After living on the Gold Coast for 4 years and being so close to the beach, I had missed it badly.
“I am such a beach lover and the Bay of Plenty is just so beautiful. So, we decided that Papamoa would be perfect! Everything fell into place and we moved in October 2020”.
What led you to starting your current venture in the Bay of Plenty?
Through all the ups and downs I decided to ‘retire’ from photography. I felt like I’d reached the pinnacle of my career, building my dream studio and then losing it, and I just couldn’t face trying to start again.
So, I decided to try something different and completed my Real Estate License. I listed and sold 3 properties in my first 6 months and made more money than I usually would in a year in photography. It really wasn’t what I was passionate about though. After completing a Diploma of Interior Design and dabbling in that, I picked up my camera again one day and it just felt so right.
I had discovered what I didn’t like and I just thought, let’s try photography again, but differently. That’s how Casey Creative – Branding photography was born.
Tell us about your new business Casey Creative – Branding Photography
I have run my business solo from day one, managing my own marketing, admin, social media, websites, bookkeeping, all of it. So, I wanted to mold my business around being able to help other people with their own businesses, helping them to brand them properly and professionally. Branding Photography is telling the story of who you are, what your business is and what you’re trying to sell.
“Having beautiful photographs for a business is so important in today’s society. We are all online in some way and having original images that represent who you are and what your business is about, is so important”.
What advice would you give to other families that might be thinking of relocating to Tauranga?
If you’re thinking of relocating to Tauranga, there are lots of networking groups and I highly recommend reaching out on social media. So many people have moved here in recent years, so we can all relate and want to help people feel as welcomed as we did when we first moved.
“It really is a breath of fresh (ocean) air. Its city meets beach town, a bit of everything you need! It’s the best decision we ever made”.