Flash Back Fridays with Beatrice Ursula aka @BEATRICEURSULA
TGI Flashback Fridays! We're revisiting some of our favorite BISHes and reigniting conversations; seeing how their attitudes and creativity have evolved over time. This Friday, we're catching up with photographer Beatrice Ursula from the Bay Area and learning about what she's been up to since the last time we chatted. See more below!
How has your work/professional life changed since we last spoke to you?
The last time we spoke was for the MISSBISH Photography Workshop — I wanna say that was in 2015? Around that time, I was always on the go; ready to pull up to a cafe to edit photos, or leave and do a photo shoot, and/or pull up to an event that night. It was a non-stop and spontaneous time, and it led to a lot of new and exciting experiences creatively/personally/professionally. I definitely didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a lot. And between 2016 and now, I’ve given myself a lot of breathing space to shift my focus; slow down, and get more in-tune with my mind, body, and spirit.
This year I spent 5 months in my homeland, the Philippines — and a lot of that time, I just spent tapping in. Reading. Writing. Meditating. Spending time with family. Learning about my history. It’s funny just how productive of a time that was for me given how chill I was in my movements. It’s through this effort I made these last couple years (of slowing down) and my most recent time in the Philippines that I got to tie things together this summer, working on my first solo exhibition with VSCO at their headquarters in Oakland, CA. It was a fulfilling experience to bring to life something that incorporated different mediums of work that required a brain power and intuition to piece together. What I also loved doing along with the show, was a morning talk with Creative Mornings Oakland, where I spoke at length at about craft, intuition, slowing down. These experiences have given me confirmation on things I want to do more of, and I might just be at that awkward “piecing it together” stage.
What's the biggest difference you've seen in your industry?
It’s all a trip right now! The biggest difference I’ve seen right now is accessibility. While in 2009-2011, Tumblr, for example, you could easily find your niche group of like-minded people. Look at where we are now with platforms like Instagram where your feed serves as a storefront and portal for communication and engagement. If you have a story to share, if you have a brand, a company, or a restaurant, here you have this space to interact and share and connect that get more nuanced with every update. It’s a lot! There’s just so much movement and so much change. Consciousness is shifting. There’s so a lot coming to light. We’re having more open conversations around self-care, wellness, mental health, spirituality and about taking breaks from the digital world. We’re seeing more representation, and there are amazing people really putting in an effort to make that happen in different industries. We’re creating spaces to connect these dots and bridge these gaps, and we’re all doing our part to move things in a new direction. I think that’s amazing.
How has getting yourself or your work seen changed? Any changes in how you market yourself or your brand?
Getting my work seen has reminded me that what I’m doing is, in some subtle way, beyond me. It’s easy to get caught up in your own bubble of “What is my purpose, what are my gifts, wait what am I doing, etc.," and not seeing how much easier it is if you can get out of your own head. I can feel myself going back to my roots of having more fun with the marketing and branding. Whatever way I tried to be more restrictive or disciplined, or more formal or orderly about certain things (like planning and organizing posts), the more it took away from my natural impulse and excitement to share. If I plan things, the moment of inspiration will have passed. I’m an Aries Venus — I don’t like that. Branding doesn’t ask much of you if you’re staying true to you. I’m remembering to enjoy myself.
Anything that you know now that you wish you had known then? What's the biggest lesson you've learned?
What’s the biggest lesson? Wooh. There is so much to learn. And so much to unlearn. Robert Greene talks about this in his book, Mastery, where there’s a 5-10 year period where you’re figuring shit out in your field, and you’re gonna be lacking in a lot of skills and knowledge and that’s perfectly fine. You’re still figuring it out. But go figure it out. He says don’t act like you know everything when you’re starting out even though naturally you’d wanna appear like you know more. This is your chance to ask more questions. Own your student-ness. Study the game. Play by your strengths. Don’t get played. Don’t play yourself. I’m speaking from what I’ve experienced for sure.
One thing I’m understanding as well is that a creative career is as much a hustle as any; it’s in some ways an entrepreneurial endeavor; it requires organization and order and discipline and legalities and lots of logistics to do things right, and it’s easy to overlook that. Because we can easily set up an online shop in 10 minutes, and easily market our work on our own now, it’s also just as easy to think that being a creative is that straightforward. You’re a businessperson. It would benefit you to take things less personally, have more fun, know what your strengths and weaknesses are, put yourself in an environment where you’ll thrive. You may work best in solitude, while someone thrives in a workplace setting. So many lessons. So many books to read. A lot of comfort zones to smash through. I can’t stress how many takeaways I keep having. I love sharing them.
Where do you see your future going?
I see myself... giving myself the permission to branch out into all the different things that fuel my fire, and inspire me, and energize me. I love discussing ideas and solutions, I love sharing what I’ve learned, and I wanna do that a lot more. I see myself having even more fun, and being more relaxed. The last time I spoke with MISSBISH, I was introducing myself as a photographer, which I like to think is a leaf and branch of who I am. It’s an essential part of my being, an extension of my purpose. My future is about growing this tree. So more creative projects. More seemingly-unrelated projects. More stories to share. Through writing and speaking.
Taking things less seriously. Cooking new foods. Having an herb garden. Building a team — I can’t wait to do that. More toasts. More gratitude. Attending more conferences. And retreats. Capturing more moments. Honoring my intuition. Staying centered. Living in prosperity, abundance, friendships, fulfillment, joy.
What advice do you have for others when handling things not going as planned or adapting to changes?
It definitely depends on the situation, but usually, when things don’t go as planned, or things change, I’m usually like, “Alright, cool, we got it. Let’s work around that. Let’s get it.” I sometimes like the challenge of it. Other times, of course, it’s not like that though. If you really had a set idea in your head of how things were gonna run, naturally, you might get upset. It might have been a communication issue, it might have been something overlooked.
Last year, I did a shoot in the Philippines with my mom. I brought up the idea out of nowhere, we put together the look and the shoot a day or two right before a trip, and everything — everything — about that had gone perfectly. Amazing. From that, I immediately wanted to do even more shoots back-to-back. I wanted to pick up some new textiles, new materials, by the next week. That next week turned to next month. Not all the pieces were together yet. One month turned into two. Other things came up, logistics were challenging. Then, another big obstacle came up, and after 3-4 months, I had embraced that some things can’t be forced. Of course, I was bummed, but I learned. When you have these ideas you want to bring to life now, life will also teach you that sometimes now isn’t the time, and you can humbly take it as feedback on what to do to prepare better next time. Next time there’s an opportunity, how will you be prepared for it? How much time do you need? All these different factors. Of course, there are other situations where you have to adapt. Sometimes you find yourself in an unexpected situation, something comes up and you don’t have the space or time to trip about it. A situation where you have to think on your feet, just clear yourself of any emotional reaction. Buck up and groove through it. It may be a situation that requires a lot of your patience and strength, and you have to tell yourself you’re stronger and quicker than you know. Go outside. Go somewhere new. Pray for a new idea, pray for guidance, pray for a solution. Meditate. Remember you’re strong enough to figure some of this shit out and keep it all the way flowing. And also remember, sometimes you’re not. Talk to your higher self. Love yourself for not knowing how to do something, and call a friend or someone who does. Take a cold shower. Do jumping jacks. Shadowbox. List all the things you’re grateful for. Say your affirmations. Keep saying “It’s okay, we got this. New solutions. Something different.” Different situations call for different responses, and if you know the kind you’re in, and you have different strategies, approaches, and tools to manage, you’ll know how to act. A wise friend shared this quote with me, and now I stand by it: “Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.” IMPROVISE. ADAPT. OVERCOME.