We had the good fortune of connecting with Ute Reckhorn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ute, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
When my youngest child started school, I realized the house was too empty and that I needed something to focus my mind on other than my kids. My husband’s DSLR camera always sat unused on his desk and I figured that photography could be an interesting hobby for me! I quickly began learning all I could about the art and took pictures whenever I could. At first it was just to keep busy, but I eventually began considering it as a profession for myself and as something I could keep doing forever. I started selling photoshoots, which was initially hard to do out of fear of being a newcomer in such a big market. In recent years, though, I have been able to find my niche in teaching photography and in specialty lenses, which offer unique and dreamlike possibilities for my photography. I’ve always had a huge passion for things that are a little out of the ordinary and that shows in my pictures and the emotions they convey, no matter if I am portraying people or landscapes. It took moving to the Los Angeles area for me to become confident in myself and in my unique work, and to seize the opportunities that are given to me. Living in Southern California changed my vision and gave me an artistic freedom that allowed me to develop my brand “Californialover Photography”.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Something I’m really proud of is my multicultural background. After spending the first two decades of my life in Germany I started traveling the world together with my husband and our kids. His job would make us live in countries like South Korea and Brazil. After immigrating to the US we continued to move around this beautiful country. Living in places like Seoul, Sao Paulo, Detroit, San Francisco and Los Angeles broadened my horizon and made me appreciate our diversity. It naturally had an impact on how I see the world as a photographer. Most of my work is pretty colorful and has a special twist. I think deep down in my soul all these experiences influence my art. I love to give people pictures of themselves, their relationships and their inner beauty or the beauty that surrounds us.
When I was younger I didn’t have the same kind of courage to show what I see with my heart and eyes. Instead I often felt very self conscious about my accent and my way of sticking out. I would often try to camouflage and pretend I’m the quiet one, instead of being proud about my special gifts.
Living in the South Bay of Los Angeles gave me a new perspective. Our community here is so diverse, easy going and welcoming that it brought out my true colors. I think living at the beach gives people a certain kind of free and easy attitude, that can be very liberating.
I still operate on a very small scale as an artist, but I don’t see it as an obstacle anymore. Instead I appreciate the freedom that I have in creating and sharing my art with the world.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would definitely start with a hike at the Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve. From there we would go and have coffee and pastries at the Pinwheel in Torrance. I love their French treats. Since I’m a big nature lover, so we would also explore our beautiful beaches. Here in the South Bay we are so lucky to have miles and miles of beach walks. Starting in PV at the Abalone Cove I would take my visitor down to the rocky beach area for the sunset and enjoy the spectacular views. Then we would finish the day with an Italian dinner at Avenue Italy. The next day I would reserve for the beach cities and their little boutiques for souvenir shopping. Some of my favorites are the Aloha Bungalow in Redondo, Gum Tree (also a great place for breakfast or lunch) and Drica Lobo’s little art garage in in Hermosa Beach. At the end of the day I would spoil my visitor with a yummy dinner at Turquoise in Redondo. Their food is homemade and not only healthy but also delicious. On our last day we would meet up with my friend Sara Butler (owner of South Bay Artist Studio), put on our roller skates to skate along the coast, talk about art and finish the day off with a glass of wine and a variety of seafood at the Pier in Redondo Beach. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to use this space to do a big shoutout to our wonderful community of local business owners, creators, coaches, and like minded people here in the South Bay. During the second half of 2020 I was fortunate enough to meet many of them in person for short (socially distanced) interviews for a project that I was doing together with my daughter Clara. After searching for a bookstore in May of last year and realizing there are not many left, we took it into our own hands to interview small family owned businesses and to post these stories on our designated Instagram account @facesofsouthbay to raise awareness of their struggles during Covid. We loved hearing the stories of longtime established businesses as much as we did listening to new (often inspired by Covid) businesses. We will be forever grateful for this experience. It taught us so much about resilience, perseverance and the importance of human connections. But most importantly it gave us roots and room to dream in a time, when we all felt stressed and unsure about our future.
I also love books and remember two very fondly, because they changed my work ethic for the better:
“The Great Work of Your Life – A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling” by Stephen Cope was probably the most inspiring book in regards to my career that I’ve ever read. It made me think about my true passion and what I want to do with this second half of my life.
The second one that had a huge impact on me, my dreams and my work ethic is “Unfu*k Yourself” by Gary John Bishop. Reading this book helped me exactly as the title suggests to get out of my head and into my life.
Other: Clubhouse: @californialover