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Life and Work with Sarah Casmass

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Casmass.

Sarah, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Estovest Studio was born out of some significant life changes for me! I was born and raised in Long Island, NY and always had a love for cameras from a young age. Even as a baby, my parents joked how I would cry and fidget when they tried to take my photo and wouldn’t calm down until I was holding the camera and could “see behind it”. Hence, they bought me my first point-and-shoot when I was in sixth grade and I was obsessed! I’m talking those classic photos where you make your little sister stand 100 yards away so you can capture her looking like she was being squashed between your fingers- so. Corny. But! Fast forward to my college years, where I studied Studio Art and Education. I had high hopes of becoming the best darn art teacher and I have a passion for education and creative exploration. No matter the medium- clay, paint, graphic design, sculpture, drawing, film photography, you name it- I’m sure I’ve dabbled with it! It wasn’t until my sophomore year where I actually found my way back to cameras again. A photography professor of mine pulled me aside after class one day and offered me a gig. He told me my work had promise, and that there was another faculty member willing to pay for some family photos if I was interested. Not having time himself, he recommended his best student, and to my surprise, that was me! I was floored. I had only been shooting again because of his class and the thought of someone paying me to take pictures seemed too dreamy. (P.S. Teachers like this are half the reason why I still have a goal to teach art! Simply amazing.) Anyway, that family session made me fall in love with photography all over again. Seeing how pleased they were with their photos lit up my heart, and I knew I had to do something with this reignited spark. That summer, I shot my first wedding and was totally sold. By the next year, I had booked several more and would come home on those college breaks and photograph weddings as a way to make some money while being a student. It felt like I was living the dream! I finished out my undergraduate degree having minored in photography and by then had been introduced and mesmerized by medium-format film photography. A lost art, I was mentored by a good friend and fellow artist and learned the wonderful craft. It easily changed my photography business. By the time I graduated, I was accepted into my school’s Masters of Fine Arts Program. Skipping all the grueling details of broke graduate student life and daunting all-nighters- I won a couple of Adobe Awards, honed in on my craft, and graduated again with a head full of dreams.

Meanwhile, throughout all this, I had met my husband, Micah. It’s the classic, we started off best friends, opposites attract, I played hard-to-get, he’s evidence that good guys can break out of the friend zone, and boom!- college sweethearts. A criminal justice major and Midwest forest boy with his five-foot, Hawaiian artist from New York. All through undergrad, we dated and by our junior year, he joined the Marine Corps as an officer candidate. By the time we graduated, he was off to Richmond, VA for training and I started grad school. He surprised me a month into grad school with THE (yes, THE) cutest proposal (find us on How He Asked!) and our plan was to finish out our schoolings and get hitched in the summer. He got stationed out to sunny San Diego and that’s what brought us here! The plot twist was when this past April, a mere few months before the wedding, he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. It rocked our world and definitely caused us to change course, but we believe that everything truly happens for a reason and that there is a good, good, God who is for us. We eloped and in June, the month we would’ve had our wedding, I moved out here to San Diego to join my husband. We have been so blessed by the community of incredible doctors and nurses that have cared for us throughout this year, and the Marine Corps for how they look out for their service members. And don’t worry, the wedding has been postponed- hopefully with remission and a marriage to celebrate now!

But how does all of that factor into Estovest Studio’s story? Well, moving out here in the way we did was obviously not at all how we expected to be. I knew I couldn’t fulfill my dreams of becoming an art teacher just yet, so I took a leap and rebranded my photography business. I named it “Estovest” due to the combination of the Italian words for “east” and “west”, and for how it represents my origins on the east coast and our new life, here on the lovely west coast. A hybrid photographer, a hybrid coastal girl- the business now has helped me to learn the courage in pursuing your dreams and being dedicated to the things that light your heart up. For me, I began realizing that it wasn’t just weddings, love stories and the awesome couples that I loved to capture, but my passions also lied in styling, editorial and true high-end fine art photography. But how do you go from shooting weddings on the side to becoming a magazine photographer and art director? Can someone even make a living in that? The risk was obvious, but I also came to realize that pursuing your gifts for the passions they provide are well worth any risk. It’s crazy how even the most discouraging, desperate situations can make you see the beauty of life and the worthwhile moments in them so much more clear. So, I took a leap and launched a fine-art editorial business from our tiny couch in little Oceanside, California! I had no network, no leads, just me, my husband’s encouraging support, and my camera. But as dismal as that seems, I share this because I want it to be an encouragement to you, reader, that as small and hopeless as my odds seemed- look how little is required to make your dreams come true! Now, I strive to use my new photography business to educate, collaborate, and create moments of true meaning through my lens. As photographers, we are a unique kind of artist that get to timestamp moments and document ordinary legacies, and my desire is to increase the beautiful in the world by doing so. To serve people and to love them well through my own commitment to my dreams.

Altogether, we are still figuring it out and life and though I know a little photography studio isn’t going to change the world, I still see how it can make a difference. Our story and journey has caused Micah and I to learn to hold very loosely to our plans- BUT- I’ve learned how through new friends I’ve made, a business I love, and appreciation for each day is born in the process of taking risks and being committed to your own passions. There’s truly nothing more fulfilling and we are so thankful for how our new life in San Diego has given us these new, beautiful things.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’m sure there are others that have faced many more obstacles than I have pursuing my goals, and for that I consider myself definitely fortunate. But it wouldn’t be life if there wasn’t challenges faced pursuing something meaningful.

It wouldn’t be life if there wasn’t challenges faced. But my best advice for other women who feel they can relate is this:

1. Start simple, you don’t have to conquer the world overnight. The best things in life are worth working hard for, so look at what you have to offer and KNOW that it is enough. Assign worth to yourself and then you’ll have something meaningful to give. If you feel you have nothing valuable to give- you’re not alone! Anyone who you now see as someone great started off asking themselves the same thing. You have inherent value- start with YOU and then work forward.

2. Buy yourself a boujie planner and invest in those goals baby! If you don’t treat them like they are worth even a pretty piece of paper to be written down on, then no one else will either. Every year I treat myself to a nice, expensive planner and it seems silly- but it makes me that much more likely to fill it up with tangible action steps.

3. Build a community. You cannot do this life alone- so find friends who are like-minded and share resources. Not only is it so much more encouraging, but if a community serves its purpose, you will always have someone to lean on in the losses and to celebrate wins with.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Estovest Studio – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Sure thing!

I specialize in fine art film photography and design. Weddings and luxury editorials are my most common medium within photography, and I specialize in the complete art direction of styling a shoot from start to finish. I love being inspired by something simple (a swatch of ribbon, a color scheme, a funky wardrobe piece) and casting a vision to make it come to life. Due to my seven years in art school, I have a deep appreciation for project-based photo work which is why I ended up in editorials. Having creative control over a scene and the ability to curate and influence it’s coming together just plays up all the things I feel to be my strengths. Though I don’t primarily focus on them anymore, weddings in this way too, allow me to essentially do this but through connecting to a couples unique relationship. I get to help them “brand” their love story and it’s just so. stinking. cool.

I’m known for my romantic take on photos- organic, candid moments in creamy, light-drenched warmth and hopefully, my love for people. I really don’t do business for what I can get out of it- and I am proud of that motivation because I feel it’s protected the authenticity of my work. It’s actually my motivation for a personal project in the works that I’m super excited about! I can’t say much about it now for copyright purposes, but my graduate school dissertation involved combining of my second set of passions: interior design and human personality. So if you’re a sucker for some nifty spaces and a little psychology- feel free to stay tuned on that! 😉

Often it feels as if the media, by and large, is only focused on the obstacles faced by women, but we feel it’s important to also look for the opportunities. In your view, are there opportunities that you see that women are particularly well positioned for?

Just like anything, the media is so good at displaying all that goes wrong when the reality is- the majority of things are going right! Women have such opportunities that due to their unique position, only WE can offer. Every aspect of society is tied to women because, news flash, women make up half the society! So instead of fighting tooth and nail for the things that aren’t worth arguing, we should be confident in the fact that our unique perspective can’t be taken from us! The world is comprised of BOTH men and women, and like any classic pair, each need the other. What’s peanut butter without jelly, avocado without toast, or ramen without sriracha? Corny, but come on California, you get my point 😉

Women offer specific capabilities, insight and intuition into all the major spheres of culture: education, business, medicine, science, the arts, sociology, and so much more. So ladies, instead of adopting a mindset of scarcity, let’s adopt one of abundance and I do believe that you will see how many more doors open in front of you.

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