Katie Mitchell is an Australian wedding and portrait photographer living in Paris. Growing up she spent 10 years in England and these days she’s travelling the world over, working and experiencing both the freedom and challenges that come with owning a business. Here, Katie and I speak about life as a daring adventure, being in a relationship with someone from a different culture to your own, her top picks for Paris and learning to improvise, adapt and overcome.
You have said that you believe life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all – can you speak to this?
I’ve always loved this quote by Helen Keller and have let it lead me to many around the world adventures. One of my ambitions was to climb to Everest Base Camp and in 2012 I ticked it off my bucket list. Trekking in the Himalayas was such a life changing experience. Nepal taught me to open my heart and it was there that I met my wonderful man Emanuele at a yoga retreat in the mountains of Pokhara. By daring greatly, I met the love of my life. I believe that sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zones to feel at our freest and to really live.
You are Australian, your partner is Italian and you live together in France? I believe that–while sometimes challenging–being in a relationship with someone from a different culture to your own is a completely mind-opening experience. Do you agree?
Absolutely! I feel like I have learned so much from Emanuele. He has always been so incredibly supportive of my move across the miles. He inspires me every day with his passion and drive for life. He has shown me his Paris (a city he adopted 18 years ago) and now it’s mine too. We navigate life, language and love here in Europe together.
What do you love most about what you do?
Through the medium of photography, I am able to meet so many wonderful people from all around the world. I’m invited to witness the unique connections of the couples that I work with, tell their story with my camera and create something beautiful for them. Photographing two people in love and helping them leave their legacy is incredibly rewarding.
What do you find testing about being so far away from Australia?
I have many dear friends back in Australia that I miss greatly every single day. I often long for sunshine, blue skies, walking barefoot in the backyard and swimming in the ocean! I love being surrounded by nature and so city living certainly has been a tough transition. Luckily Paris has some gorgeous parks that I spend a lot of time in and I try to return to Australia when I can for little doses of all of the above.
What advice would you give to someone contemplating a move overseas?
Do it! Who knows where it might lead. It may well open up a new culture, offer you a soul mate or even serve as an important reminder that your home country is where you truly belong. There is beauty in the struggle and new experiences can tell you so much about who you are, or perhaps even where you are meant to be.
What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
My Dad would always encourage my sisters and I to “improvise, adapt and overcome”. He wasn’t a Marine (and I’m not even sure if he’s a fan of Clint Eastwood) but he sure is a wise man and I have no doubt that it has helped us all keep calm through many challenges over the years.
If you gave someone a one-day itinerary for Paris, what would it look like?
Sleep in (a must if you want to fully embrace the Parisian lifestyle!) before sauntering through the Jardin du Palais Royal. Stop to sit on a bench and ponder life (don’t forget to pick up a pastry along the way). Drop by the Musèe de l’Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries to stand and marvel at a 360 degree painting of Monet’s Les Nymphéas. Ellsworth is a must for a lovely lunch before climbing up to Montmartre to hunt for vintage treasures (stop by The Hardware Société Paris for afternoon tea if you’re in need of something sweet). Next take the stairs up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe for an incredible view over the city. Go via the plethora of cheese and wine shops on Rue Montorgueil to collect some French deliciousness on your way to your final stop – the Jardin du Luxembourg for a picnic dinner with friends (weather permitting!).
How do you relate to the word ‘adrift’?
Letting life lead you to where you are meant to be. Allowing yourself to let go – to follow your heart when all you want to do is follow your head. Feeling contentment in belonging to and feeling at home in more than one place.