Photographer / Cait Miers Photography
Talking to Cait Miers, you have to wonder if she’s playing you.
An accomplished photographer?
Living in Byron Bay?
Employed by the world’s biggest brands?
A photography gig in Bali this year with the Cotton On team?
All by the age of 26? I mean, is she for real? The truth is yes.
Cait Miers, is a queen behind the lens, and in real life. Her work dances between commercial and truth so elegantly that I believe she defines the term
“A picture tells a thousand words”.
Yeah, she gets it.
In today’s #careerstory we take you on a showcase of Cait’s life. From her time growing up on the Mornington Peninsula, to navigating life at a private high school (where the academic pressure was thickly applied), to why she deviated her Uni trajectory and picked up a camera instead.
This interview has it all, real life examples, real contacts and real heartfelt career advice from a young women with such a promising and shiny future. (BIG HEART ALERT: Special thanks to the team at Cotton On Body for allowing us to use their “out of this world” campaign photography of their Bali Bible collab this year. This body positivity campaign was shot by the one and only Cait Miers, and boy is it beautiful.)
It doesn’t matter if you aspire to be a photographer, content creator or a heart surgeon, this #careerstory is that electric current that you need in your life right now. Let’s swan dive in…
Cait, so happy to have you here. Let’s start at the very beginning.
I grew up in a little seaside town called Mt Martha on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. It was such an amazing place to grow up and go to school. I have the best friends there and I had a really beautiful childhood. I practically grew up on the beach and it definitely shaped the way I wanted my life to be. I didn’t however grow up wanting to be a photographer, I just wanted a lifestyle job which wasn’t a 9-5!
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to Peninsula Grammar in Mt Eliza. It was great because there were just so many extra curricular activities on offer and it was a really giving and rewarding school.
I love the Peninsula SO much. Such a gorgeous part of the world. Would you say that your high school played an important role in helping you choose your future career?
It some ways yes. As a private school there was a lot of pressure to do further study after school which, looking back on it now, I wish I didn’t value as so important! In school I feel like there’s a lot of pressure to figure out what you want to do straight away, but as you get older and come out of that ‘school’ world you realise there’s a whole lot more to life, and it’s ok to jump from job to job, change careers, not know what you want to do! It’s all part of it.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
I did but they were in the completely different field I’m in now. I actually went back to my old primary school and did PE Teaching. I did this during my Year 10 work experience. Haha!
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
Straight after high school I actually went straight into a double degree in Sports Science/Sports Management. I was really into sport when I was growing up, and for some reason I just felt like that degree suited me. As that first year went on I began to realise it was definitely NOT for me. All this talk about working in hospitals and gyms and doing a masters on top of the degree, I realised this wasn’t going to be the lifestyle job I’d dreamed of.
Half way through the year my eyes kept going back to the RMIT Bachelor of Photography, I kept looking at the course outline and it was really appealing.
Luckily enough, I got into the photography course (apparently 800 applied and they accepted around 100) with a folio of my friends skating and some really horrible surf photos haha! In the interview, they said to me there was a girl who was just like me that had just finished the course, and she was now shooting freelance jobs for Ripcurl womens. That instantly gave me hope and a drive from somewhere in me that I didn’t know existed.
The course was definitely interesting. I was surrounded my photographers that had practically been born with cameras in their hands. I’d only really picked one up that year.
The technical side of the course was really challenging for me, but in the back of mind I had a vision and just ran with it, trying not to let traditional teachers and people that weren’t on the same page as me, bring me down. I presented my final third year folio to the teachers, a book now called ‘Washed Elegance’ where I’d followed and shot a bunch of my gorgeous girl friends surfing in the sea. It was about femininity and elegance in the water, and portraying the message it’s ok to be a lady out there, you don’t need to turn into ‘one of the boys’ to go surfing. It was completely outside the box in terms of what we were ‘allowed’ to shoot, and I was self taught when it came to shooting in the water. I’ll never forget the look on my teacher’s faces in that final review.
I pretty much flew under the rader at uni, I was only there when I needed to be and never got too involved in classes. The degree was definitely worth it though, as I would never have pushed myself to shoot if I didn’t have deadlines and a community to present my work too.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.
It’s been absolutely crazy to be honest.
I finished my Bachelor of Photography in 2014 and went straight into full time freelance work. Instagram was just taking off then, and I had found a niche that people were liking and responding too. Most importantly, I was and still am, super passionate about that niche of women’s surfing.
In 2015 I moved to Bali for a year and picked up a lot of fashion work over there. I got a call up to shoot a Roxy trip in 2015 (when I was 22) which was my dream job. I then went on to shoot 5 trips with them. In between this, my following was growing rapidly and I’d produced a coffee table book (Washed Elegance) that was selling really well online. I was living out my dreams when most of my friends were just finishing their degrees or starting full time work. And that was a hard concept to wrap my head around because it was almost like I needed to reassess my goals and find a new one.
I was completely content in my career and I was only 22!
In 2016 I backpacked around Central America with my best friends and took a little hiatus from shooting.
2017 involved a lot of travel and shooting/working. I moved to Byron Bay at the start of this year and it’s been the best move I’ve ever done.
There’s such a great community of creative up here and it’s epic to put yourself in a situation where brands and people are so easily accessible.
What is the hardest part of your current job?
Tax! Nah that’s ok haha! I’d say keeping motivated and working on my own. Photography is very much a soloists career. Unless you’re on shoots with people, you’re by yourself editing. Freelance is hard, sometimes you never know when your next job will be and that’s a scary concept when you have bills to pay (just like everyone!).
What does a day a typical business day look like for you in your current job?
At the moment my routine is a morning surf, coffee, then at my computer by 9-9.30.
I’ll answer emails and get small jobs out of the way like image requests for clients or online orders from my store. I pretty much go to the post office every day haha!
I’ll then get stuck into editing for the most part of the day, and if I’m done by the time the sun sets I’m back in the water!
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
I have a few. I grew up idolising all the women on the women’s world surf tour because they are all such individuals and glow with femininity. That’s my biggest message I think, embracing femininity in a world where there was once, no place for women in the water according to society’s standards.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
Go for it. Photography will be around for ever, in whatever form that will be. It’s trending now more than ever and if you have the will power, self belief and determination for hard work, you will get to where you want to be. I am a walking product of having a career dream and living out that dream. Anything is possible, and if a girl from a small coastal town can do it, there’s no reason you can’t too. Fear is only in our own minds and once you eliminate that, that fear of failing, you will honestly be able to do incredible things.