Game Changer Interview: Ari Leo

Game Changer Interview: Ari Leo

Name of Your Business

Vivid Instincts Photography.

How Does Your Work Enable You to Connect to and Fulfill Your Life Purpose/Passion?

As a boudoir photographer, I get to live my passion – being creative – while also making women feel 100x better about themselves in every way. I know firsthand how powerful having amazing photos of yourself can be for your confidence. Personally, the pandemic really took a toll on my self-confidence. Not only physically, because I was eating more and therefore putting on weight and therefore not really loving the way my body looked, but also mentally, because I couldn’t do a lot of the things I normally did that made me feel like the woman I wanted to be, that brought out my confidence. So I found myself looking back at my boudoir photos a lot during that time. I needed that reminder. Now, I have the opportunity to help other women going through similar experiences (a particular life event, a loss, a big emotional shift, etc) rediscover their own inner badass. It’s important to be able to remember during times like that that you can do anything. And the boudoir experience and the products you receive afterwards really, truly can make you feel like that.

Who Is Your Ideal Client and Why?

Women typically ranging in age between late 20’s – late 40’s, who want to invest in and celebrate themselves, and simply see themselves in a better light. They value empowerment, kindness, mental health awareness, and are determined to feel unstoppable, like they can succeed in anything they put their mind to.

What Unique Offerings Do You Provide?

I really tailor the boudoir experience to the unique style and goals of each individual client. My brand is very much centered around making you feel like your best self, and even just creating an empowering space for you to step into. Many of my clients have simply enjoyed the positive energy they feel while getting their makeup done, even before the actual photo shoot begins, just chatting with like-minded women and feeling safe enough to reveal parts of themselves they may not typically talk about. It’s also extremely important to me that each client walks away with an heirloom piece of art they can look back on every time they start feeling less confident. I really stress to my clientele that doing a boudoir shoot is not only empowering, but an act of self-care.

Who Was Your Role Model Growing Up? How Did That Person’s Actions Impact You?

It sounds cliche, but honestly, my mother was my role model. I watched her do her best to stay strong and stay true to herself even while going through very difficult times in life (being unhappy in her marriage and then getting divorced, etc). It inspired me to create a safe space for women during my photo shoots.

Favorite Place to Escape and Refuel?

1. The beach – I have lived near the ocean my whole life and I find it so soothing.
2. Any concert! I have always been a huge music lover and seeing my favorite artists live always feels like an escape.

Top 3 Ways to Treat Yourself to Self-Care?

Taking a long bath with a glass of wine in my hand, getting my hair done at the salon, spending time with my loved ones.

How Do You Express Yourself Creatively?

I am so extremely lucky that I get to express myself creatively through my job as a photographer. I also love to draw for fun, and try to make time for it whenever I can.

Last Memorable Book You Read and Why?

I honestly cannot remember as it’s been a really long time since I’ve gotten to enjoy a good book, unfortunately. But some memorable ones that will always stick out in my mind as some of my favorites are The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir by Lauren Slater. I really love memoirs and admire any author who can speak so candidly and artistically about their life experiences.

Favorite Movie and Why?

Silver Linings Playbook – I am a huge advocate for mental health awareness

“Go to” Quote or Mantra that Grounds You?

Lately I have been doing a daily meditation that centers around the affirmation, “I radiate acceptance.” Accepting and loving myself the way I am is something I have always struggled with and am always trying to get better at.

Accomplishment Are You Most Proud of?

Earning my master’s degree while also working multiple part time jobs. I have always been an extremely hard worker and I’m proud of where it’s gotten me.

Best Lesson Learned in Life So Far?

Everything is temporary. Hard times don’t last, so always do your best to keep your head up and push forward..

Advice to Younger Self?

Trust your gut & your feelings, as they do actually have validity, and don’t bend over backwards to ensure other people are happy or comfortable. It’s important to consider your own wants and needs; otherwise you will lose yourself..

What Do You Love Best About Yourself (physical trait or personality characteristic) and Why?

My positive attitude and my desire to always lift other people up..

Any Advice for Women Considering Joining the SheBreathes Collaborative?

Networking is important for the success of any small business, and this is such a great opportunity to do so! I am still relatively new to this community, but I am so excited to take advantage of all the offerings because I strongly believe they will help me grow both personally and professionally. Basically, just trust in its awesomeness and see where it takes you!.

Any Message You Have for Our Community?

Don’t forget to make space and time in your life for self-care! It’s important not only to your overall well-being, but also for making strides toward your professional goals!

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Exclusive offer for SheBreathes readers:

$100 off your session fee and $100 off any of my boudoir collections. Visit