Lee Litumbe, founder of Spirited Pursuit, is an inspiring woman. She lacked an outlet for her creative leanings – so she made one in the form of Spirited Pursuit. Her site highlights her travels and those of others’. In addition, Lee’s Cameroonian roots motivate her to portray Africa as a beautiful travel destination beyond the typical safaris and glamping excursions. We, the vicarious viewers, get to go with her.
Learn more in the interview below.
All photos (C) 2015 Lee Litumbe and were shot on 35mm film. Be sure to catch them, after the interview.
What inspired you to found Spirited Pursuit?
To be honest, Spirited Pursuit was founded as a result of my quarter life crisis. The idea for the website began to develop after I turned 25 and realized I had no idea where my life was going. During that time, I was working a job I despised, struggling to salvage a dysfunctional relationship, and battling a severe bout of depression which all left me with dangerously low self-esteem. After spending several months curled up in bed feeling sorry for myself, both of my older sisters encouraged me to get off my ass and get back to doing the things I love: taking photographs, traveling, and writing. Those passions combined with my desire to provide a platform for others to share their individual travel stories are what ultimately drove me to create Spirited Pursuit.
Having always been a creative person (it was always a dream of mine to become either an Interior Designer or Creative Director/Photo Editor for National Geographic), my decision to pursue a Finance degree instead of a creative career also contributed to my dissatisfied and unfulfilled feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I find Finance and Analysis extremely interesting and I’m pretty great at it. But I began to second guess whether I should have focused on what I loved and was passionate about, instead of what I was good at and knew would provide me with the most security. Lucky for me, we now live in a digital age where one can create their own opportunities using the resources made available by the internet and technology. Through the site, I’m now the Photo Editor and Creative Director I always wanted to be, and have created a space where I get to write and curate dynamic stories paired with captivating photography.
Although I still work as a Finance Analyst by day (now for a company I love), Spirited Pursuit serves as my creative outlet and consequently my best source of therapy. The site has given my life purpose and enabled me to rebuild my confidence by producing work I am passionate about.
How do you think photography enhances travel?
Whether I’m capturing the pure joy and innocence of children playing, the hustle and bustle of market life in foreign cities, or documenting vast landscapes, photography allows me to feel present and forces me to find innovative ways to experience my surroundings while traveling. Through a lens, my perspective is refreshed and I seek beauty in all things – be them mundane or exciting. I sometimes feel guilty for wanting to capture moments instead of fully living them, but I have come to realize that telling visual stories is part of how I best experience each new destination and what makes traveling so special for me.
You’ve traveled extensively and were born in Cameroon, Africa but grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. Where does your heart reside?
This is a tough question to answer because while I spent my childhood in Cameroon, I also spent my formative years and majority of my life living in The States. There are complexities involved because I identify with both American and Cameroonian cultures and I experienced moments during my teen years where I felt trapped between the two. For instance, being bullied in middle school for having an unfamiliar accent, having a “difficult” last name to pronounce, and not having the right clothes made it clear I was not American enough for Americans. Comparatively, I no longer felt Cameroonian enough for Cameroonians because I was so far removed from my culture. I struggled with feeling displaced and isolated for years, but have since outgrown those feelings and learned how to embrace both cultures with pride.
That said, there is a certain comfort and confidence I carry knowing my roots and exactly where I come from. My family is from Buea, a mountainside town in the Southeast Region of Cameroon, where generations past rest peacefully in a family graveyard. No amount of traveling the world over can rival having a home to come back to, so my heart will always reside primarily in Cameroon.
Spirited Pursuit is quickly becoming an avenue for talented photographer storytellers. What do you look for in a contributor?
The people I’m lucky enough to interview for Spirited Pursuit inspire me endlessly. While all those featured are undoubtedly gifted storytellers, I believe what truly elevates it all is the genuine curiosity and desire each individual has to explore people, places, and cultures from a perspective of cultural relativism. That combined with stunning photography that conveys emotion and an ability to share experiences from a clear and unique perspective is what I generally look for in a contributor.
Describe your ideal landscape in three words.
Natural, serene, and majestic.
Photos (C) 2015 Lee Litumbe