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Sybil Steele

Sybil and Taylor Steele are quite the creative couple. Having lived in Byron Bay since January, moving here on the ’6 year plan’ from California with their gorgeous daughters
Jaiden (7) and Milla (5)… Common Ground’s Johnny Abegg thought a few questions were in order to find out more about Photographer/Producer Sybil Steele, and her
Surf-Filmmaker/Commercial Director hubby, Taylor Steele.

Tell us about the transition from the US, to Bali and now Byron… Why Byron?
We are from California, but when we had our first child in 2004 (Jaiden), we decided to see if we could give her an international upbringing.  Since we have both traveled a lot already in our childhood and for work, it felt like a natural extension to integrate child rearing into that part of our lives. When we had our 2nd child shortly after (Milla), we were already posted up in Bali.

We were meant to come to Byron but somehow got sidetracked, as with a gyspy life, plans somehow don’t always happen. We spent 6 years in Bali and made the transition to Byron this year. We plan to spend another 6 years here and then move on to the South of France when the kids are older. I would say Bali was the survival years (juggling kids, career and an often absent traveling filmmaker husband).  Byron is the golden years. It’s our favorite place in the world and to raise a 5 and 7 year old here is about the best gift we could give them.

France we look forward to as sort of an educational experience. Europe is abundant in history, architecture, diversity and it seems like a good place for high school. When all is said and done, Taylor and I will move to NYC. Hopefully the kids will be in university and not too far away. As you can tell, we don’t live much in the NOW. We do, but we also are always thinking in terms of other places. We’ve tried to live in the NOW but it’s not much in our personalities so why fight it too much!

Images from Sybil’s Gypset Travelers Guide

What do you think of Byron Bay as a creative landscape?
Byron is magical. I’ve never been to a place that is as captivating. It’s peaceful, pure and I love how different people integrate so seamlessly. Throw in the surf and beaches, and it’s pretty much perfection. I recently did a post on Gypset’s blog on Byron, a bit of an essential travelers guide to a creative gypsy life. We feel very lucky to be here finally and will always try to maintain some sort of family home here.

How do you juggle being a mum of two, and unleashing the creative within?
Sometimes I excel at one over the other depending on what’s going on. By now the kids know this is a constant moving world of creativity and production. We often throw them in a music video or something and they also are quite creative so they get it. However since it’s hard to be a perfect parent, we try to focus on the things we value as priorities.  Good manners, creativity and an international state of mind, an openness and acceptance for diversity, and a willingness to try new things without fear.

Tell us about a few of your prouder moments from behind the lens? Projects that you have worked on that inspire/have inspired you?

I’m really proud of our Sipping Jetstreams and Castles in the Sky projects.  They evolved from a personal standpoint and we took the kids on most of those locations.  I remember traveling for 4 months straight with a one year old, pregnant with another, and we went everywhere.  It was exhausting and in retrospect, maybe not the best idea but those are experiences that will live with us and shape us forever. I also loved directing my first short film for thelane.com called L’Amant and it has been very well received.  Women say it makes them cry!  It’s nice to evoke emotions with projects you make. I really just enjoy photography, filmmaking, creativity, visuals (more is more in my book) and collaborating with people. It’s the best job ever.

To see more of Sybil’s creativity, checkout her blog.

Johnny is one of the founding members of Common Ground, who brings an element of creativity to the CG landscape through his filmmaking, photography and writing. Having lived in Byron Bay for over 15 years, moving to the area from the colder climates of Tasmania, Johnny has a strong passion for filmmaking, surfing and his local community, living a few kilometres south at Broken Head in an old School. Mr Abegg can be found out-and-about surfing his favourite haunts, drinking an early morning coffee, and lost in thought with creativity.

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