We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Sonya Peacocke a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Sonya, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Let’s jump to the end – what do you want to be remembered for?
When my husband died I got the opportunity to see firsthand what it meant to leave a legacy. Daniel was a cinematographer and left the world with beautiful memories and perfectly preserved moments through his work. He challenged the rules and was a constant encouragement to everyone around him.
For my legacy, I want to embody the best of my experiences through the loss of my husband at a young age. I believe that becoming a widow at 25 is an honor bestowed upon me an I hold the experience with great responsibility.
Because my husband died, I have experienced great sorrow, but also a depth of kindness and care that I didn’t even know existed until experiencing it firsthand. This is a rare gift that came along with grief and the only thing I want to do in this life is pass on the same depth of kindness and care to others.
I believe that the world is my oyster, that I have work to do, people to love on, and not a lot of time to do it! I have to work, but I choose to face work with the same attitude of service and love to those around me. Do I do this all the time? Nope. Do I do it well? Nope. But will I continue to try and love people to the best of my capability every day? You better believe it.
I will take every opportunity, even if it’s through the simple task of taking photos of someone else’s recipe, to honor and love each individual as I have been.
I want my legacy to be that I cared for and loved other people, the same way that other people and the Lord show up in my own life to love and care for me in the hardest moments of life.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
Hello, my name is Sonya Peacocke and I am a photographer that specializes in food photography for bloggers.
I started back in 2015 by taking photos of food on my phone and posting them to Instagram. My late husband, Daniel, encouraged me to keep exploring my creative side and bought me a Lumix G4 camera for my birthday. I started to get more involved in the food blogging community by starting my blog and gained a few new friends who had already established their businesses.
While I was getting into food blogging Daniel was exploring video content and ended up starting his own cinematography business. Daniel and I were a great team and fed off of each other’s creativity. We began making food videos with another blogger friend and eventually started to pitch to companies as a team. Our goal was to eventually create a studio space and work with larger clients.
In the meantime, I began creating food tutorial videos and ended up with clients on my own.
Just as my business was picking up, Daniel was diagnosed with Leukemia and died a few days later. The life we built together crumbled and I had to work extremely hard to keep my life moving forward without him.
I tried to keep my video clients and blog going but eventually had to drop them.
As I searched for meaning, purpose, and direction, I continued to pursue whatever creative projects I was interested in. I found a love for sketching, I started to express myself through clothing, I roasted coffee and I started to work on my home to create a joyful space.
All these things kept my creative mind at peace, but I needed to get back to work and my customer service job wasn’t cutting it. A friend suggested a food photography course and after a bit of research, I jumped on the opportunity.
What I am doing is photographing recipes for food bloggers to showcase their recipes and help their readers with step-by-step visuals of how to create the recipe themselves.
Let’s talk about resilience next – do you have a story you can share with us?
To say there was one specific moment that was more impactful than another doesn’t feel to me like a fair question. We all have a comeback story, and some are more dramatic than others, but it’s important to understand that the entirety of each person’s story is THE example of resilience.
My life has seemed to be one continuous trial to another, and that’s honestly what life is. I found that in the end, it is what you do and how you act in those moments that count.
My late husband Daniel lived in South Africa when we connected on Facebook at the ripe old age of 15. We dated and were married by the time we turned 20 and he passed away just days before his 26th birthday. Daniel was a South African citizen and what it took to date, get married, have him move here, and create a life for ourselves was a lifetime’s worth of work. It took a lot of hard work and we fit it all into 11 years.
When we got married I had to leave him behind in South Africa and I came home to my childhood home in Connecticut. We had decided to start our life in FL where we knew almost no one, so I packed up my things and moved to FL on my own until he could move to America.
While figuring out married life, getting Daniel here, and starting a life together, we also faced the question of how to make any money. Daniel and I didn’t have completed degrees, backgrounds in anything noteworthy, or even citizenship to lean back on.
Daniel and I had to create our living and from that came the businesses that we built together. Daniel was into cinematography and I was into photography. He loved making things look beautiful and I loved food. We worked on as many projects as possible to learn and gain credibility in the creative community online and in our area.
Daniel and I worked tirelessly and were in the middle of starting our coffee roastery, we both had our own companies creating content and everything was falling into place. We took what life had given us and made it into something amazing and then in a matter of moments I watched 11 years of love and hard work fall apart.
On a solo trip to see his family in South Africa, Daniel was diagnosed with Leukemia and died a few days later. My world was shattered and I lost just about everything including my confidence and courage.
In my life, I have always lacked confidence and courage, but the beauty of lacking something is that you have to fight much harder to get it. This increases the value AND strength of those things once you have them.
In this moment of immense grief when I became a widow at 25, I looked back on my life and searched for proof of these two things in my life.
I found that I needed courage and confidence to leave my hometown and family to a new state on my own to start a new life for Daniel and me.
I had to have the confidence and courage to take a look at my degree in Psychology and say, “it’s not for me”.
I had to have the confidence and courage to admit my eating disorder and take control of my physical health.
I had to have the confidence and courage to start playing with food photography and posting my work.
I had to have confidence and courage when Daniel died from Leukemia and believe that I could make it on my own.
Eventually, I gained the confidence and courage to pick up a camera and start creating again, not only in the form of photos but in the form of creating a new life for myself.
My resilience is not my own. In each turn of my life, I have relied on the Lord to guide me. He is my confidence, courage, and my resilience. On my own, I am weak and would find myself crumbling, but with God, I have found that the foundation of my life is solid. I can withstand the death of my husband, the grasp of an eating disorder, the patients for long distances, the loneliness of starting over, and the doubt that faces me. I can withstand it, and then I realized something beautiful. NOT ONLY can I withstand these trials, but I can push forward, I can grow, I can create, I can learn, and I can do so much more than I thought possible.
Confidence and courage are what I lack, but God picks me up and reminds me that through him all things are possible and I just continue from there.
I am resilient because God is the foundation I stand on.
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
The most rewarding part of creating for me is first and foremost the service aspect.
With each creative project whether you are getting paid or working for free, you are serving the onlooker of your work. Sometimes I draw as a service to myself to bring me calmness and joy. I get to share that work with my small circle and maybe it serves as a source of unexpected joy for someone else! I don’t need to know exactly who I am creating for, as long as I know that it has the potential of serving someone else, that’s enough motivation for me.
When it comes to my photography I am taking another person’s creativity, say a recipe, and I have the opportunity and honor of highlighting it!
Creating a recipe for a cake that is fluffy and delectable or a drink that has a beautiful blend of fresh and cohesive flavors is a difficult task! Creativity deserves to be showcased in a light that communicates its value, and when I get to take other people’s work and showcase it to the world, that is of the utmost value to me.
- Instagram: Sonyas_open_cupboard
Phoebe C. Photography – Portraits & Sonya Peacocke – Food Photography