Leslie Privette grew up outside Wendell as the daughter of a local veterinarian. That work shaped her personal life, but she’s found a new outlet as a professional photographer that lets her put her artistic skills to use.
Q: Tell me first about your family.
I’m married to Fred Privette. He is a Zebulon boy. I married across the (Little) river.
Our oldest boy is Max and he’s 12. And then our daughter Avery is 10. Our third child is Sophia and she’s 8. Our baby is Sam and he is 6.
Q: You’ve lived in Wendell and Zebulon your whole life?
I was in Raleigh for a while for college and then I moved back home in 1997. I don’t know, I just wasn’t happy with the direction my life was going. Then I went to work with my dad, and worked with him for 10 years. I worked for him a long time, really, from the time I was 12.
Q: What was it like growing up in a family with a dad who was a veterinarian?
We got calls all the time, even in the middle of the night. It never failed, we would be headed out to a movie or out to eat, and we’d have to stop at the animal hospital and meet somebody. It gave me a servant’s heart. It was just... you end up feeling good at the end of it all.
Q: What was it like to watch that animal hospital be torn down and replaced with another building?
It broke my heart. I went up to the site and walked around. Saw the tile floor that our whole family had worked to put in. I can’t tell you how many animals me and my brother buried out there under the big oak tree. There were hard days and there were good days. It was a lot of memories.
Q: You’ve lived in eastern Wake County your whole life. How has your perception of eastern Wake County changed from the time you were a child until now as an adult?
I went through a period as a young adult where I wanted to get away and not be a part of it and not have everyone know everything about me. But now there is a comfort about it. As you grow as a person your confidence in other things grows. I love being part of a small town now.
Q: Photography. Where did that career come from?
I’ve always loved taking pictures. The change for me came when I saw a Kodak ad. It was a picture of a little baby’s hand and I had a little baby at that time. I wanted a picture like that of my baby’s hand. I got my point and shoot camera out and I realized that wouldn’t cut it. I took a class at Wake Tech, got a better camera. I talked to my father-in-law, who introduced me to Dale Williams who is a master photographer. Dale took me under his wing. He set me up with backdrops and lights and set me up with PPA, Professional Photographers of America. I’ve been learning ever since and I’m still learning to this day. It’s really a small community in that way. There are a small number of people who really want to help anyone they can take better pictures.
Q: What is the very best picture you’ve ever taken?
Oh my, the best picture I’ve ever taken. Well, there’s two. I’m really drawn to nature. One was a tree. It was very early in my career. I didn’t know what I was trying to do. I didn’t have a plan. But it was a beautiful picture. I won a lot of awards because Dale encouraged me to compete.
The other was a little girl. I had been working really hard to get my lighting right. When it all came through and everything clicked, it was a moment I’ll never forget.
Staff writer Johnny Whitfield