We had the good fortune of connecting with John Celeste and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
I’ve always been fascinated with the wild west. As boys, my brother & I would spend hours watching John Wayne movies, playing Cowboys & Indians and as I grew older, I loved to read stories and watch movies about Sitting Bull, Geronimo and famous notorious outlaws, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp and of course the Gun Fight at the OK Corral.
My imagination would run wild, and I always dreamed that one day, I would visit the spots I had read so much about and marvelled at on the big screen. Little did I know back then that my love of the wild west, travel and photography would be the foundations for my business Cactus & Lime, selling digital prints of those very places.
I am a true lover of the desert, the space, solitude, and landscape make me feel at one with everything. It’s a place I truly feel happy and at my best. I’m passionate about capturing a moment that no one else can see and then sharing that through my photography so others can take a glimpse at that moment in time, enjoying it with me even though they weren’t there.
Travel is the ultimate freedom, happiness, and fulfilment to me are the road trips I take to capture those images of mid-century modern architecture, palm trees and brilliant blue skies in Palm Springs, the energy of the ancient Joshua Trees in the Mojave Desert or the majestic Saguaro cactus, a universal symbol of the American west.
Having the privilege of others enjoying my photography through Cactus & Lime is what excites me, drives me forward to the next road trip and ultimately makes me happy in life.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am the owner and Creative Director of a successful Web Design & Internet Marketing Agency, Onit Solutions. I started the business in 2002 as I wanted the freedom to manage my own time and create stunning website that were aesthetically pleasing and technically excellent. During the last 20 years, I have enjoyed the rises and falls that come with business ownership and these experiences have all made me a stronger, wiser and a more resilient person.
Owning and managing a business can be pretty hectic and stressful at times and the road trips I took to the American west with my wife were often a lifeline. Planning routes, finding quirky accommodation, discovering things to do or places we’d never been before were all part of the excitement.
It was during those first trips that I discovered a love for photography. Capturing a moment in time that I could revisit when the adventure was over often kept me going when things were rough. And it was those first photographs that people commented on and asked if I’d ever thought about selling my art and that got me to thinking…
The enthusiasm, eagerness and anticipation built pretty quickly. I was at an advantage. I could create the branding, logo, and website in house. I could create something exciting and really special that would resonate with other people like me, who longed for a dusty road, a big blue sky and a wide horizon.
And so, Cactus and Lime was born in 2018. Although it felt as if everything just fell into place when I look back at it now, there were some challenges along the way and a few learning curves. Aspect ratios, print sizes, download formats were all things I had to learn pretty quickly to ensure that the prints I sold were perfect quality. But learn I did, and I was so excited to share my road trips, experiences, and moments through my photography nothing was too much trouble or a chore.
Today I sell prints on my Etsy store https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/
I hope the future for Cactus and Lime is bright and that the prints I sell continue to make people as happy as they make me. I hope that I can continue on my path to adventures in the Wild West taking photographs and living a boyhood dream. I hope that people will love the pictures I take as much as me and enjoy them in their own homes. I hope that Cactus and Lime can grow as a business and tap into a wider audience. Seeing one of my prints in a hotel lobby or restaurant would be a dream…why stop now!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Some of my Favourite things in Arizona • Food – Longhorn Restaurant in Tombstone (The best veggie burger and fries)
• Drinks – Chico Malo Phoenix
• Visit – Degrazia Gallery in the sun Tucson
• Hang Out – Hitching Post in Apache Junction
• Day Trip – Saguaro National Park in Tucson
Day 1 – Superstition Mountains
• Visit The Superstition Mountains
• Hike the Treasure Loop Trail looking for gold & stop for a picnic
• Visit the Apache Junction Museum
• Visit the Apache Land Museum
• Visit Goldfield Ghost Town
• Hang out & drink cool beers with the locals at The Hitching Post in Apache Junction
Day 2 – Superior
• Visit Boyce Thompson Arboretum with picnic
• Explore Superior town
• Hang out at Porter’s Saloon & Grill
DAY 3 – Tucson
• Drive the trail and hike Saguaro National Park. Stop for a picnic at a vista
• Visit the Degrazia Gallery in the sun
• Hang out at Wholefoods Market on River Road in Tucson
Day 4 – Tombstone
• Stop at Boot Hill Graveyard
• Visit the site of the O.K. Corral & watch a show
• Enjoy lunch at Longhorn Restaurant on Main Street
• Browse down Allen Street
• Tour the Bird Cage Theatre
• Hang out with locals at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon
Day 5 – Bisbee
• Enjoy breakfast at Bisbee Breakfast Club
• Browse down Erie Street
• Stop for a coffee at Bisbee Coffee Company
• Hangout & enjoy cocktails at The Copper Queen Hotel
• Relax in the evening at with great food & drinks at Screaming Banshee Pizza
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My story has been influenced by many people, books, road trips and experiences along the way, however my number one supporter is my wife, Kerry. She is always there by my side on our adventures. She encourages me, pushes me forward and I am the person I am today because of her.
I’d also like to give a nod to one of my favourite authors Edward Abbey. His book Desert Solitaire had a huge influence on me and poured fuel on my desert fire. It really ignited my passion for travelling in the American West and seeking adventure.
And lastly our very good friends Anne & Eddie McGuinness were inspirational to me as they pioneered across the Mid-West on holidays, coming back rich with stories, experiences and memories that I wanted to claim as my own