We’re so happy to have you mentoring this week over in The Social Gathering Forum! Tell us a bit about you and your family.
I live with my husband and three little boys, Leo age 6, Woody age 4 and Archie age 2 in a remote area of Michigan (Upper Peninsula). We are a military family. My husband is active duty in the Army National Guard. We also have a Saint Bernard, Juniper.
I have a degree in Advertising and PR but decided to pursue photography once I started having children. My love of photography started when I was very young flipping through my parents National Geographic magazines. I started with film and LOVED the developing process. My high school had a dark room that I spent many lunch hours in. Within my work I’m drawn to low light, nostalgia, color, environmental portraiture and lifestyle photography. My greatest inspirations are my children, nature, Norman Rockwell and Dutch Masters.
I’m most comfortable outdoors. My family spends the majority of our time outside, even in the winter. We love to hike, snowshoe, sled, camp, snowboard, bake and read.
There is such a distinct and recognizable style to your photography! How has it evolved over time? Are you mostly self taught?
I found my style a few years ago, and it happened after taking a couple of online courses through CM. I discovered what I was drawn to and what moved me, especially low light. I love the romantic feel that low light imagery carries. I’m mostly self-taught but have taken several online courses through Clickin Moms over the past several years.
Do you plan photo shoots as special events in your family, or is your camera a seamless part of your lives?
My camera is a seamless part of our lives. Occasionally I plan a special session, especially when it’s around a holiday, but for the most part everywhere I go my camera goes. I try to shoot daily because I believe it’s an important part of growth, but I definitely miss a day here and there.
How long have you been on Instagram, and is there anything you would do differently if you could start over?
I’ve been on IG since 2012. I started sharing images from my DSLR a few years ago but kept up all of my early phone images. As my account grew, I did archive some that were too personal for me to share publicly. There isn’t anything I would change about my account. I do love looking back at my older work and seeing how much it has shifted over time.
How much time in a typical day do you spend engaging on social media, and how do you feel that time is best spent?
I spend about an hour or so engaging, and I feel that it is extremely important. I feel that IG is a wonderful platform of inspiration. I’ve also met some of my closest friends through IG. I try to post once day and engage with the artists I follow as much as possible by commenting on their work. I believe that consistency is one important avenue of growth.
Some people find that the larger their following grows, the more pressure they feel to live up to expectations. Do you ever find yourself in a creative lull, and if so, how do you get out of it?
Absolutely! I was recently in a 5 month creative rut. It was the longest rut I’ve ever experienced. I wasn’t inspired and lacked motivation to even pick up my camera. To say that this was hard is an understatement. Photography is so therapeutic to me, and to lose the love and desire I have for it, even for just 5 months, was depressing. One of the things I realized was that when I am too busy, I lack creativity. Things recently started to slow down for me a little. I remembered the reason why I pick up my camera everyday which is to document my children’s lives, and the changing of the seasons and the fresh greenery sparked inspiration in me. All these things have helped me break out of my rut. Whenever I feel like I’m lacking creativity, I go for a walk with my family or visit a new location.
This week in The Social Gathering Forum you’re discussing how to build an authentic Instagram following. Do you believe this is still possible for everyone today despite the saturation of attractive feeds and the unpredictability of the algorithm?
I do believe this is possible. It’s true it does take a little more work these days then it did, but I firmly believe one can grow organically. I think two big things that contribute to this are consistency and engagement.
You have openly shared with your followers your family’s journey through your son’s treatment for ALL (acute lymphoma leukemia) and received an incredible amount of support. Do you have any words of wisdom for those of us hesitant to be vulnerable and share our struggles on a public platform?
For me this has always been therapeutic, and I think it is for others as well who are open with their struggles online. Of course there are still many things I chose not to share publicly out of respect for my son and family. Sometimes I do get nervous before posting something so open, but I never regret it. Not only does it help me, but I think that it also makes others who do this feel more relatable to their followers.