At this early stage in my artistic career, I'm often inspired by other artists and creatives who are doing their thing, especially while balancing the challenges of parenthood. I want to highlight some of them here and learn more about what inspires them and how they make it all work.
Kelly of Kelly Waslh-Loss Photography and I met in kind of a strange way. We're both alumni of this (amazing) photography class and part of the alumni Facebook group. One day, I randomly decided to ask if anyone else from that group lived in the area and would want to meet in person. That post led to a monthly breakfast where four of us get together. Yes, we talk photography but we go way beyond that, digging deep and challenging each other in life and art. I really don't think I would be doing any of this extra stuff without inspiration and support from these ladies. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
Kelly is an encourager and easily recognizes the good in people. This comes across in her photos, where she magically captures connections and the spirit of her subjects. You can check out her brand new revamped website here. If your a NOVA person, Kelly's the photographer you want!
I'm so thankful to Kelly for being a part of this series and sharing her thoughts here.
Tell us first a bit about you and what you do.
Would love to! (But can I say, this is a super challenging question - where to start first?! Here goes!)
The first things - I have two crazy boys who are the light of my world and the root of my gray hair. They push and challenge me in ways I never knew possible, but they have changed me into a person that I didn't even know was inside of me. They are just like their Dad in that they teach me how to be a better person everyday. Its that encouragement that has lead me to be a photographer owning my own on-location photography business.
When and how did you discover this outlet? Tell us about the shift from idea to action.
As a little girl, I would spend hours looking through LIFE magazines, taking in every photograph, loving the ones that told a story in one image. Capturing people and their lives was so fascinating to me.
I was the resident photographer of my family growing up, but when high school schedules and college came along, photography took a back seat. Fast forward a few years (or decades…) later, the birth of my second son made me pick up my camera again. (I joke that with my first son I was so tired, I couldn’t even figure out how to turn on a camera!)
Somewhere in those first few years of his life, I realized there are no do-overs in life and pursuing your dream is just as important as breathing in and out each day. So, in 2013, I started Kelly Walsh Loss Photography.
It was a difficult year – I lost my mother-in-law to pancreatic cancer and my own mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. But photography healed me. Image making made me realize the importance of memories, and I became a bit obsessed with documenting them.
This obsession has helped to define me as a photographer. There are a lot of photography styles and they can blur together, but if I had to describe mine, I would call it documentary storytelling. It’s documentary, in that I rarely give direction – I capture what is happening in front of me. And it’s storytelling because I want to tell a story with my photos - how we lived, what we did. One thing is for certain, life’s routine will always change. We don’t know when change will come or what will happen next. My camera is the only way I know how to slow time, even if just for an instant.
How do you manage your time and energy? How do you make your art a priority?
Oh my gosh, I don't! But this is something I spend a lot of time thinking about, trying to better manage time and energy. I've started saying no to things that might add too much too my plate - I force myself to come back to priorities - allowing myself to pause and not just say yes to any opportunity that comes my way.
I've learned that I don't need to volunteer for everything at my kids' schools, and that birthday parties are just as fun without having all the perfectly typed invitations. (That's what evite is for after all, right?)
Another thing that I hope to do more of soon, is a tip from Julia Cameron's book, the Artist Way - where you take artist dates. Dates just by yourself where you seek out the beauty - could be a museum, a park or even antique shopping. Finding that time to be with yourself, tapping into that inner creative genius is pretty amazing.
What struggles have you faced and how have you overcome those struggles?
Probably the biggest struggles are comparison and fear. I sometimes think they are intertwined - comparison leads us to fear, which then leads us to giving up. I haven't given up yet, so, I'm still winning over those two! :)
I think some of the most practical advice I've been given is that everyone compares -- but its what you do with that comparison that matters. Whenever I feel envy sneaking into the comparison, I try to quickly write (or say) three things I'm proud of for accomplishing in my art. Sometimes just redirecting back to myself, helps me forget about what I was comparing to!
Fear is tough. She latches onto you and makes it pretty darn impossible to let go of her. I always have fear. It can range from worry if the weather will hold out, to being fearful of what other photographers think of me. But I've learned fear is just a fancy way or resistance (read all about it in the War of Art - an inspiring book!) -- pushing us away from our dream. If we can take a good look at fear and say, what is it you are really trying to tell me? You can usually get to the bottom of the problem, helping you to move forward.
Who or what inspires you?
Short list: Days at the beach, big puffy clouds and hearing powerful messages about living life to the fullest.
Long list: My family - they inspire me to be strong, to let fear release and realize the only comparison or judging that really matters an inch, is what they think. If they are good - then life is good.
I find inspiration from other photographers, but just a small group of "famous ones" - I am more inspired by others in the trenches with me, pushing forward, coming up with new ideas and striving to make their dreams a reality. Kind of like someone who is the author of this blog. :)
What impact does your work have on your children?
So, this question could mean a lot of different things! I think my kids will someday be proud to have a mom that pursued her dreams - even if it meant some sacrifices for her free time.
When I read this question another way, I have to be honest in saying that sometimes (okay, a lot of times), I worry that me trying to juggle a business, a full time job, and being a wife/mom is just too much. I try to be as present as possible when I'm with my kids, but all of these competing priorities sometimes make it difficult. It's a battle I constantly struggle with - and if you know of any good answers, send them my way! :)
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I am in love with this series! Thank you Andrea for encouraging all of us in this wild and wonderful life of female entrepreneurship! Its a ride for sure, but one I'm so happy to have found along with you!
I love Kelly's strategy to look at the fear and determine what it's trying to teach us…I'm certainly not there yet. Speaking of fear, at our last breakfast, we decided that we all have to do something scary this month. Want to join us? What's something scary you could do in the next few weeks that will move you closer to something you want in your life. Share in the comments.