I grew up in a small farming community in northwestern Minnesota, where my love for wide open spaces, everything green and lakes began. I was fortunate enough to have a lovely, carefree, middle class upbringing. My mother worked as a nurse and my father sold farm equipment. I’m a middle child, sandwiched between brothers. We’d play school, ran a restaurant at lunch time (for each other) and did plenty of swimming at the lake.
Speaking of family, my extended family is huge. Really, really huge. I have 27 aunts & uncles and my cousin count is 37. Growing up, many of my cousins lived in my community or nearby. We held family gatherings for every occasion (and still do!). I love it. In fact, when I went to college and one of my new friends told me she had 4 cousins total, two of whom she’d never met, I was flabbergasted. Isn’t it normal to have 37 cousins?
College brought me to Bemidji State University, where I majored in elementary education. I’d always wanted to be a teacher. If you’ve never been to Bemidji, it’s beautiful – think campus on a lake, trees, grass, and a small town feel. It gets very cold in the winter, however. The entire campus is connected by underground tunnels and people park on the frozen lake, even when they are not ice fishing.
During my senior year, I took a photography class in which we worked mainly with analog film cameras and darkroom processes. It was the best class I took while there and my creative side was ignited.
After graduation, I moved to the big city with hopes of landing a teaching job, but I longed for something more. I attended Art Institutes International, MN and studied photography. From there, my gigantic family came in handy. I photographed the events, the kids, the weddings and knew I had found my purpose.
As time went on, I built a reputation as wedding photographer and ran my business for eight years while substitute teaching on the side. When a long-term subbing gig led to a full time teaching job, I took it and ran. For two years, I taught 4th & 5th grade while shooting 10-15 weddings a year. It led right where you think it would, friends. Major burnout. I needed a break. I felt overworked, unhappy and my physical and mental well-being had suffered immensely. I got out. Of it all.
So how did I get here, to the start of a new brand? Patience to let the negative leave me and time to let the inspiration manifest. I took an entire year off from shooting and refocused on getting my mind to where I felt healthy. I took an entry level marketing job that never left me with homework. With new energy and drive, I dove back into weddings, only to find my referral based clientele had moved on.
After a year of effort to gain new clients, my wedding count had been cut in half. I was stuck. On top of that, weddings had started to feel monotonous and repetitive. I was blessed with some excellent couples and I consider many of them friends, not just clients. But my passion for weddings had faded.
In the meantime, I was searching for inspiration and found Joy Prouty with Wildflowers Photography. Joy is one of the most honest, compassionate and talented people I’ve met. Her work has a quality and honest feel. She specializes in family photography and films that are raw, intimate and real. I have yet to watch one of her films and not burst into tears.
I went out on a limb and emailed her last October. She was hosting a workshop at her Nashville home about a month later and there was a spot for me. The universe was definitely nudging me toward that workshop. I took a chance,
made an investment in my future and arranged to attend. There were only eleven women in attendance. What proceeded was life-changing. We talked about the hard things we’d each been through, we dug into the nitty-gritty on ourselves, we connected in a way only fellow creatives can relate to. We drank wine, danced by a bonfire, screamed at the top of our lungs and laughed so very we were rolling on the floor. Of course there was photography, but the big take away for me was a personal, soul healing level.
When I returned to Minneapolis, I made some big decisions in regards to my personal life and how I was living it. These decisions were hard. Really hard. But I know in the end they were right. A new spark to create is within me and I’ve since been working on creating an intimate lifestyle family brand that includes images and films. There is a renewed passion and spark in this latest adventure and while I’m scared of the unknown, nothing will stop me this time.
Leave a comment and let me know about you! I really would like to know!