One of my goals for 2015 is to connect better with other women in my life. One way I’m trying to do this is by opening up my house for a play date during the coldest season of the year. Thanks to my handy dandy Sharpie I sat down one night after the kids were down and had way to much fun putting this little flyer together.
If you are finding yourself going a little crazy with minions crawling all over you, plan a weekly play date so you can build relationships with other mommies in your area. I’m doing mine through our church and have invited a few other moms I have met at our local library. I promise this time of year every mom is looking for something to do with their kids besides being stuck inside! A weekly play date is a great way to get some adult conversation and interaction for your kids outside of their siblings!
From The Farm
No related photos.
After almost 7 years of marriage and adding two little minions to our family, we decided it was time for some new family photos (since we hadn’t had any professionally done since our engagement photos)! Our talented and good friend Shelley Lowe snapped these up at a wonderful Pumpkin Patch in October and we are just over the moon about them. They make us so happy every time we see them. James loved climbing all over the tractor and even though we don’t own one of our own (yet) it’s something we definitely plan on having in the future… along with pigs, bees, chickens…
Although we are still a year or two away from building our modern farmhouse we are still closer than we have ever been! In 2014 we set some big financial goals and it was very exciting to get to the end of the year and see all the progress we had made. As we begin 2015 we’ve set even more goals and it’s important to remember that every month, every little step, gets us closer and closer to our dream home.
Checkout Meg’s Pinterest Boards to see some of our ideas for the exterior design of our future home!
We’re trying our best to keep up with blog with two little minions, but it’s been a lot harder than we had expected. Be patient with us, and check back from time to time. We’re working on some fun new projects at home and through Green Couch Design that we can’t wait to share with you all!
Hope you are all staying happy and healthy! xoxo
From the Farm
PS Apparently all of our offspring come out as tiny little old men babies!
Cale and I have had the pleasure of collaborating with David Lord for several years now. Together we branded The Wonder Revolution, designed The DOTS Album Design, and more recently hosted a private show on our own front lawn for his solo project; Francis Moss. David is the kinda of guy that you could talk with for hours about music, creativity, and life’s deeper topics. He’s the kind of old soul and free spirit that you just really want to get to know. One of the most genuine people we’ve ever met, David Lord is truly someone we admire. Trained in classical guitar he launched a music academy from his very own home!
Today Air House Music Academy has expanded into two East and West locations in Wichita, KS. Hosting classes of mixed genres and instruments, Air House also is a recording studio, and a private venue space. Through his love for music David Lord has created a special place where creativity, music, and good technique is truly celebrated.
Q1) What inspired you to open Air House Music Academy?
I had a vision of creating a music academy and recording studio that promotes creativity. The aspect of music that I fell in love with early on was writing my own music. I also studied jazz and classical guitar in college, so I saw the benefit of learning music theory and learning proper technique. So in conceptualizing a music academy in Wichita, I wanted to include both the creative aspects as well as the technical and theoretical aspects. I saw the need in Wichita for a music academy focused on producing proficient, creative musicians. I also had dreamed of building a recording studio, both to record my own music as well as produce quality recordings for the creative music of Wichita.
Q2) How does your casual “go with the flow” attitude towards life influence the way you run your business?
Haha. That is pretty much the way I run the business as well, for better or worse. Air House feels more like a community of music educators, rather than a business with me as the boss. I like the relaxed, friendly atmosphere. I couldn’t really imagine doing it any other way. I try not to make much of a distinction between the way I approach life and the way I approach business.
Q3) What makes Air House Music Academy different than it’s competition?
It’s the only music academy around town that has such a broad scope. Air House is a music academy, a recording studio, a record label and a music venue. We offer private lessons, classes, ensembles, recording engineering training, recording, mixing, mastering, clinics, concerts, recitals, etc. Also, we have a truly exceptional faculty of teachers, including college professors, teachers with their doctorates and masters degrees and teachers specializing in songwriting and creativity. And our recording engineer and instructor recorded two albums with Bob Dylan.
Q4) What has been the most rewarding part when it comes to teaching kids about music?
When a student discovers his or her own sound and own approach to music, that is incredibly rewarding. It is great to provide the students with the tools to play music, but when they take those tools and create something of their own, that is very rewarding. The times that has happened have been highlights of my life. It is a beautiful thing to see someone use music for self discovery and self expression.
Q5) Most artists are great at being creative, but struggle with the structure needed to run their own business. You seem to have found a great balance. What advice do you have for others who might need help in this area?
Yeah, that’s a hard balance. I personally just do what I need to do for the business, then try to spend my free time with music and working in the studio. Everybody has their own way of doing things. Sometimes the business feels like too much and I fantasize about living in a small house in Sweden, spending all my time writing music and exploring the forest.
Q6) What has been the best tool you’ve found to help promote classes and events locally at Air House Music Academy?
Word of mouth has been the best. I try to bring on established, high level teachers that have a good network of their own. That helps a lot. Then I just promote events through social media and brochures and posters. I don’t spend much money on advertising.
Q7) How do you use your business and your creativity to give back to the community around you?
I hope that our efforts in music education are having a positive effect on the community, both for the students and for the teachers. Also, our record label tries to reach out to talented local musicians and give them a chance to record quality albums. In the past 10 years or so, there hasn’t really been a quality recording studio/record label in Wichita with the aim of supporting creative Wichita music. We are hoping to improve the musical culture in Wichita. We also released a benefit compilation for Muscular Dystrophy and Stem Cell Research that was curated by our friend, Ryan Benton. The compilation included several national bands like Thee Oh Sees, Elf Power and Cave Singers as well as Wichita bands. I also perform around the community frequently with my solo guitar project Francis Moss and my band The Wonder Revolution.
Q8) List three ways you keep creativity fresh in your day to day?
1) I try to work in the recording studio every day. I love making albums and it has become a daily practice. 2) Lately I’ve been writing 15 second micro songs and posting them on Instagram every day. That is a fun way to compose every day. 3) I try to practice or work on my live set every day.
Q9) Between running your own business, producing, and writing and touring yourself you definitely are a busy guy! How do you balance it all, and maintain a happy and healthy home life?
Don’t really know about that! Haha. Don’t have much of a perspective of what is normal in regards to a home life. But my preferred way of spending time with friends or relaxing is to work on music or a creative project. So it’s just a constant part of my life. I think the only time that I get frustrated is when I’m not spending enough time working on my music. As far as the effect on my relationships, I’m not sure. You’d have to ask them. Haha. But I tend to surround myself with other creative people that are also doing their own projects. My fiance Lindsay is a creative artist and raw food chef. She likes her space and creative time also, so we’re a good match.
Q10) Outside of music what is your favorite leisurely activity you do at home with your family?
Pet the cats.
David is a true musician at heart with a beautiful creative process that is all his own. Air House Music Academy and Recording Studio has given him the flexibility to pursue his own process on his own time and schedule. Although we are sure there are days where he’d love to run away from the “business side” of running a business… we think it’s just wonderful how he has discovered a creative way to make a living while doing what he loves.
Through your music, your creative business, and your heart you inspire us David! We can’t wait to see what is next for you and all your musical endeavors.
From the Farm
Our Creatives Near You Series is seriously becoming one of my favorites. Month to month I continue to be inspired and blown away by creatives that are doing what they love and going after their dreams. They are everyday people that I get to call friends and can’t wait to introduce you too!
I have secretly been hoping and praying to feature Krysta for quite some time now. When she instantly replied to my email request I was super stoked! Krysta and I met years ago in Wichita, Kansas. I can’t quite remember if it was through our Church, University, or the fact that she was dating a good friend of mine at the time, but either way we became friends. From the very beginning I remember Krysta as a go getter. She might be tiny in stature, but I promise she makes up for it in wit and drive! Right after college I remember her still struggling to find her creative nitch. She always put her whole self into her work, but it just never seemed like enough. Something was missing. It was at that time Krysta decided to throw all caution to the wind, sell most of her possesions, and jump into a new life in Los Angeles! She went in with both feet and no real plan (at least that is what it seemed like to me!) other then a hunger for change and a willingness to do whatever it took.
Krysta’s been in LA for several years now and thanks to the internet I’ve been able to follow along as she’s met new friends, gotten married, and become the CEO of a branding agency called B!G DEAL BRANDING. Through her blog Stilettos On The Rocks I’ve been able to watch her develop her balls to the walls creative voice (which I love), grow as a business owner and a wife, and become the truly confident woman that you see today.
She’s the real deal folks and I’m really excited to share with you some of her story, her process, how she balances life with a husband who freelances in the film industry, and a few lessons she’s learned along the way.
Q1) What was is it about marketing and businesses strategies that made you want to pursue it as a career?
It never seemed right to say, “I’ve been doing branding since I was a kid.” It’s not like singing or dancing. What I can tell you is that I have a journal entry from middle school where I wrote “What they’re saying isn’t what I’m experiencing. Shouldn’t there be some consisistency?” (Yes, I’ve always been this critical and nerdy.) From that point forward, I would dream about being in the center of the action, driving cultural conversation and finding the most compelling way to get them to the right audience. When I got to college and realized I could actually be graded on strategic thinking and talking, I knew this was the right field for me. That was just the beginning of what would evolve into my absolute love for building stronger brands through leadership development.
Q2) What are the most challenging, and the most rewarding parts about being your own boss?
The most rewarding is meeting the people who are attracted to our company. My team is so kick ass and the culture we’ve created brings in a certain kind of clientele that makes my job so much more stimulating. Quite a few of my client relationships turn into close friendships. I love that. The nature of what we do is so personal that it’s easy to pick up at the end of the process with plans to meet in person and just hang out. The challenging piece is being patient. I fully believe in elbow grease and sweat equity. There are just days when I wish I could snap my fingers and be on the cover of Forbes… that’s normal right?
Q3) How has your “no BS approach” toward life shaped the way you run your business?
Well, I can tell you it serves as a great filter. There isn’t a single person in my life who doesn’t challenge me. That goes for my team as well. I never wonder what they’re thinking and am proud that, as a culture, we are honest with one another on what’s working and what isn’t. I think that openness has attributed to our success.
Q4) You work with clients of all shapes and sizes. What advice do you have for networking and building a consistent client base?
For networking, we started with where we had the most connections and chose strategic aliances with leaders in that industry. Doing trades with them in the early days was a win-win. We not only got goods we couldn’t afford, but also exposure on their platform with our ideal audience that filled our docket quickly.
As we’ve matured, we’ve been more intentional about investing in clients who have networks that will take us to the next level. We’ll do in-person meetings instead of Skype and do what we can to go above and beyond. The more time we spend in their space, the more apt we are to meet their friends. I usually offer to do a free workshop for a handful of their industry colleagues to add value. This is such a natural crowd to step into since our common denominator is my client. They’ve already heard about the process from someone they trust and have seen the transformation first hand. Our clients are great at filtering who they introduce us to, so I’m always honored to be a part of their community. It may be a slow way to fill the pipeline, but we get to be more selective and I feel the experience overall is more transformational.
Q5) You and your husband both work for yourselves. How do you balance running two separate businesses while maintaining a healthy and happy home life?
Uhhh. Great question. I’m pretty good at not checking email or answering the phone outside of business hours. I’m terrible at letting my phone be a distraction though. Hellllooo Instagram! Vince’s career is a little more tricky. If he’s working for a network on a tv show, then he has to use nights and weekends for his other projects. I can say that having scheduled date nights have been so helpful. All of our friends know that Fridays are off the table. That’s a sacred time slot for us. Right now, our motto is quality over quantity when it comes to time spent together.
Q6) How does Vince’s career in film influence yours?
I think it greatly influences the way I think and perceive the world around me. He is highly creative and strategic which helps me see things in an entirely new way. I appreciate his feedback and love the opportunity to get his input on how to craft our message with more clarity. His expertise in that area overlaps what we do in such an interesting way. The unique perspective keeps me from getting tunnel vision and challenges me to the point of ugly crying. True statement.
Q7) How does your business culture and your lifestyle tie you to your home city of LA?
It has been said that L.A. has a way of bringing out who you really are. I never thought I was the entrepreneur type. Disgruntled employee constantly fighting the status quo … totally. Run-my-own-business? Never. I like complaining too much. This city … man … it gets you. There’s a scrappy nature to it that I really connect with. People are constantly hustling and pushing themselves in ways they never anticipated. What I think makes this city different than say, NYC, is that people here know how to relax. The hustle is met with some sort of outdoor activity: beach time, hiking, running, eating at an outdoor café, etc. I’ve come to appreciate that cultural value for balance in this town.
Q8) List 3-5 ways you keep creativity alive in your day to day?
Running is huge for me. It helps clear my brain and lets me go uninterupted for a chunk of time (at least until I get the iWatch!). I also love exploring new parts of the city. I have a colleague I meet with once a month to set goals and explore a new parts of town that we’ve never been to. It’s often centered around architecture, food, coffee and/or some kind of physical outdoor activity. For Vince and I, we absolutely love to travel. Both of us are fueled by weekend getaways. The best combination is a trip to NYC for work and play. It’s a sweet spot of ours.
Q9) What is your favorite leisurely activity you do at home as a family?
When Vince is working for a network, we love our mornings. We get out and run together and then come home and have coffee on the couch with our pups while we catch up on the news. Surprise lunch dates are super awesome when our schedules permit. And when we’re both working from home we shut down at 6, have happy hour and cook dinner together. If it’s not too hot, you’ll find us in the jacuzzi after dinner; Vince with a cigar and whiskey and me with an Old Fashioned.
I love that even with Krysta’s kick ass and take names approach toward life she’s still found a man that can make her “ugly cry”. It just goes to show that there is a piece of realness and vulnerability in us all! Even those so called “tough gals”.
Krysta, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story, advice, and piece of your life with us. Keep it up girl!
From The Farm
It’s always much later in life, as a young adult, when you are stranded with your first flat tire, that suddenly you find yourself wishing you had a few more tools in your life skills’ tool belt. You can read the instructions all you want, but actually doing the dirty work of changing your first tire, is the only way you’ll really know how to do it.
When Cale was growing up his parents were very intentional about how and what they taught their children. Before I was married I never considered life skills as something to look for in a husband. 6+ years of marriage later, I have to say… Cale’s been quite the catch! Not only in appearance, but the guy can actually cook (better than me when we first met!), assemble furniture out of a box, and even sew on his own buttons! Of course he’s naturally better at some things than others, but at least he’s familiar with the basics! Looking back, I’m so thankful that Cale’s parents took the time to teach him some basic life skills that have helped shape him into the amazing, well-rounded, handyman that he is today.
Although both of our boys are still in diapers, we believe that we are laying the foundation today for the young men they’ll become tomorrow. It’s important for us to think about ways we can use everyday responsibilities and mistakes as teaching opportunities while they are still under our “parental-umbrella” so to speak (just made that word up!). I know as parents we say we are going to be tough and make our kids help out around the house, but often times it’s just “easier” if we handle it ourselves. Involving our kids in the daily tasks like the laundry, the sewing (yes… boys needs to learn this too!), and the cooking provides them with key learning opportunities they’ll be thankful for later on in life (along with their girlfriend/boyfriend, roommate, and spouse).
Here is our list of life skills we plan on teaching our kids (male or female):
- How to… Change a Tire.
- How to… Boil Water (so they can cook a basic meal like pasta, potatoes, boiled eggs, etc!).
- How to… Wash and Fold their own Laundry.
- How to… Hammer a Nail.
- How to… Start a Fire.
- How to… Read a Map (the old fashion paper kind!).
- How to… Balance a Checkbook.
- How to… Store, Clean, Load, and Shoot a firearm Safely (and accurately)
- How to… Sew on a Button.
- How to… Drive a Stick Shift.
Whether we like it or not we’ve all had to learn some of these skills a bit later on in life. Even if our parents taught us we were too “cool” (or bored) in the moment to pay attention. Truth is providing our kids with life skills won’t guarantee they’ll land that amazing job or make the best financial decisions. Our goal in teaching life skills is bigger than just checking them off a list. Our hope is that through them our kids will learn how to transition better as they take on more responsibilities, not be as afraid to try new things, and remain motivated to become the best versions of themselves as possible.
And yes, that includes knowing how to drive a manual sports car so you can give your mom a joy ride or at least be able to haul sheep shit in the farm truck (whichever comes first!).
What life skills would you add to our list? What life skills will you teach your kids? We’d love to hear from you!
From The Farm
These days our family has turned into a little zoo! That’s why for Halloween, instead of tying the kids down, we thought we’d let em run loose and enjoy being monkeys for a day! Or at least an evening. We may have bribed them with a few pieces of candy to keep them close by, but it did work (at least for the first hour or so)!
This is the third year that Cale and I have been involved in the Trunk or Treat at our church. Every year we try and come up with an original theme that includes a large group of people; typically all 5 of Cale’s siblings, spouses, a few friends, and nieces and nephews! Since we have all been busy having more babies it’s been harder to get everyone involved and on the same page. We know we could always just go with a trunk based on the latest popular kid’s movie, but coming up with an original theme is always way more exciting!
A few brown thrift store hoodies, sheets of felt, and some fabric glue and we were good to go! Using this DIY for a monkey hoodie costume we were able to simply repeat it for all the kids involved. Plus, we got to sit on a comfy bed and pass out candy to adorable children the whole night!
This is our littlest monkey Hardy Boy. He’s nearly four months old now and if you don’t watch out he will steal your heart (and your Snickers)!
We had a few surprise monkeys show up too! The sock monkey’s from another trunk didn’t want to miss out on the party so we invited them over.
The tails were my favorite part! We actually just bought them as-is at a local craft store and attached them to the back of the hoodies. ADORABLE!
Of course we wouldn’t give the book justice without representing The Doctor and The Momma! I love that my little nephew (monkey #2) and I have the exact same facial expression. Let’s do this candy thing!
Girl monkeys gotta represent!
Hard to believe our oldest Monkey, James David, turned 2 this past September (tear)!
Of course my costume was really annoying to have to wear all. night. long. But, I suffered through.
Our No More Monkey’s Jumping on The Bed Trunk was a huge hit! It was so much fun seeing families walk through our candy line and immediately get the theme. Hearing everyone comment on how cute our little monkeys were made it all worth it. And honestly, it was super easy! We spent one evening going through thrift shops looking for hoodies and buying supplies and another hour or so creating the actual costumes. The rest of the time needed was just gathering up a few pillows and blankets, a head board, and a few toddler mattresses and we were good to go!
Did you have any monkey’s running around this Halloween? Or maybe a princess, a dinosaur, or a mini Captain America (those fake fabric muscles are so awesome!)?
Happy (belated) Halloween friends!
From The Farm
Get inspired for next year by checking out our roundup of 8 Easy and Adorable Halloween Hoodie Costumes.
For months now we’ve been looking forward to actually meeting our new friends the Nabors in person. Several months ago Craig and Michelle Nabors reached out to us via email and we instantly hit it off. An adorable family of four their dream is to farm their 30 acre plot full-time along with building their own modern farmhouse. Aiming to break ground sometime next year, they are in full design and planning mode as they layout their future homestead (sound familiar!?) We recently spent a drizzly fall day walking their land, chatting up a storm about house plans and farming techniques, and even shared a bowl of homemade corn chowder (which we have been craving ever since we left!).
Of course, James had no problem making himself right at home and running around like one of the big kids!
We even got to tour Craig and Michelle’s adorable Cob House that they built with their own hands! An experiment in sustainable building materials it is truly a labor of love. Simple and quaint it has two bedrooms, running water, and a compositing toilet. A wonderful retreat and cozy guest cottage it helps them serve the basic needs of the land until they can live their permanently.
It was the perfect kind of day that went by not to slow and not to fast. Time felt calm and easy as we enjoyed each other’s company and shared our dreams of family and simple living (outside of the sheep getting out of course!).
We are always amazed and truly grateful at the wonderful connections we’ve made by simply sharing our life online. The genuine friendships we’ve made over the years are simply priceless. We are looking forward to the next time we get to spend some quality time with our new Nabors (sorry, had to do it!).
From The Farm
Visit The Nabors blog to see more photos of their Cob House from start to finish!
When I was a kid my grandma would make us the best Halloween Costumes. She’d take us to the fancy fabric store and we’d spend hours looking at all the books with samples of the different patterns. It was always really hard, but eventually we’d narrow it down and she’d make our costumes completely from scratch. Now these were not your flimsy Big Box Retail Costumes, these were handcrafted, tailored, pieces of art that were made with lots of love (and blood, sweat, and tears I’m sure!). Back then we actually got to wear our costumes to school, which was always my favorite part. For a whole day we’d get to prance around in our homemade garb as a pretty witch, a silly clown, or for my brother; Captain Planet (which included a fabric six pack of course)!
Unfortunately my kids won’t have the same quality handmade Halloween Costumes I had as a kid, but I’m gonna do my best to make something a little crafty and original. The last few years we’ve participated in our church Trunk or Treat. As a family (including Cale’s five brothers and sisters and children!) we’ve done everything from the Super Mario Brothers to a Bakery complete with the most adorable cupcakes and cookies! This year everyone’s schedule is a bit more crazy than usual so we are trying to keep things fairly simple (although we say that every year!). I love a good hoodie costume cause you can buy the base at a thrift shop, purchase some felt for simple handmade add-ons, and finish with some fabric glue baby and you are good to go! Even if you’d don’t have a sewing a machine you can still create something unique and fun for your little minions that’s simple and one-of-a-kind.
Below is a roundup of links to some of my favorite easy handmade costumes. I’ve been searching for a particular hoodie tutorial myself, but you’ll have to wait until after Halloween to see our final costumes and theme this year!
- Care Bears by See Vanessa Craft
- A Minion from Despicable Me by Not So Idle Hands
- Octopus by dollarcraft on Instructables
- Unicorn by Fiskars
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Vanilla Joy
- Knight by fjnorm on Instructables
- Shark by Fiskars
- Little Red Ridding Hood and The Big Bad Wolf by Martha Stewart
A little bit of forethought goes a long ways! Halloween might be a week away, but I promise you’ve still got time to create you own costume that is way cooler than something from the store (and probably a lot less expensive too!). Get together with some of your friends for a craft night, and cut and glue your own hoodie costume together. Who knows, the materials you need may already be in an old box just waiting to be used.
What’s your favorite handmade costume? Leave us a link in the comment section.
From The Farm
Ok, here comes the real deal! Adjusting to two kids has been harder than we thought. I honestly don’t know what we expected?! It’s double the diaper duty, double the mouths to feed (with both boys being on very different diets… milk vs. solids), double the mess, double the laundry, and unfortunately double the exhaustion.
The first 6 weeks of Hardy Boy’s life have been tough, but we are slowly getting caught up on sleep, house duties, and a even fitting in a few blog posts here and there (Yay!)! On top of juggling a newborn and a toddler Cale has been working 10 hour days trying to finish a big project at work so things have been beyond stressful! I don’t know how we would have survived without the support of our amazing family and friends. They’ve rallied behind us and brought us meals, played with James so I could rest, folded laundry, changed stinky diapers without even questioning what we’ve been feeding our toddler for the last few days, and been that encouraging word and/or swift kick in the booty when we’ve really needed it!
My mom has reminded us over and over again; “Focus on what you have control over and let the rest go!”
And that’s exactly what we’ve been learning to do.
It’s ironic cause “control” is the last thing you feel right after having a baby. If anything the only thing you have “control over” is letting go. We’re learning to be ok with throwing all plans out the window, no matter how stacked up the dishes may be (or stinky), and being ok with resting instead. If momma isn’t healthy and happy she won’t have any patience (or love) to take care of two little minions, let alone motivation to do anything else!
Lets just say sleep has become an important part of our nightly AND daily routine. When the heavens open up and decide to give us a few minutes to a few hours we take it! We take it and refuse to feel guilty about it!
Everyone asks how is James adjusting? Big brother is doing better and better. Other then the typical smothering and randomly hitting baby with a car… for the most part he’s learning to share and is pretty sweet about the whole thing. I’ve been teaching him how to swaddle his stuffed cow and sing him to sleep along with Hardy Boy. There are days where the details of being a mom of two are a blur, but occasionally you’ll have these moments open up where time stands still and you know you are catching a moment that will never be again. Those are my favorite moments. When I have the camera phone down and I take a mental image that I’ll carry in my heart forever.
Hardy Boy is growing like a weed. At six weeks he’s already in 3-6 month clothes and seems to be too long for even some 9 month onesies! We are thankful that both of our boys have been good eaters and breastfeeding, for the most part, has been really smooth.
Some of the things we love about Hardy… He is a lover for sure. A snuggler that likes to sleep on our chests. I picture him as this big ole Oklahoma boy with a heart of gold, who likes hugs, and has a deep belly laugh. He’s not nearly as serious as James. James is gonna figure things out while Hardy Boy will just jump in and go for it. I already see it now. It’s amazing, beautiful, and a bit overwhelming! Pray for us as we learn how to shepherd these unique spirits we’ve been given!
Rest and good coffee to you all!
From The Farm
The crazy thing about social media is meeting people online that inspire you, that you get to actually chat with and follow their life on a daily basis, but yet you may never actually meet in person! Tamara Staples is one of those people in my life. She first stood out to Cale and I when we featured her beautiful Chicken Photography as an Everyday Design Blog Post. When I reached out to Tamara to ask for her permission about using her photographs we started emailing back and forth and following each other on Facebook. I love it when you reach out to an artist or maker and they actually have time to engage in real conversations with you. No matter how much traffic your feature may or may not send to their site, you can just tell when someone is genuinely thrilled that their work caught your eye and that you want to showcase it. I immediately felt that response from Tamara and have since then really enjoyed following her work as an artist and a commercial photographer in Brooklyn, NY.
I asked Tamara to give us the low down on what exactly it is she does when it comes to photography and her day to day life as a professional, mom, wife, woman, and friend.
“My usual schedule includes regular photography assignments such as book covers, magazine photo illustrations and other assorted jobs, for instance, a non-for-profit shoot about organic-raised chickens.
When I’m not in the studio, I play mahjong with a group of ladies, run 15 miles a week and enjoy time with my 8 year old son, Emmett and my husband, Bill Newell.” – Tamara Staples
Q1) What was is it about photography that made you want to pursue it as a career?
I’ve loved photography since childhood when I pinned a picture from a box of Girl Scout cookies on my wall. In this photograph, a young girl kneels in the sand behind her tripod and camera, staring out into the distance waiting for something to happen so that she might capture it. This girl struck me as a confident person, the kind of person I’d like to be, who was able to observe life around her in a non-threatening way.
Q2) What are some of the key factors that helped shape and develop your photographic eye?
I’ve always loved Irving Penn as a key source of inspiration, but for me, I need a variety of inspirations. All of life’s rich experiences influence my work.
Q3) What has been the most challenging, and the most rewarding part about being a full-time freelance photographer?
Free-lancing has its ups and downs. At times I’m so busy I can barely keep it all straight, and then there are times when no one is calling no matter how much I reach out to market myself. I can get a little blue, but my husband is always reminding me not to equate my self-worth to the momentary lack of work. The upside of the free-lance gig is setting my own schedule. I have the freedom to be with my family when I want or need to be.
Q4) How have you found balance running your own business and maintaining a healthy family life?
My husband works a healthy 75 hours a week so he’s not able to contribute to the day-to-day domestic duties. My photography hours pale in comparison, but when you add the care of my 8 year old, the domestic chores, my fine art work, marketing, my weekly Mahjong game and a 15 mile-a-week running schedule it can get very hectic. I’m incredibly independent, so it works for us, but not without a lot of juggling.
Q5) As a freelancer what advice do you have for networking and building a consistent client base?
Finding new clients outweigh the actual work by a wide margin, so when I get new business, it’s gold. The best advice I can give for building a consistent client base is to service each individual client with the best you can give, no matter the circumstances. I hire a lot of other free-lancers and if they are on set complaining about other clients, I generally won’t hire them again.
Q6) How has being a mom changed or shaped you as a creative person?
As a parent, I’ve become particularly efficient. And because I adore being a mom, I’m a happier, more fulfilled person. But being a parent is a difficult job. Figuring out how to be a good parent is ever changing, there’s so much to consider. When I go to work, I almost feel like I’m on vacation!
Q7) What are some tips for approaching publishers for a book deal?
There are many ways to get your projects in front of publishers. The most popular way lately is to attend a Portfolio Review. They are seemingly everywhere these days, but beware: they are expensive. However, you will meet face to face with the very people who could help you. Exposure is very important. Submit work to contests and the research to find the right people and contact them directly. I find the shotgun approach works best for me.
Q8) What is your favorite leisurely activity you do at home with your family?
We live in Greenwood Heights on top of a hill that happens to be the tallest point in Brooklyn. This apartment is new to us in that we purchased it in May of 2013. The reason we chose this apartment is because of the large balcony on the top floor with sweeping views of the harbor, the Statue of Liberty, a huge chunk of Brooklyn (including the BQE) and all of Manhattan. Every night after dinner, we rush to the balcony and watch the sunset. This is our favorite family activity. Nothing to do but watch the colors collect in the sky and the lights coming up in the city.
Q9) How do you keep creativity fresh in your day to day?
Lately I’ve been shooting with a tungsten light that will focus. I love how the subject matter will sparkle and I especially like the sharp black shadows that instantly create a sense of design. Most of these images are “experiments” or “tests”, as we call them in the business. I’m showing my clients how this lighting looks great for the right project. It’s so important to try new things, to stay fresh and to challenge yourself.
Now, let’s all take a breath and savor each of these beautiful photographs! I just love the layouts and the way she makes you wanna study and see the art forms in ordinary objects. Truly amazing!
Thank you Tamara for taking the time to share more about your life and your work. I hope our paths do cross Tamara and maybe you can teach me how to play mahjong sometime?! I love card games. We play a mean game of pitch here in Oklahoma!
From The Farm