Those Who Inspire

Categories: Business & Photography.

Inspiration is constantly all around me. I’ve talked about it before and you can see it in my branding…a lot of the things that  inspire me are relatively simple. A warm sunset. Seriously, I watch the sun go down over the field behind our farm and I want to slap a cute couple in front of it and shoot them loving on each other all day long. I love anything rustic and cozy and lived-in and worn. I love earthy colors, the sea, the river, a lake, the beach (anything with water!) and the little things in life. But this type of inspiration is different…yes these things inspire me creatively and this and that, but more than anything I’m inspired to live the life I want because of these things. I want to have time to enjoy these parts of life that I love so much.

So just like inspiration is different to different people, success can be defined differently by different people. Success for a photographer may be booking X weddings in a year, making X amount of income, or hitting X average sales goal for each session shot that year. Of course some of these things are key to defining a certain type of success. To me, though, I’m learning that success is this: making a living doing something I love every day, and having it fit into the lifestyle I’ve dreamed of living with my family.

I grew up in a home where you lived to work, not worked to live. Fortunately my parents gave me so much of this drive and business-loving DNA, but at the same time there’s a balance to be found because before long, that drive and focus can leave not only your family, but YOU on the back burner. I’ve watched it happen in my own family, so I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum. I want financial and business success, but more important is a happy home. To me, I’ve had a successful day if I’ve done this: spent time with my horses and dogs, spent time outside, spent time with Dustin (and Landon if he’s with us), been productive in the office and accomplished at least 75% of the things I set out to do that day (I usually overshoot and go crazy with my daily list haha), ate at least 2 normal meals, and did something for myself (whether that’s 15 minutes on Pinterest, a run, riding, watching a TV show I DVR’d and haven’t had time to watch in a week, read a book or magazine, or checked out some of my favorite blogs).

As I’ve learned about this whole new version of success since graduating college in May and adapting to “the real world,” I’ve realized how hard it is to maintain this balance but how planning, organization, and finding inspiration in the right places can make it happen with a little diligence and hard work. So today I’m talking a little bit about the people who inspire me to live this balanced and healthy lifestyle. Of course there are more, but any more than 6 would be total overload. With blogging and the internet these days, it’s so easy to get a glimpse into people’s lives and because of this, there are so many people whose work not only inspires me, but also their lifestyles and openness to sharing many parts of their daily lives.

When it comes to photographers:

- Kara Layne: Just like me, Kara seems to enjoy the little things the most and is always blogging about life with her husband and 2 kids (+ a newborn!). Her writing style is effortless (as is her photography, just take a look!), and I deeply admire  how many hats she wears daily…mom, wife, photographer, business-woman, and designer are just a few that I see, although I am sure there are so many more. Her business seems to stem from who she is, how her family is, and what she loves…and I admire that so much.
- Emily Steffen: I just stumbled upon Emily’s work not too long ago and was quickly taken back by not only her AMAZING imagery (and the fact that she uses film to create such stunning work!), but how centered, humble, and normal she seems. She’s got this contagious zest for life that is just awesome. What I love most about her and her work is that you can  feel that love for life and what she does in every single image. And I think that’s something that goes hand in hand with film (and why I want to learn film)…it makes you cherish each shot a little more, be a little more thoughtful, and a little more purposeful. I can see and feel everything in each image. Seriously, amazing, right?!
- Jasmine Star: Jasmine is just an industry idol. Talk about down-to-earth, honest, open, and extremely passionate and good at what she does. She created a business from nothing but a dream and inkling to follow her heart. And she does it with her husband by her side, a happy dog, and thrilled clients. I love how modest she is…clearly she’s an incredibly successful and sought after wedding photographer, but from what I can tell, she’s as laid-back as can be and expects to be treated just like any other person. There’s nothing about her success that has “gotten to her head” and I think that’s so awesome.

And when it comes to creatives:

- Lara Casey: What doesn’t Lara Casey do?  She’s the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief at Southern Weddings, founder of Making Things Happen, owns wedding market consulting firm Lara Casey Reps, and is partner with Emily Ley at Making Brands Happen. Oh and she’s a new mom. As Emily puts it on the MBH website, Lara does it all and does it all well. I am so incredibly inspired by the business woman Lara is and would love to spend a day in her head with all of those ideas. How does she do it?
- Emily Ley: Way back when I found Lara Casey and Making Things Happen, I found Emily Ley. As a new mom, she puts her son and family first and foremost, always. Although she works with Lara on MBH and MTH, runs the Stationary Academy, Emily Ley Creative, and Emily Ley Paper, she finds time to balance the madness with home. And she’s open about her struggles with it and how difficult it can be, but also how rewarding it is. She’s a firm believe in “grace not perfection,” and I think that’s a great motto to life.
- Promise Tangeman: While her design aesthetic is different from what I’m typically drawn to, I LOVE what Promise does and how she uses color, text and lines to create a visual story. And then read (or peruse) this blog post. It inspired me to stay focused and organized on the purpose of my business and to always take a step back and examine where I’m at and where I want to go. And did you read all of the things she did this year?! WOW. And to do it with such poise and to be so successful yet down-to-earth and keep her life and home life aligned. I love it.

I know this blog post was a doozie, but I appreciate anyone who read it and hopefully the links and thoughts that I shared will encourage a few to think about what their definition of success is. And I’d love to know, who and what inspires you? What’s your definition of success?

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