Friday, July 7, 2017

Interview and photo shoot with photographer Laura Woody

Laura Woody

Business Owner 

Longmont, CO

Can you tell me a little about your childhood? 
I grew up in a very small town in Kansas. I had a little sister born with I was 7, and she was a big part of my everything. I was home-schooled from fourth grade through high school. I remember lots of reading with my mother, and time for us to think and create. Quiet time. 
I'm one of four kids, and I'm more inclined to try different artistic elements. It just didn't have the same appeal to my siblings.
Since we lived in such a small town, we got to just go and explore and roam. The church bells would go off at 6pm and that's when we had to go home. It was that kind of childhood. There were lots of friends in town and we would ride our bikes, and run, and explore, and play. We spent a lot of time outside. 
How did you become interested in photography?
It has always appealed to me. I bought a camera when I first started working after college, but I didn't really learn how to use it. I mostly shot automatic or semi-automatic settings. I liked it and I was told that I took really nice pictures. I thought that was cool and told myself that one day I would learn how to really use my camera. Then after my oldest was born, that's when I got frustrated with using only the automatic settings. 
Here I had this tiny little baby that barely moved and I couldn't get her in focus. That's when I took my first class, she was about 3 months old. From there...I think obsessed is the right word. I just couldn't stop. I kept reading, and kept exploring, and kept taking classes. 
I got the point where my camera wouldn't work for what I wanted anymore, I had a little Cannon Rebel. Shortly after my first class is when I bought a full frame camera. I was pretty sure I was going to stick with this hobby and I didn't want to outgrow another camera quickly. From there I actually started doing shoots for other people fairly quickly, within another 6 months or so. 
I had not really intended to have a business.
Let's back up.
Before I had kids, I was an auditor for the Colorado Department of Labor for 5 years. So when someone wanted to pay me to take pictures for them, I just had to do it legally. I couldn't just say, "Sure!" and put $50 in my pocket. 
So I set up the accounts and I got the tax ID. It was one of my biggest pet peeves for years that people would act like they were surprised that after being successful in a business and they didn't know the rules applied to them too. 
Over and over with the audits, 2 years in is when someone would realize they have a problem because they hadn't thought about bookkeeping yet. 
So right from the very beginning I set it all up. I put myself out there, and it has grown from there.

What did you go to college for?
My degree is in Economics. I had a minor in Accounting and a minor in Business. I didn't really know what I wanted to do with it. I graduated in one of the worst economies, 2008. So I was pretty dang desperate, and I got a job as an auditor so that what I became. It's probably not what I would have gone out looking for, but I liked some things about it. Especially the educational component, with that I had satisfaction. Helping business owners learn the rules, and how to report, and what to do. 
There are so many components that go into starting a should I register it, do I have employees, do I have sales tax, what's my legal entity??
How does participating in 365 help or challenge your photography? 
(This is Laura's 3rd year participating in a 365 challenge...a picture a day!)
It's been a huge game changer for me. When I go back and look, the first stuff I did was in 2015. When you are shooting everyday, it is really easy to get bored with pictures of your kids smiling. So you look for different angles, you look for different light, you look for different. It pushes you to see more. 
Or you feel really bored with taking pictures only in your house, so you take your camera with you! You take pictures at the grocery store. It always feel really silly in the moment and I always feel really self conscious taking pictures with my kid in the cart. But then I go back and look at them...she was so little, and she was bouncing in the cart, and so so cute. Now they are some of my favorite pictures. 

The day to day moments are so beautiful, and it is so easy to just get parts of it. 
How did you get over feeling self conscious taking your camera with you in public?
Slowly. Now it has been a couple of years so I don't feel so weird about it. I'll just whip it out at Target and hope nobody walks around the corner! 
I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable with a photo shoot in the cereal aisle! So I usually take just a couple of frames of whatever it is that caught my eye. 
At the beginning I would go early in the day, when grocery stores are not as busy. So there would be less of a chance that someone would look at me funny. I have less issues with feeling self conscious when someone else is with me, with another adult participating or talking to me I don't feel as conspicuous. The more you do it the easier it'll be. You see people taking pictures all the time, it is just usually with their cell phone. So I know I'm not the only one who wants to take pictures of their kid in a cart...I'm just the only one at Target with a big DSLR camera! 
Its so easy to compare yourself to to other people.
That's it, the fear of failure for most people. That voice in your head that tells you you're no good.

What do you do with that voice?
It depends on the day. I think everyone has that voice to some degree.

Some days I feel like a fraud and wonder what I'm doing, when I see other people's beautiful work. Sometimes I just need to take some deep breaths and take a step back. I tend to kind of obsess about things, and run it and run it and run it and run it. Those times I have to take a very conscious step back and just play with the kids an let it go for a coupe of days. Knowing that these issues will come and will go, and that they are just a part of life. Putting yourself out there brings up the fear and comparing.

Sometimes, with photography, if I'm really worked up about client stuff, if I can just let that go for a day I remember why I love it. Instead of obsessing about an issue, I might just have fun and play with my camera, try a new lens, take the kids to a new location...all this helps me remember why I love it. 
Logistics question for your business, since you have 2 little kids...When do you edit? When do you do your bookkeeping work?
When I can. Mostly in the evening. Also, a lot of mornings now. When the younger one takes a nap and the older one gets an hour of TV. It is nice to know I have that solid hour to get work done. I can respond to all the emails, hopefully get some editing done, or focus on whatever needs to get done that day. On the weekends too, I'll get a couple of hours here and there.
There is not a fixed schedule, which I've been struggling with a little bit. Since I've gotten a bit busier, I've been telling myself that I should set that up so time for work is consistent so I don't feel overwhelmed. 
It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you're faced with what is sitting there and you're not sure when you can work on it. 

Without childcare, I realized that I can't take more than 1 or 2 sessions a week. Creatively, that's a good number for me too. 
I don't know what the future looks like, or what I will do when the girls are in school. I've thought about hiring childcare one morning a week to just focus on my business, I haven't done that yet. 
Do you have any new projects coming up?
I'm doing my first video project! I'm loving videography!
This is another creative courage struggle. I wonder if I am really ready to offer this to someone else, I don't know. It is very different shooting video for someone else. I usually shoot videos of my kids. I know them and they know me, and if they don't like it, that's ok. 
Now I threw it in with one of my upcoming newborn sessions, I'm going to do a video newborn project. She is a friend too, so it was nice to ask if they would like to be guinea pigs. I'm excited about it!
So now this opens a whole new can of I want to offer video, would it be included with a session, separate from a session? If I offer one, am I ready to offer more? Should I build up a portfolio before offering? Should I just offer it? Would it add an extra hour of time?
There is a lot to puzzle out. I love the video and I'm excited to start figuring it out.

Did you have a photography mentor? 
My parents really supported and encouraged creative thinking when we were growing up. My mom is a really creative person. It always excited her that I wanted to learn these creative things. I've learned so much from her too...the creative approach, how to look at a challenge, and how to know if what you are creating has potential. 
Do you have a favorite quote or saying that inspires you to do what you love?
"You don't take a photograph, you make it." - Ansel Adams

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” - Elliott Erwitt

What tool object or ritual could you not live without in your day?
I don't want to say the obvious one, but I really am going to say the obvious camera!

When you need inspiration where do you turn?
I'm in a lot of online photography groups. We challenge each other. For example, use an unconventional lens inside, shoot only 5 frames today and they need to be intentional, shoot from a weird angle. Challenges can be really fun to jump start some creativity. 

If you'd like to learn more about photography, Laura has shared some of her favorite resources!

Connect with Laura Woody

Connect with Sunshine Revival

PS: See more of Laura's photos in my About tab!!

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