This is Pamela. Is it weird that I want to use this picture as my screen saver? Its beautiful. She's beautiful~in every way. I am incredibly inspired by this Mompreneur; her vision, her drive, her careful balance of work/family and her ability to gracefully maneuver life's roadbumps with fortitude.
Leaves of Grass is Pamela's amazing photography company in Minnesota. I have followed the development and progress of her budding business on the edge of my seat now for 3 years. I am amazed. Inspired and so encouraged by this girl. I know you will be too~ (Did I mention she is a mom of FOUR all under the age of 9?)
1. Name/Business? How long have you been a photographer and what inspired you to start?
Having been born into a family of artists I guess I consider myself a "folk" photographer. As an eight year girl I was positively thrilled when I’d finally saved enough to buy that 35mm point and shoot Minolta I’d been eyeing behind the glass case. Ever since, the camera has simply been a natural extension of who I am. Through word of mouth, and posting my personal photos on Facebook, I was being approached to photograph children, Seniors and a few weddings, so it seemed natural to move forward professionally. I created “Leaves of Grass Photography”, naming it after Walt Whitman’s classic book “Leaves of Grass.” For me, becoming a photographer has been a journey... and one that I am still excited to be on!
2. Tell us about a typical day as a mom of 4, a wife and a business owner. How does it all get done? Any tips?
I am so lucky to have a husband who is a huge help, and great about spending time with the kids when I’m shooting at a session, post-processing or blogging. And as the kids are growing older (our oldest is 9) they’re learning to pitch in with housework, too. As a perfectionist I’m learning to gain a new perspective about what needs to be done, and being okay to let the rest of my “list” go. When I’m not working, I want to spend time with my kids, and not morph into the a frantic, cleaning monster. The question I continually have to ask myself is this: what’s going to be important 20 years from now? A clean house, or making time for the people I love? My house is no Pottery Barn magazine. However, the kids are well fed, have clean clothes (usually), and most of all, loved!
3. You have juggled so many balls over the past few years. Family life, missions in Mexico, chipping away on your college degree and working nights to help pay off credit card debt. How have these experiences contributed to where you are at now professionally?
Wow, that’s tough question. I feel it is essential for me as a Photographer to be able to identify with my clients. Each come from such varied backgrounds, ages and life experiences. I think overall these experiences combined allow me to build genuine and comfortable relationships with them.
Sacrificing time away from family working extra jobs and selling assets to pay off credit card debt have given me an idea of what I want my business to look like. First of all, it's been exciting (and empowering) to build a business using only cash - no small loans, or credit cards. Running a successful business is hard work. But you when work hard for something, it means more. When I purchase something for my business I make sure it’s something worth investing in. When I spend time away from my kids and husband on a shoot I want to make sure it’s worth my time.
4. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
Well, if I’m going to be honest it’s definitely fear. And self-doubt. Fear of what “others” think of me, and my work. Especially since I’m self-taught. I’m my own worst critic so when I put my work on the web for everyone to see I often have a minor anxiety attack! I’m so thankful for my husband who gives me that gentle push when I doubt, and for those few friends who know my heart, and encourage me. I’m so thankful, and amazed, to have these people in my life. Without them I’d never have realized the joys and successes I’ve experienced in just these few short years. The fear still exists but hopefully it’s just making me a stronger person as I push through it.
5. What inspires you and keeps you motivated week in and week out to pursue creative endeavors?
There are always projects and crafts that I’m working on, whether it’s refinishing old furniture, remodeling the house or writing something I’ve been inspired about; I’ve never been the type of person to get bored. I’m such a free spirit and highly self-driven. Yes, I am mom but it’s not the only thing that defines me.
I recently emerged from some dark years where I struggled with depression and mild anxiety. I really believe that pursuing something creative (photography) has helped keep me in a healthier, stable place. My kids need a healthy mom, and my husband and I benefit from a stronger marriage when I’m happy. Being creative, even if it’s just for me, really keeps me afloat, and enjoying life.
I don’t mean to be redundant but I love and am ever thankful that I can count on my husband to celebrate my successes, and encourage me when I feel like a failure, or feel like giving up. He’s a huge source of inspiration and encouragement for me. (Thank you, Wade!)
6. How do you find balance in mommyhood and entrepreneurship?
If I’m going to be honest I’d have to say I’m constantly working on this. Sometimes my photography takes over and I disappear from my family to meet deadlines. I frequently remind myself that being a mom is more important. I think ultimately any balance I do find stems from making sure I take time for myself. I’m more than “mom”, I’m more than “photographer.” I’m Pamela. And I need to make sure I take care of the person underneath the “titles” by doing the things that rejuvenate and inspire me to be a better mom and photographer. For me, that often means escaping on a long, quiet jog, a spontaneous day trip to the city to shop, or a coffee shop with a Madeline L’Engle book. I always need to take time to pray and talk with God. I also enjoy a care-free evening with girlfriends or having a glass of wine with my husband after the kids are in bed. These help bring me back into balance and give perspective to my life.
7. What are your future goals and dreams, professionally?
Currently, I’m enjoying on-location shoots but I have plans to renovate a perfect studio in a old building with big windows for natural light photography. I also dream of worldwide traveling, and bringing home stories written with my camera that could change the way people live their lives here. When my weak wrists can no longer handle the 70-200mm I’d love to pursue a career in writing. I’m not sure exactly what that would look like yet. It’s just one of those things I dream about. I’ve already begun to realize my photography dream... so why not writing, too?
And (this may be silly but...) I would absolutely to love to take wedding photographer Jasmine Star on a lunch date. I admire her honest personality and love her story on how she’s become one of the countries’ leading photographers in a just a few short years. I think that living in a small town makes me push myself harder to maintain professional standards. I constantly pursue professional networking to learn more and compete against some of the excellent work that is out there. There is so much to learn and so many avenues for this art.
8. Favorite food and favorite guilty pleasure TV show?
I have a weakness for anything ethnic; especially Italian, or Mediterranean food. I love fresh bread, feta cheese, and any kind of lasagna. I crave red wine and dark chocolate too often, and am obsessed with the coffee my husband freshly roasts for me each week, and especially love Guatemalan coffee.Admittedly, I’m not one to watch much television (although I’ve been known to get addicted to “The Bachelor “ once I’ve started.) Mostly, I enjoy watching American Idol with the kids, and a great big tub of homemade kettlecorn. It gives us something to look forward to on those dark and cold winter Minnesota days.
9. Where can readers follow you?
The best places to view my current work, and follow me is my Blog: http://leavesofgrassphotography.com/blog , or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/leavesofgrassphotography.