A Year in My Life- April- Meet My Mentors

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Well would you look at me. It’s the BEGINNING of the month and I remembered to post my “A Year in my Life” photos! The April weather has been gorgeous, and as you can see we’ve spent a LOT of time outside. I hope you enjoy this little behind the scenes peek into our life.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Our new lady goat, Alice. She’s now pregnant and we are expecting kid(s) late summer/early fall.

This month I’d like to talk about some of my mentors that have really encouraged me and taught me as I have worked on perfecting my documentary images. First up is Kirsten Lewis Bethmann. I first “met” her while watching her class on CreativeLive “Family Photography: Modern Storytelling”.  Kirsten specializes in Day in the Life Family Photography. Rather than posed images she captures the real everyday story of the families that she photographs. Her class walked through things like how to see the moments, how to use the available light, and included a behind the scenes of her shooting a session.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Making faces at his reflection while watching the rain through the window.

After watching Kirsten’s class I was inspired to take more documentary images of my own family, and also felt the desire to provide this for clients. I was already moving away from super posed images and into more lifestyle images, but Kirsten made me want to go even further! I purchased her first class so that I could re-watch it as often as I wanted to refresh my mind on things I had already learned as well as hopefully learn something new each time. When she did her second class, “Family Photography: Photojournalism in the Home” I watched as much as I could live, and learned even more.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Poor baby was NOT feeling well at all. He was sick for almost a week!

My next big mentor I also discovered thanks to CreativeLive. I first saw Julia Kelleher when she presented the class “Family Photography: Capturing Connection“. I absolutely loved her passion for what she was doing, photographing newborns and their families, as well as her open honesty about her experiences with postpartum depression. I could also tell that she had a true love for teaching and really wanted her students to succeed.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
We had a lot of fun watching these little birdies grow up. Their parents are beautiful red Cardinals and we love having them in our yard.

Then I saw a call for studio audience members for her second class, “The Creative Newborn Photography Studio“, and I decided to apply. Boy am I glad I did! I was accepted and given the opportunity to attend her three-day class live in the CreativeLive studio in San Francisco. It was an AMAZING experience! I not only got to spend three days learning from Julia, but I was able to build relationships with the other photographers that were in the studio audience. Julia really helped me build my own passion for exploring my why. Why am I a photographer? Why am I an artist? What message do I have to share with the world? She really launched me into me journey of digging deeper and rediscovering my own identity outside that of wife and mother.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Check out how this guy is holding the pencil! Only 1.5, but has to be like the big kids. Maddy, is the best big sister and always willing to help him out and cheer him on.

While those two instructors have influenced me the most, CreativeLive has been such a wealth of knowledge and motivation for me. I’ve watched classes on pricing, photography, Photoshop editing, marketing, branding, watercolors and so much more. I try to check out their offerings each morning and tune in to the live classes whenever I can.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Picnicking on the front porch after a morning of working hard in the yard.

Last, but certainly not least, this list would not be complete without the amazing Christine Tremoulet! I first met her in Jeff Jochum’s Team-X Facebook group. Jeff Jochum is an amazing coach, who I have also worked with, and you should definitely check out his book “Work Happily Ever After” if you are a photographer. Jeff really helped me start digging into who I am and why, but Christine is the one who really cracked the nut wide open for me and helped me become clearly focused in my business goals and direction.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Hard work, when done with the family, is fun. Stay tuned for a future blog post on how we use family work instead of chores to build relationship and teach good habits.

After talking with Christine on Facebook quite a bit I signed up for her email list “Blogging Brilliantly” which is now an amazing book. Blogging Brilliantly give daily actionable steps that you can take to improve your message, attract your target audience, and blog with more clarity. I have to admit, that while the advice was amazing, I failed to implement most of it. I think more than anything I was unclear in the direction I wanted my blog and business to go. I desperately want to be a full-time birth/newborn/family life photographer. Unfortunately with baby #8 due in just a few days it really isn’t a season of my life where I can focus as much time, energy, and money, into that business as I would like. I was pretty lost and floundering trying to figure out how to be true to myself and my needs while still honoring the responsibilities that come with being the mom of a large family.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
The kids all love working together to help Dad out. This time shoveling up wood chips to be placed under the fence where the neighbor’s dog keeps getting into our yard.

Christine then invited me to be a part of her first group coaching class “Business Brilliantly“, and I jumped at the opportunity. I knew I needed help and I knew that I trusted her knowledge and mentorship. I was not disappointed! Through her class I was able to really focus on what I wanted out of my life. I was able to weed out the distractions and create a clear message of who I am as a person and a business. I was able to create a sense of peace with the direction I am going with my businesses and excitement about where they will take me in the future.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Getting a ride in the wheelbarrow as a reward for hard work well done

Thanks to these three mentors I am in a really good place right now with my work life balance. I have given myself permission to step back from the photography and art without completely giving it up. I have come to a place where I truly enjoy and look forward to writing in my blog. I have a clear message of what I stand for, who I am talking to, and am able to focus more time on my children in the process. It’s been quite the journey, and taken several years, but I am eternally thankful to the mentors who have gotten me to where I am.

A year in My Life- April | SmithSquad.com | Project 52 | Project 365 | Documenting the everyday moments of motherhood | Childhood Unscripted
Hector really is a butthead, but Leah is the animal whisperer and can be buddies with even the most ornery of animals. I love how this image captures her sweet, sensitive personality juxtaposed with his look of devilishness.

I love sharing these everyday moments with my readers each month. I hope they not only give you a peek into my behind the scenes life, but somehow the experiences and knowledge I share in each post can also help you to find the same sense of purpose and clarity that I have been privileged to enjoy!

If you would like to have documentary images of your family I would love to help you out! While I am not full timing the photography business I am still taking on a few clients each month for birth, newborn, and family life sessions. If you are interested in scheduling a session within ~1 hour of Winder Georgia please contact me!

Who are your mentors either in personal life or business? What have they taught you?

Are you doing a 52/365 project this year? I’d love to see your images so please share your links in the comments and I’ll come visit.

4 comments

  1. I don’t know how I have never run across you blog before! I have 7 kids and always enjoy connecting with other big family moms. Photography is definitely my weakness when it comes to blogging! I swear I could publish twice as many posts if I didn’t have to worry about it!

    1. I have loved my Sony A6000 http://amzn.to/1T8MRmt for getting good shots for my blog. Since it’s small I get it out WAY more often than I did my full size DSLR. I try to make sure I upload my pictures at least once a week. Then when I’m writing I just go back through the last few months and find somethign that works. Also I LOVE Canva.com for creating the text based graphics I use. Super easy and fast!

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