INSPIRED BY // INTERVIEW WITH MARY BETH OF A&C

I feel so blessed that I know Mary Beth  from Annapolis & Company personally. She has been an amazing friend over these last oh, what’s it been, 13 or so years?! We wrote each other books’ worth of letters, encouraged and laughed with each other, got excited when we both got married and had children. Time isn’t on our side, us mothers of a million jobs, but I love that the internet and our little blogs and things like email can reconnect us and allow us to write a rushed, haphazard, scattered email, and somehow we can both decipher each other’s thoughts! 

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I asked her to answer a few questions about life and blogging and photography…and how she manages to get it all done! I hope y’all are as inspired as I was! 

Thanks so much for being here, Mary Beth!

 

 

 

You seem like you balance blogging, photography and other creative endeavors, and your family so well! What’s your secret?

Oh, gosh. I wish. Honestly, my days feel like a tight rope walk, juggling a hundred balls smeared in peanut butter. I’m going to give you my answer in two parts. Our philosophy and then my day-to-day routine. Because they both play into this!

From the get-go, my husband and I did things a little differently than most people. Getting married really young {I was 19, he was 21} and starting a family right away {4 babies, one in heaven, the first 3 years of our marriage}. Because of that, I think it forced two young, creative, entrepreneurial people to decide a few things about the kind of parents we wanted to be and how we wanted to raise our family. And here’s what we discovered about ourselves….

We decided we were not scheduled people…that we were worked better with a loose framework and we wanted our children to learn to be flexible at a young age.

We decided we wanted our kids to experience things…so we’ve brought them along on a lot of photography jobs and we tag along as much as we can with daddy when he has to travel for work.

We decided we wanted our children to see parents who tried things. Were willing to take risks. And lived life adventurously.

We decided we were of the mindset that our children entered our world, as a family. And we were not going to drop everything for the world to revolve around them. (And we’ve definitely gotten flack for that.)

It has been such a learning process for us to discover all that above, and I would be lying if I made it sound like a neat and tidy package. Because it hasn’t been. But we decided that creative work and family were pretty high on our priority list and we were going to say “no” to a lot of other things to make it work. We don’t watch much TV. We don’t go to a lot of events where we can’t bring the kids with us. We don’t say “no” to something we want to do, based on bedtimes, or schedules. {Our kids have learned to be pretty flexible and I have quite the stories to tell!} We don’t spend a lot of money on eating out, but we do on Starbucks. :) It’s boiled down to us wanting to pursue creative, entrepreneurial things and wanting to involve the kids in as much of that process as possible.

As for how I live, day-to-day, to fit in everything….

I get up really early on most days {anywhere from 4:15am – 5:30am}, weekends included. To blog, to answer emails, to network, to edit photos. I stay up late if I have pressing deadlines due for work, which means I don’t always get a whole lot of sleep! I catch up on sleep when it’s a lighter week with less deadlines due.

I throw in laundry whenever I have a spare minute…and I let it pile up till I have time to sit down and fold it all. It’s usually all wrinkly. And I’ve learned I’m ok with that.

I mop the bathroom floor when it’s all wet from the kids splashing their bath water out. I windex the mirrors and wipe down all the surfaces while they’re bathing.

I let the kids play outside in our fenced-in backyard by themselves.

I schedule as many of my photo shoots on the weekends or evenings as I can, so my husband can be with the kids while I am gone.

I go out with girlfriends {either coffee, Bible book study, or to help them out with a special need} on average once or twice a week. I have one friend who comes over during nap time and I make coffee and bake something and we get to talk about life while the girls are watching a movie or playing outside and Keller is napping. I think this girl time is so vital for women. It rejuvenates us. Grounds us. Brings positive Christian encouragement into our life.

I do “school” with Emma Claire {5 yrs.} when Keller is taking his nap. We have not been extremely consistent this year, since I’m a huge proponent of using this pre-K time to build their imaginations and creativity. We do, however, try to occasionally work on improving her reading, french, writing, occasionally geography, numbers, and we do lots and lots of art over here! Emma Claire picks things up easily so I don’t have to spend a whole lot of time every day doing that. Steven is also very invested in their education and teaches all of us french and will work on our abacus in the evenings with EC.

And lastly, I am a very blessed woman with my husband.  We try to go on dates twice a month {church friends graciously keep the kids for us}.

You must know, if it weren’t for Steven, I would have never tried to pursue something creative while being a mother. I thought you could only have one without the other. And he’s totally taught me that that is a lie. That you can have both. It requires a lot of work and discipline. It only works if the husband and wife are on the same page. And it requires a heck of a lot of give and take. But he’s been my rock. The one who takes care of all the computer programming, the financial side of the business, the kids, my photoshop and inDesign questions…I’d be nothing if it weren’t for him. And I’m dead serious.

 

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I’ve love seeing you improve as a photographer. What inspires you? What are some of your favorite things to photograph?

Thank you! Elliott Erwitt said, “Photography is an art of observation. It has little to do with the things you see, and everything to do with the way you see them.” 

If I could sum up my photography journey thus far, it would be with those words. When I first began photography, I learned very quickly that in our age of photoshop, pinterest, and digital prowess, that it is not that hard to take a good photograph. You can copy poses from pinterest, crop, and define and sharpen anything and make it look good. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I wanted to be different. I wanted to find my own way. My own niche. And I found the key to transforming my photography, was really how I viewed the world. For the longest time I was hung up on the fact that “it just wasn’t my season.” We were struggling financially and I couldn’t afford to go buy lenses, or live in a beautiful house that set an awesome background for photos. I was a stay-at-home mom with 3 little kids, a tired body, and a sometimes frazzled mind. And finally one day, I think it hit me. Make a beautiful life, MB. Use what you have, with where you are, and make something out of it. So I began photographing…everything! I found a couple of blogs whose photography and design really spoke to me, and I set out to sort of find my own niche. Sara and Hugh Forte, from The Sprouted Kitchen, inspire my food photography. Megan Gilger, from The Fresh Exchange inspires my styling and design.

I would say my favorite things to photograph are the unexpected details and anything organic and earthy. Textiles. Interiors. Braided hair. Ingredients spread out on a kitchen table. People in their natural element. It all feels like coming home for me when I can take the world God gave us and capture it in a way that makes people stop. And notice it.

 

You’re focusing more on food photography lately. Do you prefer an open assignment, like creating a new recipe, or to photograph the finished product, like food for a restaurant?

I prefer photographing food from conceptualization to finished product. I love the entire process of taking fresh ingredients from the earth and turning them into a masterpiece. When I look at food as a work of art, I see all sorts of patterns and textures in ingredients that create beautiful photographs. And that’s what I love. Being in my own kitchen, with a recipe and good wholesome ingredients, and making a masterpiece with it.

 

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(These granola bars she created and photographed are incredible!)

 

For the techies, what’s your favorite lens to use?

Well, I really only have 2 lenses. The kit lens my Nikon D3100 came with, and a 50 mm fixed lens my husband surprised me with a couple months ago. And after shooting for 2 years with my kit lens, can I say? The fixed lens made my life so much easier. I know in photographic terms it is one of the most basic lenses, but I was blown away at how much easier it was to get good photographs. Things were lighter, clearer, and I could get really pretty tight shots with a hazy background. On my wish list is the 85 mm lens and a macro lens.

 

Blogging is a full-time job in and of itself! What are your favorite things to blog about, and how do you get ideas and stay inspired and focused?

I am such a feeler that I work best when I give my blog a loose frame work and leave room for any ideas that may pop into my head. I’ve found that I am an introvert by nature {go figure!} and I an rejuvenated when I have some quiet time alone for me to think and process life. And that’s really where my ideas come from. I’ll be doing my makeup in the bathroom and I’ll have a lightbulb moment and run to tell Steven about it. I’ll be washing the dishes and a deep thought I want to blog about comes to my mind and I’ll run to the office and start writing things down.

I’ve noticed one of the key things to staying inspired and focused in life, is staying balanced. And I have this meter running through my body all the time. When I don’t exercise, or eat right, or rest, or have time alone, or spread myself too thin with obligations, the meter goes waaay off to the left or the right. And it shows. In my personal life, in my work. Staying inspired and focused really comes when I am pursuing and living a balanced life. Which will be a lifelong pursuit for me!!!!

 

What has been the most exciting thing to come out of your blogging?

I’ve gotten to meet and work with so many incredible people…and we just got to be apart of a film this summer – American Blogger. That was pretty dang exciting!

 

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What has been the most challenging or difficult thing?

Honestly? People treat me differently. When you tell people what you do {and I didn’t tell people I was a blogger for a couple of years}, you get a variety of reactions and treatments. And you don’t exactly know which one you’re going to get. :) There’s the cattiness. And the idolization…people thinking you’re something you’re not. And then there are people who want to use you and your platform on the internet. The good thing is, I’ve learned so much about relationships from blogging and how to handle a variety of issues. It’s been good for me and helped me see my own weaknesses in relationships!

 

On more of a personal note, what is something that’s changed the way you think and impacted your life lately? (Books, movies, quotes or Bible verses?)

I soak things up so slowly, that usually a really good quote or Bible verse that makes me stop in my tracks, has the most lasting impact on me. I draw meaning from so many things, that small doses of intellectual or spiritual thought can make me mull over the thought for days. One of my favorite passages I think I’ve mulled over the most this past year, is this passage in the Bible…

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…Love never fails… 

…And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

I Corinthians 13

 

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What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

You can’t do it all. You’ll feel like you have to go to all the women’s Bible studies, help out with all the baby showers, have a perfectly clean house, well behaved kids, home cooked meal every night for the hubs, styled hair with no dark circles under your eyes and shaved legs. But I’m telling you. It’s impossible. When I got that? From older, wiser people telling me. My world changed. When I realized that there were always going to be dirty dishes. When I realized there was always laundry needing to be folded. I kind of gave up, in a sense. I stopped trying to have it all done and began pursuing having real relationships with people I loved and trusted. It freed me to pursue other creative things, and liberated my entire life.

Liberated is a really good feeling. :)

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//I’m guest posting at A&C today too!//

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1 Comment

  1. I loved this!!!! I can relate to so much of it. I have the piles of wrinkly clothes too. Today was my ‘folding day’ ;)

    And wow. I wondered about other bloggers getting treated differently. Same here! It’s such a weird thing. But it’s also helped me in a lot of areas too with relationships.

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