Interview by: Margotbianca
Tell us a little bit about who you are and what makes you who you are.
The basics: I was born in Louisiana but have also lived in Rhode Island, Florida, Texas, and now Colorado. I’ve been married for 14 years. We have a 4-year old daughter, 2 ½-year old son, and a 14-year old dog named Dharma.
In another life I worked as a chemical engineer, then later as a software test analyst. After I had my daughter, I just wanted to stay home and hold her all day long. I was fortunate enough to be able to quit my job to do just that. And take millions of lousy pictures of her. Thus started my quest to become a true photographer.
I notice that you share your work in several places online. What is the relationship between selling your work on Etsy and your use of social networking and blogging to get your work seen by more people?
When I first started out, I fell into a great group of new moms much like myself on the photo-sharing site Flickr. We were all interested in photography and looking to improve. We did weekly photo challenges and later a 365 project, where we took a photo every day for an entire year (during much of my second pregnancy and the birth of my son). I made a lot of connections through Flickr, learned a lot about photography, and gained a lot of exposure on Flickr’s Explore (much like Etsy’s front page). I was encouraged to pursue selling my work on Etsy.
After I opened my Etsy shop and waited endlessly for my first sale, I realized I needed to work at it a bit more. I started a checklist of things to do: Facebook – check! Blog – check! Twitter – check! Flickr was a great start for me, but I don’t feel like I’ve been using these other social networking tools as effectively as I could be. I’d love to share more personal things and feature other artists and create more of a relationship with my followers. But I honestly don’t have the time to keep up with it all. I do what I can.
I read in your profile that you were inspired to begin photography as a way to document the growth and milestones happening in your family. I'm wondering how you balance enjoying an experience with your family and your desire to create an artifact of the moment.
There are definitely times where I have to tell myself to “put the camera down, Shannon.” It’s a struggle to balance it. On occasions when I do leave the camera at home, I find myself sneaking shots with my iPhone.
What is the biggest challenge you face as you work to make a living from being a photographer?
Right now my biggest challenge is time, balancing family with photography. Being a stay-at-home mom is my top priority, and a full-time job on its own. I fit in the photography when I can because I love it, and I try to finance it through my Etsy shop.
My goal in the next few years once my kids are in school full-time is to continue the fine art photography, but focus more on portraiture. I’d love to be able to be my own boss, schedule my own hours, but still bring some money in.
What qualities set your photos apart from other photographic work on Etsy and elsewhere?
That’s a tough question. There are so many wonderful photographers on Etsy, and each has his or her own style. There’s a large array of work, from the photographers whose work is largely SOOC (straight out of camera) to those who do a tremendous amount of post processing with textures and other techniques. I try to keep my images fairly true to reality, but enhance them to magnify the subject’s true beauty. I love taking photos of ordinary objects and making them beautiful, making the viewer see them in a way he or she may not have seen before.
You describe your work as always evolving. Can you talk about a few ways it has evolved already, and share the changes you see happening in your work in the future?
You can look at my photostream on Flickr and see the evolution as I searched for my style. Much of it was a learning process for me. My first forays into Photoshop were rather scary – from creepy eyes that were too white and blue skin tones, my obsession with bokeh and blur, to my overuse of textures. I’m a lot more confident in my photography and my processing now, with a much cleaner look. Also much of what I started with was flowers and nature shots, and I’ve since been gravitating toward other subjects. I’d love to start working more with actual people. I also want to try more film photography.
Are you engaged in other creative activities, aside from making photos?
My daughter keeps me busy doing art work with her. Does that count?
What do you do when you take time off from work? And, what are your plans for the coming summer months?
Just last weekend it was finally warm enough for me to plant my vegetable garden. I love having fresh tomatoes during the summer. And we’re trying to plan a trip to San Diego in the fall – our first real family vacation since our family went from two to four. This winter I hope to get back to snowboarding, which was put on hold these last few years.
See Shannon's Etsy Shop!