When I started Photosanity in 2011, I was a new(ish) mom and family photographer, and it was in response to a lot of questions I was starting to get from parents about taking better photos of their own kids.
So I developed a workshop that would teach parents just that, but not only how to take better photos, but how to handle the organizing, editing and sharing piece as well that can be so overwhelming.
However, from the very start, I always taught photography from the perspective of a mom who derived a great deal of joy and satisfaction from photographing my own kids, not just because of the resulting photos, but because of how my camera helped me to process the whole experience of becoming a mom.
Over the past 7-8 months, as part of a customer research project, I’ve spoken with over 30 past clients who have taken workshops or coached with me, or who participated in one of the rounds of the 7-day challenge I ran last year. I did this to better understand who I best serve and how, and what I realized more and more is that Photosanity looks like a photography company but as actually secretly a parenting company.
Embracing the parenting piece rather than leading with photography was scary at first but even that has evolved as, especially since the election, what I’ve realized is that women’s leadership is something I have always been passionate about, and has been a component in all my work too.
My mission, my why, what I’m committed to is: supporting women so that the world can be a better place for all.
And as a mom of two boys, I’m more committed to this mission than ever, because I believe that this is how I can best contribute to making the world a better place for them.
Now of course, “supporting women” can look like a lot of different things - which is good because I’ve always had wide-ranging interests, and I feel like this keeps a lot of possibilities open!
But to be specific, what that looks like for me right now through Photosanity is in creating space (whether in groups or 1:1) where women can share what’s going on with them, connect with and process their feelings and experiences, be seen and heard, and can feel that they have a voice that is their own and is not just what we’ve internalized from outside sources about how we’re supposed to be, or what we’re supposed to do, think or feel.
I want women to stop beating themselves up about what they’re not doing or where they’re falling short. I want women to hear and trust their own voices. I want women to see how much they’re doing for their families, their communities, their workplaces.
I want women to be able to live life fully, aligned with their values, so they can contribute to their families, communities and the world without sacrificing themselves in the process.
In trying to articulate all this, I decided I needed a diagram! Here’s what I have come up with right now.
What this means is that Photosanity resides within and around three spheres: photography, parenting, and women’s leadership.
Sometimes I’ll talk about one or the other, or where two of them overlap… or all three. And you might have more pressing interest and needs or priorities in one or two of the areas, and that’s totally ok!
At the heart of everything that Photosanity does is joy.
Photography is the tool for finding joy within parenting and women’s leadership. What brings it all together are the core values of transformation, community, and leadership.
Transformation is my brand of creativity, but I’ve never been a good “blank slate” creator. Give me an existing set of conditions, however, and what I love to do is help to figure out the vision… and what needs to happen to get there. I LOVE bringing people through a process of transformation. Nothing excites me more than aha moments and true shifts in perspective that manifest in tangible, concrete results. This is what I seek to create - and for some, it comes out of frustration with a current situation, whereas for others it is simply a desire for growth.
Community is about the magic that happens when people, women in particular, connect with those who are experiencing similar challenges, struggles, and joys, even if their lives seem to be very different. Something happens when we can share our stories, and find out what others are experiencing - not what they appear to be experiencing from the outside, but what they are really experiencing that may not be apparent at first glance. Validation and support are at the core of my vision for community, and in addition to building my own community through Photosanity, whether 1:1 or in small or larger groups, I seek to help those I work with to contribute to their own communities too.
Leadership is what happens when you own your own voice and use it to speak up for yourself and for others. It’s about agency, and taking an active part in your own life, taking control of what you can and letting go of the rest. It’s about honesty and transparency - setting an example without holding yourself or others up to impossible standards of perfection. It’s about taking a stand for what you believe in.
It’s been a year of transformation at Photosanity, and more is to come. I’m building a team, both behind the scenes (which has been true for a while now) but also front and center - more to come on that, but you’ll start to hear more and more of a “we” in what we do.
And one of the things we want to know is… are you in?
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Thank you so much, and I can’t wait to continue on this journey with you!
Credit: handwritten notes are from a brainstorming session with the amazing Alice Karolina Smith of Colabora Collective.