current city: Brandon, MS
living situation: In mi casa are my husband (Clayton), seven-year-old football card extraordinaire (Caedon), two-year-old little Dora the Explorer (Addie Kate), and two little pups, Bax and Mack. We live on a golf course in Brandon, MS and love it! We moved here in 2009 so that I could do my photography at home with the fabulous trees and greenery in the background. We are also now closer to my husband’s work, which offers after school care for my son.
occupation: natural light portrait photographer for Mary Moment Photography
how do you structure your time and space? Structure is my dear old friend who tries to run far away from me despite my best efforts to keep him close at all times! Because I am a natural light photographer, there is no need for me to have a studio outside of the home. However, having an in-home studio makes it difficult to separate family from work. I have created a strict portrait schedule in order to balance my family life with my work life. I used to work every Saturday of the year, and sometimes I would work four to five shoots a day. I had to quickly take hold of my sanity and realize that I was missing a whole lot by shooting so much. I now schedule my sessions so that I shoot Mondays, Fridays, and one Saturday a month. This gives me time for soccer games and birthday parties, and energy for my family when I return from working. My husband also made a very important rule: I cannot shoot and edit in the same day. I used to tend to shoot all day and then edit until midnight. This practice left no time for me to see the fam. I love my husband’s rule! Speaking of my husband, I have an amazing one. He works in pharmacy at a local mental health clinic and is wonderful when it comes to watching the kiddos on the weekends while I am shooting. We put everything on a calendar so we can make sure that he has his free time, I have my shooting time, and we all have family time.
using the metaphor of seasons to describe the phases of women’s lives,
-what are the particular challenges and highlights of your current season? Right now my season is winter. I am in my busiest season and am busier than a bee in a flower garden. My son just started first grade, and I am a room mom and an active PTO member at his school. My son also has soccer, which my husband coaches, so we have practice twice a week along with games every Saturday morning. My daughter is only two, and though she has nothing recreational on the calendar, she still keeps me on my toes! My photography is growing super duper big, and my mom is in her last stages of research with her lung cancer. Right now, I may not be seeing sunshine all the time, but soon comes spring and everything will be bright as daises.
-what season(s) preceded this one? Let’s say I just emerged from fall. This past season wasn’t the best since it is when I found out that my mother has stage three lung cancer. For a little while last season, I had to put a halt on everything that didn’t involve my mother so we could deal with the news and pray and pray for guidance for the future. Also during the time, I shot seven weddings back-to-back. After a season like that, I would say that I felt like falling… so fall it is.
-what season(s) might your future hold? Never will I EVER say that my future holds a cold season. I believe we will have sunny skies from here on out. From now on, we are going to only allow seasons like the Mississippi summer — bright, sunshiny, and happy! I believe my mom will hopefully have surgery to remove the tumor, my little ones will continue to grow and learn and be amazing people, and my husband and I will keep enjoying our children and loving each other. As for my photography, I leave that up to my clients. I love my clients, and I believe that the harder I work, the more they will come back and bring their friends. My future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades!
favorite family activities: We love taking spontaneous family trips! We love our annual trip to the beach. I have gone every year since I was 12, and my entire family goes, including my siblings, nieces, and nephews. Unfortunately, this past summer was the first time we did not go due to my mother’s illness, but we made a camping trip out of it and enjoyed each other so much! Family is my favorite. I love spending time with my family and seeing my children play with their cousins. It is honestly the best thing ever.
favorite solo activities: I love being an activist. I love raising awareness and funds for Heather’s T.R.E.E., which was founded when I lost my best friend due to domestic violence. I love speaking with young men and women regarding issues that they are facing and how they can get out of harm’s way. My friend was a beautiful, smart, college graduate who had her whole life ahead of her. She was surrounded by the best family and friends. We never dreamed this could happen to her. I believe that if I knew then the warning signs of domestic violence, I could have done something different. If others can know what I know now about the warning signs of domestic violence, maybe they can be saved or save a friend.
Heather also is the reason I am now a photographer. Her name was Mary Heather Spencer, and I created Mary Moment Photography a couple months after her death and several conversations I had with her family. Even before I became a professional photographer, I always had a camera around and took photographs of friends. Thankfully, I have many photographs of Heather and me together. I took one of the photographs at a friend’s wedding, and she said, “You really need to start charging people for this. You’re kind of good at this picture taking thing”.
After Heather’s death, which was when I was eight months pregnant with my daughter, I realized that life is short, and we must do everything we can to be happy and help our loved-ones to be happy. I am now taking her advice as well making sure that her life and her death are not forgotten. I miss her every day.
source(s) of inspiration: My Mother. My mother is the reason I am who I am. She is the one that started my photography infatuation. She has taken pictures since I was born, and I remember growing up with a camera in my face. Her love for photography and great advice have made me the photographer I am today. Her outlook on life has made me the mother and women I am today. She is currently being treated at MD Anderson in Texas for a possible Lung Cancer removal. She was diagnosed in May of 2010 with stage three lung cancer and has endured chemo and radiation, pneumonia, and blood transfusions. She has fought this cancer for her children and grandchildren, since we need her so much. She inspires me to fully live and love life. I want to be the best mom in the world to my children, and it’s all because my mom is the best to me.
best MakeShift moment: This probably… Wait. Let me rephrase. This IS the craziest thing I have ever done, and I hope to never do it again! I had a bride switch her wedding date to a day when I already had another wedding scheduled. I shot both weddings in one day! I had enough time to get from one to the other since one was in the early morning and the other was in the late evening, but I was pushing it! I literally ran from the reception of the morning wedding to get ready for the evening wedding, and I made it just in time! Needless to say I will never do that again but I am proud to say that I pulled it off, and that I loved and enjoyed both weddings. Also, for both weddings, I had amazing second shooting assistants who saved my life. Phew, makes me sweat just remembering it!
find katie on the web:
- photography business: www.marymomentphotography.com
- photography blog: www.marymomentphotoblog.com
- heather’s T.R.E.E.: www.heathersree.org
[if you or someone you know would make a good “mother of invention,” please check out the nomination process and questionnaire located on the sidebar to your right.]