#024 – Taking Ownership of Your Path with Kirsten Lewis

Remember one of my IDP taglines is this: there’s no ONE right way to use photography. THAT’S what we’re highlighting today with Kirsten Lewis.

Here’s some context: We look to influencers / role models / whatever, and we look for their secrets + steps to success. We see something they’re doing that we admire / want for ourselves, etc, but we don’t look at the whole picture – only pieces.

We implement what we learn from them really fast, so we can “catch up” and make that success true for ourselves. Ever catch yourself doing that?

It’s kind of like house-hunting.

When you see a great real estate listing, your imagination already paints a picture of what your life could look like in that home. You view the home and that imagined life becomes more vivid, tangible, and perceived as truth.

You don’t realize it, but you’ve got blinders on. You’ve got tunnel vision for a piece of the big picture. That piece is the bits of life you find really exciting – like that the home with wide open skies on a beautiful, country dirt road that feels serene + homegrown – exactly what you want.

That piece is what see in influencers / role models.

Even with the home inspector, the flaws that arise seem like no big deal.

So, you buy the home. It’s when you start LIVING in that story, that you start to see the imperfections.

The reality of that country dirt round is that there’s no speed limits, so the few cars that do travel by FLY BY, making it extra dangerous. And, the wide open skies and vivid, panoramic sunsets make your dreamy home ALSO the dream home for yellow jackets to build their hives in (since there’s few trees around).

You don’t SEE that stuff until you’re IN IT.

I’m bringing all of this up, because I’m on a mission for you to be true to you – whatever that looks like. Keep exploring that for yourself and when you feel inspired by someone else’s work, business, lifestyle, whatever, remember, you’re only seeing a piece of the big picture.

There’s infinite goals we can create with photography – from being a damn great photographer who’s recognized on a world scale to using photography for you to enjoy (THAT simple – Vivian Meier not even share it with a single soul) and everything in-between.

There’s no one, right way to use this medium.

Kirsten Lewis

Our guest today needs no introduction, but I’m giving her one anyway.

To me, Kirsten is the First Lady of commercial documentary family photography. If you’re in THIS community, you know who she is and have probably learned a thing or two from her.

In 2014, her first class in her 3-part Family Photography series on CreativeLive breathed life into our genre. Since then, Day in the Life work + documenting family have become way more known in the commercial photography community and growing more in-demand as desired photography among families.

I had the honor to visit Seattle and speak on a segment with Kirsten in her third class of the CreativeLive series on Creating a Successful Business. We really come together over the belief that many people come into photography + business with a fast-track mindset, like it’s a race, and that real, long-term effort goes rewarded.

Kirsten has been shooting almost 20 years. She currently travels the world documenting families – often with her own family in tow. Her daughter has 17 stamps in her passport before she’s even turned two!

Kirsten also educates photographers (through group and 1:1 experiences) in family photography and also to develop + strengthen their personal point of view within their work.

She’s doing what a lot of us look to as “the dream life” of a photographer in business. So, I wanted to dig into that to learn more of the pieces we may not see, the reality of what she’s put into her career, and what she wants out of photography – which may be similar to you or far from what you want.

In this ep, we cover:

  • The complications + benefits of the nearly full-time travel life as a working photographer
  • What Kirsten’s goals were like in the early days for this genre
  • Signs + signals that hurt a photographer’s growth (later she shares ONE trait that her BEST students share)
  • Being a “good photographer” – what she believes that means
  • Why it’s important for Kirsten to KEEP growing when she’s already recognized and would leave a legacy behind already
  • Dimensions of growth + results from shooting – for her, for clients, for her book
  • Differences in her + husband, Greg, in what they want to do with photography
  • Documentary Family Awards – advice on submitting
  • (sprinkled throughout) How being an ARTIST is ingrained in her and how that’s played into her photography + business

Enjoy the story.

More goodness:

MY SUBTLE ASK:


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Interview with Kirsten Lewis - Documentary Family Photographer

Author: MarieMasse
I help client documentary photographers fine-tune their workflow + marketing game, so their work is filled with sessions that represent their voice + client values while earning a living. I shoot undirected, off-beat stories that aren’t preserved often enough (like the story of couples before starting a fam or becoming empty-nesters – a dream project of mine), so my clients’ old box of photos is a meaningful, visual diary of their life + legacy to leave behind.

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