Oh, Caroline....where do I even begin? I like to joke that I paid her to be my friend. Because I actually did.
Back in 2011, I hired Caroline to shoot our wedding. As soon as we started emailing and bantering back and forth, I knew she was the most perfect choice for a wedding photographer-turned-BFF.
I remember coming to a bit of a crossroads when planning my wedding. I could try (and likely fail) to go the picture perfect blog-worthy route, OR I could arrange to make it such a fun night that nobody would even notice the details. I went with the latter and prioritized fun. And honestly, Caroline played such a huge role in making our wedding day a total blast. She randomly dropped semi-inappropriate phrases during group photos to get us to laugh, orchestrated an absolutely ridiculous photo booth and joined us on the dance floor in a particularly epic Lady Gaga dance-off when the power went out.
So needless to say, our friendship continued after the wedding day. I've absolutely loved following Caroline and all of her adventures and projects over the years. Caroline has such a contagious energy about her that makes everyone in her wake come more alive. She has an unstoppable entrepreneurial spirit and is a total force to be reckoned with. Not to mention she's totally witty and hilarious and CRAZY talented. Caroline has been an inspiration for me for years and I'm thrilled to be sharing her interview with y'all today. Read on and enjoy! :)
Give us a quick background on who you are and what you do for work.
I am Caroline Fontenot, a damn proud Texan living in Georgia with my awesome husband Mark and best dog Jed. I'm a full time photographer and also run Back Down South, a lifestyle blog that features great people, delicious cocktails, killer tunes and other good stuff. This year, I also co-launched a new project with writer/editor Jess Graves called Southerners and Their Dogs featuring the South's most interesting men and women - chefs, musicians, writers, makers, designers, etc - and their canine companions.
What about your work brings you the most joy and fulfillment?
It's a tie between meeting insanely cool people who I'd never cross paths with otherwise (like you!!) and traveling for work to some really wonderful places. Over the years, I've shot weddings in NYC, the Bahamas, Mexico, Jackson Hole, and California (to name a few highlights). Each one of them I found myself so overjoyed that I was in that place for work. It's also a huge perk to make my own schedule, which typically means those wedding trips turned into longer vacations, sometimes with Mark tagging along. This summer, we're heading to British Columbia to shoot his cousin's wedding which is another thing that brings me joy - working for and with friends and family.
Who or what is inspiring you right now?
1) My closest friends and conversations I've had in the last few months with them. I feel this movement happening in our generation - specifically the late 20s and early 30s - to dial back the social media "perfect life" Socality Barbie bullshit (excuse my French, but let's be honest) and be real. To stare at screens less and at people's faces more. To truly know that life is too short to do something that you don't love. To see the world. Mark and I keep finding ourselves in these familiar dialogues revolving around those topics and it's refreshing, encouraging and inspiring.
2) I've also been reading a lot of poetry lately and haven't stopped thinking about this line - it just totally rocked me: May our good hearts forever be too loud to let the neighbors sleep.
3) Last, Children's books. Since college, I've had the dream to write one, so I've been reading a lot lately and it's got my wheels turning and some words finally coming out onto page, so we'll see.
What has been difficult lately?
I'm wanting to transition out of weddings and into editorial work. I really love the editorial work I've done over the last year for a handful of publications, including Back Down South. That's a hard and scary transition - it feels like changing careers without knowing how it'll turn out. I'm still booking weddings - and would love to continue to shoot weddings for people I know and a handful of "strangers" - but I'd like to not be known as a wedding photographer. I'm ready for a new adventure in what I shoot, with new projects, new challenges and continued growth in my work. And to touch back on what I mentioned in the last question, I'm feeling the pull to let out creativity in a new way, and that's a difficult muscle to exercise but I'm working at it.
What makes you different from everyone else in the world and how does that uniqueness manifest itself in your work and life?
That's one of the hardest questions I've ever been asked and I really don't know how to answer it! I don't think I'm the only one in the world who feels this way, obviously, but I've definitely made it a point to stay "young at heart" - to never take myself or my work too seriously - and I find that really liberating. I want to always have a childlike wonder, always know that this work and my life here is temporary, always allow myself to get giddy about the things that are worth getting giddy about. I want to be silly forever, and I want to always be known as someone who is fun to be around. I don't like the idea of turning off the fun when it's work time - that's not a life I want to be a part of.
What's the most embarrassing thing in your google search history?
"girl in justin bieber's snapchat" - I Googled that this morning. I'm not sure what's more embarrassing, that I follow him on Snapchat, or that I just HAD TO KNOW who the girl he keeps taking selfies with is.
If you want to hear more from Caroline (trust me, you do), check out her website and her two projects, back down south and southerners and their dogs. Annnnd you should definitely follow her on instagram, twitter and facebook.
Caroline, thank you for sharing your awesomeness with us. I can't wait to see what you do next!
Love & Respect,