Friends! I'm absolutely thrilled to be kicking off the Celebration Series today with the lovely and talented Lauren Carnes! But before we dive in, I want to share a little about my vision for the project and what you can expect here on the blog every Wednesday in the year ahead. :)
The heart behind the Celebration Series revolves around a podcast that I listened to a few months back featuring a couple of my heroes, Elizabeth Gilbert and Brene Brown. This entire podcast series and Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic, are pure gold and I HIGHLY recommend them, by the way. They were chatting about the subject of creativity and arrived at the idea that, contrary to popular belief, being creative is not defined by the ability to draw/paint/dance/sing/create. Instead, being creative means discovering what makes you different from everyone else in the world and bringing that to your life and work. Because the world needs it. How. freaking. beautiful. is. that?
I haven't been able to stop thinking about it, honestly. So I'm running with it! Every Wednesday, I'll be interviewing folks from ALL sorts of backgrounds/industries/fields (not just fields that we typically think of as being "creative") about what makes them unique and how they're bringing that uniqueness to the world. My hope is that their stories will inspire each of us to find and celebrate the ways in which we are all creative by this new definition.
So here goes nothing! If you have any feedback or people you'd like to suggest for an interview, I'd LOVE to hear from you. :)
Now, back to LAUREN! I knew I had to kick off the Celebration Series with this sweet friend of mine because she has been such an inspiration and source of encouragement for me. This girl is incredibly kind, driven, talented and intentional. She's such a connector and seems to effortlessly build community wherever she goes. Lauren and I met in college and have been following an almost hilariously similar path ever since. We both attended the University of Georgia, did NOT pursue majors in art-related fields, met and married aspiring doctors and followed them to new cities for medical school and now residency. I speak for myself (and well, probably both of us), when I say that I feared that I'd have to give up at least some of my career aspirations in order to make room for the demands that come along with being married to someone in the medical field. But I'm so grateful to say that that has not been my truth or Lauren's truth. Watching Lauren find, hone and pursue her passion for photography has been INVALUABLE for me and I hope that hearing her story will do the same for you! Let's get to it, shall we?
Give us a quick background on who you are and what you do for work.
I've always been "the girl with the camera" and have loved capturing memories and events with friends and family. After graduating from the University of Georgia (go Dawgs!) and working for a public relations agency doing social media & traditional PR for a few years, my husband's medical school career would soon be turning into a residency in a new city (sound like a familiar story? Lindsay & I share a few things in common! ;) ).
I knew I was looking for some kind of creative outlet & really thought I'd like to try out photography strictly to take friend's engagement photos as their wedding gifts. I thought it would be a great way to serve the couple in a unique and memorable way during a season that is full of a whirlwind of excitement. I quickly realized I could actually enjoy photography as a career, and began second shooting for photographers at weddings & booking clients of my own. When Match Day came and we discovered we'd be heading only a couple hours away to good ole' Augusta, GA, my photography business became a reality with weddings booked of a few trusting friends of friends! I went part time for the PR agency April 30, 2014, and launched Lauren Carnes Photography May 1. From there, I began shooting weddings, food & lifestyle throughout the Southeast and officially went full time in April 2015! Photography is truly a dream come true, and one of my favorite things about this career is the chance to create something daily and to connect with and encourage other creatives in their dreams.
What about your work brings you the most joy and fulfillment?
Serving the client whole-heartedly to create images that will last a lifetime. Whether it's capturing the first day of marriage as a legacy for future generations, shooting delicious food for restaurants and brands, or creating visual imagery for companies, my ultimate goal is to serve the client in the best way I can. I believe I am called to be a creative and that my medium is through a camera, but ultimately, there is no joy greater than helping someone communicate a story through photography. Seeing the joy it brings them ultimately brings me joy.
And finally, seeing a finished product of an heirloom album on a friend's coffee table, brand images gracing a company's newly launched website, or gorgeous food in the pages of a magazine - there are few better feelings than knowing you helped make vision come to life and the process it took to get there!
Who or what is inspiring you right now?
Travel. To me, there is nothing better than experiencing the joy and beauty that comes with a new city, unique foods, interesting cultures and experiencing life with my husband. It allows me to see the world in a new way and ultimately helps me create images that can only be seen and captured through my eyes. Plus, my husband and I met while studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain, so travel always reminds me of where our life began and the lens through which our story started. I believe that everything has a story: from a wedding day to a dish being created in the kitchen, so the travel story told through history, culture and experiences brings a new light to storytelling for me!
What has been difficult lately?
Prioritizing. I am a people pleaser and truly hate to say no, so I struggle with recognizing what my priorities are and being intentional with my time. For me, my yeses are absolutely yeses - if I say yes, I'm going to follow through to the best of my ability, even if it kills me. It's easy for me to overcommit because I want to be able to help everyone and "do it all."
Recently I read a blog post from Natalie Franke that reminded me: "You are building a business in order to build a life. It’s not the other way around." In saying yes to everything that came my way, I quickly learned that in building a business, life was getting left in the dust. I love everything I do and the variety of adventures and people I get to be a part of through photography, but I know that sometimes a no serves someone better than a yes. In an effort to combat that, I've been creating more boundaries in my business and personal life. I love the work, but also love my family and friends, and so it's something I am working on in determining what is worth a solid "yes" and what would serve me - and others - best if I were to say "no."
What makes you different from everyone else in the world and how does that uniqueness manifest itself in your work and life?
It's my desire to truly connect with each person I meet. Small talk is great, but I'd rather really get to know a person's heart and find a way to encourage them right where they are at! With that, building community in my business and daily life is hugely important to me. I have been so uplifted and encouraged by people who are one step ahead of me, and desire to do the same for others! Being able to create genuine relationships where we can share in joys and challenges is the best. One of my favorite things is getting to really celebrate friends who have succeeded in their goals because I find that we are better together than we are apart. In the end, having genuine friendships and community helps build us up as spouses, friends, business owners and people in general. It helps us "build a life," if you will!
If you owned a food truck, what would you serve and why?
Spanish Tapas... A. Anything that reminds me of my own "love story" is so very special. The food is fresh and flavorful and unique... and perfectly pairs with a glass (or 2) of sangria on the patio late into the night. And B. Who doesn't love getting lots of little dishes and trying them all?! For this terrible decision maker, variety is the spice of life! I'll take one of everything, please!