Today we're finishing out an all-Arkansas August with photographer Meredith Melody. I still think of Meredith as a little sister, since she grew up with mine, and I'm big sister proud of her accomplishments: from Middle East Studies and Political Science to owning her own business, where she focuses (no pun intended) on empowering women to feel beautiful in their own skin.
Kate: Describe your career(s) and/or current projects. What path(s) led you there?
|Portrait of the Artist|
as a Young Badass
Ever since I can remember, I have had some form of creative outlet in my life. I took art classes and was involved in choir and theatre from a young age through highschool. In college, I focused my creative energy on languages while I earning a liberal arts degree in Middle East Studies and Political Science from the University of Arkansas. After an internship and a summer abroad in Morocco, I realized that I had no desire to work in either field. As most new graduates do, I took a job where I could get one and found myself at a local oil company in the accounting department. After that, I moved to a small communications firm and eventually ended up working for an internet marketing and web development agency.
Even though I was in a field that focused on advertising and marketing, which was almost always fun and creative, I found myself feeling uninspired and flat. Photography had become a natural creative outlet for me, and as time passed what began as a hobby grew into a successful business and career.
|Meredith, daughter Emma,|
and baby belly
Whitney Bower Imaging
Meredith:After the birth of our first child, I was working part time in internet marketing/sales, shooting some on the side and trying to be a full-time mommy. It was too much. I wasn't happy and I needed to make a change. Quitting my day job and committing to this new business was one of the best decisions of my life. Working for myself in a creative field and providing my clients with meaningful experiences and beautiful heirloom portraits for their families is the best job I could ask for.
Kate: Do you have any (other) creative outlets? How do they influence/affect your main work (if at all)?
Meredith: I love to paint, draw, sculpt, etc. but I haven't had time for that in years. Pinterest and instagram are visually stimulating for me; it's my lazy version of being artistic. I follow other photographers, fashion magazines, artists and dancers to help keep me inspired. Keeping up with a constant feed of imagery helps me stay on my toes and inspires me to continue to create and improve my craft.
Kate: What's your biggest challenge?
Meredith: Staying organized and on top of things is my biggest challenge. Being a single-person-business has its pluses and minuses. I'm my own boss and have a flexible schedule, but I literally do everything to keep my business running, and most of what I do has nothing to do with actually taking photographs. From sales tax reporting, to editing, new client sales and marketing, to taking out the trash and cleaning the studio, I do just about all of it. It's not glamorous, but it's part of the gig. Keeping track of to-do lists and making sure my clients are getting 110% of me and a quick turnaround is by far the thing I struggle with the most.
Kate: How do you stay inspired? Productive?
Meredith: In addition to following other artists on social media, I try to schedule creative shoots several times throughout the year. Shooting for myself is so important. Breaking free of client expectations and looking through that viewfinder just for fun is critical to staying fresh.
Kate: How do you deal with negativity?
Meredith: I'm an eternal optimist in my non-business life, but it's tough to stay positive all of the time when it comes to work. In my field, it's really easy to look out your window to see that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. There is always another photographer who is booking more jobs, who makes more money, who is nailing really amazing shots, who has more social media followers, etc, etc. It's also easy to get caught up in gossip because this is a surprisingly competitive industry and there is always someone out there trying to cut down others' successes. I try to steer clear of trash talk, and try not to find fault in my own work or long for someone else's accomplishments.
Whenever I do find myself feeling like a negative nelly, I regroup and focus more energy on improving my business. I strongly believe that the only thing in life you can truly control is yourself, so when I start to feel lackluster or frustrated with my current whatever, I pull up my britches and do what I can to make a change for the better.
Kate: What are the best ways to support other women?
Meredith: Kindness and generosity. I wouldn't be where I am today without the support of other women, especially the women who have freely given their knowledge and encouragement without any expectation of something in return.
Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?
Meredith: Trust your gut and take the leap. Practice. Study. Perfect. Have patience. Success doesn't happen overnight and it isn't earned without blood, sweat and tears.