Y’all – I am so excited about this series. Strong, talented, female business owners chatting together about what they’re great at and who they are? All the heart eyes. Before we dive in, I just want to give a little backstory on the heart behind this blog. You see, here at BG Coordinating + Design, we’re all about empowerment over competition. Entering into the world of small business ownership was a tad intimidating and a little more emotional than I think I planned for. But as I trudged through learning the ropes and figuring out balance, one thing continually rang true – that I loved this world of creatives, and I wanted to be a part of continuing this idea of empowerment.
As I brain stormed and prayed about how to bring that idea of life, Girl Boss Talk was born. Not to say that I don’t love those creative dudes out there, because oh boy do I. But I just decided focusing in on the women, the ones who tend to struggle with comparison and competition, was where my heart was on this. Maybe we’ll have to have some guest Guy Boss Talks. So, without further ado – I bring you the first installment of Girl Boss Talk.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Ayo! I’m Kristen owner of Kristen Soileau Portraits. I’m a natural light wedding photographer who encourages clients to break away from the norm of what the southern wedding industry says to do. I have much more of a west coast style. I always pick urban exploration and moody textures over oak trees and fields. Any day. Ultimately though it’s the people I love. And the cake, I love cake. My job is awesome.
You are a full-time photographer, which is amazing! What does a normal start to finish day look like for Kristen Freeman?
This has been the toughest aspect to figure out during my first year full-time working from home. So what does an actual day look like or my ideal day? I’ll go with what happens the most often, ha. I wake up around 8 when my husband leaves for work. I mosey around until I make it to my desk. I love checking emails before anything else so I check all new emails before starting on breakfast. Coffee gets brewed during that process. If I’m being really productive then I’ll prep a cold brew batch the morning before. Most days I just use a pour over method. If i’m in a rush I’ll brew a small pot of coffee. Can you tell i’m serious about my coffee? I try to head to the gym every day around 10 a.m. unless my husband and I decide to workout together that night. I’ll put in a 1.5 hour session at the gym then head home for lunch. Lunch looks the same as breakfast, cooking while answering emails, checking Facebook, and new inquiries on my website. I will then sit down and get to editing whatever photos are on the block to edit. No, I didn’t skip anything…I don’t shower until night time (eeewww, I know). At some point in the middle of all that, I’ll take a personal break and have some time in the Word or in prayer. I’ll edit/blog prep/answer emails/ship packages until around 6 p.m. usually. It totally depends on the day. Some days I have photo-shoots so those days are way more relaxed. When Conrad gets home, we chat and hug each other…because let’s face it i’ve been by myself for most of the day, i’m a little excited. Dinner gets cooked and we eat together. From there we usually binge on netflix or I go back to work depending on the week. To summarize, my routine is to not have a routine. Some days I’m way more structured than others. That’s the beauty of owning your own business.
What is something you feel most people wouldn’t know about you upon meeting for the first time?
Hmm, I would have to say how weird I am? But in like a super cool funky way, of course. No, but really, I laugh at myself a lot. I watch way too many prison documentaries. I eat pickled okra way too often. The list goes on. They probably wouldn’t know based on the fact that I talk constantly that I’m actually an introvert. Like major introvert.
You’ve been a photographer on some level for as long as I’ve known you (and a super talented one at that). What was the first thing that drew you to photography?
Short story version: I got my first camera around middle school time. I started taking super stereotypical artsy shots of my mom’s flowers and selfies, because well MySpace was a huge deal and I had to have the most likes and comments. I was super into MySpace, custom coded profile and everything. Moving on…From there I kept taking pictures and learning how to edit with Picasa (haha, oh gosh). I went on my first overseas mission trip to Ukraine during my sophomore year of high school and mentioned to my mom that I needed a better camera. She graciously purchased my first Canon Rebel, which I fell in love with. That’s when I began to realize how cool it was to capture moments and situations from my perspective. It made me feel as if I was participating in events without having to actually participate which made my secret introvert side very happy. I got paid for my first photo-shoot my junior year of high school. That $100 was like gold for me. That sort of made me realize I could actually make money with something I loved. I began to book more, then moved onto weddings (after swearing I would never shoot them) around senior year of high school and freshman year of college. It’s pretty much history ever since. It’s pretty nifty.
I remember the first time I worked a wedding completely on my own and how equally stoked and terrified I was at the same time to be doing this thing I loved. Tell me about your first photo shoot and all the emotions and excitement that went along with that experience?
My first wedding was such a learning experience. I got paid barely anything. Actually the client told me how much she would pay me. I’m laughing just thinking about it now. I showed up at a hotel, the bride was wearing a very…unique dress. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into, I just knew I needed to dive right in. So I did. And I totally rocked it. I looked back at it a few months ago and I was able to see that even then I knew what I wanted I just didn’t quite know how to achieve it. My editing and technical skills weren’t on point but my frame composition wasn’t so terrible. The wedding was in a backyard of a family member’s house and they had a sweet, intimate celebration which was perfect for them.
Photography is definitely a saturated field right now, but you seem to continue to just stand out as unique and so genuine – what do you feel separates Kristen Soileau Portraits from other photographers?
That’s a tough one to answer since I don’t have the view of an outsider. But I’ll share what I tend to focus on. I strive to make each shoot tailored to the couple. I don’t force anything to happen. I just simply tell their story. I don’t like to pay too much attention to the local industry and what’s going on around here, I always try to look towards other areas of the country. I particularly LOVE the Northwest style. I love mood and edge. There are only a handful of artists that display that style around here. I stay true to my brand which is just a replica of my personality. I don’t put on a front, I’m very honest and transparent with my clients. Plus, I genuinely love what I do. That makes a huuuge difference.
It’s obvious that you have a real heart for your clients just across the board, but you love your brides so well. If you had to narrow it down, what is your biggest hope and prayer for your brides on their big day?
Yay I really love this question. I make it a huge point to do my best to make sure everything runs smoothly, emotionally and mentally. When I see her starting to get overwhelmed, I make a note of it and bring it up to her in a private moment. I’ve had several brides ask me to dismiss the bridesmaids from a hotel room because she started to feel overwhelmed and didn’t want to hurt any feelings. My prayer is for them to feel their absolute best, have the most relaxed time, and be as stress free as possible. I’m not just there as a photographer. I’m there as a therapist, friend, spare hand, and hopefully a comedic relief. It’s just what comes natural with my intentional personality.
What is your best advice for up and coming young entrepreneurs?
I think overall my advice would be to stay true to your brand. Post what you want, when you want, how you want. You can’t please everyone and that’s totally okay. At the end of the day, there’s another photographer that would be a perfect fit for that client. Also, look for inspiration outside of your community and medium. I watercolor on the side and it’s crucial to my creative energy.
Last book you read: I never finish books, but i’m currently on Radical by David Platt
Last movie you watched: The Central Park 5 (a super good Netflix documentary on a particular crime)
Morning drink of choice: COFFEEEEEEE
Night cap of choice: Tequila? Kidding, kinda. Probably pillow talk with Connie.