Renee Streett and I connected very early on when I was just starting the practice and as she was getting her photography business started up in Houston after moving here from the Dallas/Forth Worth area. As we got to know each other we quickly became friends and I was so impressed by her ability to balance being a great mom, wife, friend and business owner. In this interview Renee shares some background on how she got started, what drives her, and how she manages being a “mompreneur”. Enjoy!
You are an amazing photographer, what inspired you to get into this work?
Aw, thank you! I wish I could tell you an amazing inspirational story but it was pretty simple. About 7 years ago, I was searching Pioneer Woman’s blog for a recipe (this was when she would post a lot of photography stuff too) and ended up on her photography posts. I remember spending all of my time reading her photography posts and I couldn’t stop thinking about photography and I wanted to try it. My husband (who is amazingly supportive!) was on board immediately and we bought a camera. From there, I read a lot, practiced a lot, and photographed people I knew a lot, and it just spiraled into what it has become today. I know, it’s not that romantic! Ha!
I noticed you have a specific style, what draws you to lifestyle newborn photography?
I remember the first time I did a lifestyle newborn session. I was so nervous because it was all so new to me (I had only done outdoor family photography). But I left the session feeling exhilarated! I knew this was something I wanted to continue doing. There’s something so raw and beautiful about photographing a family in their own home just after they’ve had a baby. I also love the challenge of working inside homes. You never know what kind of lighting situation you will have, so I find that my creativity thrives when I’m forced to work outside of my comfort zone.
What is the most exciting thing about photographing newborns? What do you find challenging about photographing them?
It excites me that my clients choose me to photograph this new little life they’ve created–a life that I know is deeply loved and cherished and many times has been prayed for and desired for many years. I think what excites me the most is that I am telling the story of a family’s beginning. Now that I’m a mom, the fact that I get to do something so important for others just makes my heart even more full.
Photographing newborns hasn’t been too challenging but sometimes I have a fussy baby (which doesn’t bother me AT ALL but it can cause some stress for parents because they want the session to go well and also want to calm their baby). Usually with some snuggling and feeding, they settle down soon. The main thing that can be a challenge is when you add in a big sister or brother. Now, when I say challenge, I don’t mean that I can’t overcome the challenge! Ha! I just mean that I have to work a little bit harder to get smiles. Babies are easy for posed shots because they mostly sleep but toddlers require a little extra work. 🙂
On top of being an amazing business woman, you’re also a mom, how do you balance your business and being a mom?
You’re sweet–I’m not sure I’m amazing but I certainly WANT to be!
Balance. It’s a hard thing sometimes. I didn’t realize how much free time I had before I had my daughter (ha!). Thankfully, my daughter still naps since she is 2 years old so I try to make the most out of naptime and then I also work in the evenings if I have more editing that I need to finish. My husband also has a flexible work schedule and really helps a lot. So, when I have sessions–I make sure I schedule them when he is home and can take care of Adia.
My family will always come first but I do my best to stay on top of things so that my clients never feel like they are neglected (e.g., I will stay up late editing to meet deadlines, I respond quickly to emails, etc.).
Do you have any tips for other moms who are trying to balance work and home life?
Set realistic goals. For me, that means I only schedule 4-6 sessions a month. I know that if I do more than that, I will have way too much editing on my plate and I won’t be able to keep up and care for my family the way I want to.
Ask for (or hire) help. That could look completely different for you than for me. For me, that meant accepting my husband’s help when he offered it. For some reason, I felt like if I accepted it, he would think I didn’t have it all together (which I don’t but I wanted him to think I did! Ha!). At some point, I’ll probably need to hire a babysitter (when naps are gone) but I admit, I’m still in that first-time mom mode where I’m too nervous to let anyone (other than family) babysit her.
We’ve talked before about how much I admire the way you parent your daughter Adia and how healthy of an eater she is. What are some of the things she loves to eat? What tips do you have for other Moms to foster healthy eating habits for their little ones?
I want to start by saying she hasn’t always been the best eater. I noticed when she turned one that she was becoming pretty picky. So I did a little research. What I found is that toddlers need to be offered foods they don’t like multiple times (around 10-15 times) before they acquire a taste for them. So that’s what I started doing and so far it seems to be working!
She will say no to things based on look and smell without ever having tried it. If it’s green and she’s never eaten it before, she will almost always say she doesn’t want to try it (that’s a toddler for ya!). So, what I started gently saying to her was, “You have to try at least one bite. If you don’t like it, that’s okay — you don’t have to finish it. But you won’t know if you like it or not until you try it.” Thankfully, she’s pretty easygoing and tries even when she doesn’t want to. What I’ve found is that on almost everything she’s said she doesn’t want to eat and then tries, she usually says, “Oh, yum…Mama, this is weeeaally good.”
For tips, I’d say approach trying new foods with your little one gently and patiently. Don’t make it a battle that is going to make every meal a frustrating (and exhausting!) experience for all of you. I’d also say be realistic. It’s not the end of the world if your kid has goldfish or M&M’s or juice. It’s going to happen and it won’t ruin all of your hard work. Promise. 🙂
Her favorite foods right now are salad (this one is crazy to me because I don’t like salad but my husband eats salad every day for lunch and she started asking to eat it and now she really likes it), tomatoes, strawberries, turkey and salami (I have to limit the salami because she can eat a TON!).
Tell us about any big projects you have coming up soon and how our readers can get in touch with you.
I have a styled maternity shoot coming up at the end of July that I’m super excited about! I am working with some amazing creatives (a florist, calligrapher, stylist, hair and makeup artist, etc.) to create a gorgeous lifestyle maternity session. It’s been in the works for over a month and I can’t wait to see my vision for it come to life!