Find Your Flow: Creating a Business That Works For Your Family with Shannon Smith

Running a business looks different for everyone. And when you’re a business owner and mother, you have to get creative to balance work and life. However you find your flow, what matters most is that you let your passion–for your work and your family–drive your creativity.

family

In this episode, I chat with mother of two and family photographer Shannon Smith about how she creates flow to integrate her work and life.

Shannon tells her story of becoming a single mother and finding her passion for family photography. She shares how she manages to find time for homeschooling her kids, traveling the country, and running her own business. She also shares the ways that her experience as a mom has helped her better connect with and get inspired by her clients.

What’s in this episode:

  • How Shannon’s passion for family and the outdoors translates into her work [2:00]
  • How Shannon manages single motherhood, homeschooling her kids, and running her business [5:18]
  • Finding flow in your life and work [8:41]
  • How to connect with uncooperative kids during a session [13:35]
  • Shannon’s system for styling her clients [15:24]
  • How to find inspiration and cultivate your personal style [16:15]
  • How to capture unique images for a family, even when you’re not feeling inspired [18:45]
  • Shannon’s favorite session and her best business advice [20:07]

If you want to create a business that works for your life and family, tune in to this episode.

SUBSCRIBE: iTunes | Spotify | Stitcher


Resources Mentioned

Louise Hay, Shannon’s favorite author

Meet Shannon Smith

Shannon is first and foremost a mama of 2 beautiful babes, a photographer, lover of all things holistic. She part time homeschools, and she and her family love to stay active and adventurous. She’s been teaching photography for 3 years, and she’s been featured as Artist of the Year 20-22 on Looks Like Film and Artist of the Year and Teacher for Unraveled Academy. She’s taught for Clickin Moms twice.

Connect with Shannon

Visit her website

Follow her on Instagram

Connect with her on Facebook

Did you love hearing how Shannon crafts her unique life and business? Check out another episode from Lindsey Shedd. You can also catch Shannon teaching inside our 2022 {online} Family Retreat

Transcript:

[00:00:00] Shannon Smith: Right. Like, let’s take pretty pictures and be pretty and, like, hide everything else and make this, like, fantasy. No, I’m totally about just being in the moment and honoring, like, you know, because there’s so many phases of motherhood and life every year, so different. And who knows what you’re going through at that time. And so I really get to know my families on a whole nother level and honor whatever it is that they’re going through.

[00:00:33] Lisa DiGeso: Welcome to the Art and Soul Show, where we dove into heart opening chats on photography, business, life and that messy in-between. I’m your host, Lisa DiGeso, a mom, a photographer and entrepreneur. And I’ll be sharing honest conversations and advice for photographers with insight on mindset, entrepreneurship and creativity. The goal of this podcast is for you to be able to gain insights and strategies that will get you real results. Because, let’s face it, having a photography business can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. This is the place you can go when you need a boost of encouragement, a kick in the pants and inspiration to pick up your camera. This is the Art and Soul Show. Hello, my beautiful friends. Welcome back to the show. Today I’m hanging out with Shannon Smith from Love Lake Photography. She is first and foremost a mama of two beautiful babes, a photographer, lover of all things, holistic. She homeschools part time, and she loves to stay active and adventurous as a family. She’s been teaching photography for three years and has been featured as an artist of the year for 2022 2022 on Looks Like Film Artist of the Year for teachers for Unravel Academy and she’s also talked about clicking moms twice and the Milky Way. I am so excited to dove into our conversation today. So without further ado, here is Shannon. Welcome. 

[00:01:59] Shannon Smith: I am so stoked to be here. 

[00:02:00] Lisa DiGeso: So tell us who you are and what you’re passionate about. 

[00:02:04] Shannon Smith: Well, my name is Shannon, first and foremost, a mom of two and just had a birthday. Lincoln’s seven now and Cora turned four on May 1st. I am a photographer. I homeschool part time. We like to be outside all the time. And so nature schooling part time alongside full time work. I’m more of an entrepreneur, I would say, because I have my presets and I also teach and do all the things. 

[00:02:36] Lisa DiGeso: I love it. 

[00:02:37] Shannon Smith: Yeah, I’m passionate about all of it, you know? Yeah. Motherhood and. Life outside and photography. 

[00:02:46] Lisa DiGeso: I love that. And you know what? I think that that really shows and that’s kind of like your style. It’s sort of how it translates into your work of all of your passions and the things that you do love. And you can really see that in the work that you create. Now, so many photographers really struggle to achieve, relax sessions and really capture those real moments and connections that you were amazing at. Now, can you share your approach to that with your photography?  

[00:03:10] Shannon Smith: Sure. Yeah. So it’s more of a lifestyle. Like, I approach it like this is who I am. I’m not afraid to be who I am. And so I take that into my photography sessions like I want my family to be seen and to be heard and like, we’re just going to be present together. You’re going to have a good time. Like, we’re here to just hang out. And of course, like there’s the family who, you know, get on edge or whatever. So I make sure to prepare a lot beforehand. They know exactly what they’re getting into. But yeah, really, just. Just, Hey, we’re here. We’re here. And this is your story right now, and we’re going to honor that and we’re going to be present. And I’m here with you. I love that. This is kind of my approach to that. 

[00:03:59] Lisa DiGeso: I love it. It’s so much so. It’s such a different approach than just showing up with a camera and being like, okay, let’s just take your family. 

[00:04:06] Shannon Smith: Blah, blah, blah, right? Pretty pictures and get ready and like to hide everything else and like, make this like fantasy. Like, yeah, no, I’m totally about just being in the moment and honoring, like, you know, because there’s so many phases of motherhood and and of life every year, so different, like, and who knows what you’re going through at that time. And so I really get to know my families on a whole nother level and honor whatever it is that they’re going through. It could be a divorce. It could be, you know, their child is having a really difficult time in school. Or it could be they’re moving and having a huge transition, like there’s so many things that could be going on in their life. And so I really take the time to like, get to know them and, and follow them and give them all the love and support that they need during that time. And like, you know, I feel like that makes a huge difference. And coming to the session and making them comfortable. Yeah. And like you’re. I’m your friend. Like, I’m almost like a family member. And I feel like sometimes I’m a therapist, like. Right, yeah. Like you’re a therapist. A long a photographer. 

[00:05:18] Lisa DiGeso: I love that. Now, can you share your story a little bit on single motherhood and running your photography business and creating balance?

[00:05:27] Shannon Smith: Sure. Oh, my gosh. So it’s been such a journey. Like I feel like. I feel like I’ve gone through so much over the past four years and maybe even beyond that, like, like in seven and even when he was younger, I would say. So I really dived into photography as a business when he was seven. So seven years, I feel like it has been just a whirlwind. Yeah. Their dad has mental health issues and so when we were even together and things were, quote unquote good, like they were not good. But I kept it to myself for a very long time because I was afraid of what people would think or like my friends and family or how they would judge us. Me having a child and then people judge, judge you for having a child with someone who may have not been fit to have a child or whatever. But so I kept it to myself for a very long time and I feel like it’s been such a journey. Like my reason for hustling so hard is because I have to. It’s kind of the opposite of a lot of other photographers where they kind of want to come into their own and they have money and then the husband works and they don’t really have that pressure. But for me it was the opposite. So yeah, I had to do what I have to do. And I would say balancing all of that, it’s just I have to be strict with my schedule, like back home. So we’re on the road right now, but at home it’s like I have a rigid rhythm every day and if it gets out of whack at all, then my business starts falling behind. And so, yeah, just staying on that rhythm, staying motivated, which is easy. If financially you have to provide for your family, then, you know, that’s not really hard to stay motivated. But yeah. Also the passion. The passion has to be there. And so there’s just the balance between like, okay, what, what’s going to fill my soul and keep me going. So I have to really fill my cup a lot in order to keep this boat afloat. 

[00:07:41] Lisa DiGeso: Exactly. And so do you find that you do a fair amount of personal projects?  

[00:07:47] Shannon Smith: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So us being on the road right now is. Was, is. It’s a project. Yeah. And then renovating. We renovated our Airstream. And so that was a huge project that was kind of like my, my, my baby project for a while. I feel like I always have something going on behind the scenes that I’m working on personally. Yeah, I do yoga a lot. I go surfing. I do whatever I need to do in order to keep it. It is inspiring for me to keep that alive and it’s super important to my business. So it goes hand in hand. 

[00:08:29] Lisa DiGeso: I love that. So you mentioned that you renovated an Airstream, and so how do you run your photography business and still travel and work and homeschool your kids and be on the road and do everything?  

[00:08:41] Shannon Smith: So it has been a transition, but generally speaking, our schedule and our lifestyle hasn’t changed much. So like back home, it’s pretty it’s pretty much the same. Like we have our rhythm, we get outside, we do a little bit of homeschool and then we rest. I work, I usually work at midday. I’ll do some emails and stuff. Like right when we wake up, that’s when I’ll hop on my phone, like while they’re eating breakfast or playing or go on a walk. And I kind of multitask to do my posts if I need to. What else? One, obviously, like we have just the routine that we stick to. We get out, we explore, and then we rest. And I work. Sometimes I have to work when they’re sleeping, but I really go with the flow as far as the weather goes. So if there’s light today it’s overcast, it’s kind of chilly, the weather’s not great. Okay, so this is a work day and if it’s sunny, then we’ll be outside. We’ll take advantage of that. So I have this rhythm based on the weather and whatever is going on where we’re at, you have to plan ahead of time. Like, so all of this is planned as far as where we’re going to be. I know if we are in a very exciting place at that time, then I’ll be working more like last week was a complete work week and Bend, Oregon. So I had a workshop and I had a couple of sessions there. I just knew ahead of time and I told Shawn, I have a boyfriend now, so he’s super helpful. And so he watched the kids when I was working. And yeah, I feel like it’s just a constant multitasking thing and then it’s the support system. So back home, my mom is a huge support. She usually takes the kids two days a week for a couple of hours. And then I have Joan, our nanny, who comes whenever she can. So, yeah, I rally and I make it work. If we don’t have help. Yeah, I just let them go play and take them to the playground if I need to while I hop on my phone. Yeah. Do what you have to do mentality. 

[00:10:56] Lisa DiGeso: What a fun experience for your kids to be able to take, to travel around and to see the world. And while you are able to still do sessions and workshops and bring in an income, that’s fantastic.  

[00:11:07] Shannon Smith: And I’ll bring the kids, you know, if I have to, to whatever it is. And, you know, I’ve had some mentorships, I do online mentorships as well. And so I’ll just hop on my computer here in the Airstream and like I can see everything. We have windows all the way around, so I’ll just let them go outside. I’ll tell Sean, Hey, don’t let them come inside for anything right now. But even if they do for my online mentorships, nobody cares. Like everybody’s a working mom. Now, all these days, you always have something going on. And so it’s just like usually they’re just so chill about it and I love it. I will have to come to me for a snack and I’ll be like, Hold on, one second. Like this. They just get it and it’s fine, you know? And we’ll go over the time limit if we need to. It’s the same for them. So I feel like a lot of other photographers are drawn to me because it’s like I’m real about that and I’m accepting like this is just, this is just how it is and I love it. If you’ve got your babies and you’re nursing your baby, so be it. Like, take that time. We’re still here. I’m still going to support you and honor like what you’re going through. 

[00:12:13] Lisa DiGeso: Personally, I love that they’re going to share a story. My husband, so he came home from being out and about. This is about three months ago and he sits me down. He’s like, Babe, I have to tell you something. I was like, Oh, my gosh. Like, what. Is he going to tell me? He’s like, Well, I guess I’m going to have to come out and say it. And I was like, Oh, my. Gosh, like bracing myself. I bought a motorhome, a 1982 Ford Empress motorhome.  

[00:12:39] Shannon Smith: That’s awesome. 

[00:12:40] Lisa DiGeso: But instead, we’ve been having our own little family adventures just traveling around locally right now. But we’re going to be heading to Alberta soon. Yeah, just.

[00:12:52] Shannon Smith: Like I heard, the Canadian border is open and so it’s. Yeah, the Pacific Northwest right now. We’ve got a lot of Canadians coming down. That’s yeah. 

[00:13:01] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah. We’re hoping to make it down the Oregon coast at some point, but it was like I didn’t know I wanted a motorhome. And now I’m like, I love this thing. It’s yeah, it’s definitely the way to go. 

[00:13:12] Shannon Smith: It’s super cool staying at these RV parks and seeing everyone’s rigs. Yeah, I’m always so nosey and I just want to go look inside. Always comparing rigs. Yeah. I haven’t seen another vintage Airstream on the road yet, we’re the only one I’ve seen, which is crazy because I’ve seen a lot of newer Airstreams, but not vintage.  

[00:13:35] Lisa DiGeso: No. So let’s talk a little bit about uncooperative kids during sessions, because I know at some point it happens to all of us. So what do you do when a session starts to go sideways or you’re just not getting what you’d hoped for out of the session?  

[00:13:48] Shannon Smith: So a lot of redirection. And again, like I have that knowledge of nature schooling with my kids. So it’s a lot like yeah, redirecting with our environment and I make sure that our sessions are done in an environment where the kids can explore safely. So, you know, redirecting, hey, let’s find a feather. Can you find Mom a rock, a special rock, getting on their level, connecting with them. Like, what’s your favorite color? Having conversation, breathing. I do a lot of deep breathing with mom and baby, but stepping back as well always helps tremendously. Like stepping back, letting mom take the child and breathe with them to hold them. And a lot of times that’s the most beautiful moments that I’m able to capture, but also step back and not really be invasive about it. Just be respectful about it. Like, Hey, they need a moment and that’s totally fine. So my sessions are pretty long for that reason. I allow a lot of that time to do what they need to do if they need to have a snack or take a nurse break. By all means, go for it. 

[00:15:02] Lisa DiGeso: I love that someone once gave me advice and it was when everyone thinks to put their camera down. Pick your camera up for the in between. Oh, yes. Right. Oh, yes. So in between magical moments. Right? It’s like when they relax and like, it’s like they just give their kid a little snuggle or kiss when they’ve done such a good job. And I’m just like, that’s the shot I want.

[00:15:21] Shannon Smith: Yes, exactly.

[00:15:24] Lisa DiGeso: So how important is styling to your sessions? Do you have a client wardrobe that clients can choose from? I’m just curious how that would work with you being on the road in your process on that.

[00:15:33] Shannon Smith: Yeah, so I did bring some client clothes and I used a ton of them last week. A lot of what my kids wear as well I can use for sessions, so it’s super important. I believe every session I’m pretty, pretty crazy about my control and the styling. It just really makes the session feel a certain way. And if you edit a certain way, the color scheme needs to be on point, especially with the environment that you’re shooting in. So yeah, I always am 100% working with styling my family and it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.

[00:16:10] Lisa DiGeso: Love that. So where do you draw inspiration from? 

[00:16:15] Shannon Smith: Nature, a lot. Like, like I said, we hike a lot, we surf, we skate. So just getting out in nature and music, I would say, is a huge inspiration. When I am driving to a session for one hour, I might have to listen to whatever music or podcasts that I need to to center myself and get inspired. So yeah, I would say water. Water is mainly like a day on the lake, the day of surfing. Listening to music that is inspiring to me is huge, a huge part of my energy going into the next session. 

[00:16:54] Lisa DiGeso: So finding your style and your voice as a photographer can really be confusing and frustrating for so many. So what advice would you have for someone who’s maybe struggling to find their voice as an artist through their posing, styling, editing?

[00:17:08] Shannon Smith: I’d say, take your time. You know, it’s a process that takes many, many years and maybe even your whole life. And we’re constantly evolving. So treasure whatever growing pains you’re going through and try new things, shoot for free, get outside of your comfort zone and just shoot, practice, practice, practice. I would say that’s the best advice I can give.  

[00:17:38] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah, I agree. I agree.

[00:17:40] Shannon Smith: I think you never know what you love and you never know how. 

[00:17:44] Lisa DiGeso: Right. And it’s funny because we can have such great things like we can watch retreat videos, we can listen to podcasts. But if you’re not getting out with your camera in your hand and trying and taking some really crappy pictures. Right. I’m not never going to figure out what you like. 

[00:18:01] Shannon Smith: Exactly. Right. Yeah. You’ve got to try new things to think outside the box. They use different elements. Yeah. Stop. Stop looking outward and look inward.

[00:18:11] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah. Have you seen it? I saw it recently. Someone was shooting through like a pair of pantyhose or nylons, and that gave this, like, really vintage to me. Yeah, me. Look, I was like, Oh, I got to try that. I’m going to try that for maternity. 

[00:18:24] Shannon Smith: Yeah, that’s really cool. I haven’t experimented with that, but I’ve definitely seen some amazing work with any hose. The bags are a big thing right now. Yeah, very. And but you can also experiment with editing, like adding those layers if you want to play more on the editing side. Yeah. As well. 

[00:18:45] Lisa DiGeso: Love it. So what do you feel is your secret to maybe capturing images that not only showcase each unique family, but also still continue to bring purpose and meaning to you when maybe you’re not feeling it that day?  

[00:19:00] Shannon Smith: So I really draw. I let each family inspire me. Like there’s so many days when I show up and I don’t want to shoot, but being in the moment with them, like, I just let them inspire me. So I don’t know. I guess that connection. Seeing a family go inward is what fulfills me as it is. So maybe something about my childhood. Like, it’s very healing to me to just, like, be in the moment and watch it unfold in front of you. That’s fulfilling to me in itself. So people like the people is what fulfills me. And I feel like. I don’t know. It’s just such a passion to be there with real, real humans who have so much going on and so much, and they just let you see them for who they are. Yeah. So if it’s like they’re ready to be seen, that’s fulfilling. 

[00:20:07] Lisa DiGeso: I love that. So tell me about your favorite session and why. 

[00:20:12] Shannon Smith: So there’s this session that I did in Hawaii. I feel like it was at a huge, pivotal moment in my life personally and career wise. I started to really like this. When my kids’ dad and I, we were completely done. I was so over it and it was final. Like we had broken up many times before, but this was it. This was I’m going to pour into myself and pour into my career and what I love. And so it’s really at a pivotal moment for me. And you can see it in the session. It was in Hawaii. I felt like I had been dreaming about it for my whole life. But I met this incredible family that also lived a similar lifestyle as us. Like they homeschool and they had a dream to move to Hawaii. So they did it and it was like they didn’t have a whole lot of money, but they just loved where they were. And it was a blended family. And I just love blended families. I love seeing a family, two people coming together who have such diverse cultures and blending that together and living a life that, you know, they love and they don’t care about what anyone else says or thinks. And they love to hike. And so we hiked extremely far. Andras just enjoyed the day. You could see that they love where they live. They’re so passionate about it so it showed, it just showed. And in the photos that we came together as people that we’re just so stoked to be alive and honoring the island, the beautiful island and what it has and has to offer. So I’d say that was my favorite session.

[00:22:09] Lisa DiGeso: Love it. So what’s been the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given? 

[00:22:14] Shannon Smith: I don’t have a lot of personal mentors, but I do listen to a lot of podcasts and stuff and there is a certain person in my life I feel like who really saw me for who I was and pushed that. And she just always pushed me to do what I loved. And so I’d say, like, the best advice is like if you have the passions there, you will be successful, like, period. I love that. So do whatever you’re passionate about and you don’t have to worry about anything else. Everything’s going to fall into place. And that’s so true. 

[00:22:51] Lisa DiGeso: It’s so true. So what advice do you have for someone who is just starting out? 

[00:22:57] Shannon Smith: Similar to what I said before is get out, create for yourself, do a lot of free sessions, a lot of articles, shoot what you love. If motherhood is healing for you, go that route, try new things. You have to shoot, shoot, shoot, learn, learn, take it all in and enjoy the journey.

[00:23:21] Lisa DiGeso: Love that. So you ready for our lightning round?

[00:23:24] Shannon Smith: Sure.

[00:23:25] Lisa DiGeso: Okay, go to karaoke jam. 

[00:23:28] Shannon Smith: Alanis Morissette. You Ought to Know. 

[00:23:30] Lisa DiGeso: I do. I own the most luxurious vacation you’ve ever been on.

[00:23:35] Shannon Smith: Hawaii, for sure. We stayed at Kahala, which was. They had heated toilet seats, so it was super luxurious. We only stayed there for a couple of days, but that was amazing. And we stayed for a whole month on the island. So we stayed at Kahala, got the hotel experience, and then also stayed on the North Shore for a whole month. And that was incredible. 

[00:23:57] Lisa DiGeso: Wow. What was your favorite TV show as a kid? 

[00:24:00] Shannon Smith: Probably Rocket Power and MTV music videos. Yeah. Rocket Power was like, you know, back in the day, like, it was always playing. They had only a couple of shows that would play repetitively. Yeah. And so you’d come home from school and like, it was either Rocket Power or SpongeBob or MTV music videos. So, yeah. 

[00:24:26] Lisa DiGeso: Your favorite book? 

[00:24:27] Shannon Smith: I’m not a big reader, to be honest. I have read a lot of Louise Hay, so yeah, she is super inspiring to me. Anything from a Louise Hay is amazing. 

[00:24:40] Lisa DiGeso: Love that last thing you did for yourself as an indulgence. 

[00:24:45] Shannon Smith: Hot yoga.

[00:24:47] Lisa DiGeso: My favorite. 

[00:24:48] Shannon Smith: Yeah, I do it regularly. I do it four times a week back home and on the road. I haven’t seen a lot of remote places, so some of the big cities have them and I’ve only gone twice on the road. But yeah, last week I was like, I got to go, yeah.

[00:25:06] Lisa DiGeso: Go. Stretch it out. Leave it all on the mat.

[00:25:09] Shannon Smith: Yeah. 

[00:25:10] Lisa DiGeso: What did you want to be when you grew up? 

[00:25:12] Shannon Smith: I wanted to surf and I wanted to be a photographer, so. Yeah. So those. 

[00:25:19] Lisa DiGeso: Favorite movie. 

[00:25:20] Shannon Smith: It’s really hard to pick a favorite, but I would say I really love inspiring movies. So like the classics like The Mavericks is a classic surfing movie and always will be a favorite. What else? Like Footloose? Yeah. There’s this really awesome documentary that I love as well that I think about often. It’s called Give In. It’s about a boy who he is actually narrating, but he travels around with his family. His dad’s a pro surfer and they travel in a bus and he narrates the whole thing. It’s very beautiful.

[00:25:58] Lisa DiGeso: I’ll check that out. What makes your soul light up?

[00:26:02] Shannon Smith: Surfing, a day on the water, sunshine. I need the sun to give me my energy. And so a day with my family out on the water is so, so fulfilling. Yeah. 

[00:26:17] Lisa DiGeso: I love that. So what are you currently curious about or artistically curious about? 

[00:26:24] Shannon Smith: Video. So I’ve filmed quite a bit and it’s just been sitting on my computer. Yeah, I just feel like I’m very drawn to video and I like playing with it, dabbling with it. But as far as the editing goes, it’s just very overwhelming for me. So I’m just curious about how to simplify that. Yeah. And not have it be so overwhelming and. I’m just a simple person. So if there’s something that seems overcomplicated, I just won’t do it. But I look at a lot of amazing videographers, and I’m just like, so, like, wow. It just has such an empowering effect on. Everything. It’s just inspiring to me. So I’m very curious about film in general.

[00:27:16] Lisa DiGeso: I love that. Well, thank you for joining me today.

[00:27:20] Shannon Smith: Yes, it’s been a pleasure. 

[00:27:23] Lisa DiGeso: Oh, my beautiful friends. Thank you so much for tuning in today. I so appreciate you listening and tuning in and hanging out with me each and every week. I am sending you so much of my light and my love today and every day. We’ll see you next time.

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