Ebb and Flow: The Myth of Finding Balance as a Mother and Business Owner with Aspen Dawn

When it comes to motherhood and business, there is no perfect balance. In some seasons, one takes precedence over the other… and that’s okay! Finding success in both requires holding space and giving ourselves grace when both parts of our life feel less than harmonious.

In this episode, family photographer Aspen Dawn shares how exactly she goes about navigating the ebb and flow of motherhood and her photography business. She shares the mental health struggles she’s faced and the ways she gives herself compassion to keep herself mentally well as she manages a thriving business. 

She also shares how she found herself drawn to family photography in the first place, and how her own experiences have given her the tools to relate to all kinds of clients.

This episode is SO raw and real. You can’t miss it!

What’s in this episode:

  • [04:58] Aspen shares how motherhood propelled her into photography
  • [10:11] What inspired Aspen to focus on motherhood, family, and maternity photography
  • [13:14] How Aspen does (and doesn’t) find harmony between her family and her photography career
  • [21:19] Why Aspen is a passionate mental health advocate and how she prioritizes her well-being to stay mentally and physically healthy
  • [26:43] Aspen’s tips for capturing authentic family connections in photography 
  • [30:00] Aspen’s lightning round

Tune in to this episode to learn how Aspen Dawn navigates motherhood and mental health while running a thriving photography business!

SUBSCRIBE: Apple Podcasts | Spotify

Want to put an end to awkward moments in your photo sessions and create genuine connection? Download The Storyteller’s Toolkit today, featuring 200+ emotive photography prompts, so you’re never left wondering what to say. 

Resources Mentioned

Style & Select

Meet Aspen Dawn

Aspen of Aspen Dawn Photo is a storytelling family, maternity, and motherhood photographer in Bakersfield, California, a couple hours north of Los Angeles! Aspen Dawn Photo has been going strong for five years now but Aspen has been doing professional photography for just over ten years! She’s also a mama of two daughters and a wife to an amazing husband. Growing up, she knew that her creative brain wouldn’t allow her to have a 9-5 desk job and being a full time photographer has definitely fulfilled her creativity.

Connect with Aspen

Visit Aspen’s website

Follow Aspen on Facebook

Follow Aspen on Instagram

Did this episode with Aspen Dawn inspire you to rethink “balance” when it comes to motherhood and your creative business? Check out this episode Balance, Burnout, and Boundaries: Creating a Fulfilling Photography Business with Dawn Charles which shares how another photographer started their career!


[00:00:00] Lisa DiGeso: 

[00:01:03] Welcome to the Art and Soul Show, where we dive 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.

[00:01:25] The goal of this podcast is for you to be able to gain insights and strategies that will get you real results. for listening. 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.

[00:01:44] This is the Art and Soul Show. Hello, my beautiful friends. Welcome back to the show today. I am super excited to dive into today’s conversation with Aspen of Aspen Dawn Photo. She’s a storytelling, family maternity and motherhood photographer [00:02:00] in Bakersfield, California, a couple hours north of LA. She’s had Aspen Dawn Photo for five years now and has been doing professional photography for just over 10 years.

[00:02:10] She’s also a mama of two daughters and a wife to an amazing husband. Growing up, she knew that her creative brain would not allow her to have a nine to five desk job and being a full time photographer has definitely fulfilled her creativity. I swear I’ve been following her forever on social media, and I’m so excited to have her join me today.

[00:02:29] So welcome Aspen. 

[00:02:30] Aspen Dawn: Thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here. I’m just. So excited. Bouncing off the walls. In my brain. 

[00:02:37] Lisa DiGeso: I love it. Well, before we were riffing a little bit before we hit record and we were just laughing because I had so many tabs open and we were laughing because also, like my brain, I’m always has so many tabs open and we were just laughing because, I mean, isn’t, isn’t that the case?

[00:02:52] We always have just so many things on the go, so many tabs open, so many ideas. So many things that we’re working on. Oh 

[00:02:58] Aspen Dawn: my goodness, I can’t even like [00:03:00] stop to breathe sometimes because I just have all of the ideas. I want to do all of the things all at once. Yes. But my body won’t allow me to, and I guess my brain won’t either because I can’t do that.

[00:03:12] But I still want to, so I mean, it’s like I, I hope that cuts for something. I hope that pushes me in some direction. I don’t know though. I don’t know if it’s counterproductive. 

[00:03:21] Lisa DiGeso: I know. Well, you know what’s funny is I recently joined somehow like three different reclamation dress groups. Mm, yeah. And I’m getting like targeted so heavily with all of these, I’m like, oh gosh, Lisa, like Put the credit card away.

[00:03:35] Put the credit card away. Stop. Me checking out yesterday. I’m like, I’m like, 

[00:03:42] Aspen Dawn: right. They’re also pretty. She’s, she’s amazing. Just such an amazing human and designer and. I can’t help, but like I have like, I don’t even know, like four hanging up right now that I’m about to take to my sessions tonight. Right.

[00:03:56] I just can’t get enough 

[00:03:57] Lisa DiGeso: of her. I love it. Well, actually, I don’t know if you know [00:04:00] this about Trista. So we’re talking about Trista Smith, who’s been a guest on the show, and she’s the owner of Reclamation. And she actually lives in Victoria, BC, which is about three and a half hours away from me. But she actually went to school with my husband.

[00:04:12] What? And they went to high school together. Yes. So yeah, she knows my hubby. She actually grew up in the town that I’m from. Oh my gosh. And when her sister in law was pregnant, she contacted me and said, Hey, Lisa, will you do her photos? And so she actually came up, we got to hang out, she was there for the entire shoot, and we had just a blast getting to know each other.

[00:04:31] We like shot in a snowstorm. And it was just fun and awesome. Um, how magical. Oh my goodness. So 

[00:04:37] Aspen Dawn: isn’t that fun? That’s the coolest thing ever. 

[00:04:39] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah. So I adore Trista so much. Oh, I 

[00:04:42] Aspen Dawn: love it. How can you not? She’s just, she’s wonderful. I adore her. Good. 

[00:04:47] Lisa DiGeso: So I want to talk about you though, and I want to know about your journey into photography How it began, how you evolved into Aspen Dawn Photo, and how that sort of has evolved over the past decade.

[00:04:58] Aspen Dawn: For sure. [00:05:00] So, it really, I think, started in high school. Like, my love for photography started developing really young. And what’s funny is, I just, like, made this realization pretty recently, was how much I really loved telling people’s stories at that age. And not wanting anyone to look at my camera, not wanting anyone to act like I was there.

[00:05:21] I just wanted to capture people as they were in the moment. And it would always just be my friends in the quad, like having lunch or whatever. But for some reason, it was just such an interesting thing just to observe people and being an introvert. That’s just been like a natural thing for me anyway, is.

[00:05:38] I love to just like watch people and just see how they are and like humans are just such like wild creatures to me so it’s just so fun to just see how everyone is so individual and capture their personalities and I kind of put the camera away for a little bit. Until my first daughter was born and she’s 12 now, but at about nine months [00:06:00] old, I realized how quickly time was moving and I didn’t want to miss a second.

[00:06:05] And I just picked up the camera again and started shooting and I haven’t put it down since. 

[00:06:11] Lisa DiGeso: Oh, I love that. I have a very similar story. I started in I picked up my camera in 2010 and my son is 14. He was the reason. And it’s funny, I had a similar story, but I didn’t realize because I, like, I graduated back in 1995, so I’m old.

[00:06:25] Oh my goodness. Well, you look amazing. So 

[00:06:29] Aspen Dawn: It shocked me. Alright. 

[00:06:33] Lisa DiGeso: I would do the same thing, but with film, like it was like film cameras and were you digital? 

[00:06:37] Aspen Dawn: I was always digital, yeah. 

[00:06:38] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah, yeah, it was film camera back then. And so it’s funny because I was like, I would do the same thing, but it was like, I wanted to set up scenes with people.

[00:06:47] And so I would do that with my high school friends. And so looking back at the albums, I do have all these scenes that I created. But that is so funny that I didn’t actually put two and two together that I would do that because My photography is very scene based [00:07:00] and I’m always setting up a scene with something.

[00:07:02] Aspen Dawn: What a trip. That’s so cool. Yes. Wasn’t that fun? I just figured something out there too. I love that. That’s so funny. It’s just ingrained in us, I guess. Right? What we want to do. It’s just, it’s just always in there. Just stagnant. It really is. We let it flow. 

[00:07:15] Lisa DiGeso: So Bakersfield, California serves as your base. So how does the local culture, environment influence your storytelling photography, particularly in capturing family maternity and motherhood moments?

[00:07:27] So 

[00:07:27] Aspen Dawn: Bakersfield’s an interesting place. It’s very like hometown feel like small town vibe, but there’s like, I don’t know, like 800, 000 people. So it’s like, it’s relatively large, but it feels so small. I swear everyone knows everyone in some like weird, like two degrees of Kevin Bacon type way and super strange.

[00:07:46] But I mean, the culture itself. It’s very like country western, which is not Not me at all. So it’s kind of funny I feel kind of like a fish out of water here, even though I grew up here for the most part [00:08:00] But I feel like just pulling different ideas and like kind of forcing myself to be creative in an environment That’s not like there’s no like super beautiful locations here.

[00:08:09] It’s all very city There’s buildings everywhere. There’s always like new housing developments and having to really like push myself to be creative and like, I’ll bring my clients to the sketchiest looking places sometimes, but it ends up photographing in such a different magical way. It’s just having to really like force myself to push my boundaries, I think is really 

[00:08:30] Lisa DiGeso: what, 

[00:08:30] Aspen Dawn: what’s I, what I’ve had to do here.

[00:08:32] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah. Are you close to the ocean at all? I’m not sure. Sorry. I’m Canadian and I’m like, I don’t really know the geography, so we’re from California. Is it fairly like inland or is it closer to the ocean? So 

[00:08:42] Aspen Dawn: we’re pretty inland, but we’re like about two hours away from the ocean. So it’s not like a huge track or anything, which is why I like to shoot there in the summer when I have time to.

[00:08:53] But on a regular basis, I have to stay in town doing my husband’s schedule and just [00:09:00] traveling 2 hours every time. I wish I could, but 

[00:09:03] Lisa DiGeso: it’s hard 

[00:09:03] Aspen Dawn: being a mom. I love it. 

[00:09:06] Lisa DiGeso: Is the landscape like more deserty? 

[00:09:10] Aspen Dawn: Gosh, I don’t even know what to classify it as. Like we have like a lot of hills. It’s a really like big like agricultural town too, so we have lots of fields and hills So, and it’s all like on the outskirts of town, so we have to like drive a little bit of a distance in order to get the type of look and feel that we want.

[00:09:26] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah. I love that because where I live, we live in the Canadian desert, so we actually have like tumbleweeds. We’ve got cactuses here. Love that. It looks very much like California. Oh, that’s so cool. Yeah. Oh my gosh. When you went to LA, I was like, Whoa, this is like, it’s like home. 

[00:09:43] Aspen Dawn: That’s so funny. I didn’t realize that Canada had deserts.

[00:09:46] Oh my goodness. I’m not very well versed. And 

[00:09:51] Lisa DiGeso: for some reason the system isn’t programmed that way. We have our strengths, right? Exactly. Right. Now [00:10:00] back to photography. 

[00:10:02] Aspen Dawn: I know I can just go on tangents forever. Sorry. 

[00:10:05] Lisa DiGeso: Seriously. I’m the queen of tangents. So family and motherhood and maternity photography are your specialities.

[00:10:11] So what inspired you to focus on these niches? And what do you find the most fulfilling about capturing these significant life moments? 

[00:10:19] Aspen Dawn: Goodness. I mean, I feel like I’ve always just been drawn to different family dynamics, like whether they’re, you know, like blended families or, you know, really, really tiny families or huge families.

[00:10:32] It’s just really interesting to Watch like the different personalities in each group and I just find motherhood to be so beautiful I mean, I’m I kind of have a little bit of a bias because of my mom myself Yeah, but being able to watch myself grow through this journey because I I was 20 when I had my first baby I was young Yeah And just how I’ve been able to watch myself grow while watching, you know, both of my, my babies grow.

[00:10:59] Lisa DiGeso: I think 

[00:10:59] Aspen Dawn: [00:11:00] just, like, allowed me to draw so much inspiration for motherhood in general. And maternity especially, just like, the, I feel like it’s almost like the calm before the storm. Yeah. And being able, like, that’s such like a huge part of motherhood that you don’t ever get back. I mean, like, I feel like I try to push people to get maternity pictures taken, even if I sound a little, like, annoying.

[00:11:23] I’m just like, but you’re never going to get, like, this time back. Like, you’ll have, you know, more and more moments with your babies, and it’s amazing to capture all of those. But this time while they’re just like right before their earth side, like, you’re not going to ever have that back. So it’s, it’s And it’s just such a beautiful thing to watch, you know, moms carrying their babies, like, like little baby bums.

[00:11:44] I know. Gorgeous. 

[00:11:46] Lisa DiGeso: I know. It’s funny. Often I hear it’s a struggle for some women, especially when they see the picture perfect of a certain look of, and then they’re like, I don’t look like that. Yeah. Do you run into that with your [00:12:00] clients and you’re like, or they don’t want a book because they’re like, I don’t look like maybe what everybody else looks.

[00:12:05] Not everybody else. Maybe what. So social media says I should look like. And how do you approach that with your clients? 

[00:12:12] Aspen Dawn: So, as someone who has struggled with their own self image, a lot of the time I feel like that gives me the upper hand to relate to moms especially. And just reminding them, like, how little time we have in the season of life we’re in.

[00:12:29] Even though sometimes you don’t want to be on camera, or you feel like you’re too awkward, or there’s something going on, like, behind the scenes that you’re just like, I don’t know if I want to remember this. It’s just like, it’s still such a pivotal, like, every little stage of life has its pull on, like, the picture as a whole.

[00:12:45] Like, you, you should want to capture even, like, the bad parts because it’s, It’s a part of your story and you’re going to come out of this and you’re going to look back and be like, wow, this is where I was then. Capture it again as you are now. And I mean, [00:13:00] every season of life is beautiful that we go through and it’s worth capturing and showing to, you know, friends and family and just being able to watch your story unfold.

[00:13:08] It’s every moment matters. 

[00:13:10] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah. 

[00:13:11] Aspen Dawn: I love that so much. 

[00:13:14] Lisa DiGeso: So balancing motherhood with a thriving photography business can be really challenging. So how do you manage to find harmony between your personal and your professional life? 

[00:13:23] Aspen Dawn: I wish I had like the secret sauce for this, but I’m still trying to figure it out.

[00:13:28] Right. I think every day is different. Honestly, I think that there are days where I can accomplish a lot with work and I’m just like, I’m on the computer. I’m hustling. I’m go, go, going. And then there’s other days where I’m just like, wow, I got literally nothing done. And it’s because, you know, like right now my daughter is in this phase where she’s having a lot of like fears and anxieties and it’s just like, I have to attend to that and prioritize that rather than, I mean, even though work is of course a priority, my clients are a huge, huge priority.

[00:13:56] I also want to make sure my kids don’t feel [00:14:00] like work comes before them ever. So, I have to be careful with that because sometimes I will kind of back off from work and be like, oh, oh no, I have to get, you know, this and this and this done that I’ve been, you know, trying to spend time with my kids and like make memories with them.

[00:14:16] So, it’s, it’s a really, really hard and tricky thing to balance and I, I really don’t even like that word balance because I don’t think it exists. I think it’s a myth. It doesn’t. 

[00:14:26] Lisa DiGeso: It is. It’s like I’m really good at what I’m working on right now, but like, that’s it. Yeah. There’s no balance. 

[00:14:31] Aspen Dawn: Exactly. Exactly.

[00:14:32] And it’s just like you can only do so much and I’ve been really trying this thing called giving myself grace for the first time in my life and it’s being like I, I can only do my best and my best is going to have to be enough and there, because there’s nothing else I can do. Yeah. So there, there are times where I mess up with being a mom and I think that’s, that’s Yeah.

[00:14:55] And just realizing like your kids don’t need a perfect parent, like they need to be loved and [00:15:00] supported and those are the most essential things. Like that’s what I can give and offer to them all the time. And I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to like, you know, sometimes work a little too long because I have to like get caught up and they’re going to be mad at me.

[00:15:12] But hopefully one day they’ll look back and be like, well, my mom worked hard to give us what we had. So. 

[00:15:18] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I remember there was one time my little guy was maybe four and a half or five and I was asking him to do something. And he’s like, Five more minutes, babe. I was like, well, I know where that came from.

[00:15:35] Aspen Dawn: That’s hilarious. I’m 

[00:15:36] Lisa DiGeso: like, oh, he just threw that back at me. 

[00:15:40] Aspen Dawn: Yeah, I do say that. Oh my goodness. Yeah, they’re so funny. Oh, 

[00:15:45] Lisa DiGeso: so funny. I mean, you’re funny because my son is 14 and I honestly, Like, I think I’m busier now with a, like a teenager than I was with a toddler. Oh my goodness. Like, I really do. And I, like, he’s an only child, [00:16:00] but who, like, and I’m, and it’s funny cause I know like, like this time is so fleeting and it’s going by so quickly that I’ve like, I’ve, I’ve purposely taken a step back from my photography because this time is so important.

[00:16:13] I know that I can pick up my camera and I can restart a business at any time, but I can’t. Get these years back a hundred percent. So I’m purposely like on hold a little bit So I can be I run him around all over the place on weekends like we are the house where all the friends come to and I really wanted to cultivate that because Like it is it’s everything is so temporary and in the moment it can feel like you know This is forever and it’s frustrating or you’re frustrated.

[00:16:40] But when you realize like it is just a blank That it just kind of you’re just like, okay, well, there is my priority. I figured it out. Right? I’m getting emotional. I know. Right? I know. I know. Like, seriously, the things I could tell, like And even, like, you don’t know. And for me, like, getting those images [00:17:00] when you can still pick up your kids is so important because you don’t know it’s gonna be the last time you ever pick up your child.

[00:17:07] Right? And does that break your heart? I know. Sorry, you’re trying to make me cry. I know. I know. It breaks my heart. And you just don’t know. And, like, it’s just going to be that last time. And it’s just like slowly or slowly pulling away from you. And it just, like, kills you. I know. And I know you’re going through that with your 12 year old.

[00:17:24] Exactly. Girls are a little different than boys and I keep hearing that, like, he’s going to come back. Yeah. But, yeah, like, it’s just, like, raising kids, Children and running a business, it’s not easy. Mm-Hmm. It’s not. And so I don’t know, whenever I hear like, oh, like I found the secretive balance. Well, I’m like, I haven’t either.

[00:17:42] And it’s okay. It’s okay. We haven’t, we’re all just muddling through and there’s gonna be so many different seasons that we’re going through too, for sure. Right. 

[00:17:49] Aspen Dawn: Yeah. I mean, no matter what, like everything is going to be different, like, like even on a daily basis, like weekly basis, like seasoned basis, like I am.

[00:17:59] Wow. So, [00:18:00] so busy right now, but I know like once the heat picks up, because it gets like in the hundred and tens or so here, it’s going to be like dead. So just like, okay, that, that’s when I can settle down and that’s when I can, you know, be a little more intentional, do more with my kids and like have, like try to make more memories then as opposed to like right now.

[00:18:19] And that’s, it’s just, it’s always an ebb and flow and trying to get the flow of it each time is, I So difficult and just trying to do your best. That’s, that’s really all we can do. Totally. 

[00:18:30] Lisa DiGeso: I don’t know if you guys have been affected as much, but the wildfires that we’ve been experiencing over the past few years and having to work as a photographer around that has been like, Whoa, like not even just like, you know, a summer vacation for children, but like, as a working photographer and you’re trying to get out there, but it’s not healthy for your clients and it’s not healthy for us to be out there.

[00:18:50] And then it also doesn’t look that great because we’ve got this bright orange light. Exactly. Like, 

[00:18:54] Aspen Dawn: it’s hard. Not to mention scary. Wow. Just like, being a person. 

[00:18:59] Lisa DiGeso: It’s just [00:19:00] messing up everything. Yeah. Like, we got through the pandemic and now we’re just like dealing with wildfire. Just gracious. 

[00:19:06] Aspen Dawn: Ugh. It’s like, when will it end?

[00:19:09] Yeah. Nice. I don’t know. 

[00:19:10] Lisa DiGeso: I don’t know. We went dark here. Yeah. 

[00:19:13] Aspen Dawn: Oh my gosh. Like how deep are we gonna go? Because I’m, I’m here for it. I will go. I will go to the equator. Like it’s. I’m into it. 

[00:19:24] Lisa DiGeso: There’s, there’s smoke there too. Oh yeah. 

[00:19:28] Aspen Dawn: There is. Yeah, that’s true. We gotta stay away from that. Love it. We’ll, we’ll find a happy place.

[00:19:32] Happy medium. 

[00:19:33] Lisa DiGeso: So we talked a little bit about styling. But I want to touch a little bit more on styling because it is such an essential aspect of photography. So can you maybe share some insights into your approach to styling for family maternity or motherhood shoots? Yeah, 

[00:19:46] Aspen Dawn: absolutely. So I highly, highly encourage my clients to let me style them.

[00:19:52] And a lot of the time I feel like as time has gone on, they’ve seen, especially on my Instagram feed, like what kind of [00:20:00] You know, dresses I like to shoot, what kind of colors I like to shoot. And they trust me a little bit more. I think, you know, as time has gone on, but I do heavily encourage them before their session.

[00:20:11] I send out a lengthy email of like styling do’s and don’ts. If they want to do it on their own, I want them to have all the tools available for 

[00:20:18] Lisa DiGeso: them. 

[00:20:19] Aspen Dawn: Um, I do use style and select and absolutely love their service. Like that’s. Absolutely brilliant, and my clients love it too. They have so much fun, like piecing little, little, you know, outfits together and just being like, you know, asking for a second opinion, which I love that.

[00:20:35] I do have a client closet for women and mostly little girls. I do have some stuff for boys, but I feel like. Boys and men are so much easier to shop for locally than girls and women are and it’s like you can’t go to Target and get a reclamation gown like that’s just not gonna happen. So having those on hand I think is really helpful too because a lot of the times moms [00:21:00] or especially expecting moms, they’ll buy something and wear it once, you know, Yeah, their shoe and then it’s just like oh when am I ever gonna wear this again?

[00:21:07] So I think that having the client closet, it’s not necessary, but it’s also just a nice thing to have and offer to your clients that makes them feel really special and pampered. Yeah, I love that. 

[00:21:19] Lisa DiGeso: So your passion for mental health advocacy is evident. You have that in your intake form. So, um, How do you prioritize your own mental wellbeing while managing the demands of motherhood and running your business?

[00:21:33] Aspen Dawn: It sounds like a mystery, and honestly it kind of is that one. I think it’s just really been an ongoing journey. I’ve struggled with mental health or my mental health with depression and anxiety specifically. And I’m learning a little more about potentially having ADHD and OCD, that’s come up in therapy and my psychiatrist has brought that up, so I just have a little, a little library of all the things I’m trying to, you know, battle and manage and [00:22:00] keep under control, but it’s, like even earlier this year I was struggling like so badly with depression that I didn’t know, like if I was going to make it out and it was really scary, but.

[00:22:11] I think that just really trying to, like, focus on myself when I know that I need it has helped immensely because, yeah, it’s just, it’s been really interesting to navigate because no, like, battle with it is the same, I feel like. I feel like there are just two Every time it feels new and it feels just as, you know, scary and foreign as the last so it’s it’s really interesting But I feel like since late February I’ve been feeling so good and I got back on an antidepressant that I was on that Has been I swear a dream like a lifesaver and I have been doing Pilates almost every day Which I used to hate like I was just like Pilates is the absolute worst.

[00:22:58] You’ll never catch me doing it. No, I [00:23:00] love it And then just walking a lot and I feel like physical fitness has been like a huge, huge help in that, but also just making time to do things that I want to do. And like, even if it’s for five minutes or, you know, a few hours, like whatever the time span is every day, just adding in a little bit of something where I can tend to myself has been a game changer, even as hard as that as being a mom, because you feel like that’s your identity.

[00:23:27] Kids just need you as mom and as nothing else. But the thing is, is if you’re showing them that they are everything and you are nothing, like how are they going to be as mothers? How are they going to be as parents? So whenever I heard that, it was really like a slap in the face and just like, okay, well, I do need to really prioritize myself so I can be my best version of myself for them and then they can grow and be the best version of themselves for them too.

[00:23:55] Yeah. 

[00:23:56] Lisa DiGeso: You know, it’s so funny because we’ve had so many years of programming that motherhood, it [00:24:00] means self sacrifice. Yes. Mm hmm. Right. And like, like I’m really like watching my mom, like, I don’t think I ever saw her have a bath or like just take that time. Right. Like, and so. I always thought that love meant hard work, or like you just like, you put everyone else’s needs first.

[00:24:19] And so that was, that’s been something that I’ve really had to deprogram and unlearn. Because it’s like, you know when they say like fill your cup? Yep. But you’re like, but my cup is full of holes. Right? So every time I’m pouring something in, it’s like leaking, completely leaking out. For sure. And it’s like, so it never feels like it fills up.

[00:24:36] So you gotta figure out how to patch the holes in the cup. 

[00:24:39] Aspen Dawn: Yep. 

[00:24:39] Lisa DiGeso: Two. While you’re trying to fill it up. Absolutely. That’s been my journey. 

[00:24:43] Aspen Dawn: Yeah, you’re, you’re not alone. I know that there’s, there are so many moms that, that are going through that. And I’ve, I mean, I’ve been through my fair share, but sometimes it’s still like, seeps back in and just like, I have to actually take like an inward look and be like, okay, like, [00:25:00] why do I feel like this right now?

[00:25:01] Like, have I done anything to fill my cup and to feel like, I’m a human and a woman and not just mom or wife or photographer, business owner, whatever it might be. It’s just like you have to tend to you, like you as, you know, your own person, so, yeah. 

[00:25:20] Lisa DiGeso: One thing, because I’m, I swear I’m a, I’m a reforming people pleaser and having to like get comfortable with the discomfort of maybe not making everybody happy.

[00:25:31] That’s a big one. Like huge, huge. And like just sitting with that, like, you know what? Couldn’t do it. Exactly. Couldn’t say yes. Couldn’t do the recession. Like, and that’s okay. Yeah. Like I need to take care of me first. It comes at a cost sometimes when we, when we say yes to things that are just not going to fit into our lives.

[00:25:51] And when, yeah, so it’s been interesting for me to like unpack that people pleasing and how detrimental it was to me. And [00:26:00] that’s actually kind of why I had to hit the brakes on my entire business was like, okay, we need to like do this. Stop. The ride. 

[00:26:06] Aspen Dawn: For sure. Yeah. No. I’m Again, something else we have in common.

[00:26:11] I don’t know when the list is gonna stop, but Never. It’s ADHD. I know, right? We have 25 left. Yes, we are. Minimum. That’s not a good day. Oh, my gosh. Oh, yeah. No. When I say list, I didn’t actually write that down. It’s all in my brain. No, exactly. Because who has time to write anything down? We, we can remember it all.

[00:26:32] Of course. Of course. Oh my gosh. Yeah. We are on the same page, girlfriend. Oh my goodness. Ugh. So good. For sure. 

[00:26:43] Lisa DiGeso: I love it. So capturing the essence of a family and children with moments of authenticity, that’s something that you really do well. So what do you, is, do you find that there’s a secret ingredient for it to pull that out of them?

[00:26:56] Or do you sit back and watch and let it happen? How does that evolve for you? 

[00:26:59] Aspen Dawn: I’d say [00:27:00] it’s a little bit of both. I think sometimes you have to push your clients a little bit more to get what you want out of them. Or not even what you want, but what they’re going to want out of them. I think it really goes into one preparedness.

[00:27:14] I send a questionnaire out to all my families and I make sure to kind of get a vibe for them beforehand. Even like with communication, like I’m already just like, okay, this is the type of person that this is. And I think my people pleasing has allowed me to kind of like, form to a certain personality type sometimes.

[00:27:33] So it’s just like, I can kind of like match vibes really well, and I think that that helps. But I’m also I’m still myself while I’m matching those vibes. Like, I’m still I have a really silly, goofy personality, and I’m not afraid to like. Like, kind of like make a fool out of myself, like, that does not bother me whatsoever.

[00:27:53] I, like, I don’t get embarrassed by stuff like that, so, but it’s just like if they’re more calm and quiet, it’s just like, oh, I can pull [00:28:00] from that from myself because I am, you know, at heart a very calm and quiet and chill, like, good vibe type of person. But if my, like, if the kids are wild and crazy, you know, it’s just like, okay, so I can pull from like, you know, the, the little bit of extroversion I have and I can like Be a kid with them and like, you know, be silly and you know, just try to kind of like read the room and know what to bring to the table because I have multiple things and I feel like.

[00:28:29] You know, it’s like, I don’t want to completely change my personality because I don’t think that that’s gonna be conducive to making people feel at home and feel comfortable. But I, I do feel like I have a little bag of tricks that I can, you know, match their vibe. 

[00:28:43] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah, I agree. It’s like you have to chameleon based on like, of reading and just, you know, What’s going to work the best, like what approach do I need to take to this?

[00:28:52] For sure. Are you an oldest child? I am. Really? Is it 

[00:28:55] Aspen Dawn: obvious? Me. 

[00:28:57] Lisa DiGeso: Me. You too. [00:29:00] Yep. Oh my 

[00:29:01] Aspen Dawn: goodness. Of course you are. Of course we are. 

[00:29:04] Lisa DiGeso: Like that’s a skill set that we learned. It 

[00:29:06] Aspen Dawn: is. It is. Oh my goodness. Like, yeah. Being the oldest daughter is a whole It’s a Yeah. That birth order thing. I swear. I swear. It’s Yeah.

[00:29:16] There’s something there with it. Yeah. It’s so funny. How many kids? I have one younger brother. Okay. Yeah. I have two sisters and a brother. Okay. Wow. So you’re the oldest of four? Yeah. Oh my goodness. Wow. Yeah. And my husband’s actually the youngest of four. Interesting. Yeah. Huh. Yeah. Oh my goodness. Yeah. My husband’s a mental child and he loves to bring that up.

[00:29:40] He loves to mention like how forgotten he was. He is so loved. He’s so silly. You know 

[00:29:45] Lisa DiGeso: children love to, love that. Oh my gosh. My sister’s like that too. Although I didn’t, I didn’t help. I was like, you’re adopted. Oh my gosh. And she’s, 

[00:29:52] Aspen Dawn: she’s not. She’s not. Oh my goodness. The things that we tell our siblings is so funny.

[00:29:57] Yeah. Oh my gosh. Yeah. [00:30:00] 

[00:30:00] Lisa DiGeso: Yep. She’s my bestie now. It’s all good. I love that. That’s amazing. So are you ready for our lightning round? Yes. Okay. If you like to cook, what do you like to cook the most? Oh, 

[00:30:11] Aspen Dawn: I’d like to say Mississippi roast and my crock pot because it’s so easy. Oh, it’s so good. So good. That and potatoes.

[00:30:18] Amazing. Um, 

[00:30:20] Lisa DiGeso: what’s your favorite movie? 

[00:30:23] Aspen Dawn: Eagle versus shark. It’s like an indie movie. I love it so much. Oh, I haven’t seen that. It’s a good one. Um, 

[00:30:30] Lisa DiGeso: go to song that lifts you up when you’re down. Hang loose 

[00:30:33] Aspen Dawn: by 

[00:30:33] Lisa DiGeso: Alabama shakes. I do like Alabama shakes. 

[00:30:37] Aspen Dawn: Oh yeah. I always put me in a good mood. 

[00:30:40] Lisa DiGeso: I love that.

[00:30:41] Favorite guilty or not so guilty pleasure? 

[00:30:44] Aspen Dawn: Probably say reality TV, specifically Real Housewives and Vanderpump Rules. Terrible, but so fun. I love 

[00:30:54] Lisa DiGeso: it. Have you watched Below Deck at all? 

[00:30:57] Aspen Dawn: I watched a little bit of it whenever I was over at my [00:31:00] friend’s house. Oh my goodness. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, she told me. Yeah.

[00:31:02] That’s, that’s, that’s my guilty pleasure. That’s a, yeah. I need to dive into that one whenever I’m out of Vanderpump Rules to watch. I need to. 

[00:31:09] Lisa DiGeso: Well, there’s a new Vanderpump that just came out. Yes. It’s like Vanderpump Villas. I’m going to start watching. For 

[00:31:14] Aspen Dawn: sure. And then The Valley. The Valley is a different one that I started watching too.

[00:31:17] It’s just, yeah, that’s nonstop. It’s I love it. Just 

[00:31:21] Lisa DiGeso: something to have on the background while editing. Either Either that 

[00:31:23] Aspen Dawn: or true crime. It’s Which isn’t You know, I feel like I love it. I have to have one or the other. 

[00:31:31] Lisa DiGeso: Now, what’s something you’ve accomplished as an adult that your younger self would be proud of?

[00:31:35] Oh my goodness. 

[00:31:37] Aspen Dawn: I’m not going to get emotional again. I can’t do that. I think it’s just the fact that I’ve been through so much and have been able to come out of it stronger and stronger than I would have ever imagined. Um, just the things that I’ve gone through as a child and even as an adult. I don’t know how I’m still here and [00:32:00] how I am where I am right now.

[00:32:01] So I think that I totally would have been like, go girl, like you slay queen. 

[00:32:07] Lisa DiGeso: Yeah. 

[00:32:07] Aspen Dawn: Like for sure. 

[00:32:09] Lisa DiGeso: I love that. I love that. Thank you. What has been the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given? Hmm, 

[00:32:18] Aspen Dawn: I feel like probably just like showing up as yourself is everything, especially like on social media and not like shying away from, you know, showing, sharing parts of your life that aren’t necessarily photography related because people care about the person behind, you know, the camera as well as the person taking the pictures.

[00:32:38] Like it’s, those are two different people. And I think that just. Being myself and talking about mental health to everyone and probably sometimes too much, I think really has helped me connect with people in a really authentic and deep way. 

[00:32:53] Lisa DiGeso: I love that. That’s something that I really struggle with is like showing up beyond.

[00:32:57] A photography educator or just a [00:33:00] photographer. It’s hard. I really, it’s hard. It is. Like, I just don’t, I’m like, why does anyone care? Aww. And I’m like, and it’s funny because I care. I care so deeply about, I want to know everything about everybody else. I get so excited to like, watch their lives unfold.

[00:33:13] Yeah. And yet, I have this opinion that nobody cares about mine. Oh, I care. 

[00:33:17] Aspen Dawn: I want to know everything, especially knowing, like, we have, like, so many things in common. Just, like, tell me everything in your life, Lisa. I need everything. 

[00:33:26] Lisa DiGeso: Like, the random stuff I come home with from, like, Marketplace, like, on the daily.

[00:33:30] Yeah. Like, I have a little bit of a Marketplace problem. Oh my goodness. And I’m not going to say problem, I’m going to call it a collection. There we go. Yeah, 

[00:33:36] Aspen Dawn: it’s a hobby. Totally. Oh my goodness. It’s like me with Poshmark. But that one’s a problem. Yeah. That one’s an actual problem. All the client closet pieces.

[00:33:48] Lisa DiGeso: Oh, 

[00:33:48] Aspen Dawn: I know. No. 

[00:33:51] Lisa DiGeso: What advice would you have for someone that’s just starting out in photography? 

[00:33:54] Aspen Dawn: I would say no matter what type of photography you do, if it’s something, [00:34:00] well, one, if you don’t even know where you want to go, like shoot everything, like shoot, you know, landscapes, shoot portraits, shoot newborns, shoot wedding, like just try everything until you find what, like, It gives you, like, that, that feeling of just like, this is where I need to be.

[00:34:16] And once you find it, like, go full force and don’t give up. Like, I think that. It can be so daunting sometimes, especially on social media, seeing everybody’s follower accounts, like, fly up and some stay where they are at, but as long as you’re loving what you’re doing and your clients are loving what you’re giving them, like, that’s truly the greatest gift of all, like, not to get caught up in all the junk on, on social media for sure.

[00:34:44] Lisa DiGeso: For sure. Yeah. The vanity metrics, like, it’s just like It’s everywhere. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s not real. And sometimes people, no, and sometimes they’re like, you see some and you’re like, oh, they bought them. Yeah. Like that’s not, not typically not in photography, but in a lot of other industries you see like [00:35:00] with these giant, giant, you know, numbers that they actually have been purchased.

[00:35:04] So you’re just like, well, what’s real? Exactly. 

[00:35:07] Aspen Dawn: Yeah. Organic 

[00:35:08] Lisa DiGeso: is always the best way. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. A hundred percent. A hundred percent. So where can our listeners learn more from you? 

[00:35:14] Aspen Dawn: Well, I’m on Instagram almost all the time, but I usually will share about my mentorships in the winter and summer. And I do those exclusively online.

[00:35:27] So, I do like online editing mentorships and then I offer personalized editing videos where they can send me, you know, 5 to 10 raw images and I would show them like how I would approach editing, you know, each image. So they can just kind of like, you know, see if anything sparks, any inspiration comes from that.

[00:35:45] I’m not telling them what type of artist to be in any capacity, but I, I try to share what I have and hopefully that helps in some way. 

[00:35:55] Lisa DiGeso: I love that. Awesome. So can you share what you’re going to be teaching for the online [00:36:00] family 

[00:36:00] Aspen Dawn: retreat? Yes. Oh my goodness. I am beyond excited. So I am shooting, or I shot a storytelling family maternity session.

[00:36:10] out in a gorgeous field here in Bakersfield and it was fully styled and it was at sunset and those the family is just absolutely stunning like it was a dream an absolute dream. 

[00:36:23] Lisa DiGeso: Love it. So I love to end my interviews just with this last question and it is, what are you currently curious about or artistically curious about?

[00:36:34] Oh 

[00:36:34] Aspen Dawn: gosh, I love that. Honestly, everything. Like I, I, yeah, I am so open to learning and I never want to stop learning. I think that can get in our way and be a roadblock as an artist is if you feel like, okay, I’ve made it. I’ve hit this like benchmark. I don’t need anything else. I don’t need any further education, but I’m just like, I want to learn from everybody.

[00:36:56] I want to know everything. I want all the perspectives [00:37:00] that I’m still investing in education now, even though I’ve been doing this for over 10 years and I never want to stop. I feel like once you, once you stop, like, so does your growth. So there’s honestly not one thing I’m like, particularly like curious about.

[00:37:14] It’s just like, I just want to know all the things. 

[00:37:17] Lisa DiGeso: I love that. Good answer. Same. 

[00:37:20] Aspen Dawn: Yes. Thank you. Well, Aspen, thank you so much for joining me today. Oh, my gosh. This was a blast. I could do this every day. I know, right? Yeah, for sure. Thank you so much for having me. 

[00:37:33] Lisa DiGeso: Oh, my beautiful friends, I hope you have loved this conversation just as much as I have.

[00:37:39] I’m sending you so much of my light and my love today and every single day. We will see you next time. I wanted to take a moment to ask you a little favor. I so appreciate you spending your time with me and tuning in and listening to the show. I would be so incredibly grateful [00:38:00] if you could take a quick moment to leave a review on Apple podcasts.

[00:38:04] Your review helps other photographers discover the podcast and learn how to grow their own photography businesses and gain confidence to go after their dreams. It also means the world to me personally and helps me know what content you find most helpful. Thank you so much for your support and for being part of our amazing community.

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