She seems like the girl next door.
Wholesome and good.
Darcy Milder of Des Moines, Iowa.
Darcy Milder of Des Moines, Iowa.
She is an amazing photographer and an even better mother.
You just can't help but warm up to her.
She has a beautiful smile and a beautiful life.
She lives for Jesus and His light shines through in every single thing she does.
It was an absolute pleasure to interview Darcy of My 3 Boybarians this week.
Is Is being an Iowa girl different than being a girl from any other state? Have you always lived in Iowa?
I was born and raised in suburban Chicago and later Rockford, Illinois. My family is still in the Chicago area. I came to Iowa to attend college (Go Hawkeyes!) and later moved to Florence, Italy. Si, parlo l'Italiano. I settled in Iowa when I fell in love with an Iowa boy who I would follow to the ends of the earth.
Being an Iowa girl is definitely different than being a Chicago girl or a Florence girl. Since I live somewhat rurally, there is no delivery here, no public transportation or nearby restaurants. We are 25 minutes to a mall and a Super Walmart though, so it's not a total wasteland out here. The stars are amazing and we have deer, turkey, fox, owls - lots of beautiful critters in our property. This is a great place for little boys to be little boys!
Did you decide to homeschool before your oldest started kindergarten? What made you decide to do it?
When my oldest was 3 years old I committed to trying homeschool. My youngest son was born very prematurely and was oxygen dependent. I couldn't send my oldest child to a germy classroom and risk him bringing home infection. When kindergarten went well, I committed to first grade... and so on. I am now teaching 5th, 4th and K-ish grades. So far, so good.
Do you go out with a homeschool group for regular activities?
I should probably say yes here... but no. We aren't part of any group. We do have our favorite little pals and friends to join us on field trips and such if we want company. Our friends are an eclectic mix of public schoolers, private schoolers and homeschoolers. I'm probably not your typical card-carrying homeschooler. It's a non-issue for us. Our education choice isn't a political or religious statement. It just works for us and I don't really believe it's a defining descriptive in my arsenal of about-me adjectives.
When did you start your no TV policy?
In 2007 when I launched Graphically Designing. Turns out I'm lousy at self-discipline. And it's too easy to get sucked into the Food Network. When you work and school from home, distractions need to be kept off to keep us focused. It's hard enough to keep 3 boys on track without the noise. We also no longer have cable or dish. Just sad-looking bunny ears with aluminum foil around the ends. We do have Netflix and a free Hulu account so we won't totally miss all the current event questions on Trivial Pursuit.
You run 2 businesses, right? Photography and Graphic Design. Do you have a favorite?
Yes. My husband and I are the he and she behind His & Hers Photography. I am the designer behind Graphically Designing. Whatever I'm currently working on is my favorite. ;)
But, okay... I am just a puddle for those brand new milk-drunk, bendy newborn babies.
Do you have a hard time pricing for your business? How did you decide what would work for you?
Fortunately for me, that Iowa boy who I would follow to the ends of earth turned out to be a talented photographer and a pretty savvy business guy to boot.
It was important to me that whatever pricing structure we came up with, that it reflected our investment and allowed us to pick the very best products to offer. We don't sell cheap floppy prints - we chose products and vendors that require investment but really show off our images and make our clients look good.
Bambi Cantrell said something like that, I believe. She's right. The concept that "prints cost $.50 at WalMart" is irrelevant. You cannot buy a painter's artwork for the cost of his canvas and paint, and you shouldn't be able to buy a photographer's artwork for the cost of the print. However, if someone would like to buy an image for the cost of my camera, please contact me. ;)
I also believe that people can afford what's important to them. Smokers pay $40 a carton; coffee drinkers pay $5.00 for a single drink. People care most about what they invest in, and invest in what they care most about.
My clients know when they hire me that they are investing in me and in turn, investing in capturing a moment of or with the people they love most. I feel priviledged to photograph the little ones that my clients love so fiercely.
Um, no. But they like Mike & Ike's candy.
Who takes your family pictures? How often do you get them done?
My friend and local photographer Jen Smith took our family photos in 2009 and 2010. I guess that's yearly? In return, we shoot her family's portraits. See the question above. Poor Jen, she's such a trooper and my boys do not make it easy for her. Prior to that our family photos involved a tripod and a remote. I don't recommend it.
We are busy shooting in the summer, so we tend to vacation after the senior portrait rush but before the holiday photo rush. About a year ago, we took a 15 day trip on Route 66 - like Lightning McQueen. We saw 10 states and did 3100 miles in our trusty Honda Odyssey; I think we took about 3000 photos of deserts, buttes, canyons, mountains and each other.
You seem like you have a great grasp on balancing time on the computer. I love that about you! How do you keep yourself from email during the day? I once had it on my cell phone and I had to stop that quickly. I mean, it is absolutely ridiculous to be that connected : )
It was necessary. Too many times I told myself I'd just check something real quick only to get sucked into the vortex that is my inbox and spat out 2 hours later. It matters to me that my boys are properly educated and get a mom and teacher who is invested in them, engaged with them and not have to spend all day looking at the back of my head. The mornings belong to them.
Who is one of your favorite photographers?
Would it be cheating to say Kelley Ryden and Tracy Raver, then? They are my mentors but I suppose their book deals, talk show appearances and calendars make them too mainstream to be photographers no one knows about.
I admire the work of Meg Fish. She does amazing baby and belly shots. I love her use of neutrals, texture, fabric, gentle posing and natural light. She has beautiful props, finds exquisite light and her images are always tack sharp at the focal point with a beautiful fall off and shallow depth of field that makes me swoon.
You're not going to have music auto play on a blog post are you? ;) 'Cause that would make the blog designer in me a little twitchy. Currently, iTunes is playing The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - but I guess that's an audiobook not music. But um... let me go look at my song counts. According to iTunes I've been listening to waaaaay too many show tunes. I should probably be embarrassed.
How do you feel about being the only girl in the house?
My house is almost always noisy. Boys tend to run from one place to another, even if they only have 3 feet to go. It's high energy and everything from Legos to toast gets fashioned into a weapon. Still, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Do you like to go shopping? Where is your favorite place to get a pretty dress? Do you wear heels?
When you said shopping, my mind immediately went to B&H Photo and Etsy. But you meant for girly things? Um, well... I do love me some sassy heels but I'm definitely not a hang out the mall kinda girl. I prefer deliveries to my door and shopping online. Can you imagine bringing 3 boys to a mall dressing room? Pass. ;) At home I am very much a yoga pants and pony tail kind of girl... but on a date night I like to throw on something sexier. And lip gloss. I love lip gloss.
How did you decide upon your camera? What do you shoot with right now? Can you tell me your camera history?
I am decididly in Camp Nikon. I shoot with a Nikon d700. When I married said Iowa boy, he came with a Nikon film SLR (and a possessive rottweiler, but that's another post!) as well as a Pentax k1000. That baby is manual only! We bought our first dSLR in 2005. It was a d70s and I learned to shoot manually on that machine. Somewhere in the middle, we bought a d200 and then the d700 came home in 2009.
To read the tragic story of my Europe photos and the Kodak Advantix I shot them with, please visit 31 Days to a Better Photo.
What is your favorite lens?
I knew you were going to ask that! :) I prefer prime lenses and fast glass. Nikon calls that "nano glass" and Canon calls them L lenses. My favorite lens depends on who I am photographing. For my babies, I typically arm myself with a 50mm f/1.4. When I have siblings or families, my lens of choice is the 85mm f/1.8. For everything else, I like the 70-200 f/2.8 - the only zoom lens I'd wrestle ya for!
If you could go on an all expense paid trip for one week, starting tomorrow, where would you want to go? Would you take everyone in your family? Or would you want some alone time?
I miss Italy somethin' fierce. I'd go back there in a heartbeat. And while part of me would love a get away with the hot Iowa-boy hubby, I can't fathom my boys missing out on the places I love in Italy. I also want to get to Ireland to visit and shoot. I can't recreate my time in Europe, but I'd love to reshoot it.
Do you have gray hair yet? Do you dye it yourself or do you go to a salon?
Oh girlfriend, I wish all this was maintenance free. I could kiss my colorist.
When someone meets you for the first time, what do they think when they walk away?
I'm currently telling myself not to be self-deprecating. But, um... I guess I can only hope they can sense my appreciation for the here and now I am in. My thirties have been good to me so far. My boys are healthy, my husband is loving, supportive and sexy. I love the work that I do. I succeed enough to be deliriously happy, and fail enough to stay humble. I am happiest with my family nearby, a camera on my hip, great music on my ipod, and a good book waiting for me on my kindle.