Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Photographer Interview: Becky Strahle of Farmgirl Paints

I remember reading a little comment 
she left above mine one day at 
I just had to go and meet this farm girl who painted.
I loved her blog the moment I first landed.

I really like farms 
and girls named Becky ; )
Becky has just recently begun her photography journey.
It has been fun to watch her learn and grow.
I think we can all learn from Becky.

It doesn't matter if we are a beginner, 
or a seasoned professional,
there is always something to be learned.

Have you always loved taking pictures, or did you see beautiful pictures all around in blog land and decide you needed to step your picture taking game up? 
I've always loved taking pictures, but I definitely started taking a lot more when I started my blog a few years ago.

Your first DSLR is a pretty nice one, what made you decide to jump in with both feet and get something with such a Wow factor?
I paid attention to what my favorite bloggers used.  I asked a few photographers what they would do and decided to just take the plunge and get something that I wouldn't need to replace.  I don't know if I'll ever fully utilize all that it can do, but it's nice to have those options.

You took a class as soon as you got your camera, tell me your favorite thing about the class. 
My favorite thing was spending time with my friend Suzanne.  It gave us a nice Winter distraction.  We would meet for lunch in the building and chat for an hour or so before class started every week.  I really looked forward to that day.

What didn't you enjoy about your class?
I'm not sure how much I really learned.  It was very basic.  Our teacher would give us very little information, an assignment and then we were more or less on our own.  I guess that's one way of learning...teach yourself;)  I decided to do a weekly segment on my blog called the "Thrive Project" where I would teach my readers what I learned myself.  They could link up and then at the end the best photographs won something from my Etsy store.  It was fun.

How do your girls feel about being in pictures all the time? 
Most of the time they don't mind.  My little one is a pain.  She can be in a movie theater and the "sun" will be in her eyes and she has to squint and carry on.  So it's really hard to get a good picture of her.  I admire people who can get good pictures of their kids candidly.  I find that almost impossible.  When they see the camera they pose.  I just love real life shots.  That's a gift.

You are a crafting queen! When did you first start making your cuffs? 
I took a jewelry making class over the Fall and fell in love with making these cuffs.  The mix of leather and metal really attracted me.  I'm a word girl, so to make jewelry with meaning was a perfect fit.  I wear one every single day.  They go with everything, and I have a saying that fits every mood I'm in:)

How much time a week do you put into production of your pieces? 
It goes in spurts.  I paint custom home paintings and do a lot of commissioned art work in addition to my Etsy store, so that takes me away from creating jewelry as much as I would like.  Every now and then I will have a few free days and I'll just go crazy.  It's so fun when I have the time and the creativity is there.  That's usually not the case.

Tell us about your Etsy store. 
I was so scared to open a shop.  It was a giant leap of faith for me.  Etsy is like a needle in a haystack way of shopping.  What if no one ever bought anything?  What if it's a big waste of time??  Despite those lurking negative voices in my head I just decided to go for it and it's been wonderful.  I sell just enough to keep busy.  It's perfect.
I used to have some art in my shop, but once the jewelry took off I haven't had much time to add new pieces.  Right now I have mainly cuffs.  I also make glass pendants and plan on adding some hand stamped metal to those. I think the mix of glass and metal will be a nice change.  There are some art pieces coming too. 

Where has been your favorite place to take pictures so far? 
UH...hmmm such a hard question;)  HAWAII of course!!  My biggest dream was to visit the islands.  Last year and this year we just went crazy and decided life was short let's make some awesome memories with our girlies.  So we went for it and had the time of our lives.  There is something so magical about Hawaii.  I don't think it's possible to take a bad picture there.

Do you think taking better pictures helps your Etsy store? Do people care about that? 
Absolutely.  That's the part that is SO time consuming.  First you make all the stuff and then you have to photograph, edit and list every piece.  It's a lot of work.  But just like a well thought out catalog, something about a beautifully photographed picture makes you want to buy that item.  So it's worth it.

You love farms! Are there a lot of farms around you in Minnesota?
I do!  Oh I do.  I grew up in rural Illinois.  We had lots of flat fields and farms there, but really they don't even hold a candle to the beautiful farms in Minnesota.  It's so pastoral.  The gentle hills...the cows grazing.  The beautiful barns and silos.  It's breathtaking.  The people here really maintain their land.  The farms are immaculate and so well kept.  I just love taking a ride in the country.  I'm blessed to have a gorgeous farmhouse right behind my cookie cutter suburban home.  Lucky me!

Have you ever thought about living on a real farm with cows and chickens? 
I would love to live on a hobby farm.  My Honey? Not so much.  If that ever happened the house would have to be new, or completely refurbished.  Nothing would stress my husband out more than having to make a lot of repairs.  It's just not his thing.  Oh and I hate mice and bugs.  I grew up in an old farmhouse and that just kind of comes along with the territory.  So new would be better.  I love cows and chickens...LOVE them!  I just don't want to have to take care of them.

You are moving to Virginia soon, what are you most looking forward to about your new state? 
Warm weather.  We moved to Minnesota seven years ago and have complained every single Winter.  We constantly ask why we live here.  The season is really harsh and long.  I'm actually looking forward to Winter this year.  I can't wait to see what it's like there.

How many pictures do you think you take in one week? 
It varies.  I can take a couple hundred in one day if it's a fun photo op day.  You know like strawberry picking etc...  But there are definitely days I don't pick up my camera at all.  I'm sure I took more before I had my DSLR.  It's so heavy and big.  It took me awhile to get used to pulling it out.  I was kind of embarrassed at first, and it makes this sound with every picture.  Hard to be inconspicuous with a DSLR.

When and why did you begin blogging? Do you have a blogging schedule? 
I started my blog 2 1/2 years ago.  It was the best thing I could have ever done for myself.  I get depressed in the Winter.  Blogging distracted me and gave me purpose.  It made me appreciate life more and take note of the littlest things.  It's wonderful to look back and have a record of our lives.  It's also given me the most amazing friends, people I never would have met if it wasn't for this weird way of communicating.  I'm so very grateful.
I try to blog three times a week. 

What has been the hardest thing for you to learn with your camera?
I'm pretty lazy.  I stick with the aperture priority setting.  My camera is smart and does most of the work automatically.  Thank heavens.  I would like to learn to shoot manual someday, so I feel like I really get it.  I'm just not there yet.  Figuring out which buttons do what was the hardest part of my camera.  It's not very user friendly.  I've had my manual out more than I care to admit.

What job did you have before you began selling your art work? 
I was a stay at home mom.  Before that I worked lots of odds and end jobs putting my Honey through school.  When he graduated college I finally entered an Occupational Therapy assistant program.  I got pregnant with our first before I got any job experience.  It's funny that the OTA program spiked my interest in creating.  Our teacher would have us do crafts to teach us how to break down tasks into steps for our patients. Turned out I really loved crafting.

You don't live close to your parents, is that hard for the girls? Do your parents LOVE looking at your blog and seeing the girls? Will you get to see them more often when you move?
We moved here when they were pretty young so they don't really know any different.  We make an effort to drive home a couple of times a year and my folks come stay with us a couple times a year too.  It works out.  We're blessed.  I think Virginia is a 13 hour drive to my home in Illinois, so it's a smidgen farther.  Shouldn't make any difference;)  They are excited that we are moving.  It's somewhere new to explore.

Do you tell your real life friends about your blog? Do you tell people at the grocery store? Do you have business cards? Have you ever been somewhere and had someone come up to you and say "Hey, I read your blog?" 
My friends know about my blog.  Most of them read it, but we usually don't talk about it.  I don't think they necessarily understand it.  It's one of those things that probably seems kind of weird and/or narcissistic to non-bloggers.  I have business cards, but I usually don't hand them out.  I'm not a good self promoter.  It's a flaw.  I need to learn to toot my own horn sometimes.

Someone did say they saw me at the gym one time.  That made me feel famous for about a millisecond.  I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.

What is your favorite topping on pizza?
Hmmm...I really like a margarita pizza.

Do you like to sleep in? 
Uh yeah!  Doesn't happen very often.

Do you like to read? Have you read any good photography books?
I love to read.  I think the best photography book I've read is "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson.  It's just a great handbook for beginners.

What is your favorite magazine?
Do I really have to name just one?  I'm kind of a magazine-aholic.  My favorite is probably Country Living.

Where do you get inspiration for pictures?
Well blogland of course.  Have you ever seen so many amazingly talented women?  Your blog is one of the greatest for inspiration.  I  absolutely love your photographer interviews!

Tell us about your girls. What is your favorite thing about each of their ages right now?
Well my youngest is just full of spirit.  She's moody like me in the mornings.  It takes her a bit to warm up and get happy, but once she does she's just a joy.  I love her sprinkle of freckles and her ability to make me smile.  She's a hugger.  She compliments me all the time.  She snuggles in with ten stuffed animals at night.  They each have assigned places.  She's wonderful!

My oldest is happy almost all the time.  I don't think there is a moody bone in her body.  Thank God!  She's brave, creative, musical, self confident and just plain awesome.  Sometimes I look at her and wonder where her assurance comes from.  I was never like that as a little girl.  Still struggle with that as an adult.  

She's changing physically...becoming a grown up version of herself.  She's almost as tall as me.  It completely freaks me out.  My favorite thing about her right now is that she looks so much like me.  Watching her is like reliving those years all over again. 

You love a nice porch, tell us what you would put on your perfect porch. 
I do love a nice porch.  My dream porch would be really wide and wrap around.  It would have a porch swing on one end and some rocking chairs on the other.  I'd have some flower baskets, a ceiling fan and maybe a blue ceiling.  I love old fashioned anything, so some sun tea on the ledge would be nice too:)

Do you have a song that you have been playing lately we can all enjoy?
I love Kari Jobe's Revelation Song.  It gives me goosebumps and makes me cry every time I listen to it.

Do you have a lot of pictures hanging on your walls? 
I don't really have that many pictures hanging up.  I have a lot of paintings though.  I would love to do a fancy photo wall with just pics of our time in Hawaii.  I think that would be so cool.

Describe a typical summer day with the girls.
Well this Summer is a little different with the move.  I've been really busy getting orders filled and packing, so that hasn't left much time for fun.  The girls have been in some camps so that's helped keep them busy. 

What is your favorite way to relax in the summer?
Usually we spend a lot of time at our neighborhood pool.  We've only been once this year though.  Everyday so far has been too cool and rainy.

Do you tan easily?

I don't tan at all...I freckle.  When we go on vacation I slather on sunscreen and usually come home paler than before we left.  I'm a fan of the spray tan.  I try and get one before any special event.  It makes me feel pretty.  I dream of owning my own tanning air brush machine.  Then I could get one once a week:)
Do you have a favorite quote to share?
My favorite passage of the Bible is Psalms 139.  I love knowing that God knit me together in my mother's womb and that He knows every little detail about me.  So humbling.  I also love Jeremiah 29:11.  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."