Tuesday, March 1, 2016

How to Start an Uplifting Girl Tribe

I've always loved writing and I like to think I've excelled in this realm. Although, it is a solitary trade and at times I find myself spending too much time in front of my computer screen instead of in front of the faces of other like-minded creatives - creatives that could make great friends!

While writing is my craft I have to acknowledge that there are so many other art forms in the universe which I have not developed a skill for. Perhaps one of the most important of these is the ability to capture real live moments and trap them forever, frozen in time. Yes, I'm talking about photography. Sure, I can take a mean iPhone snapshot of my morning donut, but true photography is not my strong suit.

Meet Danielle

I think about my blog and all the ways professional photos have enhanced it. Without them, it's almost as if my blog is standing on one foot - slightly off-balance and not completely whole. I have one individual in particular to thank in this post - the first photographer I partnered with. Or, as I like to call her, my serendipity photographer and first uplifting girl tribe member, Danielle.


Noun, Ser-en-dip-ity 

The faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for


Part of starting your own uplifting girl tribe begins with following after the serendipitous hand chance deals us.

Danielle was several miles west of her California home in the Escondido hills. She was in the La Costa Anthropolige to be exact, shopping with her mother. If you don't know what Anthropologie
is, it's basically whimsical home goods and clothing on crack. They are the same company that owns Free People and Urban Outfitters. This company is pretty much winning at life.

As Danielle perused the retail treasures before her, she spotted a doe-eyed, brunette sales employee across the store. This fair-skinned girl was my younger sister, MadisonDanielle was deep in the throes of expanding her photography portfolio and in that chance moment considered Madison as a great subject to photograph. Danielle's mom (who makes the best crispy cheesy eggs, more on that later) was actually the one to ask Madison if she would be interested in modeling for some of Danielle's photos. Go mom!

One of Danielle's amazing captures

A few weeks later I found myself in Escondido, CA assisting my sister in outfit changes in a park bathroom while Hispanic children darted in and out from under the stalls. The fading afternoon light was glorious and golden. Danielle brought her boyfriend Ricky (now fiance!) along to assist with the shoot. The two worked well together and I noted how kind and encouraging Danielle was to my sister as she guided Madison in various poses. The shoot ended and that was that, I didn't think much of it afterwards.

The second part to starting your own uplifting girl tribe is sensing a draw toward particular individuals and actively pursuing them. It's almost like a courtship - a friend courtship. 

Fast forward to nearly a year later. I've just started my blog and I'm hungry for rock star photo quality. These amazing photos of intricate leaf details and romantic nature shots keep popping up on my social media feeds and I realize they are Danielle's. Her photography is stunning and I immediately recall the shoot with my sister that transpired so many months before. 

I teetered back and forth about contacting Danielle. My mind retorted the notion of contacting her with statements like "Danielle's probably in too high of demand" or "Why would she want to work with a budding blogger?" Let's be honest, I was more like a seed at this point waiting for water to be poured on top of me. But, desire won out and I contacted Danielle via Facebook Messenger. To my delight she responded and with much enthusiasm! 

We met at EscoGelato one rainy evening to hash out the details of our mega shoot. This meant hauling all manner of garments to Danielle's for a day long photo shoot. I was stoked and seriously nervous.

During our first meetup, Danielle let me in on her creative career goals and I was immediately moved. Staring at the sparkly green-eyed beauty before me, I absorbed her future dreams as a photographer and really grew to know her passion for the craft.

"What I love about photography is capturing emotion in time. I love that I can show people how I see and create beautiful things," Danielle has since shared with me.

"It's hard to really explain it, but I just feel like it's always been a part of who I am."

When it comes to creative collaboration and girl tribe magic, Danielle supports the concept that two heads are better than one. I couldn't agree more.

"I love working with people who have similar visions to me. Then we can create INCREDIBLE things! It's just like brainstorming in the workplace, more minds mean more creative ideas and I love that," says Danielle.

Her words are juicy girl tribe collaboration inspiration for me. What's the fun in hoarding genius creativity when it can be brought to life and enhanced with the help of others?

The day of the shoot encompassed taking a long, windy drive through gorgeous hill county. I was immediately greeted by Danielle's two silvery standard poodles, Sophie and Stella, upon arrival. Then came her cats Oliver (he has freckles on his lips and likes to wander out of the house when the door is left open) and Cooper, a lovable tuxedo patterned cat. It immediately felt like a warm environment. 

We examined our props and materials together and made a game plan for the day as far as outfits and locations. At one point we took a break and Danielle's mom made Danielle, myself, and Mandy
- the adorable and gifted florist we partnered with for the day - delicious scrambled eggs with cheese sprinkled in. They were THE BEST eggs I've ever had and their crispy perfection will haunt me forever. 

Goofing around during our latest photo shoot
Danielle taking a turn in front of the lens -insert heart eyes emoji-

While Danielle truly has an eye for line, light, and concept I think it's her bedside manner with models that makes her so unique. She has a calm, easy-going vibe and makes excitable, encouraging remarks every so often when a picture snap bodes impending awesomeness. This in turn gets the model really excited and encourages them in the process. Because let's be honest, there are a select few of us who can pose for hours without the slight tinge of uncertainty in our abilities to be aesthetically pleasing. 

The key to maintaining your uplifting girl tribe is continually inspiring one another and lifting those in the tribe up. Think Rising Tide Society. A rising tide lifts all of the boats in the harbor.

What came out of the initial awkwardness of working with my first photographer was a new friendship. It was seriously the neatest thing. Scale some hills in platform heels or endure a winding hour-long car ride with someone and trust me, there is bonding to be had.

Danielle and I have collaborated on two photo shoots thus far. In the span of those hours we've seen a glorious mountaintop sunset, avoided weird downtown Escondido youths, enjoyed Kettle Coffee & Tea treats, wandered down unexplored trails, grabbed hands for leaping and climbing over all sorts of terrain to get the perfect shot, searched for an escaped house cat, arranged a dozen coffee mugs on a hand-painted cabinet, and shared genuine conversations about faith and life.

We've also been able to talk about things like social media strategy and Danielle's new Etsy shop (more to come on that). In addition we're planning a DISNEYLAND trip for the near future! It's been a true, serendipitous experience that I'm SO glad I followed through with. My girl tribe is small, but I can already see growth on the horizon.

The awesome team from our Mountain Mega-Shoot. 
Left to right: Me, Danielle, and friend/model Sarah (Chris, not featured, he's taking the photo)

Do you have an uplifting girl tribe? How did you form your group? I'd love to hear how you continually inspire others with like-minded goals.

Connect with Danielle:

d.a. studios

Danielle's Instagram

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