Photographer Profile: Emilie Anne Szabo - Minneapolis
Hi Emilie! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am Emilie Anne Szabo, I am married to my best friend Curt and together we have a 6 month old daughter named Eloise Frances. Minneapolis is where we call home, however we just got back from Europe and totally have wanderlust. We have an incredible community through our church here in Minneapolis that keeps us here. If we did move anywhere though it would be England! I am totally smitten with the rolling hills and afternoon tea!
When did you begin taking pictures?
I began taking photos in middle school and high school whenever my family traveled. I loved capturing different cultures! It slowly emerged from something I did whenever we traveled, to taking friend's senior photos and then weddings. I shot weddings throughout college and then started my business about 3 years after college focusing on weddings and portraits.
How did you know that photography and styling was a career path that you wanted to take?
It had been a long time dream to have my own business doing photography, however in college I didn’t think it was attainable or realistic. I was an Art major for a little while in college but then switched to and graduated with Sociology. After college I spent a few years working for a college ministry mentoring college students. That was a very sweet season of my life. When I got married, about 3 years after I graduated, it seemed like the right time to transition jobs for me. My husband knew my passion for photography and encouraged me to start my own business. My sister, also one of my best friends, is also an incredible photographer and at that point in life was thinking about pursuing photography. It seemed perfect, so we started a business together! We worked together for about two years and then developed our own separate businesses. We still get to work with each other every once in a while which is so so fun, and we are still best friends which is even more fun!
How has your work evolved over the years?
My sister Lydia and I started our business focusing on weddings and portraits. Within the first year, a local clothing designer Hackwith Design reached out to us and asked if we would shoot her clothing. We loved the experience! Getting to work with a small business owner, learning about her particular brand and having more creative freedom to shoot was all so fun! Through Lisa Hackwith we made some more connections and slowly starting shooting more lifestyle photography for small businesses and brands. Today, I still shoot a handful of weddings every year, but my primary focus and work is lifestyle photography. I also do styling on a small scale for many of the products that I shoot. It is an amazing job and I feel so privileged to be able to do what I love.
Photography is a technical skill, but could you share any tips for those who want to get into photography?
If you want to get into photography I would say start exploring! Figure out what you like to take photos of (there are so many different types of photography) and then practice! Someone told me when I was starting my business, if you don’t have business lined up, shoot something or someone that would be along the lines of your ideal shoot, and then keep doing that until you have some content to match your photography identity. Also, explore lighting! First learn the rules, and then learn how to break the rules. Lighting is everything when it comes to photography. It sets the tone in so many ways and can be so powerful in what it adds to an image.
You just returned from hosting a photography workshop in France. Could you tell us a little bit more about the workshop and the process of planning an event internationally?
I just got back last week from hosting a lifestyle photography workshop in France with Gillian Stevens. It was such a dream! Gillian and I talked a year ago about doing a workshop together. We became friends a few years ago when my husband and I visited Vancouver. Gillian and I had been following each others work for a little while and decided we should try to meet up while we were in Vancouver. Her and her husband Mark welcomed us into their home for dinner and we hit it off right away. We met up a year later in London and have been friends ever since. We had both been really inspired and helped by our experiences at workshops as well as just being around other artists. We thought it would be a sweet opportunity to host a workshop and give attendees opportunities to hear from us as well as explore styling and shooting themselves. It was so wonderful it’s hard to put into words. The attendees were simply wonderful and we had some amazing partners that helped us with product to practice styling and shooting. We picked cherries from a cherry tree, foraged in meadows filled with wildflowers and picnicked together in the shade of a small orchard. These were just a few sceneries we were able to shoot in.
It wasn’t too tricky planning internationally. We had both been to France a few times previously and had incredible hosts at D’une Ile who made planning easy. D’une Ile is the little historic hotel that we had the workshop at. Our meals and drinks were marvelously prepared and served to us by the owners of D’une Ile, Michel and Sophie. They were so wonderful to work with and helped us figure out many details for the workshop. It was such a good experience that we are hoping to continue doing workshops together. You can follow along on Instagram at @lifestyleworkshops if you’re interested.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
I have always had a creative energy in me that wants to be expressed. I love creating. It’s really fun to create beautiful images for myself, or for the sake of art. But I really love trying to understand a brand and what they want to communicate and then creating images that will help them communicate their message. Images are so powerful, they can expose truths or tell you lies. They can reveal beauty or show you darkness. I love working alongside people to help them tell a story through pictures.
What is one of the biggest discoveries you’ve made about yourself?
I am such a free spirit and I love creating. I think for a long time I thought I thrived primarily when I had a blank slate in front of me, the more freedom the better. However as I’ve had my business I’ve realized I actually thrive when given some boundaries and vision. I do love creating, however if I know who I’m creating for, it helps me. Knowing the vision and the desired outcome refines and fortifies my work.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face as being an artist?
Saying no. I hate saying no. I want to help everyone, I want to work with everyone. However something I’ve learned is that for me to be good at what I do, I need to say no. I have a tendency of spreading myself too thin. I want to do it all!! I’ve found that for me to maintain a strong brand, I need to be consistent and be intentional about who I work with and what I create. Not that I can’t ever go outside of the lines or be challenged, but it’s a good thing for me to maintain a consistent clientele and feel for my brand. I’ve worked with a few people shooting product that just wasn’t me. Although I felt challenged in those jobs, I realized I couldn’t produce something that I felt excited about, and it was probably better for them to find an artist that could not only meet their needs but feel excited about the work as well.
How do you manage a work/life balance?
I have had to think about this especially in the last 6 months with having a baby! I have a sweet 6 month old daughter who has been a huge joy to me. I took a few months off after she was born and then stared working again slowly. It’s been really amazing being able to set my own schedule around her and my families needs. Even though I absolutely love my job, my family comes first. My husband and my daughter are my priorities. I have a few days of childcare each week, and my husband helps out a lot on nights and weekends when I have consultations or shoots. So far it’s worked out nicely. I think we will just take it a year at a time and see how it goes. Right now, I love being able to be home with my daughter a few days a week, and also love getting away to let my creative juices flow. In ways I feel like working makes me a better mom, and being a mom makes me a better worker.
Do you have any self-care rituals?
I’m not a super disciplined person, so I don’t have daily self-care rituals, but I know myself pretty well and know what I need to stay healthy! I’m a Christian, an extravert, and I like staying active! Each week I try to spend time learning and growing my relationship with God, my faith is a huge part of my life and it is what gives me drive to live and work and love people. I am a huge extravert, I love love love people! I love meeting new people and hanging with good friends, like always. I used to really want to live in a commune and actually had plans with a friend of buying a huge apartment building/church and converting it into collaborative living space. Needless to say, I married an introvert and that dream has yet to happen. We host lots of dinner parties and I make time to see my people! I also love being active and being outside. In the summers we are walking or biking almost every night, and in the winters my husband and I play a ton of broomball. These things keep me going (as well as an occasionally bath with wine!).
What are some of your short term goals?
To blog more! Blogging is like working out to me, I don’t love the process but I love how I feel afterwards. I love reading tons of blogs, but for some reason the process of writing and posting just takes a lot of work for me.
Would you like to share any of your long term goals and creative aspirations?
At this point, I don’t have a ton of crazy long term goals. I love where I’m at, and I also want to continue to learn and grow and become better at what I do!
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
I was reflecting the other day that most of the makers and businesses that I work with are owned by women. I think this is incredible! It is a privilege to support and work with so many talented women. As a woman entrepreneur myself, it is amazing when people affirm what I am doing. I feel empowered and excited to continue moving forward, I want to do the same for other women entrepreneurs.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
I am inspired to see women who have mastered the rules in art, and then break them. As an artist, it can be easy to feel stuck in doing things the way that you’ve always done them. I find I need to expose myself to different types of art and artists to be challenged and inspired. Working alongside other artists is also so inspiring! My sister Lydia Toll, Hanna Voxland, Gillian Stevens, Ann Nelson, Quince, Mur Lifestyle, First Rite Clothing are all inspiring creatives to me.
What do you wish more people knew about you?
That I would love for you (most anyone) to come to my home and eat dinner with my family!
What are some of your favorite places in Minneapolis?
We live in Minneapolis close to an area called the North Loop. It used to be a rundown warehouse district and has recently been developed into an amazing little neighborhood. There are some amazing coffee shops and restaurants such as Spyhouse Coffee, Bachelor Farmer, Spoon and Stable, Moose and Sadie's, as well as one of my favorite little stores called the Foundary Home Goods. I also love that Minneapolis is super green, we have tons of lakes and rivers and parks that make beautiful scenery for walks and picnics (my personal fav).