What can I say about Carla Ten Eyck? Ummm ... BEST. HUGS. EVER. PERIOD. I've only hung out with this bad ass chic a hand full of times but that is what I remember most about her ... and her booming, contagious laugh! Carla has a hug for everyone that comes into her path and for a person like me who likes her little personal bubble, I actually LOVE her hugs and look forward to them! Her welcoming personality and open door policy for her home (Carla has some killer parties ya'll!) will make anyone feel at home and a part of her colorful life. I will admit, stalking Carla's Instagram and Facebook pages are one of my guilty pleasures and pastimes and I am so excited to start listening to her podcasts. I look forward to learn more about this amazing woman and collaborating with her in the future!
Oh and one more thing ... TODAY IS HER BIRTHDAY! So read up on her blog interview, get to know her and stop by her Insta and Facebook pages to wish her an amazing day! xo ~ Maggie
It's that time, y'all! Let me introduce our April feature for the Who Run The World series - the extremely talented, self-aware and colorful (both in hair and personality) Carla Ten Eyck! It isn't often you meet someone for the first time who not only makes you feel immediately comfortable, but is also absolutely candid and sincere in all they say and do. Carla is someone who embodies both of these traits and it was a pleasure to be able to speak with her about her photography and mentoring businesses, her new book (coming out soon!) and her newest endeavor!
DANI :: How did you first find your love of photography?
CTE :: My father was an artist and photographer, so I grew up around it from day one. I used to go to the dark room with my dad all the time and he gave me my first camera. So, photography has always been a passion and love of mine.
DANI :: I noticed you worked in several news publications during high school and college. What made you transition from news media to wedding photography?
CTE :: I started working at a newspaper in my sophomore year of high school and worked at several others throughout college. After graduating from RIT I realized it wasn't for me. I didn't like not being wanted, and you get that a lot when working in the media; I wanted to work with people who wanted me to take their picture. Then my friends started getting married and I would bring my camera with me and take pictures. They told me they loved my pictures more than their professional photographers and people just started hiring me to do their wedding! Word of mouth spread and my business just took off!
DANI :: You own your own photography business, Carla Ten Eyck Photography. How was the experience of opening and running your own business?
CTE :: Honestly, I started figuring out my business from my kitchen table, literally with my daughter in a baby carrier on my back, and my son watching PBS kids while I navigated editing, marketing and all that goes into running a business. I found that my business grew exponentially in a very short time. You do a good job at one wedding, and through word of mouth and recommendations, it just snowballs from there. The business actually grew so big, so quickly, that it became a little overwhelming. At one time, I had 10 part time employees and 4 associate photographers working for me (I now have 2 part time employees and 4 associate photographers). Don't get me wrong, I am grateful that my business took off like it did, but finding a happy medium between myself and my work was definitely a significant part of the process of owning my own business. It's all trial and error; you grow too quickly and you learn from it or you don't...it can make or break a business by not being able to take a step back and figure out what is working for you and what isn't.
DANI :: You also teach workshops and mentor other photographers, correct?
CTE :: I do! Since 2008, I have taught workshops every month, called Ten Eyck Tuesdays. These would be on a variety of topics including photography basics, posing, lighting and business basics. However in the last two years I scaled back on the workshops in order to focus more on mentoring. I find I enjoy mentoring because it is more personal and I can focus one-on-one with individuals. I mentor about 3-4 times a month either through Skype, in the studio, and I even sometimes travel to the mentee to do on-location mentoring.
DANI :: What do you get the most out of being a mentor?
CTE :: I love when I see that light bulb go on; when people finally get it. If I can help a photographer who might be struggling in one aspect or another of their business to make order out of their chaos, that is extremely rewarding for me.
DANI :: You co-authored The White Dress: In Color, and its second installment, coming soon, The White Dress: Destinations with Candice Coppola and Beth Chapman. How did you come to work with these ladies?
CTE :: I met Candice and Beth at a workshop that I was holding for my associate photographers one June in New Haven and I used Candice as a model and had Beth as the stylist. We all worked really well together and got along great. In September, I hosted a workshop and Beth was the stylist and Candice handled coordination. The workshop was a huge success and some of the images made the cover of the first issue of Bliss Celebrations Magazine. The morning of another shoot at the Palace Theater, Beth came up to me and said we just had to do a book together. From there, the idea for The White Dress in Color took flight.
DANI :: What's going on with the second installment of the book?
CTE :: The second installment, The White Dress: Destinations, has actually just been submitted to the publisher. That's honestly the most stressful part of this whole process. We wanted this book to not only be about destination weddings, but how to bring the destination to the local wedding through styling, props and design. We also wanted to pick designs and looks to bring more diversity. We each had our own ideas for both books, and that's where working with two people you respect and trust really comes through. One thing I love about working with Beth and Candice is that it's all very equal. We each give ideas and will build around that to decide how it works, what holes need to be filled, etc.
DANI :: You've been fortunate in being able to travel quite a bit for your work. What has been your favorite destination so far?
CTE :: Oh man that's a tough question. I would have to say Paris. Not only is it a unique, absolutely beautiful city, but it was one of the most challenging and rewarding shoots I've participated in. We did a shoot for The White Dress: Destinations throughout the city and we really didn't have many resources. We were on our own, didn't speak a lick of French, and didn't have much set up prepared in the way of a styled shoot. It really allowed me to be inspired by the city - the textures of the street, the architecture, the culture. For some of our shoots we would have a theme, but not much detail. For example one of our themes was "pink" and we were like "Okay, how do we fill this theme using what we have around us?" So we ended up searching around and found a pink cafe with green shutters called la Maison Rose, pink macaroons, a gelato shop with pink gelato, and even a street performer who cut silhouettes. We had to get really creative but we found there was plenty right around us to work with. Before going, I also Googled a bunch of neighborhoods, restaurants and cafes I thought I might want to shoot at, however once we got there we found that they might look different than we thought or we weren't allowed to shoot there or other various road blocks. For example, we really wanted to do a shoot in front of the Eiffel Tower. What we didn't know was that you need to have a permit to take photos with a wedding dress on, and we got kicked out. I was so pissed, but Beth and Candice had the idea to go to the back of the Eiffel Tower and shoot on the stairs. And I was like "We came here to do a shoot so we could see the Eiffel Tower in the shot and all we get to see is the back side stairs?!" But it ended up being fantastic and I got some of my favorite pictures there. It really forced us to get creative.
DANI :: How do you find balance between your business and being a mama?
CTE :: Well first, let me say I think the idea of balance is a misconception. What comes to mind when I hear the word balance is a seesaw or one of those vintage brass weight scales, where to balance it needs to be an even split. To me, when I let go of this idea, finding "balance" became easier. For me, I've gotten more aggressive about protecting boundaries. For example, now I make sure to take a break from work to talk with my kids after school and hear about their day. When it's time for dinner, that's when I call it quits on work for the day, whereas I may have used to work until all hours of the night. I also have a rule about no electronics at the table. When my kids and I are having a conversation or are eating a meal together, there's an absolute no-phone rule. I want myself and those I'm around to be mindful and conscious. That makes the time we spend together quality time. So even if we get only an hour together, we're all fully present and spending real, quality time together. As a business owner, sure I may lose business by not being responsive 24 hours a day, but I'd prefer that over never being fully present.
DANI :: I watched a Youtube video of yours in which you were doing a speech at an Engage Conference. What really stuck out to me was when you spoke about how close you and the photography community is to one another. How do you set yourself and your business apart while remaining close to what could be considered your "direct competitors"?
CTE :: I am very good friends with many of the photographers in the area. Our kids all have grown up together, we vacation together and it's just a bonus that we can talk shop. When it comes down to it, any difference between my "competitors" and myself is me, plain and simple. I'm the only one with my personality, my style. It isn't the programs we use, the cameras, the equipment; it's not how we edit. You get what you put in and you can't change your personality, so it really just comes down to finding clients who's style and expectations fit yours. You can't get into the competition side of business where you try undercutting or getting into bidding wars. In the long run that won't work and there's enough business for everyone. I just think, I really only need 25 weddings a year to be able to pay my bills and make a living. When you think about how many weddings there are in Connecticut alone, it puts everything into perspective and I feel less competitive and insecure about it. I'll ask a client who else they're looking at for a photographer and they'll list off some names and I can say "Oh, they're a really good friend of mine" and I can truly mean it. It's a good feeling.
DANI :: So, what's next for Carla Ten Eyck?
CTE :: I recently started something that is way out of my comfort zone. I've started my own podcast called "Eyes Up, Heart Open" because I found myself reflecting one day, thinking, "why am I here?" I find that I can really connect to people and make them feel comfortable sharing with me. Everyone has gone through things, and I wanted an outlet that could be a connector for people. Allowing people to feel closer to one another is the ultimate goal. I find that connecting through photos has its limits. So, I started a podcast where I give people space to share their stories. I knew nothing about how to go about doing a podcast when I first started. I've already interviewed around 20 people and I released my first one last week. The support has been amazing and I'm really excited about this new journey. You can listen to them on iTunes or Soundcloud or on my site, eyesupheartopen.com.
all photos © Carla Ten Eyck Photography
How fantastic is Carla?! If you're interested in seeing more of her work, feel free to visit both Carla Ten Eyck and C10 Studios! Oh yeah, and today is her BIRTHDAY! Make sure to wish her a very happy one :)