Mother’s Day is around the corner. It will (hopefully) be a day filled with love, gratitude and whatever makes moms smile. We know one thing that makes moms smile is a memory of a special time with her children whether that be pregnancy, the weeks after baby was born or a monumental time in her child’s life like his first day or school or her first ballet recital. A picture truly is worth a thousand words, especially when it’s a photo of that special moment.
We love how many moms are recording their pregnancy and motherhood with “belly shots” or newborn portraits. We think that a portrait session is a great mother’s day gift and we had the opportunity to catch up with a mom who not only captured her own motherhood journey in photos, she helps other moms do the same. Grab a cup of coffee & join us as we walk into the world of memories with Elise from Wehmeier Portraits.
Moms who help other moms – whether that be through great products or helpful services – have a special place in our Kolcraft heart. We love that you are a mom who helps other moms capture special moments through portraits. Why portraits & why a family business?
Photography has been at the core of my relationship with my husband Rob, Wehmeier Portraits’ photographer. At the time we met he was a Commercial Photographer, creating images for businesses with no intention of photographing babies, families or weddings and yet he created beautiful images of people being themselves. In 1998 we were expecting our first child and he suggested photographing my pregnant body. With much reluctance I gave in and he photographed a very pregnant Elise. Honestly, I just wanted to get it done so he would stop asking. Looking back I am so glad he persisted – I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the images he created during that first maternity session because it marked the start of our family’s photographic history, a history that truly tells the story of how our family has grown to include 3 wonderful children, now ages 12, 8 and 6 ½. Following the birth of our oldest we made the decision I would not return to my office manager position with another firm, but would work with Rob to grow his commercial photography business. After a few years and hundreds of rolls of film of our daughter, Rob and I tiptoed and then jumped with both feet to create what is now Wehmeier Portraits. I enjoy working and creating alongside by best friend and yes, we do have days that are more challenging than others. We have begun to include our 12 year old daughter with different studio tasks and she is our ‘go to’ gal when doing on-site printing.
We love how you seem to capture not only mom moments, but mom feelings. Your photos just ooze meaning. Where do you find your inspiration to capture just the right moment?
Wehmeier Portraits is a boutique studio which means we appeal to the sensitivities of clients, most often women, who appreciate quality products, ambiance, packaging, customer service and the overall experience found in high end specialty shops and clothing boutiques. With that said, we work to get to know our clients before they arrive for their session. We always ask if they were referred to our studio and by whom so I know into which images they have seen. I ask questions that provide insight into who a child is (shy, outgoing, sensitive), what motivated mom to call (new baby, special milestone or just because), what does the family like to do together, etc. But our secret weapon is Mr. Rob. He LOVES photographing children and is amazing at capturing their personality and honestly this comes from the heart by simply observing and interacting with a child or family.
What have you learned through your creative process about being a mom?
As a working mom I struggle with balance between home life and work life. I find that both of my worlds excel when things are right at home. I want my children to be happy, confident and successful at whatever they do, just as my mom wanted this for me. I have to let each of them be who they are and not force them to be something they are not. This sounds so simple, but can be so very hard at times, particularly as we move into the pre-teen years.
Today’s market is saturated with flip cameras, DIY sites for photography, easy up-load sites like shutterfly, etc. What would you say is the biggest benefit to going to a studio for portraits versus a DIY session?
Hands down, professional expertise. Spending the money to have your baby or family professionally photographed is sometimes considered a luxury. After all, digital technology allows us to buy great point-and-click cameras – perfect for those spontaneous shots we snap of family and friends. Consider this example I recently came across: A pair of scissors at your local drugstore is just a few dollars. You can choose to cut and style your hair yourself. However, almost everyone will agree that your hair will look much better if you hire a professional stylist. There is so much more to creating photographic art than pushing a camera button and sending a photo off to be printed. Professional quality takes time and expertise. The end result is a cherished portrait that a family will value for many decades, and who can put a price on family heritage?
For the past few years we have participated in a portrait exchange with friend and fellow professional photographer, Brian Warling. We get our two families together with Rob photographing Brian with his family and then Brian photographing Rob and I with our children. This allows us to be photographed as the Wehmeier family and to be fully engaged with our kids. Rob is not distracted or wondering if the exposure is correct or is everyone smiling – that’s what the professional is doing.
What is one of the biggest challenges to running a family owned business?
The biggest challenge of running Wehmeier Portraits is making every day count. If we don’t work hard every day to reach out to a mom who has not heard about our studio or we give up on a session because the one year old would rather sit on mom’s lap than in the middle of the background, we don’t move forward. Every day we need to wake up and be ready to meet the challenges before us by being the best we can be in every session, especially knowing how much effort mom’s put in to preparing it.
Any advice for moms who want to start a business?
If you want to start a business, educate yourself on what it means to run a business and to be in business. Community colleges often offer classes on starting a business and this can help to understand processes and pitfalls of starting a business rather than ‘learning on the job.” Talk with other small business owners about their successes and challenges, you can learn a lot from other business owners. Read The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber.
Now for a quick glance into Elise’s life.
What is the one thing you look forward to everyday? Two things actually, seeing my kids wake up in the morning and going to work with my best friend.
What’s your guilty pleasure? Diet Coke and Culver’s frozen custard
If you had a “free day” with no commitments or obligations, what would you do with it? I would take a nap without setting an alarm to wake me up and then when awake I would pull out my scrapbooks and continue preserving memories.
What is your favorite activity with kids? There is nothing better than snuggling on the couch with a child under each arm.
If someone was going to write a book on your life, what would the title be? Making Memories One Day at a Time