We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelsey Butcher and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelsey, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Early on in my career, I didn’t really have much of a work/life balance. I didn’t set up as many boundaries as I should have in the beginning, and it was definitely difficult to separate the two. As a compulsive compartmentalizer, I work to keep the different aspects of my life separate, allowed to mingle sometimes, but for the most part, everything has its own space within my brain and my life. My balance has definitely changed over time, mainly due to the fact that I’m a parent now. In the beginning of my motherhood journey, it was easier and more difficult in different ways. During the infant and toddler years, it was significantly more difficult since my daughter was more dependent upon me for her needs. 2 and 3 were the most difficult to be able to work unless she was in preschool, and time felt like it would just slip through my fingers each day. Now that I’m a little more seasoned (a little being the operative words) and she’s in grade school, it’s a bit easier to find time to myself to be productive. However, I would say that it’s still difficult, just in a different way, mainly when it comes to managing the logistical jigsaw puzzle of my personal and work time. I’ve found that in order to make my work and other commitments revolve around my non-negotiable, important time with my husband and daughter (and also time for myself), I have to ruthlessly prioritize if I want anything to get done. I have to set my own expectations, and often my family’s, before I commit to/schedule anything. Keeping my promises and commitments to my family is really important to me, and I now know that if I want to be present with them, I have to be meticulous in protecting it in a balanced way. While I don’t really feel like it’s possible to be balanced constantly, not being afraid to delegate or ask for help when we need it and just striving for a healthy one is all we can do. That’s half the battle, honestly! Balance consists of prioritizing unapologetically, compartmentalizing a bit to protect what’s important to you, and setting healthy boundaries in order to do so.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m an editorial portrait + intimate wedding photographer based in Atlanta, but I have loved being able to travel all over the world! (My favorite place in the world is Scotland, and I so look forward to being back there one day soon!) I’m known for my lush, romantic photos that are inspired by elements of luxury, art, and literature, as well as for my vibrant, warm, yet clean editing style in which I pay the most detailed attention to skin tone. I’m constantly looking for ways to make my couples laugh and maybe cry during our time together. More than anything, though, I love investing in each person I meet and documenting them in an authentic, journalistic way! I started my journey way back in 2011 during my Senior year of high school where we had to do an end of year project to graduate. I’ve always been a very right-brained person drawn to creative expression in all its forms, so I chose photography and purchased my very first DSLR. The rest was history; I was in love! I continued to practice it as a hobby and build my portfolio for the next two and a half years while I attended college and got married. During that time, I got my first little taste of wedding photography and it went horribly, to be completely honest, and I definitely learned things like needing a contract in place, managing client expectations, and more from that experience. Over the next few years, I dropped out of college and we grew our family! My photography grew to feel like more than a hobby, and I decided to go for it, to go part-time, which was pretty terrifying at first. By 2016, things had picked up substantially, and I knew it was time to go full-time. I started to network, to shoot nonstop, and to learn more about my craft and running a business. With that, though, I had to learn a lesson in work/life balance, even more in time management, in valuing myself as a creative, and how to say, “no” so I didn’t get burnt out! Everyday, I’m discovering more about myself and photography, about being a creative business owner and about what I want to make others feel with my photos! I’m still working and constantly growing, but at the core of who I am and my brand, I just want to love on others a whole lot. I love what I do, but it’s definitely not been easy, to say the least! It’s been such a plethora of scary and difficult things that’s peppered this road throughout the years. But it’s also been absolutely exhilarating, eye-opening, risky, frustrating, and more! From struggling to social media sharing to finding enough hours in the day to do anything, I’ve had to overcome a lot. In fact, I am still working on all of that, but the thing that has changed that’s led to more of a balance is my perspective and my expectations. At the end of the day, I have to remind myself to focus on creating and documenting rather than obsessing over numbers or comparing myself to anyone else. I tell myself daily that I have to dig through the noise to find my voice, to find what I love and want to do. And to give myself permission to have a life outside of what I do, just like with any other profession. My family deserves a present me, so I’ve chosen to set boundaries and to have honest conversations with myself about what matters most to me, especially during the time of CoVid-19.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh, Atlanta! Where to even begin? Atlanta is a unique city, a melting pot of cultures, creatives, and history! There’s something for everyone! From a wide variety of yummy restaurants and food places to try to some really cool places/sights to see! For breakfast, I’d recommend Flying Biscuit Cafe, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, West Egg Cafe, or Good Kitchen + Bar. For lunch or dinner, there’s The Varsity (an Atlanta staple), Ton Ton Ramen & Yakitori inside Ponce City Market (really most anything in PCM is great), SluttyVegan ATL, Mary Mac’s Tea Room, Douceur de France, BarTaco, Yoi Yoi, or The SunDial (top floor of the Westin). For dessert, Cafe Intermezzo, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, or Insomnia Cookies! For coffee lovers like me, my go-tos are Brother Moto (Motorcycles and coffee? Yes, please!), Chrome Yellow Trading Co., East Pole Coffee, Spiller Park Coffee (inside PCM), BRASH (inside WSP), Dancing Goats, Land of a Thousand Hills, or Chattahoochee Coffee Company! When it comes to fun places to visit while in town, there’s the Atlanta Botanical Gardens (they’re pretty extensive, so leave enough time to see it all), Jackson Street Bridge (a fun place to snap a pic in front of the Atlanta skyline), Ponce City Market, Krog Street Market, Westside Provisions District (PCM, KSM, and WPD all have a ton of shopping and food options), The World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium, SkyView Ferris Wheel, Piedmont Park and Inman Park, The High Museum of Art, Atlanta History Center, Fernbank Museum, Children’s Museum of Atlanta, Krog Street Tunnel, The Beltline (go for a nice walk), Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta, and a whole lot more! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
First off, I’d love to dedicate my shoutout to God for putting me on this earth and giving me such a rich, fun, and fulfilling life. He has called me deeper into service and love with each step I’ve made in both my career and my life. Secondly, I’d like to thank my parents for seeing my artistic brain and nurturing it with art, music, and literature from an early age! And lastly, but certainly not least, I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my husband. He has been there cheering me on since before photography was my career and has constantly supported everything I’ve built, often getting down in the messiness with me and helping me get there. (Love You, Ryan!) Thanks for being my constant in the tide of change that surrounds us.
All photos were taken by me, Kelsey Butcher Photo.