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Small Business No. 20: Ashley & Nora Whiteside

Whiteside Mother Daughter Duo | Ely Fair Photography©

From the moment that Ashley Whiteside contacted me about using a photo of mine for the promotion of their Art Pop Up Shop at West Elm (This Saturday, March 28th!), I have been enamored with this Small Business. Not only because of the fantastic work that these two are creating, but also because of the heartfelt dynamic of what she and her partner Nora do– because Nora has only been around for a couple of years. Literally. Nora is Ashley’s daughter, rounding on the age of three 3, as she reminded me a couple of times on our shoot.

I have to admit– this may have been one of my favorite SBS shoots ever. Maybe because of the fact that it involved concert breaks, twirling competitions, and the insistence on wearing Cinderella “boots” (heels). Okay, really probably because it involved those things. But it was so spirited to see a child in the context of a business. It is even hard to refer to it as a business because that description feels cold compared to the life and connection that these two have painting together, yet all the pieces hold true to beautiful and intentional works of art.

I got to witness the two finishing out a painting– they had worked on the large part of the piece earlier that week as the base, Ashley came in and refined some things, and then together they put on the final touches. And it was magical to see how the life and free spirit of a child added so much movement and energy to the art. I liked the piece before, but Nora made it even better. I should have taken some before and afters, but you will just have to go check them out the art this weekend at West Elm!

Whiteside Mother Daughter Duo | Ely Fair Photography© Whiteside Mother Daughter Duo | Ely Fair Photography© Whiteside Mother Daughter Duo | Ely Fair Photography© Whiteside Mother Daughter Duo | Ely Fair Photography©

Name: Nora & Ashley Whiteside

Business Name: ummm…the same?

Website: @trashleysue on Instagram

Favorite Dessert: Cashew Milk Snickerdoodle Ice Cream

Favorite Artist/Album: The Dan in Real Life soundtrack by Sondre Lerche. 

When did you start your business? January 2015, but with real momentum in February. Is it safe to say that we are still starting it?! If this business were a salad, it wouldn’t have spoiled yet.

Tell us a little about your business: My daughter Nora, 2.95 yrs, and I paint oversized abstract pieces in inspired color pallets.

Since you and Nora both work on the paintings, tell us a little about your process:
Step 1. I toy around with color pallets that inspire me, trying to blend muted tones with saturated, to avoid a juvenile look. This could come from a rug, an outfit, a sunset, or nowhere. 2. I mix our colors, and let her choose her brush. 3. We attack the canvas simultaneously, painting around each other. Sometimes there is a plan, sometimes there is not. 4. We stop when Nora announces that it is finished, and declares some brilliantly ludicrous nonsense that becomes the name, which she immediately forgets. 5. I pick out more colors and we do it again.

How do you think that working with your daughter has changed the way you create art?
While I have a background in many artistic pursuits, this medium is entirely new to me. Rather, achieving anything on a canvas I would actually share with someone is new to me, as painting one has never ever remotely resembled the grandiose messy masterpiece I envisioned. My movements are too calculated, and the results lifeless, at least in the eyes of this perfectionist. Nora, well, she’s a game-changer. Her approach is so free spirited and joyful, her brush moves so freely and without regret. She is the ying to my yang. As I learn, and open up to the process, I appreciate my work more, but NEVER would have branched out into this without the ambience she provides in each piece. Nothing is finished before she’s gotten her hands (and knees, and thighs?!) on it.

What would you say was your biggest challenge to overcome?
Hours in a day, but doesn’t everyone say that? I do work 40 hrs a week as the Lead Home Stylist at West Elm, and seek fulfilling family time when I am home. Some days just feel exhausting, or I’ve gotten intensely negative feedback on pieces that are my favorite. The solution HAS to be to just keep painting.

Where do you see it going as Nora gets older?
Frankly — I fear it won’t be long before her talents trump my own. Already she is improving so greatly, and I learn more with every brushstroke. We could keep this up for our whole lives, or we could stop next year, and we’d have been successful. The point isn’t the paint — it’s the connection.

 Who/what was your biggest encouragement and why?
Quite truly, Nora was the most encouraging, as I saw the magic in her eyes when we began painting. If it weren’t for that gentleman I married, however, I wouldn’t be encouraged to keep doing this lovely-but-exhausting gig on top of the full time job I also love.

What is your favorite part of your business?
Having a productive bond with my daughter despite the rocky ebb and flow of toddler-dom. And the incredible oddball things she names the pieces. While I celebrate her stream of consciousness, I can’t pretend that my own is as clever. 

Who/What inspired you to start it?
We are in the most humble of beginnings with incredibly generous opportunities. One dreamy attempt at creating a thoughtful gift for my sister led to an outcry for continued creating. My team at West Elm asked us to do our first show there, and we got serious. I’ve latched on to this concept with such ferocity because it’s so important to me to foster honest, intentional time with Nora. She loves this as much as I do. 

If you had advice to anyone who might be starting a business like yours?
Examine your roots, examine your motives, and be straight-up about the hard stuff. If you aren’t in love with what you do, you aren’t going to stick around when those miserably difficult moments arise.

Anything else about your small business that you’re passionate about?
Playing on the slide, Ella Fitzgerald, hummus, and wearing a cape. — Nora chimes in.

Whiteside Mother Daughter Duo | Ely Fair Photography©

Ashley & Nora’s work will also be on display on May 21 at T an Urban Teahouse for 6 weeks if you can’t make it to the show this weekend. Seriously, so check them out.

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Twins

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Ireland

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here’s an overdue post of our quick little trip to the land of Guinness and green.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland | Ely Fair Photography | dub Ireland | Ely Fair Photography | Guinness Factory, Ireland | Ely Fair Photography | Guinness Factory, Ireland | Ely Fair Photography | Guinness Factory, Ireland | Ely Fair Photography | Guinness Factory, Ireland | Ely Fair Photography | Cliffs of Moher, Ireland | Ely Fair Photography | Cliffs of Moher, Ireland | Ely Fair Photography |

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Weekend Favorite

Norman, Oklahoma Wedding | Ely Fair Photography

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Small Business Series No. 19: Louise Dean Designs

Ely Fair Small Business Series | Louise Dean Designs
Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of becoming friends with the lovely Louise of Louise Dean Designs. Charmed by her English accent and won over by her beautiful work, I couldn’t wait to share a little part of the heart of her business with you. If you follow my instagram, I’m sure you’ve already gotten to see some Louise Dean Design goodies because we did a shoot together last fall. But take some time now to hear from Louise herself!

Ely Fair Small Business Series | Louise Dean Designs Ely Fair Small Business Series | Louise Dean Designs

Name: Louise Dean

Business Name: Louise Dean Design LLC

Website: www.louisedeandesign.com

Favorite Dessert: Chocolate Cake

Favorite Artist/Album: The Beatles / Abbey Road

Tell us a little about what your business:
My business reflects my passion for making beautiful things and as it is still evolving I would say my main goal is to make lovely sustainable pieces, people can keep in there homes that will be loved and stand the test of time. I hand paint all of my designs to begin with, in my studio using inspiration from my travels around the country and world. To create my textile pieces, I scan my artwork and generate repeats in the computer. My digitally printed linens and cottons are produced in the US and select pieces are hand screen printed in my workspace. Everything is created in limited amounts, which means we can put a lot of thought and love into each individual piece.

When did you start your business?
I began planning my business in December of 2013 but didn’t launch until May 2014, it took while to get things in place to start up.

What inspired you to start it?
My Dad has ben a huge inspiration to me. He has run his own business my whole life and to see him not only succeed but go through every part, the whole rollercoaster, was a huge motivation and a great example of someone working very hard at something they love to do.

What would you say was your biggest challenge to overcome?
I would say my biggest challenge was and is my own self. I saw a quote the other day saying:

“a woman who needs no validation is the most fearsome thing”

I would love to become that woman sometimes and to stop over analyzing and needing justification.

Who/what was your biggest encouragement and why?
My husband, Rob. He encouraged me to start my own business and he gives me lots of great feedback so that is extremely encouraging. He is apparently my biggest fan haha but he believes in me and that is wonderful to have at the end of each day.

What is your favorite part of your business:
My favorite part…hmm… painting, starting out doing something new is so exciting Seeing my designs on product is always cool and I love seeing people get excited about placing my designs in their homes too. I guess there is a lot I love that’s why I do it!

If you had advice to anyone who might be starting a business like yours?
I would say don’t worry about what other people think and see where is takes you.

Always have a pen and paper handy (I keep one next to my bed as I have been known to wake up and scribble things down at 3am) Take time off at the weekends, it is important and stay organized!

Anything else about your small business that you’re passionate about?
Too much to write :-)

—————

Love, love, love the quote about “a woman who needs no validation is the most fearsome thing,” I do think with all the social media craziness these days I find myself comparing and finding worth in things like that. Such a good reminder of what we could do if we choose to focus that attention on our goals instead of our insecurities. Thanks for sharing Louise! xoxoely

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Why I Became a Photographer

Ely_Fair©-1 Why I became a photographer

January and February are typically our slow time. So Ryan and I use these months to do our taxes, sleep a little and take some time to reflect on the year and re-evaluate where we are, how we feel about what we have done the past 12 months and set some goals on what we could be doing better. It’s a good time to step back and focus again on what we want Ely Fair Photography to be.

I recently listened in on a webinar through Creme Brands, which encouraged artists to create their brand around the why, not the what. Answering the question of why I am choosing to shoot weddings and family portraits, and not focusing on what is inside my frame. Which in general I feel like I’m pretty good at having the perspective that I am “creating memories for people”.

So, awesome, how more general and stereotypical can I get on the why? Of course every single person who owns a camera wants to “make memories.” Thanks for that Kodak marketing.

Anyway, so I took a moment to really think why being a photographer was meaningful enough to me to step away from a steady 9-5 job that had benefits and more friendly tax incentives to pursue Ely Fair. And, because I’m not a word person, my mind settled on these photos.

You see, I didn’t grow up around my grandparents. It was a relationship that was saying hello over the phone on Easter and Christmas, cards with checks in the mail on my birthday and a visit every 3 or 4 years. I probably had more one-on-one in-person interactions with my pediatrician than I ever did with my grandparents. And I’m definitely not saying this to complain, there’s no hard feelings between anyone– it was just life living several states away. I love my grandparents– but it was hard to know them.

I think that innately as humans we crave to be known and to be known by others. And for me the way that I got to know my grandparents was sitting down with my Grandma Mecozzi and going through boxes of old, faded square photos with creamy white boarders. She had three boxes, one of them floral print, one blue and one pink. And she would sit down with me and tell me all about them. Every photo came with a story and a new jumping point to have a deeper understanding of my family. In addition to the time together, it allowed me to know my Grandparents in a way I never could with out a time machine– I got to know their past.

Ely_Fair©-2I got to see my grandma when she was pregnant. So adorable, although she wasn’t too keen on the photo. And see my Grandpa so handsome in his Air Force uniform. And hear the story about how he didn’t have a middle name until he enrolled in the AF and had to choose one. George is what he chose. And stories and images of my Grandmother’s favorite house she ever lived in. And what it was like to shop on the base grocery store. And the photo of my grandpa holding up my Aunt in front of the cows– so imperfect with the disheveled chair and a little underexposed– but that photo speaks to me in silent words that touch my heart.

So for me, photographs are about relationships. The way that they can start a story that allows you to have a deeper relationship with others today, and in the future– and that’s what I hope will happen with my work. I think it’s really hard these days with Pinterest and Instagram to feel like you have to create a world that is perfect, with clothes that are matching and the latest cute trend.  But when it comes down to it, my heart leans towards the moments of everyday because although they may be messy and a little disheveled, the everyday is real and worth knowing.Ely_Fair©-3 Why I became a photographer

(Isn’t my grandma the cutest in those glasses??)

So, you tell me. What speaks to your heart? I would love to hear.

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Brides of Oklahoma Shoot with Emerson Events

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See more photos on the Brides of Oklahoma Website!

Vendor Credit:
Event Planner: Emerson Events & Design
Cake: Amy Cakes
Hair: BLO.
Treats: Brown Egg Bakery
Invitations: Chirps & Cheers
Jewelry: Naifeh Fine Jewelry
Rentals: Mariannes Rentals for Special Events
Venue: Oak Tree Country Club
Make Up: LJ. Hill Makeup Artistry
Lighting: Innovative Event Solutions
Food: Cheever’s Catering & Events

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Weekend Favorites: Surprise Wedding!!

Surprise Wedding | Ely Fair Photography | Oklahoma | Gibson Events Surprise Wedding | Ely Fair Photography | Oklahoma | Gibson Events Surprise Wedding | Ely Fair Photography | Oklahoma | Gibson Events Surprise Wedding | Ely Fair Photography | Oklahoma | Gibson Events Surprise Wedding | Ely Fair Photography | Oklahoma | Gibson Events

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Year in Review: Weddings 2014

Year after year we feel honored and blessed to have been a part of our brides and grooms wedding days. We want to take a moment to thank you for inviting us to document your day, we cherish these moments as much as you do.

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Ely Fair Photography | National Wedding PhotographersEly Fair Photography | National Wedding Photographers

And after showing you our best pictures of 2014, we will show you our WORST. Our end-of-the-night-after-a-sweaty-day-of-work Selfies. This year we decided that we wanted to document ourselves at all of your weddings. We only managed to remember to do it for 8 of our weddings, we will do better next year. New Years resolution pinky promise.

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