Like so many business owners in Woodland, Emily Tidwell of Emily Tidwell Photography started with a passion and turned it into a gold mine. A nanny turned photographer, Emily paired two loves, children and photography, into a business and really has never looked back. Emily’s photos are dream-like and warm, which perfectly captures a moment. The use of our area’s farmlands and fields enhance these qualities because it is more than just the moment. It’s where you are in that moment that helps to bring back lovely memories.
In what I assume is a very competitive industry, Emily is nothing by humble and nice. The first time I met her she showed me how to use my camera to take better photos. Emily’s kindness opened the door for me to try new things and improve the blog’s photos. Emily’s sharing of her passion goes beyond hometown bloggers! She frequently partners with other businesses to encourage business opportunities and to be a part of something bigger in our community.
Here is my conversation with Emily.
Introduce yourself and your business.
I’m Emily Tidwell and I own Emily Tidwell Photography.
When did you first think about opening your own business?
I’ve always liked photography. I was one of those people who always had a camera with me while growing up. I would dump out my change drawer so I could get my film developed. I also have a passion for children. So, when I saw an ad looking for a newborn photographer at Sutter Davis I knew I had to go for it. I worked there for a couple years and then I decided to take photos of my friend’s kids. Really to see where it went.
I purchased a kit camera from Costco and from there it took off. Everyone has been really supportive; They would tell me I “had an eye” for photography and to go for it.
What pushed you to go on your own?
I had my kids and I wanted to be home with them. I just decided to really go for it. I started promoting myself, asking people to share with others what I was doing. I started at the bottom and worked my way up.
How long was the Sutter job? And what did you do before that job?
Six years ago. Before Sutter, I was a nanny. I’ve always loved kids and photography, so I’ve been able to put my two passions together.
Tell me how your business has progressed?
In the beginning, I was making just a little bit of money but I saved to upgrade my camera. I purchased a better camera body and lenses off of Craigslist. I really feel what helped me was everyone believing in me to just do it. I don’t give myself a lot of credit, I would say my confidence gets challenged quite a bit. I’m not the type of person to just tell you I’m the best at what I do. So, it was helpful that my friends and family boosted my confidence and supported me.
For a long time, it was word of mouth. Even today, I’ll get emails from people I don’t know.
What services to you provide?
I do everything! Babies, senior pictures, family portraits, first birthday cake smashes, first year (3, 6, and 9 months), and weddings. I stayed away from weddings for a while but I was the second shooter for another photographer and didn’t think I wanted to do them on my own. But I decided to go for it. My husband is my second shooter and we have a lot of fun together. Weddings can be nerve wracking because there are no reshoots!
In the last four years, what’s changed from a marketing perspective?
I partner with Sweet Potato Pie. It is a great partnership, we have mini-shoots for all the holidays including Halloween and Valentine’s Day. Through these shoots I receive a lot of referrals, which is really the best compliment. Other than Facebook and Instagram, I don’t market myself. So, the referrals are key.
Tell me the equipment you use?
I use Photoshop, Lightroom and my camera is a Nikon D600 and my lenses are 24-70mm, 35mm Art, and the 50mm. I try to get everything I need in the shot so there isn’t a lot of work to do in Lightroom or Photoshop. But there are definitely times where you want to make a photo more warm or cool.
What’s your photography style?
My style is warm, airy and dreamy. I don’t have a lot of contrast in my photos. They aren’t hard and sharpened. For instance, yesterday was gloomy and my client called to asked if we would still be able to get that warm feel and I was honest and said no. So, we rescheduled the shoot which is my preference. If you’re looking for the style that I offer, then it is important for the setting to contribute to the shoot.
Being consistent is important too. If a client looks at my work and has an expectation that their photos will look like my previous work, then it’s important that I provide that.
You’re a mom and business owner, how do you balance it all?
To be completely honest, it’s a challenge. It’s one of those things where you try to put your life in categories. Being a mom was something I always wanted to be. I’m also a wife and a business owner, plus I’m still a nanny one day a week. Plus all the things I do at home; I’m a house manager, maid, and a cook. I handle those things day by day and I’m getting to a point where I’m allowing myself to say no. I can’t take every client, sometimes our visions don’t mesh. So rather than stressing about trying to provide them with something that isn’t my style, I’m learning to say no.
To answer the question, I don’t have a balance. I’m still learning.
What’s a special or favorite memory about having your business?
I would say watching all the children grow up. I’ve built relationships with so many clients and I get to see their kids grow up. It makes me emotional thinking about it. I took pictures of them as newborns and now they are in middle school. I have new friends because of this work.
A very special time for me was capturing the last moments of my Uncle’s brother’s life. My family asked me to take photographs and that was very special and hard. People come up with a lot of reasons to not take pictures. I hear clients say, I’m too fat or I want to wait until the kids are older. I say, don’t wait! Tomorrow may not come, so get those memories now.
All photos courtesy of Emily Tidwell Photography