It’s about time you’ve met Christie of Christie Spencer Photography! Christie is no stranger to the blog. In fact, she’s been the lady behind the lens for almost all of the shoots on TLG and a personal friend for many years. We asked her a few questions about how she juggles family and her work, what inspires her, and of course, her advocacy of breakfast dessert. Here’s what she had to say:
Hi Christie! Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself and Christie Spencer Photography.
From a young age, I had a love of photographs and of being able to look back at a frozen moment in time. Now, I find myself with the honor of freezing these precious moments for families today. Based in Sacramento, and traveling where my families commission me, I collaborate with each family to create a custom photo experience that is the perfect way to document and really tell the story of who they are. I strive to make the session a fun and wonderful memory in itself so that in 20 years they’ll look back at the happy and smiling faces in their photos and think, “That was a good day.”
My partner and I have four kids in our modern-Brady Bunch family called the #partyofsix. If I’m not behind the camera, I’m probably behind the wheel of our giant minivan we call the Magic Bus, dropping off or picking up a kid from school or soccer practice. Our life is crazy, in the best way, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
When did you turn your passion into profit?
I have been capturing life with my camera since grade school. I remember my first little instamatic camera with the flash cubes that went on top (anyone remember those?) Then I graduated to my Kodak Disc camera. And later on in college my nickname was SnappyQ, after the camera I was always toting around. I finally moved to a DSLR film camera in the late 90s after my first child was born, and that’s when I became really interested in photography. I wanted to freeze every moment. I spent a lot of time with friends and their kids, and naturally started capturing those kids, too. Then those friends wanted to pay me for my time, film and developing and things progressed from there.
I love being able to freeze a moment in time. I know when I look back on my own photos of my own family I am constantly surprised by the things I don’t remember anymore like the way my son’s hair used fall, or that scrunchy face my daughter used to make. I want to be able to capture those kinds of details for everyone. I especially love capturing those details and moments between families. Those little in between moments in a photo shoot usually divine the images I love the best – the ones that are the most real and genuine expressions of love, when families are just being themselves together and I’m just lucky to be there to capture it.
What’s in your bag of tricks? What camera do you use and and do you have a favorite lens?
My bag of tricks is pretty small! I use natural light and don’t use reflectors, as I’d rather be free to roam about wherever the kids take me. Plus, the more equipment I use the more people feel like this is a serious shoot and they should act accordingly. No thanks!
My trusty Nikon D700 is my workhorse (don’t tell her, but I’m hoping to retire her to backup camera in the coming year). There are a lot of lenses that I love, like the 85mm 1.4, but my 24-70mm 2.8 gets the most use. I really appreciate the versatility of being able to capture the whole family and then zoom in on a smaller detail without changing lenses.
Everything and everyone you capture is fantastic. When did you decide to focus on families and children and what do you find most rewarding about that decision?
Thank you! I have always loved children and had planned on being an elementary school teacher in college. The sense of wonder and adventure that children have is so refreshing to be around. They have no inhibitions about being in front of a camera. Photographing children came first, and adding in the people that love them came naturally after that.
I love being able to show families a little snapshot of their love. Many families are so in the trenches of it that they forget how magical their little family unit is. They just know they are loud, and chaotic and there are meltdowns but they don’t see the special love and the little looks and the family jokes that I see from the outside looking in. So I love to be able to capture that and bottle it up and be able to give it to families to look back on forever.
Have you faced challenges in your personal and professional life? What advice would you give to new creatives thinking of juggling a 9-5 and a side hustle?
When I’m working my regular job, my brain swirls with thoughts and ideas for my photography business. When I’m home from my day job and done with carpooling and homework helping and finally get time to circle back to my earlier thoughts, I’m tired and lack focus. I was recently listening to a podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert where she asks, “What are you willing to give in order to have what you really want?” That’s the question I remind myself of when I would rather go to bed than push toward my dreams.
We have to go forward to our dreams. As we tell our kids when they’re struggling with school projects or things in their lives and they complain that it’s too hard, it’s hard – but it’s not *too* hard.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
I’d say compassionate, organized and creative. (Editor note: We agree!)
What inspires you?
Kids and nature. Kids are full of wonder. They don’t have weird hangups about their bodies. They skip when they feel like it. They cry when they feel like it. They sing, they paint, they make up skits, they daydream. When I grow up, I want to be a kid.
Being in nature inspires me. Everything is right in nature. Every detail, every color combination…it’s breathtaking. Everything makes more sense after spending some time outside. Thanks, Mom, for kicking me out of the house and telling me not to come home until the streetlights came on. I had lots of time to learn how to appreciate nature as a kid!
You are a self-proclaimed breakfast dessert advocate. So, what’s your favorite dessert?
I am a firm believer in dessert after breakfast. Who says dessert has to come after dinner, anyway? Besides, I figure if you have dessert after breakfast, you have all day to burn it off. My mom used to have this notepad that said, “Life is uncertain – eat dessert first!” so this is a trait that has been handed down.
My favorite desserts usually contain chocolate or ice cream (or both) I love to bake, and cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies are two of my specialties. Oh, and while we’re on the subject… don’t serve fruit and call it dessert. Fruit is awesome – but it’s fruit.
Tell us about #LoveIsAllAround.
I see hearts everywhere. At the beach, in the pavement, in my soup. What started out as an occasional appearance and a wonderful surprise has become a delightfully regular occurrence. Once you begin to notice the love all around, more reveals itself. People ask me all the time whether these images are photoshopped – not a bit! The universe provides these amazing reminders of love all around us just as they are.
What do you have going on for the rest of the year?
This is always the most fun time of the year! My calendar fills up with sessions of families wanting photos for their annual holiday cards and gifts. It’s always so fun to see families I haven’t seen in a year and see how everyone has grown and changed. It’s like a reunion! I feel so honored that families call on me to be their official historian. Editor note: Christie still has room for mini sessions, so sign up here!
Photos courtesy of Christie Spencer Photography