We had the good fortune of connecting with Clare Aaker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Clare, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I grew up in a creative family. We were always doing various arts & crafts as kids, from painting or making jewelry to building fairy houses and building forts outside in the woods. My parents homeschooled us so we had a lot of time to pursue the things we were interested in and the creative subjects always came naturally to me. When I was choosing my major in college, I chose Mass Communications by looking through the course catalog and circling all the classes that sounded interesting. Most of them wound up being in the Mass Comm department, so that’s the path I took. Those classes I picked out wound up being things like graphic and web design, news writing, advertising, and photo/video. By the time I got to college, I had already taught myself how to use a digital camera and had played around in Photoshop, attempting to create fine art images. I never really planned to be a photographer until I realized how much I liked the idea of being my own boss. But I always knew I’d end up doing something creative since it was a part of my life since the beginning.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Photography was a side hustle for me until last year, when I was laid off from my full-time job in the advertising world due to the pandemic. My first wedding was in 2014 and that’s when it started to click for me that I could do this for work, but I didn’t have the confidence to do it full-time until I went to a photography & business conference in Las Vegas last February. From then it was a perfect storm…COVID hit, I was laid off, and thought, “I want to be my own boss from now on.” When I look back, I’m proud of how hard I worked to be able to go full-time in the middle of a global pandemic. For six years I worked in full-time as a writer, social media manager, and project manager while building my business on the side, filling almost every weekend in the summer and falls with weddings, engagement and family sessions. I began to see a life where I could have a family, be home with my kids, and still have some flexiblity with my work. That has been my biggest motivator to pursue this career. Because of this vision that I’ve had, I think that’s why my work sets me apart from others. I’m a sentimental person and grew up looking through tons and tons of family photo albums, obsessing over all the places my parents traveled or memories from when my siblings and I were little. I’m in a job where I”m the one capturing all those memories for someone else and because of how special that is to me, I take great care to document all the little moments as well as the big.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Although I’m based in Minnesota, I travel to Colorado for weddings or to visit friends several times a year. My favorite trips have always been when we’re in the mountains, especially since we don’t have those in the Midwest. Every time I go back, I try to make my way into the Rockies, so that’s what I’d do if giving someone a grand tour!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’m so thankful that I’ve had a strong support system around me from the very beginning. My parents always encouraged me to pursue my passions and throughout my high school and college years, would look for opportunities where I could learn from others, prove myself, or see what was possible to accomplish. I would also want to shoutout to my best friend, Gabrielle. We met through online highschool classes and photography was one of the first things we bonded over. For the last ten years, we’ve been building our own separate businesses side by side, and she’s helped me immensely in finding my style, pushing me to be better & more creative, and helping with all the boring business admin side of things. And of course, I’d have to thank my husband Josh, who has been incredibly supportive of me pursuing my business from the beginning of our relationship.
Other: Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/madeiracreative
Gabrielle Van Wyck of White Sails Photography.