We had the good fortune of connecting with Crystal Rose Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Crystal Rose, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My work life balance has changed dramatically since I started my business in 2011. I would say yes to every job that came my way, I would be editing until 1 in the morning or respond to emails while at dinner. My sleep, social life and relationships all suffered because of this. To be honest, my photography business was also suffering. I may have felt that I was successful because I was so busy and had tons much work, but it was slowly draining my love and passion for what I do. I had less energy to put into every shoot, and I felt so bad about it. I didn’t want my clients to get anything less than they deserved. It wasn’t easy to transition out of the habits that I had formed by hustling 24/7 for so long, but it has been worth it. I have set boundaries for my business and really try my best to only work during “work hours”. I try to keep at least one weekend open a month during busy season, so that I am able to get away, go camping, or just have a lazy Saturday. I value my free time and want to enjoy time with my husband and friends. I think that balance is necessary to have a successful business, but more importantly, a happy life. Setting boundaries for when you work, how much you work, etc. is so important for your mental/emotional health. I realized that I can be more selective with what jobs I take, and I don’t have to work every weekend from May to October. We have such an interesting view on what working should look like here in the US, but once you step back and witness how miserable so many people are from working 60-80 hours a week (I was also one of those people) then you realize what is actually important.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Photography is such a powerful tool that I feel so honored to be skilled at. I have always been drawn to the way the light dances through the leaves on trees, the landscape composition of mountains in the background and a field in the foreground. I just see things as photographs, and I love it. I love being able to create, and I love when my clients trust my vision and my art. I think that there is a photography style for everyone out there, because everyone is attracted to different things. So it’s very encouraging when I get an email saying that they love MY style. I know they are in the right place, and that we will make some magic together.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think that my style is necessarily that unique, although I do try to keep colors true to life — I want to keep the grass green, blues actually blue, etc. I have the mindset of trying to make the photos “timeless” so to speak. & in my personal opinion, I think that timeless looks like real life, and having things look how they did in person. So in a way, I do think my editing style sets me apart from certain trends that happen throughout the years. I do love a moody shot (meaning a good contrast between the highlights and shadows), and black and white photos are secretly my favorite. I think more of what I have to offer, and what makes me unique, is the experience that I offer. I value relationships and connection, and care more about quality over quantity. I want to create a space that my client feels comfortable in, so that they can truly be themselves. I invite good conversation, while cheering you on from the sidelines. I just want to be friends with my clients. Working with me is more than just a business interaction.
I am really looking forward to what the future will hold for my business, because I have a really good idea of the direction that I want to go, so it will be fun to work towards that and see what happens. I am already going to be a part of a couple small weddings next year where the couple is being wholeheartedly themselves, and I get to travel for them. So I am very much excited. It has been quite the journey the last 10 years, but I am so thankful for every chapter along the way.
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.
If a friend was coming to visit, and I was to take them around Denver, there’s a few spots that we would have to hit. I would say that we would grab an iced latte from Metropolis Coffee on Broadway, and walk around the shops in that area. I would also want to take them to the Botanic Gardens or Art Museum, because even if those would be considered touristy, I don’t think they are one bit overrated. The Denver Art museum is amazing. I would also want to show them MEEK Vintage. Then one night, I would take them to Angelos during happy hour, to grab some fried ravioli. Another restaurant I would want to show them would be City O City. If we were to do brunch, it would be at Snooze. Of course, there is also Union Station and walking around downtown is always necessary for any first time visitors. I love going for walks, so I would either take them to Cheesman Park or City Park for a nice stroll.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
If I could list every single client that I have ever had, I would do so! Seriously, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the people who trusted me, especially in my first couple years. I have a lot of returning clients (although I would call them friends now) who have been on this journey with me, and it means so much to me. I feel so much love and support from them, and that makes me feel more accomplished than anything. I also should thank my best friend, Nicolette Bardos, who is also a photographer. We have been on this journey together, and have learned so much alongside one another. I am so blessed to know her, and to be able to work with her! The last shoutout would go to all the teachers at Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Missoula, MT. It was such an amazing environment to learn and experiment with photography, and I have made some lifelong friends from my summer there. My experience there has definitely helped form the artist and. business owner that I am today.
Other: pinterest: www.pinterest.com/crystalrosephotography
My headshot was done by Nicolette Bardos Photography.