We had the good fortune of connecting with Lydia Stern and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lydia, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work-life balance has not always been easy for me. As perhaps many other entrepreneurs have started out their careers, I had two full-time jobs at once at the beginning of mine. I was working for the local newspaper and building my portfolio along the way. Freelance work just kept coming to me, until eventually, I was burning out on all fronts. I had to take a step back and ask for fewer hours as a photojournalist since I was really enjoying the freelance work. I let it happen organically, though, and I never forced the timing. When I started to feel overworked and tired all the time, I knew it was time to reassess my priorities. Having free time, FUN time, adventurous time, is at the top of my list. And doing more freelance work was allowing me to fulfill my goals of having a schedule on MY time. It is an ever-evolving and continuing negotiating process, finding the balance between work and play. As a self-employed business owner that often works from home, it can be so easy to never “punch out” of work. Especially in my early years, I’ve had too many nights staring at a screen until the wee hours of the morning, but more recently, I’ve truly found a more harmonious way of living. I limit my screen time each day, and I set aside time each week outside of work to do the things that make me come alive! Being outdoors, even if it’s just an hour each day, helps my creativity and productivity immensely. I make daily lists and do stretches between each action item that is completed. To me, finding the balance doesn’t have to be so rigid. I listen to what motivates me, and I take action on those things. Of course, there will always be things on my to-do list that I dread doing (ahem, preparing taxes), but I also recognize that outsourcing can be so helpful! Paying someone else to do the things that I don’t want to do just frees up time for the things that I DO want to do. Ultimately, if I have more time for things I like doing, I am more balanced and achieving my goals at a comfortable pace.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My partner and I are Mountain Magic Media. Lydia and Terren: we are the photographer and craftsman: your adventurous and creative team in documenting special moments and displaying them for years to come. We love to photograph love stories from proposal, engagement, elopements, and weddings in Colorado (and beyond). What sets us apart is creating handcrafted keepsake items that are uniquely reclaimed and upcycled into beautiful art pieces. Terren is a craftsman all his own, and it has definitely been a challenge for us to grow together in this business. He has had to find his own work-life balance amidst demanding schedules. He has often had times of feeling like he’s been way too busy, and it reminds me of the times that I was working two full-time jobs when I first started photography as a career. But he is learning and growing, and we aspire to have our photography work support us both full-time eventually. We are also working on a new project “Blue Lime Airstream,” which we are renovating into a mobile bar and lounge. Stay tuned for more progress, because surely that will be a fun story on its own!
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?
There are so many amazing places in Crested Butte to visit! We can’t share our secret spots, of course, but the Slate River Valley is probably our go-to! A hike out Oh Be Joyful is always a lovely treat. Drinks and yummy apps at Montanya would complete the day.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My success has been cultivated in a wonderful support team! When I started my job at the local newspaper, my employer, Mark Reaman, always encouraged me to book freelance work. He always helped me get assignments covered if I needed to prioritize another photography gig. Of course, my parents, helped me invest in my first photography gear and have always supported me along my journey. My husband, Terren (T), is my absolute everything in this business. He is the master of scouting the perfect locations and lighting. He anticipates my every need during a shoot, usually handing me the gear I’m thinking of asking for before I even get a chance to say the words. He is an expert kid-calmer and dog-wrangler. He has a sharp eye for the little details when I am focused on the overall picture, and he often offers a fresh perspective or new angle. He hand-crafts the most exquisite keepsake boxes that we are including in every package offered by Mountain Magic Media. I feel like I wouldn’t be even close to where I am not without all of these people.
photos by Mountain Magic Media