We had the good fortune of connecting with Monica Storey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Monica, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, one of the things I would have told you would have been a photographer for National Geographic Magazine. I have always been drawn to creative pursuits. It is healing, meditative, fulfilling and gives me purpose to create in any kind of way. I dabble in a ton of creative hobbies and want to try everything! Photography just clicked as a career goal because it is something I’ve always stuck with and enjoy doing. It really took off when I became a mother and wanted to document every single raw, mundane and beautiful moment of my children’s lives. For me, the essence of motherhood is creative, and I felt even more creative after becoming a mother. I firmly believe that being around small children is a great way of tapping into your creative potential. My favorite thing to do is grab my camera and go on a hike with my kids and just capture what unfolds. They are my inspiration and push to pursue photography as a career in so many ways. I also just love documenting intimate motherhood moments and the family dynamic. It’s something I feel so connected to, so it really helps drive the passion. I was also looking for a way to earn an income while still being able to work from home and be with them and this was also a good opportunity. I had this overwhelming feeling that I wanted them to grow up and see their mother working and enjoying what she does, not just working for a paycheck. Obviously, I am extremely privileged to be able to pursue a life in this way and it’s not always easy. I am at times as equally inspired and driven by my kids as I am drained by them. But often, from the dark places I reach new creative levels, which is another reason I love that I am able to live a creative life. I feel like it is a good way to just be yourself and embrace the highs and lows of life.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
This is a tough question. I ask myself what sets me apart from others all the time and have a lot of moments of self-doubt. The photography industry is incredibly saturated and competitive. Being self-taught I had to learn everything as I was doing it and I honestly was very naive when it came to the business end of things. I’ve learned so much though. I look at my work now and am very satisfied with the progress I have made. I just try to be as authentic as possible. It’s the reason I love what I do. I get to meet new people all the time and connect with them and help tell their story. It’s amazing and beautiful. I look through photos from my sessions with a huge smile on my face or tears in my eyes because I am reliving that moment and I just love that feeling so, so much. I am painfully nostalgic sometimes. I just want to remember all of the things about life. I just feel incredibly grateful that this is something I get to do.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live in a small town where there isn’t a ton of things to do, however, Grassway Organics is a local farm nearby and during the summer they have pizza on the farm nights which I love. They do woodfire pizza, have live music, and there’s great local beer. They also have a little farm store for getting some organic necessities. There’s also a ton of great hiking spots in Southeast Wisconsin. You can hike along part of the Ice Age Trail through Kettle Moraine or visit some pretty awesome spots along Lake Michigan. Although I live in a small town, a huge bonus is being able to drive an hour or two to either Milwaukee or Madison WI and Chicago Il. I personally love Madison! They have an awesome farmers market that goes around the state capitol every Saturday through summer. There are also some great places to see live music like the Orpheum and Majestic Theaters! For kids there’s Henry Vilas Zoo which is free and The Childrens Museum that includes a rooftop garden! Olbrich Botanical Garden is also a great stop!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Surrounding myself with loving, supportive and fellow creative people is really essential to my ability to keep on with this career path. My husband has always been very supportive and encouraging of me pursuing photography. There have been times where I have wanted to give up, but he is part of the reason I keep going…because he believes in me. Most people in my family have been very encouraging as well. I also have found a really great community of photographers through Unraveled Academy that have been incredibly helpful. They are one of the best online photography communities out there. There is just a ton of resources, education, encouragement and connection that has been monumental in my growth as a photographer. I am constantly inspired by so many people and pushed to do better by being a part of Unraveled. It has also shown me the importance of “community over competition.” It is really beyond helpful to be able to be connected to other photographers and have their support.