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A Fine Balance

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Is it possible to meld the crazy daily life of motherhood with the art within? Emily Schwank, a local professional shutterbug, fine artist and owner of Raincliffs Photography, not only taps into her creative energy but also manages a family of five children(the youngest of whom are twins), ages 4 to 13.

Schwank's interest in photography began in ninth grade when she took her first class in the medium. After that she was hooked. She finished her schooling with a degree in English and additional coursework in photography. Now as a portrait artist, she does commission work for clients. She specializes in children, newborns, families, weddings, couples, high school seniors, parties and head shots. Through the camera lens, Schwank wants to tell the story of those she photographs.

From portraits to parties, Schwank's work allows her to capture meaningful life moments, including this housewarming that featured a Buddhist blessing. - EMILY SCHWANK
  • Emily Schwank
  • From portraits to parties, Schwank's work allows her to capture meaningful life moments, including this housewarming that featured a Buddhist blessing.

Although she was a working photographer before she became a mother, having a family has presented some time-management challenges as she leads a very full life. When her children were babies she had to put her career on hold to nurture them, but as they have gotten older she has been able to strike a balance between her artist endeavors and her personal life.

"My work has always been about embracing where I am in life," she says. "My family is simply an extension of that. They figure highly in my work."

In addition to taking photographs, Schwank teaches workshop students how to capture their children on film and use smart cameras for "iPhoneography." - EMILY SCHWANK
  • Emily Schwank
  • In addition to taking photographs, Schwank teaches workshop students how to capture their children on film and use smart cameras for "iPhoneography."

So how does she do this? A glimpse of one day's itinerary shows a page-long routine that would impress a general. Although it seems like she fits 35 hours' worth of activities into a 24-hour day, it's not the scheduling that allows her to find the balance. It is more her attitude and approach to life. "There is a certain 'letting go and letting be' to mothering," Shwank says. "I can spend all of my time worrying about being tidy and perfect on the outside, or I could let that go and be who I am and let my family be who they are. My house might be a mess, but we are all happier for it."

Schwank says she's fortunate to also have a great support network, with her husband topping the list. He helps her out with their family and understands her need to create art. Schwank says, "I have a village of people around me who love and support me, moms, dads, artists and friends who pitch in when I need help or a sounding board. I have learned to ask for help and accept it."

She offers advice for others who want to pursue their art but feel they won't be able to due to familial responsibilities and obligations. "Family does not mean no art, but you do have to have support," she says. "If you are not getting support in your home, seek out like-minded people. I am lucky to have my very supportive husband, but if you don't have a partner in your home, then you need to find your system outside the home. Teach your children to accept you as an artist by keeping them aware of what you do." She says one of the most important things to remember is don't feel guilty about working on your art instead of doing something with or for them. "A mother who has a purpose other than motherhood is most often a more content mother in her family life," she adds.

For more information about Emily Schwank and her photography, please visit her website or her Facebook page.

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