Friday, March 2, 2012

SDB Interviews: Whitney of Making It Here

If I called Whitney Hardie a glamor queen, she would punch me in the face. Then she'd be flattered.

If I referred to Whitney as fancy NYC city dweller, she would remind me that she has to carry a stroller onto the subway.

If I mentioned that to Whitney that she is a fantastic photographer who I have trusted several times with family memories, she would tell me that she's a mama and a wife first.

Whitney moved into an apartment below mine when she and her husband Joe first got married. The first time I spoke with her, I mentioned that I rarely liked the female counterpart of most married couples I meet; she told her husband to not answer the door if I came to visit when he was home alone (but she kindly waited until I had left the room). Whitney knew early on that I was a man-eater. Or something.

That was 2007, and since then, Whitney and I have become dear friends. We have seen each other cry, laugh, partially naked (thanks to clothes shopping!), and involved in many life changes. In fact, I was hunting around my personal archives for a photo to add to this post, and I truly started tearing up when I realized how pervasive Whitney's face is in so many of my pictures.

But not only is Whitney a great friend, she is a fantastic photographer and a talented writer.

The photo on my "About" page was taken by her, as have Jack's newborn photos and several candid shots from our adventures together. Whitney is based in New York City, but has traveled around the country to take incredible photos for weddings, birth stories, and families. Her rates & packages and portfolio can be found at Hardie Photography.

Her personal blog, Making It Here, depicts her life as a mama in the big city. Whitney's honest take on the struggles & joys of motherhood, city living, and finding yourself reminds me that there is so much in life that deserves to be documented—good and bad.

Whitney is open and welcoming. I hope you fall in love with her through this interview, then reach out to her through her sites and even through the comments section on this interview. Here are a few of the fantastic things she has to say.

1. Please describe your blogs to the uninitiated. How would you describe each one in three words?
Three words, eh?
Hardie Photography—professional, photographs, please-hire-me-so-I-can-
Making It Here—honest, witty, personal-stories-about-our-family-and-observations-about-life.

I struggle with word limits.

2. Tell us about your glamorous life in New York City.
I don't know if glamorous quite describes it. We are four people living in a one bedroom apartment, after all.

Our life in New York City is so different from what I ever pictured for us.  I never thought I would live in a big city—but here we are. We take public transit everywhere. We walk and we climb stairs, stairs, and more stairs. We order our groceries online, pay way too much for rent, see world famous works of art for free, and grumble about how slow tourists move. Our friends are artists and law students and scientists and yoga instructors—everyone is doing something amazing it seems. Our daughter can recognize subways, airplanes and pigeons, but she doesn't know what grass is. Sometimes it feels like we live on another planet. Other days it just feels like normal life. New York is an adventure, to be sure.

3. How do you practice seeing good in the bad and beauty in the ugly? Not all of your photos are of stereotypically "pretty" things.
How do I do it? I don't know. I have a lot of practice in it. As the child of an alcoholic, growing up in a very "nontraditional" household, I survived by finding the good in the bad. I don't know if that idea comes through in my professional work so much. But when I shoot personal work I am often drawn to unpolished objects. Subjects that are rough around the edges are just more interesting, more real. 

I think that's true of people as well. If everything is your life is perfect, I'll probably find you boring. But if you've got a colorful past or a deep dark secret, let's be best friends.

4. What kind of balance are you achieving between motherhood and pursuing your art and other interests?
Balance? I think that idea is completely flawed. We're always looking for balance—some way to do it all. I struggle with this constantly. But the truth I've come to accept is that you simply can't do it all. When I'm busy with photography, I don't spend as much time crafting or trying new recipes. When my children require all of my attention (which is most of the time) I don't get a chance to blog or read or do the many other things I find interesting. To be perfectly honest, I spend way more time wiping butts than turning pages. I often wish it was different, but that's just where we are right now.

I am learning how to give my energy to whatever seems the most pressing at any given time. And I hope that it will balance out in the long run. But my days are not balanced. They are feast and famine.

5. You are staring down the barrel of adding another child to the family; how are you feeling about your soon-to-be life change? [Ed. Note: I sent this interview to Whitney before the December 2011 birth of her daughter]
I love the phrase "staring down the barrel" because that is exactly how I felt waiting for Wren to come. I had such a hard time after the birth of my first child. I was pretty sure life was ruined. It took MONTHS for me to feel normal again. I was so worried about that happening again.

So the biggest thing I did to prepare for this change was to constantly remind myself to lower my expectations. When I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I could accomplish with a newborn and a toddler, I just thought to myself, "Lower.  Go lower." Lowering my expectations has done a lot to stave off the feelings of failure and frustration I experienced the first time around. I work every day to accept where I am and to not freak out about where I think I should be. Very zen, right?

There are still plenty of tears and I yell more than I care to admit, but I think we're adjusting to this new life. We're slowly, awkwardly coming into it and trying to enjoy the little victories along the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment