Career Day at the Local Middle School

Career Day at the Local Middle School

I've been marinading on what to say to these kids for the last two weeks. The pressure I put on myself to tell the right story is ridiculous and keeps me up at night. So this morning, I was asking God what does She want me to share about being an artist and trying to make meaning of this crazy world. What follows is my stream of consciousness. It's unedited but I hope something will resonate with you anyway. Done is better than perfect and Lord knows I'm a mess of imperfection not just today but every day and I still woke up happy to be here. With you. 


So this is what I'll convey to the kids today. 

Life is like a cartoon.


We take it so seriously. we want an accurate representation. But maybe the joy is in the release of letting go. Stopping the resistance. 


Saying yes. Being challenged by what you know. There are ways you can go into any situation armed with the facts. This is just another light challenge. There are 5 ways to fight the light.  Additive, Subtractive, ISO, Aperature and Shutter. 


Pinterest inspired me last night. 

Photography for me, is less about what it looks like, and more what it feels like. 

It’s not about what I see, but how I see it. Photography becomes my healing therapy. 


What do my guides what me to share with their guides about being an artist ? about pursuing your dreams despite the risks?

Hi y’all, My name is Kristen Brown Roedner and I’m spreading sparkle like it’s my job. 

My job is pretty simple: make pictures that mean something, dance, dream, paint and muse. I also like to tell stories on social media. 


I’ve been in the photography industry since 2002 and this is how it started:


"There’s a flying pig in the room. "

And everything you think is about to happen won’t happen if you let me do my job. 

My job is to make pretty pictures of people that mean something. I’m going to connect with your child now and try my hardest to get him in the mood to forget he’s getting his picture taken. 

But we need to do something with this stress of the parents factor. I know you came here because you want a happy momento, and the reality is you’ve got these kids who don’t understand your agenda and have their own agendas. You have a partner who may or may not share your values but he’s here, supporting the effort even if he is the world’s champion of Cranky Dads. 

That means connecting with people where they are, because there’s no real way around that. 

And so I say I see you. I see you mom who wants to tell the story of here and now. I see you Dad who would rather be fishing. I see you kid A who just wants to make mom and dad happy but you’re feeling unsuccessful. I see you kid B who just wants a snack and less itchy clothes. I see you kid C. You’re just happy to be here. You’re my person.

You see photography is a beautiful intersection. It’s where my 43 history of who I have loved, who has loved me, what I’ve lost and what I hope to never lose. It’s where my clients with all their history comes to meet me and I bear witness to the “Here I am”  on the map of their journey. 

Now, not every session is this deep or is it? It’s like a children’s cartoon… The surface level is entertaining and easy to follow along, but once you listen to the deeper truths it hits right in your heart with the hero’s epic journey.

Every day in art is tale of epic proportions. The light and dark of me battle for who will win. The dark wants me to throw in the towel and give up the search for the perfect photograph. The perfect family relationship. Aren’t we’re all disasters just trying to get along. 

But the faith in me is always just a tee-tiny bit more than my fear. My hope that my subjects will align and get it right, not because it looks right, but because it feels right with eyes closed. And that's when I say, Send me, God. I'm ready and can do this. 

That’s what I strive to do with my photographs, capture my dream state for families. The state where we all get along. The state of joy. The intersection of pride and love and respect for the closest people in your life. 

I’m currently doing a Spread Sparkle Portrait project. It's a personal mission to capture the most authentic self of a person. An invitation to bringing the Divine Inner child out to play with me.

I love photography and showing the world what I see. 

I see beautiful humanity in all it’s shades of glory. 

I see the struggle of what it is to be human and in a family unit. I see what our culture wants us to believe about families and how they are perfect. I see the reality of the enmeshment of differing personalities and how we cope with that difference. Compassion is my favorite.  Laughter is my favorite. Choosing to lighten up and being alive is my favorite.

So that’s what drives me. It’s what keeps pulling me back day after day after day for the last 13 years of owning my own business. It hasn’t been easy. The market became saturated, camera phones came out and soon pictures were everywhere and no where. Were actual photographs being made anymore? Or was it just a show and tell on Facebook/social media.

I want to tell you about some of my recent failures.

I’m shooting with this cool little camera these days: a sony a7. It’s lightweight, it’s pretty fast and the color palette is nothing short of divine. 

This is my busy season. For every hour of actual shooting, there’s 4-12 hours of editing. 

Then there’s the other 5 hours of doing other stuff to wrap up the job, posting to an online gallery, sending emails, connecting with the client making them feel good about the investment. 


While capturing my last two shoots, I fiddle with my camera settings as we lose or add sunshine to the composition. Inadvertently, I’ve selecting the “hi illustration” setting inside the photo effects. These cannot be undone. You can take a normal photo and add the effect later, or you could just shoot in camera. It’s definitely a new way of seeing and keeps things interesting, but how do I explain what just happened to my clients?

Cartoon Effect?! I don't think so.


My first client laughed. She couldn’t believe the irony. And I think I was too absorbed with my “failure” and shame cycle to realize she was right. Laughter is the best medicine when you’re putting a family of 4 out again to make more pictures. To buy into the fact that I WILL NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE AGAIN. 


We did the reshoot, it went great. 


It was the perfect combo: Love and Light! And great outfit choices. This lady ROCKS!

Now the second client was admittedly so disappointed and I don’t blame her a bit, I was too. 


We reshot it yesterday and the youngest was on the verge of meltdown. He’d suffered a hard day at school and now Mom and Dad had the audacity to expect smiles out of him to do a retake on something that wasn’t his fault? Yeah, it was an injustice. 


He never could pull it together. It was the perfect storm… He was hungry, cold and tired… and we were losing daylight and mom and dad were so disappointed after going to so much trouble. It feels a lot like life, doesn’t it? You hope and dream for a vacation and then vacation doesn’t turn out like you hoped it would. Has that happened to you? Is there something in your life that you really wanted but then when you got it, the reality was so much different that you were really cranky about accepting that this was your life. 

No? That’s just me? ok. so be it. 


I’m a dreamer and often my reality doesn’t match up to my dreams and that’s okay because I have my feet on the ground and angels on my shoulder. I know there are pigs flying somewhere way way up there because that’s just how it always goes. 

"Trust the process." my mentors say. 

It will be okay and often times better than just okay. You just have to never give up and keep going. 

I’m thrilled that the mother messaged me last night and said she wanted to do a reshoot. It may rain this weekend, but what if it doesn’t? What if they came to my studio anyway.

Ah, the land of possibilities and delicious what ifs.


So what does it take to have a career in photography?

About $20,000 in equipment. Sure you could get by with much less, and start out as a hobby. But you’ll see, the addiction for better gear to help you get the right image, to save time on editing… the struggle is real. 

Next you’ll need business sense. 

You’ll need to realize that the selling of your photographs IS NOT personal. It’s a transaction to cover your expenses and buy food for your table. Admittedly this is my weakness because my love of photography and capturing these images is something I would certainly do for free if I didn’t have bills to pay. 

Third, you’ll need to understand what it means to work with light and shadows. You’ll want a thorough education on your camera and gear. This can be self-taught. You can find everything on the information super highway. You could take classes, or you could do what I did and go to photo school. 

It was a two year program that I dropped out of when I became pregnant and wanting to move back to Texas. 

So, pack up some courage and determination and perserverance and never forget your why and you too can be a successful artist. You, too, can know the measure of success comes from not what it looks like, but what it feels like. May the force be with you. 

Click here to see my portfolio 2016  show


What you see is what you get. WYSIWYG.

To begin again

I am excited to announce my new 100days of dancing project begins today. Click here to see the jam and how I'm sparking up life with music and movement. It's where the inspiration lives. Thank you for giggling and dancing with me. This is more about how it feels and less about how it looks. Here we go, y'all!

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