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LESSONS FROM: MINTWOOD PHOTO CO.

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LESSONS FROM: MINTWOOD PHOTO CO.

Annie Heath

Sometimes being a twenty something is hard. Rent (even though it’s for your dream apartment) causes a big dent in your paycheck; learning to cook is a real adventure & work takes up almost all your time. But being a twenty something is also incredible. You get to learn who you really are & how to pursue your dreams &, best yet, who will help you achieve them.

A few weeks ago I introduced you to a new series called Lessons from a dreamer. It's an Ida Street feature that spotlights our peers, pursuing & achieving their creative dreams. Today I'd like to introduce you to another dreamer: Lydia Phillips of Mintwood Photo Co.

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Q: What advice would you give to other twenty somethings trying to figure it all out?

A: If you’re a creative, a business owner, or anyone who claims their trade as their identity:  Be friends with everyone. Everyone! Don’t give anyone fuel for the time they’re gossiping and your name comes up. Also, take it from me: people feel valued when you ask them for their advice (smiles).

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So, who is Lydia and what is Mintwood Photo Co.? Well, take a look at her website & prepare to swoon. Mintwood is a natural light portrait & event photography partnership of two lovely ladies. Lydia Phillips is the founder. In my personal opinion, she produces the most stunning, the most amazing & nearly fairy tale-esque photos. Seriously.  I first met Lydia when we were teens. We spent a summer waitressing in our hometown between college semesters. (You may have seen us at The Works Brick Oven Pizza circa 2009.) Since then I've been following her growing talent with awe through Instagram and Facebook. I finally caught up with Lydia about a year after  she founded Mintwood & we got to talking :D

Okay, so Mintwood. How did you choose that name? 

It’s borrowed from my street address in college! I lived on Mintwood Place & my roommates & I would host various get togethers "at Mintwood.” We liked how fancy & formal it sounded (smiles). When I was re-branding I really wanted a name that I could own... even just in the littlest way. Mintwood fit. 

You studied photography in college, right? What is your favorite thing about it? 

Wow, my favorite thing. I love taking a photo of someone’s kid and knowing that I also gave something to that child, 20 years in advance. Does that make sense? I love thinking about pictures of newborns winding up in graduation slideshows 18 years from now. Or with engagements and weddings, knowing their grandkids will look at the photos someday.  It’s just so cool to be responsible for something so precious. I know the picture is special right now but for myself, I like thinking about how much more special it will be down the road. 

Speaking of that special-ness, your style is SO unique. It has such a whimsical & romantic feel.. do you do that on purpose?

  Yes! I do it on purpose but I also build my editing style based on current trends. (Laughs) Is that a terrible thing to say? I believe that my clients are paying for my knowledge of photography & part of that is knowing how to get “that look” they want. I’m constantly observing other photographers & building a mental list of images to make. I also have a BFA in Photojournalism: four years of learning how to shoot compelling, beautiful images on the fly. I believe one of my greatest strengths is being able to assess a location/person/event & quickly know how to take the best possible photo.  

I only dollop in photography, but that's all it takes to realize what a time consuming art it is! First the photo shoot, plus all the edits, how do you balance it all? You're the lead on business, a newly wed, a young professional, an entrepreneur, pet owner.... you've got so much going on!

Ahh.. I don’t think I can quite claim that I "balance it all" yet—but hopefully soon! 

Balancing the business has been harder than I expected. A few weeks after I decided to go "all in" I had a minor meltdown over the expectations I’d put on myself: do all of the graphic design, blog copy writing, & social media marketing, learn about the legal side, getting licensed, tax IDs, checking/finances, find clients & socialize with local vendors. Oh! & take pictures! & edit them! & post them on the blog!  (smiles) 

Yes! That's exactly what I mean! How do you get past that?

Well, creating smaller, achievable goals within those broad areas has helped A-L-O-T. It helps me not feel crazy busy when jumping from walking the dog to editing photos to making dinner. I also set time limits on certain tasks. Like, if I’m not finished with a blog post by 5:00 then I leave it for the next day. I give priority to the tasks someone else is waiting on me to do even if it means walking away from something I'm absorbed in. This all probably sounds like common sense to you organized folk (laughs).

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She's awesome right? I love Lydia and Mintwood  so much. You've seen  a bit of her work on Ida Street. Remember here? & also here. & even here. She's a true talent & her photos are as sweet as her personality. I literally can't wait to see what she does with Mintwood. 

& what is that, you ask?

Oh my gosh I have so many dreams. For the next two years I want to maintain a growing client base. I haven’t really set any strict limits on quantity so long as it’s growing. My bigger picture dream is 3 to 5 employees or partners offering more than just event coverage. I would love to have a studio space in the next 3 years. I want to offer lessons for the community & host events for area photographers. Also I want to learn basic repairs and be able to service camera gear locally.  I want Mintwood Photo Co. to be a phenomenal set of independent photographers & a great resource for the community. 

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Lydia lives in Georgia now, but she comes to Cincinnati to visit her family a lot. (She has a pretty cute nephew.) Ask about her appointments here.  Oh, & also, a little PSA: Mintwood's instagram is like the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. It will make your heart smile.