Learning to let go, living in the moment, and finding inspiration | by Angie Rethwisch
I am a lifestyle/documentary photographer that lives for the moment. My style is one of sitting back and patiently waiting for the unscripted moments to unveil themselves. I live deep in the heart of Rural America and my photography style reflects my life. I don’t do labels and lists, I’m the epitome of the "I’m too busy to get organized" excuse and get irritated when people show up to my house early, usually because I’m still in the shower or cleaning before they get there! If you want to be my friend humor me and we will be friends for life. I’m the fly by the seat of my pants mom and I can’t seem to shake it, but I love the spontaneous life we live and wouldn’t have it any other way!
Originally from the small farming town of Madison in Northeast Nebraska, I’m the youngest of three girls born to a a strong, hard working farmer and my dear mother, career focused and independent as hell. My sisters were the wild ones and I always tried to go with the flow and not break the rules. I grew up on the same farm where my grandpa milked cows and ran a team of horses over fields of rolling oats every fall. Being one with nature and our animals was second nature to me. We had a huge barn with a big loft and dirt floor. In the hot sticky summers we would swing back and forth on the giant pulley used to pull hay up through the window and stack it. My sister and I would gallop barefoot into the fields where the water washed the soil down from the hills and run the soft dirt through our toes sometimes painting ourselves with the slimy clay mud. With our dog “Plow Puppy” by our side we adventured through the woods pretending we found the Bridge to Terabithia or play cowboys and indians while the horned owls made their danger screeches. At night we would drift off to sleep smelling the fragrance of line dried cotton sheets mom hung on the line to dry. There in our squeaky spring bed, we crowded in front of the box fan in the upstairs window to cool our sweaty bodies as we had no air conditioning in our three story farm house. Those were the days! I grew up with no regrets and didn’t ever even think of feeling sorry for myself having to get up early to do chores before school.
I guess this is the reason I am nostalgic to the bone. I hold onto things for their delicate memories and get a bit weepy when I think about how much our parents sacrificed for us. As a mother, I can now see why my own mom held on so tight to me being the youngest and the last to grow up. I am the counselor friend, giving advice to those who ask believing that if we all just try a little harder we can all make our lives a little better. I am motivated by my faith and family, belly laughs, and lots of coffee! Most days you will find me make-up free in comfy clothes getting all that needs to be done at the moment finished. Key words there are “at the moment” because I have an addiction to procrastination. I have ridden horses since I was 12 and would rather be on the back of a horse than taking a girls trip shopping. When others are planning vacations I’m planning my trip to the next big horse show. They are a huge inspiration for me. Hard work and sweat make me happy!
My journey into photography began after our family photographer left her business to pursue another career. I was a bit heartbroken, but thought I could surely do this picture taking thing on my own. I took several online courses and continued to improve my skills catching the eye of family and friends who asked me to take their pictures. The rest is history! I now have a busy business photographing newborns, children, and families. My style is laid back and candid. I feel like that makes my clients more comfortable and puts them at ease. My heart however, is in shooting my own children. I learned quickly that I am a storyteller. Creating posed and perfect images does not speak to me. I do feel that those type of images are important, but when I look back at our life as a family I want to remember the unscripted moments most of all. My goal isn’t to just make pretty pictures. I want my audience to feel something whether it be joy, sadness, love, or anguish.
I’ve found inspiration in many photographers within this vast community, but I’ll just pick two here. The one that always floors me with her storytelling is Meg Loeks. The beauty she creates is of no other and she is the kindest person. For black and white photography I love the talented Niki Boon. She captures her family in monochrome in such an incredible way. I am completely drawn to her documentary style which is my favorite genre.
The every day is what inspires me so naturally the documentary style speaks to me. I would describe my own style as documentary with a twist. I don’t mind adding a little drama here and there to make my images more impactful and dramatic. A “guilty pleasure” style that I love to follow is emotive couple photography. I love the connection and feel of two people in love embracing each other’s flaws. In the coming years I foresee myself backing away from client work a bit and focusing on shooting more for myself. At this point in my business I could be about as busy as I want, but these next few years are so precious to me as a mother and as my children grow I want to be more present for them. My goal for this year is to become more mindful, to step back and be more grounded in my life while sharing my work with all who kindly appreciate it!