Ten years ago LeeAnn Widyn graduated with a master’s degree in physical therapy only to become a professional photographer. She and her husband Jeffrey, a pilot, moved to the Lantana area two months before she gave birth to her first child. She picked up a camera, and what began as an “obsession” with taking photos of her children (Grant, 11, and Reagan, 9) grew into a full-time business. Today she juggles photo shoots and a budding vintage rental business (dfwvintagerental.com) with really “being there” as a mother and wife.
Why do you love what you do?
One of my closest friends once told me that watching me take pictures is like seeing someone doing what they were born to do. It honestly does not feel like work. It’s my passion.
Describe your type of photography.
Outdoor, fun and natural.
How has the photography business changed since you began?
Well, kids are growing up with a working knowledge of Photoshop and basic photo editing. The explosion of social media and blogging—although it makes for interesting reading, I suppose—has really stripped people of their own creativity and originality.
What’s your advice to families to make the photo shoot both enjoyable and fun?
Just plan to laugh and play with your kids. Dress in a way that you are comfortable and can get down on the ground with your kids.
What kind of camera do you use?
Canon 5D Mark II.
If we were to take a snapshot of your home, what would we capture?
My son reading or making origami, my daughter playing with her dolls in her closet or Skyping her best friend in Longview, my husband cleaning and me either working or reading.
Do you take your camera with you wherever you go?
No, almost never. Several years ago while on a family vacation, my kids said to me, “Mommy, leave your camera in the car!” I realized that life was just passing me by. It was all about getting the perfect shot and not about just being a mother to my kids and being there with them in the moment. Huge learning lesson for me.
I bought a point-and-shoot, and I keep it in my purse and I hardly ever even pull that out. I have resorted to quick pictures on my iPhone.
What is your favorite photo you’ve ever taken?
Wow, that’s hard. I have a favorite from every single category of photography I do, but I suppose, like any mother, pictures of my children are my favorite.
How do you juggle motherhood and running your own business?
Oh gosh, it’s hard. There are definitely busy seasons where I hardly get to see my kids at all. But it has been better, because I have made my kids my priority and have learned to say no to something good so I could say yes to something better.
What do you love most about being a mom?
Probably what it has taught me about unconditional love, and seeing that we are so wonderfully and fearfully made.
What’s your multitasking secret? Is there a secret?
If someone knows it, please tell me.
Have you ever taken your kids on a shoot with you?
They do tag along sometimes if it’s a good friend of mine. They think it’s neat. They don’t like me to take pictures of them, though. They just want their mom and want me to be there with them. My daughter thinks it’s fun and likes to see me work.
So would you say being present is the most important thing to being a mom?
Yes, absolutely. My sister told me something when my photography business was really growing, and I was really busy and I couldn’t sit still or have time for anybody. She said, “You know what, LeeAnn, even when you’re there, you’re not there.” And that really hit home, because even though I would sit down and watch a movie with my daughter, I would still be answering emails or working on my laptop. Since then I have been making more of an effort that my family really is the most important.