We had the good fortune of connecting with Sydney Norris and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sydney, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
(WHY I PURSUED AN ARTISTIC CAREER)
I pursued an artistic career because I love using my artistic abilities to share how I see the world. Being a creative business owner allows me to push limits, try new things, pave new paths; Whereas in a lot of other careers, there are walls and limiting expectations you have to work within. Having your own business, there is no ceiling to cap at. I like that freedom. Having no limits is where an artist can flourish. Of course there are some challenging limitations you have to work through, but I find that there is a difference between challenges vs limits that others put on you as an artist.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
(ABOUT MY CREATIVE BUSINESS)
I started a creative storytelling photography and graphic design business in November of 2021. My business consists of selling landscape prints online, graphic design commissions and an Etsy Shop, business photo sessions, and creating logos for businesses. My business photo packages are called “Creative Story Telling Packages”. Branding photos feel staged whereas photographic storytelling is documenting the work of the business owner. Prior to working in my business full time, I took photos for several newspapers and also worked in communications and public relations for a few conservation agencies in Nebraska. I worked with a lot of other offices, agencies, or ranchers who did very unique work in the conservation world. I found that with this important work, the best way to communicate the projects was not in many words but in info-graphics and photography in a way that told a story with captivating captions. The viewers were able to enjoy what they were reading but also experience visually what was happening in less time than it takes to read a lengthy article. I have adopted this technique in my business. For example, if there was an artist who sold pottery, I would accompany them in a few hours of their work process and capture photos of their process. If their business was set in a beautiful landscape or even a cityscape, I would also take photos of where their business takes place with the little details that make up their business. The goal is to capture the whole story of a business. I also offer graphic design and publication design so the business owner can have consistent content that compliments each other, rather than having different artists creating their content, they can work with one artist who gets to know the story of their business.
(WHAT SETS ME APART)
My experiences and vision for my business.
I moved to northern New Mexico, about 10 minutes from the Arizona border, from Nebraska after eloping on Stand-up paddle-boards with my husband in October of 2021. I was born and raised in Nebraska. I think that is the first thing that sets me apart from many. There is this expectation that maybe photography only happens on the sunny days in the presence of mountains, oceans and waterfalls, but when none of that is present, you have to get down on the ground and look for a different version of beauty. In looking for unique scenes, I have found ice on rivers that creates a haunting, crackling tune as the ice moves down the river and using a slow shutter speed to capture the movement of the grass blowing in the wind. My first landscape photography experiences started in the Sandhills and plains of Nebraska. There are some beautiful sights to see in Nebraska that are unlike any other state. For example, the sandhill Crane Migration, rolling Sandhills and a lot of crazy weather events. It really tests your creativity to find your own style in a place such as Nebraska. Usually the most common photographs in the midwest consist of barn shots with sunsets, corn fields and Chimney Rock, but I always made it a goal to go deeper to find patterns, details and weather events that others weren’t looking for. That has really helped me in every aspect of my creativity and in traveling to take photos. I always look for the things that people don’t look for, and that really sets me up for getting great shots but also for enjoying the little things. I think of photography as a chance to tell a story and to document. The camera for me is a tool to show the world what I see and how I see it. I do not like to limit what I photograph as I find many things to be intriguing, people, moments, wild stormy skies, light in the home, and sunlight touching a brown rock and turning it red. I like to think of my photos as a way to document a story. I always think to myself “what story am I trying to tell?” I taught myself graphic design several years ago. I have found that there is overlap with every new artistic medium I try. Understanding how shapes interact to create shadows in graphics, helps me better understand light in the real world with my photography. When I photograph nature scenes, I have graphic prints in mind that I can use my photos as inspiration for. I sell landscape photography, offer branding photography packages, with the goal of documenting and telling the story of a brand. I also sell graphic prints, create logos, and in my free time I paint. Graphic design and photography go hand in hand, and I feel it is important to have an understanding for both, especially as a creative business owner.
(How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? )
Pursuing a creative career for me was not a straight line. It really came down to trying new things and seeing what worked for me and what didn’t. I always had creative tendencies and interests growing up, but it took me a while to realize I could use those interests and talents to pave my own path. It took years of people encouraging me to try new things, to shape me into what I am doing now. When I was younger my mom always encouraged me to expand on my creativity. Anything in the house was free to use for arts and crafts. I can remember making forts out of old boxes, and making duct tape wallets, shoes, and purses. I was never bored and always found something to create using materials we already had. My grandfather was a talented photographer and I learned a lot from him growing up. I inherited his Nikon DSLR camera and lenses after he passed in 2016 while I was studying in Ireland for three months. I was majoring in Journalism and minoring in photography at the time at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. I wanted to combine my love of writing with my love of photography to capture stories and tell them in captivating ways. I always had this faint voice in the back of my mind that said, “all I want to do is take pictures, and make art with no limits.” But I had no idea what that looked like and so I kept following random paths to gain experience. I worked for two different offices (at different periods) full time doing creative work and while I was doing that I was also starting my own business on the side. It was not easy, there were a lot of challenges I had to overcome, many of which had to do with overworking myself to get to where I wanted to be. There was never enough time in the day to pursue my goals and the things I was passionate for, which unfortunately is the case for a lot of artists out there. I finally took the leap and started my own business full time in November of 2021.
(What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?)
There are a lot of opportunities that arise if you are multi-talented. You get asked to take on a lot of different types of creative projects. I have learned to only pursue projects and activities that are authentic to who I am and what I want to create. I aim to not overwork myself and to only ask for business/life advice from people who have similar passions and goals as me. You can’t ask for directions to go to one place if the person you are asking has never gone where you want to go.
I think the most important thing about my art I want people to know is that it is always growing just like me. My art is an extension of me and what I am passionate about and there is great thought that goes into what I create. My goal is to find the beauty in everyday life and to help others find the beauty in their everyday life as well.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I don’t live near a city, but I enjoy all of the National parks in Arizona, especially Petrified Forest National Park as it is not that far from where I live. I enjoy all of the beautiful sights to see in Arizona as a photographer, there are plenty of places to go.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have a lot of people in my life who encourage me to do the things I am passionate about. But to narrow it down, my husband is very supportive of my dreams and is my # 1 fan and my family and friends are always there to cheer me on.
Other: Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SydneyNorrisImagery?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=1170311654&sort_order=date_desc Print Shop: https://sydneynorrisimagery.pixieset.com/sydneyrose_imagery_printshop/
Photos of Frames with prints on walls were mockups purchased on Etsy (photos in frames were created or taken by me). All other photos (graphic and Landscape and portrait of me were taken or created by me)