The Mom Behind the Brand: Crystal Carr of Crystella Photography
Introduce yourself and your business.
Hi! I’m Crystal Carr. I was born and raised in SoCal and live in San Diego with my husband and two sons. Things that bring me joy include my golden retriever, Daisy, volunteering at my kids’ schools, era films, chai tea lattes, books, anything outdoors with my family, chocolate, photography, and Jesus (obviously in no particular order!). My business is Crystella Photography. I photograph the family life cycle. If a family is the traditional type, the timeline looks something like: Engagement, Wedding, Maternity, Newborn, and Family. Sprinkled in through the years, my clients might also ask me to take headshots for their business and/or event photography.
You have a beautiful portfolio of portraits, families, boudoir, events, kids, even pets! Which is your favorite to shoot and why?
Oh, it’s so hard to choose! I can’t choose just one (sorry, not sorry!). I have three! My top favorite subject to photograph is couples. Whether an engagement session, wedding, or anniversary shoot, I love to document the intimacy and love a couple shares. My second favorite is brand photo shoots because each session is so unique to the individual business and owner being photographed. My final favorite session type is a family photo shoot. I’m a mom of young kids and can so relate to all the ups and downs that can occur within what should be a simple 45-minute session. From tickling and giggling to meltdowns and crocodile tears; I just roll with all of it and have so much fun because it’s real life.
Describe the moment you knew you had to turn your passion for photography into a business?
After having my second kiddo, the childcare costs versus income ratio wasn’t ideal. Plus, it was always my dream to stay home and raise a family. But, I couldn’t let go of photography. So, I said farewell to the photo studio I was working for and launched my own photography business!
Your love for photography began back when you were in high school. How has your photography style changed over the years?
My style started off a bit more traditional and posed than it is now. Now, I tend to shoot from the hip more. Once I started photographing events and families, I learned how to quickly capture the moments that pass in seconds.
What are your top 3 tips for families preparing for a photo shoot?
- Pick a location that means something to your family. Don’t just choose Balboa Park because ‘it’s pretty.’ Choose it because you have the Explorer Pass and love going there as a family.
- Mom: pick your outfit first and then coordinate the rest of your crew. If you feel confident and happy, the rest of the family will follow suit.
- Plan ahead and have everything laid out on the day of the shoot: outfits, snacks, rewards for kids, etc.
You’re a mom to two boys. How has becoming a parent yourself influenced your photography?
Because I am around kids all the time, I am aware of what gets their attention, makes them laugh, and entices them to listen. I use whatever tools I can during photo shoots to get good shots. For example, I have a cute little stuffy that fits around my camera lens and I can play peek-a-boo with the little ones while photographing them. I also have no problem making funny noises or trying to be silly to get kiddos to smile.
Do you ever travel for photography projects or do you keep it local to San Diego? (If you travel, let us know where you’re willing to take projects – different cities/states)
I’m open to travel, but pretty much keep it local. I grew up in Ventura County, so I often do sessions when I visit loved ones in that area.
What has been the hardest thing about owning your own business and being a mom?
Finding the sweet spot of taking on as much work as I comfortably can without feeling guilty that my kids are not getting the attention they need from me.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to other moms who want to launch their own business?
Brainstorm some duties that you can pass off. It’s impossible to do it all. Something has to give. For example, when my workload feels overwhelming, I will hire someone to clean my house that month to ease some of the load. I’ve also hired a virtual assistant for data entry projects. And don’t feel guilty about it! There is no need to work yourself to the bone. Your happiness, energy, and sanity matter more than trying to prove you are super human!
As moms and entrepreneurs, we’re always trying to find balance. How do you practice or keep balance in your own life?
I find balance by riding out the ups and downs of seasons. For me, it feels like things balance out over about a month long period. One week of the month, I might feel like cleaning or organizing and another I am feeling creative and do long work sessions. I try to allow my intuition lead me. I used to follow a Daily To-Do List that included things like take vitamins, drink 60 ounces of water, exercise, do one load of laundry, etc. My thought was that I was spreading out my to-dos, but what I’ve found that works better for me is batching tasks. Like I do all of the laundry on Sundays. When I was using the daily checklist, I couldn’t get every box checked every day and I felt disappointed in myself. I had to let go of that unrealistic expectation.
What does your average day look like?
My average day starts with my kids climbing into my bed at 6:00am following by awesome family snuggle time. Everyone gets ready for the day; I pack school lunches, and take my boys to school. I usually head straight to LA Fitness to chat with friends while sweating on ellipticals and weight lifting. Then, I head home and work. My work time includes responding to emails, editing photos, maintaining social media, envisioning myself being awesome, etc. I often volunteer at my kids’ schools. In the early afternoon, I pick up my kiddos from school and they usually have some activity or sports practice to go to. In the evening, I help with homework and cook dinner. My husband joins the party in time to eat with us, tuck into bed, clean up, and put up our feet to watch something on Netflix. At times when I have a big project or workload, I’ll head back into my home office and use my last bit of energy on the trade I do sincerely enjoy.
What does success look like to you?
When I am working towards my life goals, I feel successful: Putting my trust in God, striving for a great marriage, giving my kids my best as their Mother, pursuing my passions (photography being top of the list), taking care of my body through exercise and eating healthy, and maintaining an organized and peaceful home.
What’s next for you and Crystella Photography?
I plan to continue to enhance my clients’ experience to be the best I can offer and to keep sharpening my skills. My goal will continue to be to capture my clients being themselves while accentuating their unique light and love.
How can we support you and Crystella Photography?
I would love to connect with you!
Any special offers/announcements you want to share with our Tribe readers?
If you’d like to be featured in our “Mom Behind the Brand” series, please email Kristin@thetribemagazine.com for more information.