We had the good fortune of connecting with Andi Slaby and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andi, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I have always been most comfortable in the non-traditional paths in life. I have often chosen more of an experimental path in life based on my gut feelings and a strong desire to experience a particular adventure, event, or opportunity. Part of this desire is knowing that I may not know the outcome, but I do know without a doubt I will learn, grow, change, and meet amazing people along the way. Risk is a perspective and different for everyone. Sometimes what I perceive as a risk and may present feelings of fear, may manifest in excitement and energy in someone else, and vice versa. I have found throughout my experience, that sometimes all we need is a change of perspective and focus on what is important to you as an individual.
Taking risks throughout my life has played a big role in helping me discover who I am personally and professionally. I have learned what I like, what I don’t like, and how I want to live beyond what feels “safe”. Deciding to create a photography career has changed my path in many ways. I quit my full-time job in 2016 and moved across the country to attend the Rocky Mountain School of Photography. I spent my time learning photography, honing my skills, and learning the business side. It was a real risk to make the decision to devote 5+ months to eat, sleep, and breath photography. It was so worth it, though! I learned about myself, what makes me feel alive and happy.
As a therapist, I am naturally drawn to understanding the perspectives, joys, and struggles of other people. As a kid, I loved bringing images to people to share the things I saw. As an adult, the two have come together and one of my favorite types of photoshoots (besides tasty and healthy foods!) are photoshoots that tell a story of someone’s life. Whether it’s an artist, farmer, a family, etc. I like to share a story in a way that my client will relate to and also be surprised by. By understanding their story, I use photography to capture moments that are true to them and often in a way my clients haven’t yet seen themselves. Today, I continue to work part-time as a recreational therapist, but creating this other career path has given me a creative outlet and still be in a profession where I can help others and bring them joy.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
One of the biggest challenges I faced is learning what it takes to start and run a business. I think this is very common for a lot of creatives. It’s very easy for me to identify what I like to photograph and the stories I want to share. It is very fun to make time to hone my skills as a photographer, especially when photographing food because I get to eat it after! The hardest part is learning to keep track of all the behind-the-scenes of running a successful business. This includes bookkeeping, marketing, workflows, etc. At times it can feel very overwhelming, however, what I have learned is to set systems in place to keep me organized, create a monthly/weekly calendar to stay on track, and most importantly, seek out experts in the areas where I am the weakest or lack skill. Doing all of this has built my confidence on the business side, and dare I say, what once was scary can now be fun at times!
I am always seeking ways to grow on a personal level which positively influences my photography profession. My clients are always growing and evolving as well and it is a joy to capture their stories. Especially my repeat clients because I get to witness the evolution of their own personal or business journey.
What I would like the world to know about me and my story is that it is worth it to take risks. Where I am today isn’t what I originally set out to accomplish, but that is what makes it so exciting. My journey is always evolving and changing as I grow and learn, experience new things, places, and people. You don’t have to have a big lofty goal of creating your own business or saving the world to say “yes!” to taking a risk. Risks are can big or small, but what I believe they all have in common is the positive change in your life and in yourself. Before making a decision I sit with the feeling it gives me. It’s almost always a given that fear will try to creep up and steal the show, but if I also feel excited, energized, and jumping up and down then the decision is a “hell yes!”. Once I make the decision to just go for it, I trust the process and that it will all work out as it should.
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?
Some of my favorite places to visit in the area are dog-friendly. I bring my pup Lucy with me everywhere I can! Fun places to explore and hang out are White Rock Lake for a run, bike ride, or kayaking. Trinity Groves is a great place to try out a variety of restaurants in one place and sit outside and enjoy the Dallas skyline. After dinner, you can walk the Trinity Trail. The Bishop Arts District is full of amazing food and shops to explore. A few places I like to visit (but aren’t dog-friendly) are the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Perot Museum.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Yes! Many people in my life, but in particular my husband, Jason, really supports me in making time for my photography business. In fact, he himself has recently gotten the shutterbug throughout this business journey. It’s been really fun for both us to learn and grow together as a couple while growing the business. My family and close friends have been so encouraging which is such a wonderful thing to have when branching out on a new creative career path. I am very grateful to have the support system that I do because it can be scary to forge your own life path in non-traditional ways. I would also say seeking out opportunities to connect with other creatives has been very helpful to have a support system of like-minded individuals, with groups like Tuesdays Together, or other independent creatives in the area.
Image of my headshot (me holding camera) Alice Claire Photography Images of food and ceramic artist – Andi Smith Photo (me) Image of me on the beach with my dog – Adventure Instead