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Meet Ericka Kreutz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ericka Kreutz.

Ericka, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in Milwaukee, WI – the oldest of four children. My parents called me the “camp counselor” because I often took the role of ringmaster and set up a play for my brother and sisters to follow along. I created performances and puppet shows, and we played “City” for an entire rain filled afternoon. I lived in the world of make-believe, and I loved it.

It’s no surprise that I found my way into the drama club. Bringing stories to life with an ensemble was my jam. There was nothing I longed for more than to actually walk in another’s shoes. I went to a Theatre Conservatory and was a working actress in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. It was great, it is great, but after having my two boys, I started to search for something more.

It was about three years ago, at a time when news programs were getting extra loud, social media was contentious, emotions were sizzling, and my kids were throwing cups of juice across the floor. All of this noise seeped into my body. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think. What do I do with this energy? What is my responsibility? What is my output?

So, I took a good look at my life. And my community. And I got real quiet.

And when all the dials were down, I listened. I heard little feet hitting soccer balls, I heard “whees” on a curly slide, I heard sips of coffee and quiet chatter of mothers, I heard first words, and bad falls, and peek-a-boos. I heard sand in buckets. I heard hugs in jackets. I heard kisses on banged up knees. Love. It was all around me. And life! Sweet, daily, growing life. With all of its wonder. And all of its challenges. This is what it was all about.

So, my mission now is to capture this. The moments of joy. The moments of togetherness. The everyday moments that we take for granted and whoops – where did the time go? These are my stories I now want to tell. I started taking pictures of my own children, my friends, and their children and started putting those images out there- as my output.

Before I was even ready (or so I thought) someone asked for my rate. I didn’t have one. I googled it! I started my first job, and it led to the second and third. My business is word of mouth which is nice because I know people have been happy and are sharing their experiences.

I am in the process now of expanding and working on marketing and growing my business. My children are still pretty small (4 and 6) so they are home a lot, and I don’t want to miss them growing up either. So finding the balance of doing it all. I believe the small moments are the big moments. And if we turn down the noise, we can see very clear. I want to capture that beauty of life so we will always remember, and forever celebrate it.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The big struggles are the demons in my head. “You can’t start up a new business, what are you thinking, you don’t know a thing about the camera, you don’t know a thing about editing or software, how will you ever get by in an already saturated market, do you know how old you are to start over?”

I am not a millennial. Computer software doesn’t come easily to me. I was trained as an actor, and reading camera handbooks with technical jargon makes me dizzy. I am also a mom of two very active boys. Trying to find time to learn a new skill while juggling skateboards, helmets, water bottles, play dates, Pirates Booty, Bandaids – you name it- was difficult.

I felt behind and felt like I was never going to be “ready.” I still feel way behind and wish I had more time to learn.

When I look at the bigger picture of it all, and when I breathe I see that all this real life stuff- all these bumps in the road- all these distractions- all these doubts- all these jammed packed days- they all make me a better photographer. Because when I shoot I am really present and it feels like a gift. And I understand that life needs to be a dance just like a shoot needs to be a dance.

Things go the way it’s going to go- brides get rained on, kids fall down- but to embrace it and love every moment, just the way it is, and capture that authenticity- that’s the good stuff.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
When I first started, I took every opportunity that came to me. If there was something you wanted to shoot I was going to do the job and figure it out. Now that I am entering my third year as Ericka Kreutz Photography, I have really narrowed down what I do well and what I love to do.

It begins and ends with children. They are the spark that makes this world turn in my opinion, and they ignite the spark in me. They are so completely honest and present, and when we get out of their way and just observe, we can see the truth. I am a documentary family photographer, so my style is not the classic “pretty family photo.” What I like to do is follow a family around on a play date or go into their home and document their connection and love and humor.

I don’t think many people (including myself with my own children) can see how beautiful it is when their little hand is tucked in theirs. Or when a child is looking out the window daydreaming. Or smashing a baby tomato in their hands. The simple stuff, the little stuff, that’s the big stuff to me.

I also do adult portraits- rebranding and reimagining. I have had many women especially come to me at a crossroads in their life- starting something fresh- and need a new look for their online presence. That’s really empowering and fun and something that I love to do. Again, I search for intimacy and vulnerability and openness in my photos. I don’t want to take a shot that markets you- I want to see you- and others to see you too. That’s true beauty.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I wouldn’t say it was luck. I don’t think it is luck at all. But, I would say that once I decided to start on this path of photography, the Universe said “yes” to me in a big way.

The first of this was how I got my camera. I was playing around with a friends camera and was studying up on which camera to purchase. I had my heart set on a Canon 5D Mark III and wanted it in my hands before Christmas, so I could take photos of my kids opening gifts under the tree. It’s a pretty expensive piece of equipment, and we didn’t have the money for it. My husband said, “I support you, but we can buy this right now.”

I got it. It was a lot. And he was right. I started to look online for people who were selling their old ones. The price was still too steep, or the sellers were iffy. I wrote my friend, Jason Elias, who is a very accomplished photographer, “hey if you hear of anyone selling a Canon 5D Mark III let me know. I am thinking of becoming a photographer??”

He wrote back within hours all caps ARE YOU SERIOUS? I PUT ONE UP ON EBAY THIS MORNING. TELL ME IF YOU’RE SERIOUS.

Jason put me on a very generous and lengthy payment plan, and I had the camera that I wanted in my hands by Christmas day. Jason is one of the warmest humans, and this camera had been all over the world taking pictures. I half joke that I got the Tin Man’s heart. That it belonged to him and it was seen through his soul makes it all the more sweeter.

The more I just put images out there- the more opportunities came easily. I think the Universe wanted me to find this creative path of storytelling and seeing the world.

Coming from the acting world where I had collected hundreds of “no’s” it was refreshing to start hearing yes, yes, yes.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jim Wisniewski

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