District Boss: Lauren Miller

LAUREN MILLER IS THE AMAZINGLY CREATIVE, FEMALE WARRIOR BOSS OF LAUREN LOUISE PHOTOGRAPHY.

Ahead, she shares her passion for investing in yourself, staying motivated, and let you peak inside her amazing bucket list.....

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What is your business? Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I'm Lauren Louise, and I'm the owner of Lauren Louise Photography. I shoot weddings and editorial work, and I also work with local brands to create content for their website and social media campaigns. I've also recently joined the Capitally DC team as photo editor of their street style department. 

What lead you to where you are today? 

Finding a work-life balance is key. Social media glamorizes the hustle and while it can be a great motivational tool, it can also lead to burnout. I think, innately, women are caretakers. We are constantly worrying about everyone else's feelings and day-to-day that we often forget to take care of ourselves. I'm always brought back to the airplane metaphor; secure your own mask before securing others'. If we don't invest in ourselves, we won't have the energy to give to our loved ones. I know it's a bit taboo to talk about (which, to me, is a whole other issue) but I've been dealing with generalized anxiety since middle school. Finding a balance between self care and achieving my goals in a way that nurtures my mind and body, rather than destructs it, has been key to a healthy work-life balance. 

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What’s the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur? The best part? 

Being a solo-entrepenuer can be lonely. I actually prefer shooting solo (I'm a bit of a control freak but I'm working on it- I hired an associate this year) and I'm constantly spending days in my studio alone editing, answering emails, etc. One of the reasons I joined the team at Capitally DC is because I felt like I was missing out on creative collaboration. My new position there fills that space. I'd say the best part of my job is being able to document and share stories about, what most consider, the best day of their lives. Last month I shot a wedding in a small lakeside town in Wisconsin with a population of, like, 6000. The couple got married in the bride's grandmother's backyard in the house she grew up in. There were so many little details that made the day so special, like the bride and her grandma playing jumble to calm their nerves before walking down the aisle. I just can't believe I get paid to capture that. 

How do you stay motivated and continue to grow, personally and professionally?

 I've stopped following most photographers on social media. Comparison, to me, is the root of failure in my business. (If you're struggling with this, I suggest watching The Gap by Ira Glass.) Instead, I find inspiration in other art forms like interior design and fashion trends. For personal motivation, it's surrounding myself with strong, smart women. Last weekend I went on a girls trip. I looked around the room one evening and was overwhelmed by their successes, both personal and professional, and the inspiration and support that stems from all of them. I'm really grateful for that circle. 

What’s your nighttime routine? How do you unwind? 

As a solo-entrepreneur, it's hard to keep routines when you're running here and there for meetings, across town for shoots, etc. Keeping a night time routine that is centered around self care is really difficult for me because of all the energy I put into keeping a weekly routine for my business. But like I mentioned earlier, one of my goals this year was to take some time for myself to wind-down and relax. Cooking solo, at my own pace, is really therapeutic to me, although most nights I find myself too tired. On those nights, I'll take a bubble bath and listen to my favorite podcast, Modern Love or watch an episode of The Office. (#PamandJimForever)

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What’s one piece of advice you would give to other business owners? 

For folks who are looking to take their side hustle full time, my biggest piece of advice is to be patient. For the first couple of years of being in business full time, I worked another full time job as a high school photography teacher. It took a ton of energy and time away from my social life, but every cent I made photographing weddings went into a savings account that I didn't touch. When my salary from shooting weddings doubled my teaching salary, I cut the chord and went off on my own with enough money to invest in my business and not have to worry about failure, being broke, etc. It sucked for awhile, but having that kind of financial freedom is priceless. 

What’s the best book or movie you've watched recently? 

I don't have the attention span to watch movies (this drives my boyfriend crazy) so when I'm not watching America's Got Talent (seriously, this show moves me to tears), I love to read. My friend recently suggested All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood. It's a love story between two unlikely people that have incredible depth to their character. It's a pretty dysfunctional story but I like that. I don't see the world in black and white. I don't think people are made up of just this or just that. What's that Whitman quote? “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then. I am large. I contain multitudes.” Yeah. That pretty much sums up how I see the world. 

Top 5 items on your bucket list: (places, people to meet, things to do/see)

 I'm not very good at answering these types kinds of questions because I've always been a "yes" person. Want to teach at a school in Tanzania? Yep. How about a concert with that band you've never hard of? Sure! I'm the type of person that says "yes" to almost all experiences that come my way, even if it's something I hadn't thought of before. This attitude has made my life feel extremely rich, but I am trying to be more intentional with how I spend my time these days. You turn 29 and you start playing the numbers game, ya know? Right now, I'm really content with what I have; my sister lives down the street, I have a job that never feels like work, and a great group of folks in this city that I consider family. 

Thank you so much for sharing, Lauren!! 

Be sure to follow Lauren on Instagram and connect with her Facebook!

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