Today’s interview is with a group of photographers that have grown close after meeting one another on the forum: Kim Lane, Adele Humphries, Jessica Remus, Sarah Zalan, Stacey Vukelj, and Krista Sodt!

Adele Humphries black and white photography
*image by Adele Humphries

The six of you met on CM and have grown close.  How and when did you begin to form your bond on CM?

KGL:  We met during Lynne Rigby’s Shooting 201: Beyond the Basics workshop in early Spring 2012.

AH: What Kim said LOL 🙂

JR: I am guessing you have this one sorted out by now 😉

SZ: You could call Lynne the matchmaker.  🙂

SLV: What are you all talking about? We met at a dive bar. I can see already that going next to last is going to be hard. Poor Krista, she’s really in for it.

KMS: I’m on board with the dive bar. That night was really so fuzzy.

Kim Lane black and white fine art photography
*image by Kim Lane

Since you were in a workshop, have you continued to work together to nurture your growth in photography?

KGL:  Yes, we are all part of a Facebook group of Lynne’s alumni.  Undoubtedly all of us have grown in our photography as evidenced by new CM Pros, growing businesses, and contest recognitions.

AH: Social media has been a huge help in keeping us all in touch since we live across 6 different states! We email/message/FB each other all day long….except when we’re working/feeding children of course 😉 We are aware that we all have different photography styles and we each appreciate and respect that about one another. Stacey is our resident street photographer extraordinaire, Kim is our landscape/decaying america/film photographer, Jess is the rockin’ family photographer, Mama Z shoots incredible macro and has been keeping an amazing 365 featuring her dog Waldo, Krista does incredibly moving, rich and moody black and white photography and i shoot my family. 😉

JR: Absolutely – we continually share images and ideas with each other.  We are also pretty good at fueling each others gear addictions 🙂  Seriously though, I run images and business ideas past these ladies all of the time.  I admire each of their own personal styles, they all have great eyes for photography, and I truly value all of their critique and input.  Plus, they  know me and my style, what fits and what doesn’t fit. It’s invaluable.  All of us lean on each other for support, ideas, critique, you name it.

SZ:  We nurture each other in all aspects of photography, food, libations, life, children, marriage.  It’s like having 5 sisters.  We support each other in whatever life hands us.  Be it entering a juried photography show, Malbec addiction, strong willed children, husbands who work long hours, adding grad school to an already busy life.

SLV: It’s a little like we started up a conversation last summer and just never stopped. At this point, I rely on these women for advice on pretty much everything. Their support coupled with their honesty has been crucial to my photography in so many ways. But that is almost incidental compared to what I have gained from our friendship in general. We have seen each other through some incredible highs and lows this past year and while there are many days when I wish we could just pop over to meet up in person, conversations at a distance permit an unencumbered transparency. This is not something I ever anticipated when joining CM.

KMS: Yeah, there are no real words to sum this up but I’ll give it a go. I’m the one shooting least right now, probably. I just started graduate school, and things have gotten a bit over the top busy at times. But, everyday I am filled with inspiration, learning, support and love by my friendship with these indescribably amazing women. They inspire me to pick up my camera and shoot whenever I can, and just keep encouraging me to keep going, even when my pace is glacial. That said, it goes way beyond photography. I would never make a big choice (okay small choices fall in here too) without hearing from my girls.

Sarah Zalan macro oil and water photography
*image by Sarah Zalan

Krista Sodt black and white child portraiture
*image by Krista Sodt

You currently participate in a group blog circle.  How does this blog circle encourage your growth as a photographer and your friendship?

KGL:  The theme of our group is “The One” and I love that theme because it’s all about the celebration of that one photo that was memorable to us that month.   It makes me slow down, reflect on my work, and what matters to me that month.  It’s not about conforming to anyone elses ideals, but rather elevating a photo that we recognize of importance – however we personally choose to define.

AH:  I love this blog circle. It means so much to be in such a small group with people you know and love. The idea and concept were Jessica’s idea and i really like how it’s helping me to think differently about the work I post.

JR: I came up with the idea one day after realizing that all of us are involved in loads of other photography-related groups, but somehow even though we are in nearly constant contact  – we weren’t doing anything together!  I thought it would be best to keep it simple, no rules or specifics, with the ability to choose any image we already had sitting on our hard drives from the month. My favorite part about it is that I don’t know what my friends are going to post until we go live, and it’s always such a fun surprise to see what they choose each month. And what they choose always makes me nod and smile because it’s always so “them”, each one.  And typically, even though we see SO many of each others images – often the ones used in our “one” blog circle are images we haven’t shown yet so it’s really fun.  The comedy of errors of us attempting to go live is also hilarious and highly entertaining.  There’s always next month 😉

SZ:  It’s hard to put into words what this blog circle means to me.  I ADORE the images we post every month, and getting to see what we choose as our individual ‘one’.  I am no longer afraid to post an image that isn’t ‘perfect’.  We post what resonates with us, what speaks to our heart, what makes us tick for that month.  And we, as a group of dear friends, expect nothing less.

SLV: I am in another blog circle with some extraordinary women and had intentionally limited myself just to the one commitment. But when Jessica proposed the idea of our “one” circle, I was so excited. We share so much with each other. A special project where we continue to simply be ourselves, sharing the images that come from our hearts regardless of imperfections, was a perfect symbol of our friendship.

KMS: The blog circle is the only “formal” thing I am doing, and it really helps me to keep shooting, even when I’m busy. I love the work of this group so much, and the theme helps me let go of perfectionism and just enjoy the flow and harmony that photography brings to my life. I’m also really shy about my work, so putting it out publicly is really good exercise for me!

Stacey Leece Vukelj street photography
*image by Stacey Leece Vukelj

What do you feel is the importance of having like-minded photographer friends?

KGL:  Anyone else would question my sanity in my ongoing pursuit of the perfect camera bag or endless lens swapping, but photography friends just cheer me on.  Seriously, having people who get the importance of art in your life, and the consuming desire to capture and create, that’s why like-minded friends are important to me. (Though these ladies are so much more than just that!)

AH: For me, it’s such a blessing to be able to share things with people who really “get” how I feel about this hobby. And I love how much I have learned and have grown because of their encouragement and knowledge. Between us, we have a huge collective knowledge and even greater amount of support and genuine respect for each others talents. I don’t think I would have applied for CMPro if I hadn’t had the encouragement of these girls. We are each others biggest cheerleaders.

JR:  I had no idea when I started getting serious about photography in late 2011 where it would lead me.  I have spent so many nights up super late learning/editing/researching, etc., and to find out that there are other people in the world just like you in that regard?  Priceless.  Aside from making me feel slightly more sane as Kim mentioned, it’s just so fun to have friends growing with you, cheering you on, and helping you with every step along the way. I love watching my friends as they just keep getting better and better, we have all come so far since our initial workshop together, and I can’t wait to see where we all go next.  If you had told me I’d become so close to people through photography, and on the internet no less, a couple of years ago I would have thought you were crazy 🙂

SZ:  When it comes to photography, my family frequently questions my sanity.  Not with this group of ladies. We laugh and cry at each others photos.  We say it like it is without getting our feelings hurt.  We speak photography lingo, and we all understand.  Satisfying therapy without the bill!

SLV: It’s a shared passion (or psychosis, depending on who you ask) that absolutely demands a dialogue if you are to grow and learn. My family has been very supportive and understanding, but oddly they have no interest in spending hours talking about any of this with me. I can’t imagine why. I learn something new from one of these ladies nearly every day. I don’t know how you place a value on that.

KMS: Hahaha! What they said!

Jessica Remus black and white child portrait photography
*image by Jessica Remus

Have any of you had the chance to meet in person or are you planning to do so?

KGL:  I had the chance to meet Adele before she moved to Texas and hope to be able to meet the rest of these wonderful ladies!

AH: Yes, Kim and I met in Georgia just before I moved from there back to Texas. I wish we’d had more time to hang out before I moved. We intend to meet up later this year and that will be one heck of a party 🙂

JR: Yes!  Sarah, Stacey, Krista, and I all happened to be in Seattle at the same time last summer so we met up for dinner.  To say it was too short is such an understatement – we hope to meet up again soon along with Adele and Kim. I cannot wait for that!

SZ:  Meeting Stacey, Jess, and Krista in Seattle was a dream come true.  They really are as funny and sweet in person as they are online!  Kim and Adele are still fictitious characters to me.  Albeit characters that make me laugh so hard I sometimes have tears running down areas of my body other than my face.  Oops, I promised the group I would behave myself.

KMS: It was surreal to meet Sarah, Stacey and Jess,  face to face and I am so overwhelmingly excited to meet as a whole group.

Sarah Zalan high key silhouette photograph
*image by Sarah Zalan

Adele Humphries lifestyle photography
*image by Adele Humphries

Do you feel that your meetings/lack of meetings affects your friendships with one another?

AH:  I can think of several occasions where we have all wished we could be in the same room together, sharing laughs, hugs and a glass or two of Malbec. It’s hard to be so far away from each other but i don’t think it negatively affects our closeness. We “talk” several times a day everyday and we’re all there for each other when needed.

JR: There are so many times I wish I could pop over to one of their houses, or meet up somewhere for a glass of wine and some laughs, as Adele said.  Each of these girls are hilariously funny, I can’t even tell you how many times I have spit diet Coke out onto my keyboard laughing at something.  I do wish we lived closer sometimes because I know we’d have the best time together.  Not being able to hang out regularly doesn’t negatively affect us though, we all keep in touch.

SZ:  I’ve stopped counting the number of times I’ve wished we all lived closer to each other.  Thanks to the internet, we are able to give each other virtual hugs, virtual glasses of wine, virtual shoulders to cry on.  I still haven’t discovered a way to help Adele move houses, make dinner for Krista when she has to study, or babysit everyone’s littles when they need an extra mommy hand though.

SLV: I agree. More in-person time would be such a bonus but since it isn’t something we have ever had, we’re pretty used to bombarding each other on the internet instead.

KMS: The hardest times are when I feel limited in being able to give a hug and have a good cry together. We’ve supported each other through some very challenging times this year, and sometimes I’m so frustrated that we aren’t in the same room for comfort. If I had unlimited airline miles, I would have been on a few flights this year, just to give a hug. But, we keep our friendships strong through the technology we have and the distance doesn’t affect our connection at all.

Kim Lane still life photography
*image by Kim Lane

People often have a disconnection when it comes to friends that you meet in real life vs online friends. Do you believe there is a difference in those types of friendships?

KGL:  As a busy mom, I realized I wasn’t taking the time to cultivate new friendships as I had in the past.  I prayed for new friends for this season of life – wondering how that could happen as a wife, mother, and full-time worker.  I met my dear friend Sprauncey1 on CM within a week or so.  Then I joined Lynne’s class and met these wonderful girls.  My CM friends are as dear to me as those I’ve known all my life.  And I know now, these friendships are intended for a lifetime, not just a season.

AH: I suppose it’s a bit strange to feel so closely connected to some people whom I have never met. But it’s even more bizarre for me to realize that I haven’t met them in real life because I feel so close to them all. I think you just “know” when a person shares your values, your humor and your perspectives. You know when they are a good fit in your life (though I reserve the right to take all that back if I finally meet Krista and she turns out to actually be a 63 year old bachelor named Roger who is looking for someone to take care of him and his 7 hamsters 😉 ).

JR:  Again, had you told me I’d become so close to people I barely knew until I met them in an internet-based photography class I would have laughed and not believed you.   I am so surprised and thrilled to have met such wonderful and supportive friends through CM.  Like Adele, I almost forget that I haven’t met some of them in real life yet!  I am dying to hear Adele and Kim’s accents 🙂  That’s about the only thing missing for me.

SZ:  No disconnection here!  In everyday life it would take years (or not at all) to develop the relationship we all have with each other.  In just a year, I have met 5 women who would drop everything to help if any one of us were in dire straits.  That speaks volumes about the families I have never met in my own neighborhood.

SLV: One of my very best friends from law school (and fellow CMer @kamster) used to live in the same building as us. Our kids were born a week apart and we spent an inordinate amount of time together before she and her family moved to Seattle about a year ago. She had met a close group of “internet” friends when planning her wedding and I never quite understood how that happened. I never would have imagined that my amazing friendships with these women would be the result of participation in an online forum, but I do think seeing Kami’s online friendships probably broke down a bit of a barrier in my own mind towards meeting friends this way. Her departure coincided with my leap into CM and meeting these wonderful ladies couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Though I have to admit, having them so accessible has required me to really force myself to get out there and make new friends in the “real” world, too. Also, I am dying to hear Adele and Kim in person. And I was highly amused to learn that, until recently, they assumed I spoke with a New York accent.

KMS: Adele!! Who told you about Roger? And I thought I was covering so well….  Our connection is quite strong, and maybe that’s because as an introvert I have trouble being myself at first in real life, but somehow behind a keyboard my personality comes through a bit easier. This group knows the imperfect, and very real Roger. I mean Krista. One thing that surprised me is that getting to know this group, and having their unconditional cheer-leading and support had helped me take some healthy risks in my everyday life that I don’t think I would have done before. I feel incredibly lucky to have each of them in my life.

Jessica Remus lifestyle photography
*image by Jessica Remus

Krista Sodt black and white child photography
*image by Krista Sodt

From your initial run in on CM to now, how has your photography and CM brought you closer together?

AH: I think I really admire each of these women for their amazing talents. I wish I could take the shots that they have taken! I love seeing how their love for photography has developed and how that shows in the kinds of images they each produce. I love that through the images we share with one another we have a view of each others’ lives that we wouldn’t otherwise have. I feel like I know their kids and their pets; I feel like I have been in their homes. 🙂 Clickin Moms has taught me pretty much all i know about photography and without it, I wouldn’t have met these remarkable ladies. I feel so lucky to have them in my life.

JR:  We were in Shooting 201 together just barely over a year ago.  Since then, everyone has come so far it’s mind boggling.  I love seeing how each person’s style has really developed over the past year – glimmers of it were definitely there for everyone but now it’s just so fun to see how everyone has evolved, and continues to evolve over time.  I just really admire and respect each of their approaches to photography (and life!).

SZ:  I came to be a member of CM because of the supportive, encouraging feeling the site and its members create each and every day.  Lynne and her Shooting 201 class brought us together, and our love of photography keeps us together.  This group is a mini version of CM.  We cheer when one of us gets CMPro, or has an image selected to hang in a very public place, or when one of us gets a new lens, or camera, or when one of us has been selected to write a Breakout.  We are family, first and foremost.  CM introduced us.  Life, love, laughter and photography keeps us together.

SLV: The notion that we have only known one another for a year defies belief. Clearly photography was the catalyst for our friendship and we certainly discuss our personal projects and decisions on a near-daily basis. The six of us have not taken a CM class all together since Shooting 201 but some of us have overlapped in different courses since then, which is always a special treat. Seeing how far everyone has come, and the beautiful, individual voice that each of us has found, is simply amazing. But I also believe it is the other interactions – the support, the love, the kindness, the generosity of time and spirit, whether applied to photography or just to life, that really continue to propel us forward, beyond our initial foundation.

Stacey Leece Vukelj New York City statue of liberty photograph
*image by Stacey Leece Vukelj

Would you like to join us in the Birthday Week festivities?  Head over to the photography forum now to participate in the games, contests, and perhaps grab a prize while doing so!  Not yet a member?  Use the code CMIS5 and get a trial membership for free here!  And to top it off, we’ll be choosing one random blog commenter a day to receive a surprise prize.  So make sure and leave some comments throughout the week and we’ll announce each days winner on Friday!