We see people passing by, people who live in our community, whom we grew up along side. Our community binds us together, growing up sharing the same streets, enjoying the same sunsets and star filled skies. Yet, how many of those people do you know? Maybe it is with age that we are able to appreciate more the value of others and seek those relationships missed. However, there are some people in life that draw you to them naturally; that make you want to know more. Lily is one of those people. She has a sweet and gentle disposition that draws you in softly. Talking with her, you immediately sense her passion and love for living in community with family and friends, her gratitude for the life she has been given, and her desire for exploring the world before her.
I remember playing with her older sister when I was in 5th grade, going over to her house even, but I never took the time to know Lily. Now, 18 years later, I have finally gotten a glimpse of the person Lily is, and am really impressed.
We had a whirlwind photo shoot, and barely had time to chat about life. Although she is back in Ohio and I am in Tennessee, Lily was gracious enough to answer some questions about her life and work. I was not able to sit and talk with her about life over coffee, but I will still enjoy a cup of tea while reading her response. I hope you enjoy this glimpse of Lily Glass and her inspiring life.
So first, tell me a bit about yourself, your life, and how you got to where you are today.
I was born and raised in the South; so, sweet tea, biscuits, country music and fried-anything will always be part of my life. Currently, I live in Columbus, Ohio, with my writerly husband and our 8 month baby girl who’s being very patient with us as we figure out what we’re doing! Ben and I married after undergrad in TN, then scooted up here for grad school (he got an MFA in Creative Writing). What I always thought would be a quick stop in the Midwest has turned into a really lovely time, surrounded by some of the dearest friends we’ve ever had, and it’s hard to imagine leaving. But we’re in a really sweet spot – living in that place of so much possibility and still dreaming big – the reality being that in two years, we could be anywhere in the world. I love that.
How would you describe yourself?
A clumsy, spontaneous dreamer who likes to think of herself as adventurous but really, that’s debatable.
What made you chose photography?
The power of an image – to take it’s viewer back to the location, time, and emotion captured in that photograph – it gripped me even as a young girl. Growing up, I took pictures of the things or people that I didn’t want to forget. Then, when I realized that I could do that creatively for other folks, I was hooked.
You studied ceramics right, so how did you get from there to here?
My parents are both entrepreneurs so I count myself incredibly blessed to have had the idea that you can and should enjoy your work ingrained in my mind. They were so supportive of my studying fine arts in school and why would anyone say no to playing with dirt all day?! I love the same things about ceramics that I do about photography: beautiful, well-crafted objects/images with an innately lovely, functional purpose. I still get to throw at a nearby studio but when it comes down to it, I’m a better photographer than potter.
Can you pinpoint the moment in time when you knew you wanted to capture life through a lens?
Not one specific moment but really the culmination of several as I realized what a lovely feeling it was for my images to bring other people so much joy. Every artist desires for their work to be cherished and valued; when a momma sees a photograph you captured of her little boy and she’s speechless because it’s so perfectly him, there’s no better affirmation for me.
How do you get inspired? What sorts of things are inspiring you right now?
I’ve always thrived in collaborative settings and feel so blessed to be surrounded by several creatives here in Columbus, such as Ashley of Ginger+Birch — we are intentional about meeting regularly and I think just being around one another sharpens our creativity and ingenuity.
Light is the most inspiring thing for me — I’m always observing light and trying to decide how I would photograph it wherever I go.
Lovely tangible photographs; having something which you can hold and touch and feel and pass around in this digital age seems magical. I’m hoping to incorporate more and more film into my work over the next year.
Who in life inspires you and encourages you in your pursuit?
My Benny is my biggest supporter. He’s the rock that keeps me grounded — it takes some real guts to be starting your first year of grad school, six months after you get married, and say “yes, honey, start your own business when we don’t have any money.” And then real patience and sensitivity to listen to my every frustrating moment and every big ridiculous dream. He’s number one.
Do you have a favorite image you have taken?
I think it might be this one – I never want to forget how tiny and amazing and brand new she was.
How do you tell a story or capture life through your images?
My grandpa was a master storyteller; I think the best stories are full of details so it’s important to me to capture as many little things in/around the location and within the individual in order to tell that story in a unique and honest way. The most challenging part of being a portrait photographer is documenting a true part of your subject — I think you have to be patient, empathetic and know when to generate and anticipate emotion. I never want to ask a couple to do something that doesn’t reflect their personalities or their love; it’s imperative that you become familiar with who they are in a very short time frame. And there’s a fine line between giving direction so they don’t feel awkward but not posing them. It’s absolutely necessary for your subject to feel comfortable so, for instance, I prefer shooting families in their homes and allowing them to go about their daily routine. This is where the beauty of everyday life lies and these are the type of images that I find in my grandmother’s old albums and will always cherish.
What would you be doing if you were not a photographer?
I’d be a rock star.
What do you love to shoot?
How do you feel that your photography impacts others? Or how do you desire it to?
When folks look at their images, I want them to feel exactly how they felt in the moment that photo was taken.
Coffee, please. I’d like to say black and strong but really I always sneak some sugar in…
How do you make your life more beautiful?
I love handwritten, snail mail and try to send at least one letter a week.
Where is your favorite place you have traveled?
Cinque Terre, Italy
On your blog, you share about a trip to Florence. What captured your heart? If you had to describe Florence in a sentence, how do you see it?
Ben and I went to Italy for three weeks in 2011 and left big chunks of our hearts there. Florence was one of our favorite spots — it’s walkable, approachable yet so very other-worldly with all it’s history and art. We would move there in a minute.
Where do you go when you need a break, to relax and recharge?
What is a perfect day filled with? How do you try to live that daily?
Coffee and time to enjoy it in the morning; cuddles and giggles with my little girl; brunch with my Honey; crossing things off my to-do list; supper together as a family or with friends and then open time in the evenings.
As much as I’d like to fly by the seat of my pants, it’s so important for me to be intentional about every part of my day, especially now with a baby. Having a schedule and sticking to it allows me to optimize my time – work and personal – and achieve a good balance (this is always easier said than done).
What gives you a surge of emotion?
Thinking of the future.
What do you dream of for your future?
Up until now in our marriage it’s been back-and-forth as far as who is getting the opportunity to pursue what they love and I know that’s necessary while we get on our feet and figure things out. I look forward to the day that we’re both able to do what we want at the same time. There’s also an airstream in my future though the details are yet to be determined.
What is your favorite thing to eat? Do you have a favorite meal or memory of a meal?
I just love meals. When I remember visiting my grandma in Florida, it seems that we never left the table. Eating was always about sharing a delicious meal together and really no agenda but to enjoy one another. Those meals always consisted of Brunswick stew, cornbread and a pound cake for dessert.
So the unexpected usually has a way of bringing the greatest joy. Can you recall something of late that brought you inexplicable joy?
Our sweet little baby was unexpected and there were a few scary days in the beginning full of uncertainty; I can’t even begin to tell you how much more wonderful she is than I ever expected her to be.
If you could be anywhere right now, where would you want to be? With whom?
I always feel better about the world when I’m at the beach. I think it’s because it’s impossible to have a narrow mindset when you’re standing in front of the ocean; it has a way of resetting your perspective. I’d take my Benny and my baby (and since my freckles aren’t connecting into one large tan like I thought they would when I was little, a big ol’ bottle of sunscreen).
Make sure to visit Lily’s site and her blog to learn more about her and see more of her wonderful images. Also, if you are in the Columbus area and interested in learning how to better use your camera while enjoying a girl’s night out, she is offering workshops, also known as SnapShop.
*All images are the property of Lily Glass Photography.